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Transforming Work with Sophie Wade

Business & Economics Podcasts

Sophie addresses current business conditions and explores ways to navigate the disruption. She shares informative insights and interviewing leading innovators who are providing or benefiting from transformative solutions that will allow companies to emerge with sustainable models, mindsets, and business practices. Find out how to transition to more effective, productive, and supportive new ways of working—across locations, generations, and platforms—as we harness these challenging circumstances to drive significant, multidimensional changes in all our working lives.


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Sophie addresses current business conditions and explores ways to navigate the disruption. She shares informative insights and interviewing leading innovators who are providing or benefiting from transformative solutions that will allow companies to emerge with sustainable models, mindsets, and business practices. Find out how to transition to more effective, productive, and supportive new ways of working—across locations, generations, and platforms—as we harness these challenging circumstances to drive significant, multidimensional changes in all our working lives.








77: Alicia Serrani - Rising Millennials' Approach to Work, Values, Innovation, and Leadership

Alicia Serrani is a rising Millennial leader and serial entrepreneur. Alicia started at RBS and Morgan Stanley and got a law degree while launching several new ventures—spanning art, politics, artificial intelligence, and fashion. Alicia explains why her first boss had such an impact on her approach to leadership and business, why she deliberately chose the entrepreneurial route as a woman, and how working remotely supercharged her ability to innovate. She shares how she guides and mentors her employees while also trying to remedy some of Gen Z’s detrimental pandemic experiences. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:22] Alicia goes for political science as a means to enact practical philosophy. [02:52] Being in NYC allowed Alicia to explore a wide range of early internship experiences. [04:01] Fashion is Alicia’s family business. [04:38] Banking was a fluke development at the start of Alicia’s career. [06:10] Alicia discovers her banking colleagues lead rich personal lives. [08:20] A hit and run causes brain trauma and it takes the first six weeks at Alicia’s new job to recover. [09:23] Physically incapacitated, Alicia pioneers a remote finance career in 2014 doing data remediation. [11:33] The contrasting office environments of RBS and Morgan Stanley. [12:10] Alicia learns about good and bad bosses from her first boss. [13:44] Contemplating the next career move—potentially venture capital. [14:30] Alicia moves into a startup role after meeting her founding partner at a party. [15:10] What New Hive is and how digital art, blockchain, and NFTs evolved. [17:11] Alicia and Zach develop “survivable disagreement” to collaborate with parties that are at odds. [20:01] Law school becomes Alicia’s pathway to enhance her business credibility. [22:24] In the midst of her law degree, Alicia and Zach launch a second startup,, and why the model wasn’t sustainable. [23:17] They start tracking misinformation and narrative influence regarding voter fraud in 2016. [24:41] The strange dynamics of a misinformation operation, and uncovering it. [27:27] Third Web – Alicia and her business partner’s brain trust. [28:03] Alicia’s philosophy on work—using a graduating lawyer as an example. [29:34] Some of Alicia’s classmates from law school are already taking less traditional routes. [31:08] Alicia shares her plan for her law degree. [31:55] How Alicia thinks technology will elevate the importance of industry level expertise. [33:09] Alicia discusses entrepreneurship as a way to embody your values and stimulate change. [34:36] In entrepreneurial overdrive during the pandemic, Alicia speaks of her approach for developing new projects and ventures. [36:50] How hard fashion businesses are which “hoodwinked” Alicia into actively running T.W.I.N.. [38:56] A boss of many Gen Z’s, Alicia explains her approach to onboarding after the pandemic. [40:10] Isolation during the pandemic impacted aspects of Gen Z’s social comfort and professionalism. [42:06] How Alicia sets clear expectations, identifies goals, and fosters ideas. [43:42] Mentoring is a mutual investment for Alicia and extends beyond her companies. [45:24] Diversity and inclusion requires keeping yourself in check. [46:10] Alicia counsels young employees to recognize the difference between working in a small company and expectations in a large corporate environment. [48:04] Building diverse and inclusive organizations has been a recurring conversation for Alicia. [48:55] How organizational structures can evolve to support effective decision-making, engagement, and creativity. [50:00] Alicia wants to balance and benefit from both physical presence and remote work. [51:00] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If you’re on the entrepreneurial path, don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Sketch it out, try it out, don’t spend a lot of money doing it. Don’t get in your own way. Be intentional about getting it...


