Want to keep your job? 'Be hungry, curious, persistent, says Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman speaks during The New York Times Global Forum held at The Four Seasons Singapore on Oct 25, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Thomas Friedman speaks during The New York Times Global Forum held at The Four Seasons Singapore on Oct 25, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

In a more wired world, anyone who wants a job, or aims to keep the one he has, should think and act like a new immigrant, American thinker Thomas Friedman said during a visit to Singapore yesterday.

Mr Friedman, The New York Times' long-time foreign affairs columnist, said that those who were new to a country tended to be hungry for opportunities and always concerned that these could be snatched away at any time.

The world now belongs to those with "the grit and persistence to grab opportunities".

"The world does not care what you know and will pay for only what you can do with what you know," the 60-year-old said.

He was speaking to about 250 delegates at the one-day New York Times Global Forum Asia, of which The Straits Times was a media partner.

At Four Seasons Hotel, he hosted 10 conversations with business and thought leaders at the forefront of the digital economy, including Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman and senior partner of management consultancy McKinsey James Manyika.

Mr Friedman drew from his books and columns to argue that the world was now living in a new "Gutenberg moment", referring to the invention of the printing press. Major changes in technology and access to information technology were now reshaping people's lives, he said.

His tips for surviving in such a "hyper-connected" world: Act like an artisan, who always takes pride in and puts "a little extra" into one's work.

"Average is over," he said, noting that businesses and customers today demanded something special. He cited the example of a waitress at his favourite restaurant who offered him "more fruit", in an attempt to add value to her table service.

These days, he added, people with a high persistence quotient (PQ) and curiosity quotient (CQ), including a willingness to learn new things, were more useful than those with just a high IQ.

"PQ plus CQ is greater than IQ," he summed up.

suk@sph.com.sg