Career Advisory

For those seeking revolutionary impact at the income level you want

I don’t think there’s ever been a more interesting time to be alive, if you are interested in complexity. After centuries of one system, it’s clear we are transitioning to something else. For the first time, we have genuine debate on how we shift to a system where there is an equilibrium in economy, human and planet.

Unfortunately, as we are an evolutionary species, and we’ve left things too late for evolution to be appropriate, rather than that journey being one of design, it will be one of design and destruction, of volatility. What does that mean from a career perspective?

It means that our evolutionary job descriptions are no longer appropriate, with some rather crazy results. The rise of the $1m Chief Sustainability Officer being one of them. As the system is desperate to find anyone with supposedly credible road maps to shift a business strategy which requires 3-planets to succeed, to one that aligns with 1-planet as quickly as possible, without compromising on 3-planet profits, 3-planet salaries, 3-planet products, and 3-planet prices of course…. With no magic wand to help.

Non-linear individuals have always traded income for impact and vice versa throughout their career. As they work across all our systems seeking solutions to our most complex problems. The difference now is the world is waking up to their value, hence the $1m salary offers. (Even though I’ve never met a non-linear individual who needed to earn $1m).

The big question suddenly is, how do you make sure your impact opportunity keeps pace with your income opportunity? These individuals recognise that you can’t rely on our evolutionary systems to create revolutionary job descriptions. How do you create demand for the roles the world needs, but the system doesn’t want? Where in the system will you sit and how do you re-imagine your brand and your network, so that all stakeholders, the ‘grow, innovate and hope’ majority and the “shrink and share” minority, amplify both the need for those revolutionary roles, and your suitability at the same time?

Using my own experiences of working with boards to build in a level of complexity they’d never previously envisaged, and interviewing those who, I believe, have optimised income and impact throughout their career better than anyone, I’ve designed a framework to help.

These two both share several traits.

  • They both see the other as fantasists and increasingly dangerous.
  • They both say they want the same thing i.e. equilibrium between economy, human and planet. However, one sees the planet fitting around the economy and the other, the economy around the planet.
  • They are both increasingly frustrated with the Chief Sustainability Officer type, CEO, or whoever the focal point is for Sustainability in business or government. That non-linear chameleon who both sides thought, saw the world through their lens.

The Problem with Evolutionary Job Descriptions in Revolutionary times

If you want to oversimplify the problem with evolutionary job descriptions. It’s that they get the weighting wrong. So, they overly focus on job descriptions that work for both the three dominant stakeholders: Investors, customers and employees, and the dominant change group: The Grow, Innovate and Hope advocates. That doesn’t work with systemic challenges like climate or inclusion. The system change advocates won’t allow it. They have all the data on why GDP growth and equilibrium isn’t compatible in their favour and will keep screaming.

RESULT — Job descriptions that are out of date before the ink dries on the paper.

Who do I work with?

I’ve developed 3 frameworks all based on the same principles of how you take a systems approach to optimising your income/impact creating the right role for you, within the right part of the system and building a personal brand and network that amplifies both the need for the role and your suitability.

Each framework is slightly different because of the starting point of the individual.

I’ve provided a quick checklist of traits and questions that might qualify as Individual 1.

If you align with Individual 2, then I’d suggest reading the examples for interest but reaching out directly so I can share with you the framework that’s most relevant to your starting point.

Likewise, if you are Individual 3, yet to set out or in the early stages of your career, or indeed a professor concerned by the lack of income/impact optimising roles available for your students, or a parent equally concerned and with the added problem that your children are never going to take your advice, then please contact me for that version of the framework.

Traits of Individuals capable of revolutionary impact at an income of their choice

How many do you recognise in yourself?

  • You might be an employee, advisor, or investor already seen by your peers as an example of someone who is optimising income and impact.
  • You have built that reputation for being able to work across systems to sequence change so that each element acts as an accelerant not a brake.
  • You currently have high credibility and trust from both every aspect of the system. Government, Investor, Employee, Customer, Citizen, but also the ‘grow, innovate and hope’ and the ‘shrink and share advocates’.
  • You recognise that as tension increases that credibility becomes more difficult to sustain.
  • You have almost created two roles for yourself internally. One, the role you are paid for, hitting all your KPI’s, and a second seeking solutions to questions nobody else is asking!
  • You have always been an activist with a small ‘A’. You are used to having to create your own roles and job descriptions, sometimes by design, sometimes by stealth. Asking for forgiveness rather than seeking permission. Indeed, sometimes you’ve had to create your own division or company to optimise impact and income.
  • You recognise that the system always dilutes complexity, and that feeds down to the roles it creates. So, you build that into your thinking and design.
  • You typically seek answers to complexity not publicity, seek impact/income.
  • Your leadership style is often described as service leadership, creating the conditions for those who crave credit to receive it.
  • Your skills are more in demand than ever. Increasingly time poor, everyone wants to speak to you because of your reputation for operationalising complexity of any sort.
  • You recognise that you are being offered more and more money and exposure, for what amounts to less and less impact when judged against the scale and urgency of the challenge or what you want to achieve in the remaining years of your career.
  • Neither of the following sits comfortably: Taking one of these high income/diminishing impact roles for 3 years, or turning them down in the hope that the market catches up.
  • You start to question if you’re the reason why. Is it that the market isn’t creating these roles? Or is my brand wrong, is my network wrong, or is it a combination of all three?
  • Either way you are increasingly underwhelmed, even concerned, by the market’s inability both internally and externally, to create strategies and roles with the right level of ambition/complexity and urgency.

If you have answered yes or nodded your head to more than half of these questions, please get in touch, I’d love to work together in some way. Please feel free to share with others in your network you believe might benefit.

About Andy James

Andy helps organisations create revolutionary job descriptions for extraordinary times He acts as a career advisor to those individuals who recognise they can’t rely on the system to create the roles we desperately need. His executive search practice seeks to match individuals and organisations looking to optimise income and impact.

He has developed a framework to help these high impact individuals create the roles the world needs but the system doesn’t want. Re-imagining their brand and network, so that all stakeholders, the ‘grow, innovate and hope’ majority and the “shrink and share” minority amplify the need for those revolutionary roles and their suitability at the same time.

For more information on how he works, a more detailed overview of his methodology, the framework he uses, including case studies, please email.

The Medium, site of Six Degree People, home of non-linear people models.


The Medium, site of Six Degree People, home of non-linear people models.