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The New Way to Work: Charlie Hoehn at TEDxCMU 2011

100 Replies to “The New Way to Work: Charlie Hoehn at TEDxCMU 2011”

  • Here we go again with the College argument for the 500,000,000th time…How about instead debating how our Country is run? You don't see the Spaniards blaming each other for the problems they are taking a bite out of their politician's asses. Only in America do we turn on each other instead of reinforcing one another.

  • @gillianorley Well anyone can find work doing something, but I think the idea is living a life doing something that you're passionate about, or doing something that's meaningful to you rather than simply selecting a major that will get you a "good" job. Otherwise the world would be full of doctors, lawyers and engineers. Employers probably complain about not being able to get quality applicants because they require 3-5 years of industry experience, and the only ones applying are recent grads…

  • @gillianorley One of my friends was an accounting major and works as a senior accountant at, but after years of working in accounting, she decided she wasn't passionate about the work, and that it was sucking the life out of her, so she wanted to do something else. Is it that unbelievable that people don't want to commit the rest of their lives to doing something because of a choice they made while they were 19 years old? Adapting is learning new skills, isn't it?

  • Instead of wasting $160K on college studying marketing and communications and then getting a job through free work, why not learn something that is difficult and in high demand to start? This doesn't face the real problem – kids who head off to college to have fun and who study something easy and expect a great career as a prize in the end. You need to learn something hard and rigorous to start, not begin after you get out of college.

  • @lpminecraftvideos *hard* degree does not equal *top* degree. Not to dismiss the effort and brains it takes to get a neuropsychology degree, but I'm not exactly aware of a boom in neurotechnology jobs.

  • Good advice. Even "engineers" and "doctors" who have just graduated have to undergo on the job training, close supervision, and several more years *learning* the real skills required for their chosen career. College does not give you skills – it gives you a piece of paper. I went back to college at 35 to get a BSc in Biotechnology. I spent years choosing carefully, and made the most of those 4 years to learn the skills too. Most college grads blindly choose their career at 17. They need this!

  • Love this guy's attitude, and this is indeed the story of our generation, but you can't deny that the audience for this begins and ends with entitled rich kids. This approach realizes what you knew all along, that you were indeed destined to do exactly what you want and not be bored. That attitude is the true cause of my generation's malaise, not the poor economy and not internships. If everyone who would rather go into advertising than electrical school does so, we're screwed.

  • Competitiveness necessary to get hired these days makes me afraid. That's why I will create my own job.

  • And apparently this guy thinks everyone who graduates with a degree in engineering can easily land a job.

  • If you get educated based on demand and pay instead of what you actually *want* to do, you're not going to be the best you could be and you're not going to be happy with your work. His Venn diagram seems to be missing one circle, though; "things you are interested in". You need to acquire skills that are in high demand, difficult to learn and interesting to you.

  • Contrary to popular belief, perpetual movement during a presentation actually HOLDS audience attention. Standing still while keeping your hands motionless merely puts the audience to sleep. Regardless of the subject matter it is important to be as animated as possible. Engage the audience!

  • Most degrees, professional or otherwise, are obsolete within 2-5 years – especially engineering degrees. What he is suggesting is perpetual adaptation toward the elimination of obsolescence . He is correct inasmuch as the "value" of college degrees (return on investment) has diminished substantially over the last 20 years. The cost of college today vs the anticipated return is grossly maligned.

  • Well, I can say firsthand as an attorney who works with many CPAs that law and accounting are two professions that have continuing education requirements in order to maintain a licence to practice, although I have to say that these fields do not change that rapidly if at all. The legal principals I learned in law school 20 years ago still apply today. GAP accounting rules change a bit, but not much and not rapidly. I assume doctors and civil engineers have similar continuing ed requirements.

  • To continue my last post, I've covered the "professions," but any field, professional or otherwise, involves learning and keeping current as part of one's career.

    If you graduated with a computer science degree in 1995 and had done nothing in the field since, you would be pretty behind the curve. So you get a degree and then work in that field which keeps you current with new developments. College is too expensive. Let's address that rather than say college is no longer useful.

