Recession Proofing for the Future: Insights from Techstars’ Gary Stewart & Paradigm’s James Francis

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At BYP’s recent New York Leadership Summit, Gary Stewart, Managing Director of Techstars, and James Francis, Founder, President & CEO of Paradigm Asset Management Company, shared their insight on how to recession-proof one’s career and life for the future. The session was hosted by Omose Ighodaro and featured thoughtful discussions on topics such as financial planning, investment strategies, and personal development. In this blog post, we will be summarizing the key takeaways from Gary and James’ talk.

Why Recession Proofing is Important

The economy is a fickle thing. You never know when it’s going to change or how, but one thing’s for sure: it will change.

That means that you need to be prepared for anything. That means recession-proofing your career so that you can stay afloat and keep earning money no matter what happens in the economy.

So what does recession-proofing look like? It looks like working with companies that are recession-proofed themselves—companies that are stable and are growing regardless of what happens in the economy around them. It also means being ready for opportunities when they present themselves—maybe it’s something new at work, maybe it’s starting your own business on the side… whatever it may be, being able to seize those opportunities will help keep your career afloat in this uncertain time.

Gary Stewart’s Insights on Recession Proofing in Tech

Gary’s insights centred on knowing your own worth. After working in Madrid for a bit, Gary came back with a lesson in thinking of yourself as a start-up. Ask yourself, what is your differentiator? What are the one or multiple qualities that are unique to you and allow you to be the best at your job?

Once you’re clear on what values you bring to the table and you’re willing to work to realize your full potential, only then will you be recession-proof. By no means does this mean that you can’t ever be fired, but if you are clear on the qualities you have that no one else does, you can carry that with you anywhere and leverage it in another position.

Think of yourself as a product, what’s your product? What’s your market strategy aka how do you network in person or on social media? You need to be clear on why an employer should choose you over someone else.

James Francis’ Insights on Recession Proofing in Asset Management

James Francis suggests looking at your career as if it were a start-up, which often undergoes pivots and adaptations to thrive. Being adaptable and future-focused is crucial. It’s essential to define your career path and continuously invest in learning throughout your lifetime. By acquiring new and enhanced skills that are relevant to the ever-changing corporate landscape, you can stay ahead of the game.

Remaining up-to-date with industry trends and staying two to three steps ahead in terms of skill development and interpersonal abilities is vital. It’s also important to stay centered as a person, as this helps foster adaptability and resilience in the face of challenges. By maintaining balance and clarity, you’ll be well-prepared for any storms that may arise in your professional journey. The key lies in embracing a growth mindset and continuously evolving to ensure long-term success in asset management.

Strategies for Recession Proofing Your Career and Life

In these uncertain times, it’s crucial to develop strategies to recession-proof both your career and life. While it’s tempting to rely on leaders to solve our problems, it’s time to take charge and become the problem solvers ourselves. Believe in your abilities and value, and trust that you deserve to be in the room where important decisions are made.

Start by reflecting on three key questions: What are your strengths? What activities do you genuinely enjoy? And what skills can you leverage to make a living? By finding alignment among your answers, you’ll discover the sweet spot where your passion meets your marketable skills, paving the way for long-term success and fulfilment.

Watch the Talk

Watch more talks from the US Leadership Summit

About the Speakers

Gary Stewart, Managing Director of Techstars

Gary Stewart is the Managing Director of the Techstars New York City Accelerator, powered by J.P. Morgan. Originally from Jamaica, he was raised in the Bronx and attended the Bronx High School of Science. Gary pursued his education at Yale College and Yale Law School. He has a successful background as a serial entrepreneur, backed by venture capital and with successful exits. Additionally, he has managed a substantial startup portfolio worth $1.6 billion. Gary is an esteemed professor, having taught entrepreneurship at Yale Law School and IE Business School in Madrid. 

James Francis Founder, President & CEO of Paradigm Asset Management Company

James Francis is the Founder and CEO of Paradigm Asset Management, where he oversees and develops various strategies, including the innovative AlphaMax ranking process. Before establishing Paradigm, James played a crucial role in creating an in-house business unit at Oppenheimer and Company, catering to the needs of institutional investors in investment management, cash management, and equity and fixed-income trading. James holds a B.A. from Morehouse College and co-founded The Council of Urban Professionals, an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering diverse business and civic leaders. He has served on several boards and is an active member of prestigious professional associations.

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