76: Elias Baltassis - Generative AI at Work: Truth, Changes, & Consequences

Elias Baltassis is a Partner and Senior Director at the Boston Consulting Group. He has deep expertise in AI- and data-enabled strategy, data operating models, data governance, responsible artificial intelligence and ethics, and new data-driven business development. Elias is passionate about data and analytics and the transformative impact of artificial Intelligence on business and society. He shares his insights about generative AI and LLMs, their potential effect on business, productivity, and relationships, including our necessary attention to ethics and far-reaching implications of AI in the workplace and on the Future of Work. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:42] Elias starts trading bonds after studying math, econometrics, and computer science. [04:17] From notation calculators to basic spreadsheets to nascent AI, Elias sees patterns in tool evolution. [05:17] Elias moves to consulting, always involved in quantitative fields. [06:20] The significant AI break throughs since 2016-17. [07:12[ Why self-supervised learning was one critical advance. [07:50] New architectures--enabling much larger models—were a second step, leading to generative artificial (GenAI) models. [08:55] What the “language” of Large Language Models (LLMs) covers. [10:00] After training ChatGPT by absorbing the internet, “hallucinations” need to be eliminated. [11:06] “Red teaming” to eliminate hallucinations. [12:11] The next refinement step is “reinforcement learning from human feedback”. [13:00] The issue of “jail-breaking” models to circumvent “blocked” answers. [14:32] Data embedding or fine-tuning: using private data to train GPT. [16:02] Why did ChatGPT stop data accretion in 2021? [16:30] The considerable cost of topology, training, and refining AI models. [17:43] User input in ChatGPT serves to refine the model more so than to teach it. [19:37] The Future of Jobs: Will generative AI lead to mass job losses? If so, when? [21:37] Why the impact of GenAI will be delayed in some areas. [23:00] GenAI is impacting certain areas faster—such as coding and customer service—generally enabling significant productivity gains. [24:35] Career progression must adjust as corporate pyramids’ bases shrink. [26:00] Knowledge management will change appreciably, with new jobs created and new tools and processes invented. [29:14] Different professions and companies try to codify their “secret sauce”—what can GenAI take care of? [30:30] What will remain? How people show empathy, interact, and give emotional support. [32:05] Many existing articles about GenAI contain factual inaccuracies. [33:19] Training to understand applied technologies is becoming much more important. [34:40] In a time of exponential curves, doom predictions are imprudent and never verified. [35:18] What Elias is most excited about—especially leveling up the playing field. [36:30] Likely effects: huge productivity improvements depending on the country’s social contract and a reduction in work time. [37:40] Elias explains why timelines relating to GenAI are difficult to circumscribe and more than five years is now considered “long-term”. [38:50] How Elias anticipates the dynamics of change over time due to GenAI. [39:39] Why the “truth function” matters. [40:26] AI may be capable of a kind of informed creativity, as humans do. [40:44] The beneficial mix of technology, regulation, and internal company rules and the emerging need for a Chief AI Ethics Officer role. [44:01] Misinformation is a major concern for Elias. [45:22] The possible negative impact of generative AI on kids. [47:02] We need a definition of what it means to be “human” and “intelligent”—remembering the movie “Her”. [48:06] Comments on the open letter written by Musk, Wozniak, Harari, and others. [49:47] What Geoff Hinton has achieved and what he has to say about GenAI. [51:33] Fellow Turing Award winner Yann LeCun has...