  • The important message here is work on things that you are passionate about and with people who inspire you. I do this daily as an entrepreneur. There is no other formula.

  • I'm actually doing something like this now, but what is this side work he's talking about? I have no income because service jobs, like any other aren't laying around to be scooped up. I'm on my way with my own strategy and will add some of what he suggests. But without help like my parents I would have the option of free work.

  • It doesn't make sense that an engineering degree is obsolete within 2-5 years, because it is the most sought after degree field directly after graduation, and by that point you will already have a job, and the experience in the field can carry you from there. If anything, engineering is the least obsolete degree you can get.

  • What he's saying about engineering degrees rendered obsolete doesn't apply to ANY field, not even computer engineering. No engineering degree becomes useless because the degree teaches you the fundamentals of (insert field, e.g. computers) It will not become useless in any length of time because obtaining the degree means that you can learn about any "new technology" at a rate exponentially higher than someone who does not have the degree. It's REQUIRED in engineering to gain useful experience.

  • Wrong. Movement for EMPHASIS of PARTICULAR POINTS holds audience attention. Movement of the body (back and forth walking) is distracting. If you were to move to a certain part of the stage for a purpose (for emphasis on a particular point in space, e.g. my product is HERE) then that is extremely useful. However, back and forth pacing adds nothing to a presentation.

  • Talk about wage slavery… working for free? That's like slavery, in the hope of future wages. Even worse!

    I'm not criticizing the people that try this. But the more and more people do this, the more competitive it will be, and people will work for less and less pay, worse and worse conditions.

    The wealth gap is insanely huge in America, and it's obviously getting worse.

  • Heya, Anyone heard about the Tube Cash Exposure? (do a Google Search) Ive listened to some phenomenal stuff about it and my cousin made lots of money with it!

  • Has anyone ever looked at the computer systems in the majority of businesses? The majority use OLD systems. The OLD off white yellowish systems with command line or DOS. A huge amount of places still use Windows 2000 or XP. They are slowly getting Windows 7. They use the mentality, if it aint broke, don't fix it. The proof is in the rise of hackers. To say these jobs that administer these machines will be obsolete is ridiculous.

  • Great Idea. I would love to find a skilled internet geek who can proof s/he can keep innovating. Exploration is the best way to business, it leads to partnership and not just salary.

  • Gonna play absolute Devils Advocate here…

    This video really boils down to "if you didn't get a useful degree, learn marketing and sales and start freelancing"

    Not so revolutionary afterall perhaps?

  • This video was actually one of the reasons I switched from getting a cookie cutter business degree to a computer science BS haha

  • So all I need is a truck tent, a part time job and someone willing to take me on as a volunteer to make a network. It seems simple enough but most of us have school debts.

  • You work the crap job you can get because you are over qualified. Wendy's, Verizon, anything. But you don't settle for that. You don't go out and party. You then work on projects on the side as suggested here. Edumacate yourself. Contact people. Dooooo stuff. Blog intelligently about what you do and what you learn from it.

    If possible, start this while still in school. More professors should help students find projects like this to do instead of homework.

    Or you could stay poor and unhappy.

  • I wish I had this advice 20 years ago when I was just finishing school. This is an excellent advice and I hope everyone who is in their 20's watch this and learn from it, even if you are not going to follow your dream. Why? Well, just wait 20 years and see. You'll know.

  • OMG! I totally learned this for myself. It all started at a hackathon. I became addicted and I started getting random job offers.

  • Here's the problem: Not everyone can be captain badass and do all of these things. There aren't that many "slots". SOMEONE has to work at verizon wireless. No matter what the path is, as soon as its public, people will beat the door down and make it just one more rung on the ladder. It used to be college. Then everyone went there. Now its this. There is no end bc at the end of the day (yah cliche i know) there are a lot of ope vacancies at the verizon store.

  • majinspy has it. Most job are boring, humilitating, frustrating, etc., which is why we get paid to do them. The secret for most of us is to change our attitude and approach to our job. Search for videos on how to change your attitude and approach, on how to use your job as a training ground for self-improvement and self-expression, etc. It's not easy to change your attitude in a crummy job, but is easier than find that perfect job which may not even exist.

