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The late mail: Even posties aren’t safe from digital disruption

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 | By Jason Rose

I recently had a great chat with a postie.


He joined Australia Post immediately after finishing school and has been there ever since – 25-plus years.


He loves it. It’s simple. He gets up (early) five days a week, sorts through his mail, jumps on his bike and rides around in the sunshine delivering his letters.


He stops for a chat with all the little old ladies. He says g’day to the friendly neighbourhood dogs. He basically gets paid to keep fit and get a suntan.


When I asked him what the best part of his job is, he said that it was the no stress. He recognised that he wasn’t going to get rich, but the job was hard to beat in terms of the wage/stress trade-off.


He’s right.


But then, a few days later, I read that Aussie Post is reconsidering the role of the humble old postie. With more and more bills being sent via email, the number of traditional letters has crashed.


So, here is yet another industry facing restructuring, redundancy and re-engineering.


I found this whole episode really fascinating. It increasingly seems that no place is safe from the disruptive effects of technology.


The once all-powerful newspaper industry has been smashed by the changes wrought by digital. Even the banks who today consistently report multi-billion-dollar profits are scared.


They’ve got teams of people analysing and ruminating on what the digital world will mean for them. They’re even ploughing their own money into ventures to try and stay ahead of the curve.


So, what does it all mean for my mate the postie?


I think that the biggest career mistake people can make today is to believe that you can find a comfort zone and stay in it. It’s a cliché but change is the new constant.


Everyone needs to internalise that fact. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the inevitable consequence of living in a globalised, technology-centric world.


We all need to be constantly expanding our skills. We all need to start looking at careers as entrepreneurs and ensuring that we are staying ahead of the market in terms of our abilities.


It may even mean trying to start your own business, which is stressful but less stressful than losing your only career in middle age.


Whatever the answer is for a particular individual, it will undoubtedly involve facing change rather than retreating and trying to hide from it.


It’s kind of ironic that a postie has been slow in getting the message.