A quick post, led by the relentless pileup of ‘reading for work’ articles and podcasts, on a new role / career option waiting to be created.
It is common for CEOs / CXOs in Indian or international companies to have assistants / secretaries who do scheduling + travel bookings largely along with some office management or personal chores. They are typically many paid anywhere from 5 to 10% of the bosses’ salary (₹8-15 lacs salary usually, though sometimes even more – I have heard as much as ₹30-40 lacs even for CEOs of large companies).
The objective of having an admin assistant (if we may call it that) is to have some one save the CEO’s high value time so she or he can use that for high leverage business problems. Many CEOs also have a Chief of Staff as distinct from the admin assistant, who is usually an MBA or executive, working 2-3 years with the CEO on ensuring the highest possible leverage of the CEO’s time. It isnt entirely common in India but we are beginning to see more and more Executives with Chief of Staff / Executive Assistants (as they were called in the past).
It is uncommon, or rather, I have never heard of anyone having an information assistant – someone who will listen to all of the podcasts or read business books / articles / newsletters that the CEO is recommended and summarising or highlighting the important stuff and presenting it to the CEO or CXO. A kind of personal information management assistant (PIMA using the first letters of those 4 words). In fact just as assistants are shared, 3-4 CXOs can share a PIMA, who can even be a remote worker.
Given the amount of content now getting generated – a lot of it of high quality and especially a lot of high quality podcasts that are without transcripts – and the same limited time, I wouldn’t be surprised if there could be senior execs willing to spend a few lacs or so for shared PIMAs / summarisers + curators of high quality content. The pay for individual PIMAs would certainly be higher – perhaps as much as 2x of admin assistants even, but on a shared basis the costs would come down. Meanwhile the benefits are incalculable – all that learning and time spent in both searching for and even consuming that content. There could actually be two levels of PIMAs – one who summarise what you tell them to, while the other is a more elite cadre that actually curates a list and summarises it for you.
This is akin to how the fitness industry functions. You have two options when it comes to physical fitness – one, where you go to the gym and work out on your own. That is how we read today. The other is having a personal fitness trainer who comes to you with a curated set of workouts that give you the highest bang for the buck / time. This is what the PIMA will do – coming with either an entirely curated or suggested summarised list of readings.
I wonder if running a PIMA agency can actually become a viable business. It could actually be a great lifestyle business. I can imagine various levels of PIMA talent on delivery at various rates. There could be all sorts of related offerings – the most popular content summarised by PIMAs could be sent as a paid newsletter to average Joe subscribers. There could be special 1:1 or 1:many sessions where an expert PIMA can deconstruct a popular business book or article. Corporates might buy it for their CEOs or CXOs even. Having a PIMA might be a status symbol even.
For the PIMA, it could either be a full time role – being paid to read or listen to high quality content – or even a part-time role where they allocate 2-3 hrs of their day amongst their other chores to listen to and summarise the content.
Now I am not saying we shouldn’t read – there is the occasional insightful piece – article or book – that deserves to be read in its entirety but really we need a solution for all of those content / thought leadership pieces or reports / podcasts that are getting generated – what I call business literature which is largely useful for perspective and for employing at work, which is beginning to eat considerably into leisure time. Worse, it also generates guilt in non-consumers. It is kind of akin to ordering in vs cooking. Just as in the 1930s most of us cooked and ate at home, today the actual number cooking their meals is far lower (well, at least before COVID). Similarly reading for your job will go the way of cooking. Tomorrow, your reading will be done for pleasure just as we cook for fun today, with all of the must-do / keep up with business reading done by assistants and summarized for you
TL;DR: In 20-25 yrs it will be seen as surprising for the elite to have to spend time reading business content themselves. The time saved will be used by them in reading fiction or interesting books leaving business literature (articles, pdfs) and podcasts to be read and consumed by their Personal Information Management Assistants (PIMAs).