  • But what about the rest of the people who simply dont have what it takes to be the super elite…and know it? This video is fine as a guide for the top 20% in terms of intelligence. The problem is that technology (largely robots and computers) have replaces a HUGE amount of the non-elite workforce, b/c they allow the elite to project their intellect over a wider area. What on earth are the mass of blue and white collar workers going to do when the top 20% use technology to do…everything?

  • ???, not sure I understand completely what you are saying!! Can you be a little more specific? seriously, not being a jerk or nothing…thanks

  • Great job young man!! It sounds like you have utilized a few of Napolean Hill's 17 success principles!! PMA, Going the extra mile, creative vision, pleasing personality, personal initiative, learning from defeat, budgeting time & money, and a few others on the list!! OUTSTANDING!! Most importantly to me is your creative vision to think of something like this!! Must have been a very thoughtful time you spent on your bathroom floor LOL!! Anyway, good luck to you in your future endeavors!!

  • JAY ABRAHAM, work 2 weeks for free, if you like my work, pay me, we move forward together. If not, We part ways, no harm no foul, have a great day…. Risk-Reversal…BIG STUFF!!

  • To respond to KirilsYag, Charlie was specific about doing excellent work, let me repeat, EXCELLENT work to show that you are more than worthy of being hired. He wasn't just licking envelopes or something that anyone could do. I don't think it's a matter of making someone feel obligated to hire you just because you did some free work for them. You want them to say, "Wow! His work is damn good. Hmm. I don't want to let this guy go." It has nothing to do with ethics.
    It was an excellent talk! Thnx!

  • he's gotta be freaking averagely rich when he pulled that off..unlike the rest of us. Gotta eat ya know.. & that constant back and forth walking made me dizzy that i didnt care finishing the vid..~_~

  • if you people would like to get ripped prompt without spending a one extra minute in the gym, then you really want to keep an eye on this online video SIXPP.COM

    Let the music speak to us of tonight, in a happier language than our own.

  • I work in business software implementation that is exciting and would fit this model well. I travel the world and make well over 200K a year. It is as Charlie describes: in high demand and requiring high skills. The only way to learn these skills is on the job. Instead of taking kids fresh out school like Charlie, we take a bunch of south Asians with fake resumes on visas. Contact me if you would like to learn more.

  • Lol, true engough! Same here.
    Actually I did more: I made the step causing more loss than my payment, and stopped working. So then the guy asked every friends of him to not give me work, and "promised" the payment he owed me for a half year already.
    So then I told him: "Good, I gona be homeless. Then I prefer drinking over working for you." So got paid at the end, with all my other jobs gone. Can't pay the bills again.
    My advice: Never work for free! That sends the message you worth nothing.

  • Large amounts of regular people now make huge amounts of cash who never thought they could. Copy and paste into google Morsch Money Secret to see what they did.

  • Hahahahaha WHY WOULD THEY PAY YOU when they've just learned they can get people to work for FREE?  If people start taking your advice then all that's going to happen is free work will become the norm, the value of labour will plummet and everyone will suffer – except the corporations, who I'm sure paid you to tell people this.

    What's the worst that could happen?  I could throw away my life for nothing.

  • I very much subscribe to this philosophy and have found a fair amount of success from it. I work as an ESL teacher but I wanted to get into HR for better future prospects. I contacted a bunch of NGOs and asked if I could work for free. I got work at World Vision and was very quickly given a project to work on. I went above and beyond and spent hours and hours getting it done. I made many strong relationships and after I left they contacted me and encouraged me to apply for a fairly junior position in the HR department. Although I had no experience in HR (I studied psychology), they apologised for not having more senior positions and said it was a little bit junior for me. In all honesty, it probably wasn't. But I turned it down because I work on a casual basis (often for free) in another position where I learn far more and get to be part of the growth of a small business.
    Being willing to demonstrate what I can bring to the table inspires trust and then opportunities come. It's more than free work. The best jobs pay you in skills rather than money (you should get both but the skills are the key selling point). If you get $100K working a job that doesn't develop your skills, you are getting a bad deal. If you work for free but are on the path to gaining mastery of valuable skills, you are on the path to having a huge market value. Then it's just a matter of using these skills and adding value to a business. This inspires trust which in turn leads to the exponential increase in your perceived value. 