75: Minter Dial — Purposefully Integrating Empathy and AI at Work

Minter Dial and the podcast’s host, Sophie, discuss empathy at work in the new technology-driven era of business and work. They both draw from their books—Minter’s rerelease of Heartificial Empathy: Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence and Sophie’s second book Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work. They explore and debate how to integrate empathy effectively as well as bring a human-centric approach to the AI-infused business and working landscape. Minter shares his insights about the importance of companies’ having an ethical framework that incorporates empathy as they integrate more AI. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:48] Minter’s journey into empathy was by the “back door”. [05:45] Recognizing the benefits of teaching empathy to sales people, l’Oréal initiates a program for those contracted to sell their products. [06:30] Minter finds the approach ironic and reflects on authentic leadership. [07:05] Assessing yourself for empathy skills and how to connect with somebody else's experience. [09:22] Why haven't we been working with more empathy? [11:20] Other factors elevating the need for empathy at work—now. [12:56] Has our empathy—and deeper understanding of each other—generated during pandemic times all evaporated? [14:35] What is behind the high levels of unhappiness and unfulfillment at work? [15:10] The significant shift in the US in people’s views about their working lives. [16:12] What drives empathy that isn’t intentional and authentic. [18:30] How does empathy and flexibility improve business results? [20:15] The pros and cons of having choices. [21:00] Can you engage people individually in a traditional company that has 10,000 employees? [22:02] Focusing on the needs of individuals within a unit. [22:40] How the pandemic helped us understand different approaches and methods. [23:45] Aligning empathy with the business objectives and all the players across the ecosystem. [23:45] The “why” of any company is central to making the organization work. [24:22] Minter believes empathy is a pre-condition for an ethical framework. [25:29] AI is something to bring your humanity to. Minter shares examples of how AI can be used. [27:22] Are we thinking sufficiently about why and how we are introducing generative AI? [29:19] Bettering people’s lives at Redken—connecting people along the value chain with purpose. [32:20] How gen AI search results reflect our collective consciousness—good and bad—elevating the need for an ethical framework. [35:15] Minter gives permission to be imperfect, pushing out and trying. [37:25] Empathy doesn’t mean always being nice—but making tough decisions. [38:18] What standard are we holding ourselves to? How well do we understand ourselves? [39:15] Minter calls for more self-awareness, especially to understand our reasoning and flaws. [40:49] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Do something for others and reconnect with the ordinary things in life. RESOURCES Minter Dial on LinkedIn Minter on Twitter Follow Minter’s Substack DIALOGOS — Fostering Meaningful Conversations Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch QUOTES (edited) “I do feel that the level of unhappiness and unfulfillment at work is about as high as it gets. And perhaps the lingering element is ‘What is this all about? what, what are we doing, Sophie, on this earth? What is my life for?’” “I feel that empathy is a precondition for your ethics, but it doesn't mean you’re good. At the end of the day, what are you trying to achieve? Who are you? If you use empathy with manipulation, you’re going to have manipulative ethics.” “If we want to call AI a step change like the printing press, I think it’s possibly the right call. But I would wish that we would be more focused on the meaningfulness of our business as opposed to the technology that’s going to drive the numbers.” “This notion of having a purpose...


74: Kate Lister (Pt 2) — Remote Work is Helping Us Learn How to Work Effectively

Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytic and seasoned expert on distributed work, returns for Part 2 of her interview about hybrid and remote working. In this episode, Kate describes how to deploy remote options successfully—how we need to update management and work practices. She explains what claims and complaints about remote working research confirms and counters, what we need to be productive and to innovate, why surveillance is not managing, and how important remote options are for supporting sustainability. TAKEAWAYS [03:59] Prior to the pandemic preparations for new work practice deployment took months. [05:08] Even with preparation, establishing new practices as routines takes time and attention. [08:00] New tools, asynchronous communication, and documentation are improving work experiences and effectiveness. [08:41] Who can manage to break through hybrid meetings and how? [09:42] Making better decisions about the practices and processes of meetings. [10:41] Managing remote workers requires a shift in approach—to coach. [11:28] The growing issues of surveillance, work breaks, and stress. [13:20] Monitoring is babysitting not managing—why not manage by results instead? [13:53] The four things remote working is supposed to be negatively affecting. [15:09] How to nurture culture intentionally. [16:32] Telework doesn't create management problems it reveals them—such as low trust, weak culture. [18:05] How Capital One communicates layoffs transparently—very differently from other companies. [19:08] Survey design is critical when trying to find out how employees are (really) doing. [20:47] Deciding the key (new) norms of effective work. [23:10] After agreeing norms, trust and empathy can build, reducing potential conflict. [25:52] How can middle managers build trust, stuck between return-to-office and work-from-home tensions. [27:05] Innovation’s two components: (1) creativity—best done alone; (2) vetting—best done in a group. [28:21] Addressing the decrease of weak ties which are important for innovation and growth. [30:15] Goals should cascade down internally to connect employees with purpose. [33:04] Onboarding was not working before the pandemic, how can we redesign it? [33:58] Mentoring, training, skills, and access combined with appropriate tools and equipment are critical for success. [34:45] Dealing with the “sludge of work” to improve results. [36:46] The importance of transparently sharing the managerial “why”. [38:07] Sustainability is a key benefit of reducing traffic to the office through use of remote work options. [40:46] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To modernize your workplace and ways of working, listen to your people. Listen to your customers and suppliers. Listen to the investment community. Don’t make assumptions. Also lift your foot off the gas sometimes or people will get burned out and leave. RESOURCES Kate Lister on LinkedIn Kate on Twitter Kate’s company website QUOTES (edited) “Working remotely is something that's gonna take a lot of practice, and you're gonna have to keep each other honest on it.” “Culture is about people, and we were using an office as kind of a proxy for culture when it wasn’t.” “Is there anybody that doubts that if somebody is happy and feeling good, they’re going to perform better? And yet what do we do to help them with that?” “The research shows that people who are brainstorming face-to-face feel more productive. They’re not! They come up with more ideas, but fewer commercially viable ideas.” “When it comes to onboarding, 50% of people quit in the first six months, this is before the pandemic! How was that onboarding going before? I don’t think that’s one of those things that we want to replicate! This is about practices and processes.”


