Last year, the last typewriter factory shut down for good. These antiquated machines have been over taken by computers. To be honest, I didn’t even know a typewriter factory even existed this long. In areas of the world where power grids aren’t as reliable as they are in the first world, it’s easy to see the value of having a machine that writes without electricity.

I’m sure it was a difficult decision for the owner of that factory and I can imagine that the owner’s friends and family were very supportive. Let’s take the emotion out of the picture by looking at our own perspective. We don’t really know this guy personally. So objectively, is anyone crying over the fact that the world is no longer making typewriters?

Let’s Bring It Closer To Home

When our friends and family, or even ourselves are in a similar situation, we tend to feel empathy or even distress. How many photographers went out of business when digital cameras exploded onto the scene? How many graphic designers are being wiped out by having services outsourced to India or the Philippines?

With the advancement in technology and the Internet, products and services are becoming more and more commoditized. We can whine and moan all we want about how our jobs are being scooped up by a shrinking global village, but the question I’d ask of everyone is, what are you going to do about it? Unfortunately, no matter how important you think your products and services are, the bottom line is that no one cares. All the customer sees is the value that’s in it for them, and if they don’t see things your way, it’s your fault, your problem.

Warren Buffett’s Thoughts On This

The way I see things, if you’re on the receiving end of this commoditized world, you have a few options: Lower your prices to match your competition, persuade your audience that your products and services are worth as much as you think they are, or stay ahead of the wave and not get caught in an over-saturated industry. The great man Warren Buffett once said that the best hedge against inflation was to increase your skill level. This applies to all my examples. Increasing your skill can mean you can produce your products and services for less money and more quickly. It can mean that your marketing is top notch and always ahead of the crowd, or it might just mean you are being adaptive to an ever-changing world.

A client of mine was a computer software programmer. She had a great job in the 80s, but hasn’t been able to find a job since. The life of an employee is no different than that of an entrepreneur. Are you asking to get paid more than the employer thinks your services are worth? Are you unable to persuade your employer that your value is far beyond what they interpret? Are you unable to go back and build your skill set?

Reality Check Time

Assets all over the world are bubbling and ultimately collapsing. It’s time to truly understand what you ultimately want in life and to undersatnd what you’re willing to do to bridge that gap between what you have and what you want. Today I may sound more like a Tony Robbins-esque life coach, and you’d be correct, since there is a thin, almost permeable line between finance and your personal life. In fact I’ve had many conversations with clients where they felt that there was no hope of retirement (nothing wrong with working until 90 at all), and although it’s outside the scope of my training, I do get them to consider becoming an entrepreneur or perhaps going back to school.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe there is room in this economy for a person of your skills and talents?