  • I don't think doing internship work will help you find the dream area you are searching for. Internships (intern-sheeps) also have a boss, and if you are as lucky as the rest of the 99 population you will endup with a jerk super demanding boss that will treat you like crap.
    Who the hell has the time to spend months of months on switching jubs just to test them….you eventually will waste your youth and end -up on a job that you hate but pays…just to pay your overdue bills and loans that you made during internship exploration 
    Nice hip-hop gestures

  • What an awesome TED Talk! I completely agree with Charlie's premise that we don't find the work we love with a college degree. We pigeon-hole ourselves into a niche where we have to search on for a job, and then despise the search results. 

    I'm a biologist by career path, and I have worked as a high school biology teacher, and a biology professor at a large university. I was collecting degrees because I felt unfulfilled. One day a friend sent me a job posting for Technology Integration Specialist for a local school. My friend knew I loved technology, used it heavily in my classes, and that my students loved what I did to help them. I designed websites for my class, even though I didn't have to. I blogged, because I loved to share my best lessons with other biologists. I was active on social media, because I loved having a learning network, and sharing ideas. I filmed all of my lessons, and put them on Youtube, so my students could watch lessons they missed, I did my job – teaching biology – but I had a passion for technology.

    I applied for the job, not thinking I'd get it. I did, and now I do what I LOVE, every day, because I did "free work." Free work has also led me to a passive income from sales of my books on Amazon, developing websites for textbook publishers, affiliate sales, and advertising on my site. Eventually, I'll work myself out of a day job, and be able to rely on my "free work" to make a living. And I'll love every second of it.

    So @Charlie Hoehn cheers to you, and great advice in this video!

  • I'm 62, and all my life I've had no idea what the inner me wants to do. I'll retire this year, yes get the Social Sec now, and this guy is talkin' to me.

  • You can do this even with no parents to support you. Be grateful for the lowly job, live severely cheap and save a stash, and you're on your way.

  • Sigh welcome to the world of artists…btw its amazing if something pans out but for a lot of people it never really does.

  • I've started following his advice a few months ago. I was 18 (still am, actually), had zero experience, and I was only a major in economics. I started working on marketing and, since then, got into two companies (unpaid), started another one and got into the one I'm on today. Not only it got me a lot of experience, but, most important, doing free work helped me to find what I wanted to do at least for the next 5 years. That's what I'm doing right now.
    Thanks, Charlie! This talk changed my fucking life!

  • So workers entering the job market today need to be beggars. I wonder if free blow jobs are included. Working for free is also known as slavery.

  • YESSSSS!! That's what I recently started doing at 62 after losing my 20+ year as a very senior software engineer in 2001 due to a combination of the dot com bubble bursting and Bill Clinton's China Free Trade Agreement that sent tons of software engineering jobs to India and China. After all these years, I'm trying to get back into high tech with no tech experience since then. There's no way I could get an interview for a paid gig, so I picked a technology I want to work in and I'm trying to find free work to get a foot in the door. Hoping my overall experience, although awhile ago, will help compensate for my age.

    All technologies today were not around when I was forced to leave software engineering in 2001, so I've been taking great free online courses in edX in my area of interest.

    Good for you, Charlie!

  • What's worse about Indeed, Monster, Careerbuilder etc. (approx. 6:03) is that HR departments and recruiters often post jobs that don't exist just so they can collect resumes for their own future convenience. You can waste your time on the whole, asinine, ATS application process, including the psychological surveys (because of course you should have to reveal details of your psyche and upbringing to a company you have no relationship with and hasn't offered you anything!) only to never hear from the company even if you are qualified- all because the whole job posting was a fraud.

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