The Best Future Careers To Survive The AI Onslaught? There Are 3 Types

“Come with me if you want to live!”

That was the famous invitation the intimidating Terminator, having come back from the future, offered to a disbelieving Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) in the movie Judgement Day.

Now I am not offering quite the same thing!

But what I am going to discuss today has also to do with survival.  Specifically, what type of jobs or careers will survive the AI onslaught?

In an earlier post, I discussed the potential demise of professional careers.

And till now we have yet to have a more detailed discussion of what are the best types of jobs in the future.

So even before we begin to embark on our strategies to take us there, shouldn’t we at least have some idea?

After peering in to their crystals balls, different futurists have different perspectives.

One such futurist is John Hagel.  According to Wikipedia…

John Hagel (or John Hagel III) is a management consultant and author who specializes in helping executives to anticipate and address emerging business opportunities and challenges.  Hagel has spent over 30 years in Silicon Valley. He is the founder of two technology startups and served as the Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning at Atari, Inc. He spent 16 years at McKinsey & Company, where he helped open their Silicon Valley office and served as a leader of their Strategy practice as well as founding their e-commerce practice in 1993.”

Meaning the guy should know what he is talking about!

Hagel spoke with the South China Morning Post explaining the 3 types of jobs that will survive in the digital age.

There were actually 2 surprising quotes in the article.

The first is…

“While many people worry that they have to acquire technological skills in order to survive in the future workplace, Hagel advised that the best way for individuals to prepare is to cultivate capabilities that are intrinsically human.”

Pretty counterintuitive but makes sense.  Why not do something machines cannot?

In an age where machines are getting more pervasive, people skills become more important!

In an age where machines are getting more pervasive, people skills become more important!

The second surprising quote…

“Ultimately the most passionate workers we believe are the ones that are going to be most successful in this new world”.

Passionate?  Did I read that right?

Weren’t we taught to just get on with the job and relegate our passion to our weekend or hobby?

But maybe he’s right.  With the more mundane or mechanical jobs being taken over by machines, maybe our passion is what will differentiate us.

Do you remember that passion was one of the starting points for the Effectuation strategy we discussed earlier.

I will have more to say about that in upcoming posts.


According to Hagel, one type of job that will survive is the Creator of innovative products and services.  I think what he means by innovative is something that cannot be easily replicated by machines.

Off the top or my head, I can think of content creators like makers of movies, music, books, online courses and comics.

The internet is a very attractive means of delivering this content to our screens on our desks or in our living rooms.  As a result movie theatres, video and book stores will or have already  shut down.

But the content creator still makes the money.

Therefore, the ability to create content that connects with people becomes an important skill.

Imagine parents who may have told their children “You should become a doctor or lawyer.  Forget drawing your cartoons – you won’t be a success that way.”

Who knows?  It might just be the opposite in the future!

Some people may associate creativity with artistic skills such as drawing or playing musical instruments or making a blockbuster movie or writing a hit novel.  And therefore they believe that creativity is a talent you are born with.  And some have it, others don’t.

But the way I define creativity is simply the ability to create something new.  I run many workshops of my own design and creation.  I have created my own materials for my workshops.  I therefore consider myself creative and a creator.

If you have designed a new business strategy or have a new business idea – you are being creative.

If you develop a software for a new application, you are being creative.

So in this sense, anyone can be creative and be a creator.

But clearly some are more creative than others.  So how do you build the capacity to be more creative?

Well according to Allan Gannett, author of the Creative Curve, creativity begins by spending 20% of your waking ours consuming material relevant to the field of your choosing.  Basically you cannot create unless you consume.

Check out his book on Amazon.


I talked about the Flip Classroom and the changing role of the educator in previous posts.

The gist of it is that in the future, the role of a teacher is less teaching and more coaching.  A coach is a “trusted advisor” who helps other people to do their job better and faster.

The coach offers motivation and accountability…things machines cannot do…at least not yet!

That’s why I pay a fitness trainer…so that I will be consistent in my workouts!

And according to Hagel, the Coach is another type of job that will survive.

I run workshops so by Hagel’s definition  – I am a coach (at least I hope I am).

And if I can help you make sense of what is going on out in this new digital world and give you some clues as to how to navigate through it, maybe I am also performing a coaching service.

Another major area I think will grow in demand is mental health.  A turbulent environment can create fear, anxiety, depression and stress.  And despite all the connections we can make on our social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, we can be still be very lonely.

The recent suicides of 2 icons, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, is just the very visible tip of a huge iceberg.  I am not saying that they killed themselves because of the the current environment – apparently Kate Spade was diagnosed as bipolar.  But the need to deal with mental health issues will only rise in the future.

Another major area I think will grow in demand is mental health.  Coping with an unpredictable and fast changing environment can be stressful.  And despite all the connections we can make on our social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, we can be still be very lonely.

Cultivating the right kind of mentality for this new work environment is vital to mental health.

This is where coaches can come in too.

Just to give you an idea of what I mean you can check out this practical guide on handling stress in turbulent times.


As people become wealthier, they will crave experiences rather than products.  So Composers create experiences for them.

I wonder if he meant taking tourists to outer space; or checking into a 5-star igloo near the north pole.  But you get the idea.


I know I said in the title that there are 3 kinds of jobs that will survive the digital transformation.  Those were the 3 according to Hagel.

I think I should add a fourth.  The Curator.

According to Wikipedia…

“A curator (from Latin: cura, meaning “to take care”) is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, library, or archive) is a content specialist charged with an institution’s collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material.”

What I am talking about though is an information curator.  This sort of curator deals with the information overload problem which is a consequence of the digital transformation.

An information curator may not create new or innovative product or service.  Neither does he necessarily provide coaching or compose new experiences for his audience.  Instead, he assembles the relevant information from an ocean of data in cyberspace in a way that makes it easier for his targeted audience to consume.

I hope that I am also playing that role.


For those of you in the twilight of you careers, maybe this does not matter much.  But if you just recently started your career journey, this is food for serious thought.

Same for those of you who are expecting to graduate soon into this new digital landscape.

And for parents, you will probably have to think about what kind of guidance to give your children.  What are the skills needed to be a successful creator, coach, composer or curator?

Well hopefully, we will get more answers and we journey further together in this blog.

Click here for the interview with John Hagel.

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