73: Kate Lister (Pt 1) — The Data-based Business Case for Remote Work

Kate Lister is President of Global Workplace Analytics and a veteran advocate of remote working—or teleworking as it was previously called. Kate brings almost two decades of experience making data-based business cases to employers to convince them of the financial merits of offering remote working options. She discusses the catalyzing effect of the pandemic which substantially increased the awareness and acceptance of new work arrangements. Kate highlights the long history of employees’ desire for flexibility over their work location and schedule. She also warns of significant downsides for corporations if they do not integrate hybrid or remote work models. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:34] Kate starts as a banker, becomes an entrepreneur, and is about to retire when the Great Recession hits. [04:14] With her husband, Kate builds and runs a vintage airplane ride business for 16 years! [05:10] They sell the business—which they had run from home—and research their next home-based venture. [06:40] Kate’s daughter gets scammed by home-based work, so Kate and her husband write their third book revealing the “naked truth” about making money from home. [07:56] Researching for the book, Kate notices no one has made the business case for “teleworking”—trying to quantify the benefits. [08:40] “Show me the money!” The financial benefits are clear—saving 52 mins of commuting time and 3 hours of distracted time at the office every day. [09:07] Kate has built up a database of over 6,000 research documents studying workplaces and quantifying telecommuting/remote working effects and benefits. [09:32] Making the fact-based business case to the C-suite, quantifying why productivity and or retention would increase. A calculator is available online. [10:20] Benefiting people, planet, and profit. Employees also saved money—employees’ desire to work remotely or not is not considered (pre-pandemic). [11:02] A champion typically brings Kate in to persuade the (rest of the) C-suite depending on the pain point(s) for the particular company—such as saving money, talent or office space. [13:59] Contingent labor typically goes up and down signaling the start and end of a recession, but that does not happen at the end of the Great Recession—and reasons change. [14:54] Reported remote workdays grow 10% a year pre-pandemic, but from a small base. [15:41] Census data (questions) is not capturing accurate data about remote workdays. [16:57] Kate is surprised by how quickly people adapted to working remotely during the pandemic. [18:31] Remote work becomes more humanized and egalitarian, people feel more trusted. [20:59] 2021 is Kate’s busiest and most polarized consulting year to date as employers and employees had conflicting desires about returning to the office. [21:59] Time-shifting work is even more popular with employees than remote working options, but meets more resistance from employers. [23:12] If people working from home get their work done, why do you care what else they do? [23:37] The percentage of people wanting to work fully-remote and hybrid is increasing. [24:02] 18 years ago, 90% of people already wanted to work part of the week from home. [26:26] Kate shows CEOs and CFOs the business costs if they were to force people back to the office. [27:13] The business case often involves reducing real estate costs, also recognizing workplace issues. [28:27] Research shows people want the ability to have privacy at the office. [29:00] Activity Based Working was building prior to the pandemic to provide better office workspaces. [30:18] Kate shares the likely stable office- and home-based working percentages going forward. [31:35] Remote working is one choice in a palette of flexibility to give people autonomy. [33:52] Trust hindered telework taking off in 1973—leaders are babysitting, not managing by results. [34:40] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To hire the best and the brightest,...


