Building for Tomorrow to Future-Proof Your Career: A Q&A with Author Jason Feifer

This post is sponsored by Penguin Random House

What do the most successful people have in common?

Entrepreneur The magazine’s editor, Jason Feifer, tried to answer that question, and here’s what he found: The most successful people are adaptable. They turn change to their advantage. And it’s not something they were born to do. It’s a skill they learned.

In his new book, Building for Tomorrow: An Action Plan to Embrace Change, Adapt Quickly, and Future-Proof Your Career, Feifer puts his lessons into action: he offers a concrete plan for anyone struggling with change and gives readers a way to spot new opportunities before anyone else. Here we discuss with Feifer about Building for tomorrow and some of its most important takeaways.

Question: Why do you think change is so hard to overcome?

Answer: When we go through change, we start worrying about all the comfortable and familiar things we will lose. Then we make it worse by doing what I call “extrapolating the loss”. We start to think: If I lose this, then I’ll lose that, and then I’ll lose that…

Soon we start to panic.

Here’s what to do instead: We need to find the Gain. Ask questions such as, “What new skill or habit am I learning, and how can it be put to good use?” It is not easy. The gain is often not obvious. But once we train our brains to identify the payoff, we can start enjoying it before anyone else. It is our competitive advantage.

Q: What do the smartest, most successful people know about change?

A: They know that when something goes wrong, they have had the opportunity to learn and grow. That’s why I like to say: Failure is a given. For example, billionaire tech founder Michael Dell keeps memories of his company’s failures in his office. Why? “That painful lesson helped us develop a tremendous ability that propelled us far further than we ever imagined,” he told me.

Q: What tactics and strategies do these leaders use to stay on top of their game?

A: Great leaders identify a part of themselves that never changeseven during times of massive change.

Here’s how they do it:

Most of us identify too closely with the specific work we do. We could say, “I’m a product manager” or “I make a magazine.” But these things are changeable – and when they change, we will feel lost. This is why great leaders go further: they articulate a mission for themselves or for their company that is not easily changed. Maybe their mission is to “bring people joy through sweet baked goods” or “to solve the toughest problems with new technologies.” I learned to do it myself; I used to identify only with a magazine editor, but now I think, “I tell stories in my own voice.” If I lose my job in a magazine, for example, I can still do it!

Q: In your book, you talk about adaptation and the power that comes from an individual’s ability to be intentionally malleable when unforeseen circumstances arise. Why is adaptability so critical in today’s world?

A: Actor (and entrepreneur) Ryan Reynolds once told me, “You can’t be good at something if you’re not willing to be bad.” He is there. Everyone will face new challenges, and everyone will suck at the start. Some people will be discouraged and give up. The most successful people stick to itbecause they know setbacks are part of the process.

The most successful leaders have learned to overcome obstacles and adapt to change. Build for Tomorrow not only teaches us how to strategically adapt to make the most of any situation in the workplace, but highlights the importance of incorporating these strategies into everyday life.

Learn more about Building for Tomorrow: An Action Plan to Embrace Change, Adapt Quickly, and Future-Proof Your Career by Jason Feifer.

Lola R. McClure