72: Jeffrey Shaw — Self Employment: A Popular Pathway in the New World of Work

Jeffrey Shaw has never had a traditional job. He started his entrepreneurial journey as a teen, grew a successful business for 25 years, then became a coach for those who want to be or are self-employed. Jeffrey founded the Self-Employed Business Institute and authored “The Self-Employed Life” and “Lingo”. He discusses the fundamentals and key rules of engagement for entrepreneurs that he learned along the way and how he helps people transition to self-employment and build their own businesses. From recognizing your value to finding your customers, and “deprogramming” your corporate mindset Jeffrey shares his insights for the swelling ranks of the self-employed. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:15] Jeffrey has never had a traditional job. [03:35] Started his entrepreneurial journey at 14 years old, Jeffrey wants to be independent. [04:18] Jeffrey's father's words were pivotal. [06:17] After receiving multiple awards for his photographs, Jeffrey decided to become a photographer. [06:49] Jeffrey focuses on buildings then falls in love with portrait photography on location. [07:33] At 20, Jeffrey has to make it work to support his wife and life. [08:34] Jeffrey realizes his value/offering and target audience do not match. [10:15] Jeffrey works out who his audience should be and where they are. [10:40] Three months should be all he needs to figure it out! [11:34] How to learn critical intelligence about your target audience. [12:55] A saleswoman at Bergdorf Goodman shares critical nuances about customer behavior. [14:05] Jeffrey's book “Lingo” is about his clientele’s secret language. [14:42] The power of asking questions and seeing things in others that we don't see in ourselves. [15:40] Achieving success in his business, Jeffrey decides he wants to do more. [16:25] Jeffrey discusses self-doubt and starts to pursue the idea of coaching. [18:22] Why did Jeffrey hire his first business coach at the peak of his success? [19:30] Why had the business plateaued? [20:25] After 9/11, Jeffrey thought everything was at stake. [21:33] With every major struggle that business owners go through, there is a shift in values. [24:15] Crises speed up the process of change. [25:15] Jeffrey's older clients want to transition quickly to have more freedom through self-employment. [27:29] To gather useful insights from prior experiences, Jeffrey asks what compliments people have repeatedly received throughout their life. [28:44] Most people want to set up a business to optimize what they have been doing--there's a catch. [29:38] How does Jeffrey help people shift from the corporate mindset? [30:31] The self-employment ecosystem has three components. [32:35] How Gen Z’s can pursue the self-employment. [33:34] What Jeffrey thinks the Future of Work looks like. Jeffrey encourages employees to push corporate America to offer a better way to work. [34:10] What percentage of people are solopreneurs who Jeffrey works with? [36:10] Is the cycle of contracting, over-hiring, layoffs, and re-contracting changing at last? [39:10] We shouldn't overlook the fresh perspectives and creativity that come with hiring self-employed specialists. [39:50] Jeffrey learned how to employ and questions the effort many companies put into hiring. [41:10] What it means to be self-employed, from real-estate agents to sales associates. [43:30] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To speed up a typical 12-month transition to self-employment from a corporate job, identify your passion first and build a side gig to test it. You want to know if you have enough passion for what you want to create that’s going to keep you going and get you through the frustrations. RESOURCES Jeffrey Shaw on LinkedIn Twitter @JeffreyShaw1 Jeffrey’s websites Jeffrey’s book “The Self-Employed Life” Jeffrey’s book “Lingo” Jeffrey’s podcast “The Self-Employed...


71. Eric Ng — The Agile Mindset: Experimenting, Empowering, and Empathizing

Eric Ng, Senior VP of Marketing at Two Chairs, has an agile mindset which has enabled him to keep adapting to the significant changes brought about by technology developments in the marketing discipline—including many new channels, formats, and granular measurement tools. Eric shares insights about screening for a flexible mindset when building teams, and how trust, empowerment, and co-creation are key for nurturing growth. Eric explains how his flexible attitude has allowed him to adapt to new hybrid/remote working arrangements. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:58] Seeing the Apple 1984 commercial in grade school, Eric knew he wanted to do marketing. [03:30] At college, Eric co-founds with friends which goes well, he learns a lot when his second start-up fails completely. [05:01] Eric joins Apple’s advertising agency Chiat/Day which was a dream job for him. [06:27] Marketing is about resource allocation or figuring out how to make (increasingly informed) bets. [07:24] Flexibility is essential in an ever-changing industry—mixing testing and iterating with renewed use of broad-based ideas to drive fame. [10:02] Eric reflects on his experience building teams, and how screening for mindset is paramount. [11:27] Eric’s methodology to consolidate his team’s learning is that they must teach others in turn. [13:02] Working for a mission-oriented organization makes motivation, branding and recruiting easier. [15:30] Two Chairs offers a diverse group of therapists to serve market requirements as people’s needs and relationship with therapy evolve. [16:37] If connection with your therapist—the therapeutic alliance—is the best predictor of success, having a diverse therapist offering increases potential matches and outcomes. [19:02] The pandemic reduced mental health-related stigma along with willingness to be vulnerable. [20:12] Eric never worked remotely prior to the pandemic, but his perspective has shifted significantly. [21:05] Rethinking many aspects of work in hybrid situations, including how to recognize people’s successes. [22:18] The dial tone, a remote version of the high-five! [24:24] Meetings are important, they just need to be well thought out. [26:09] Shifting your mindset to manage distributed teams starting with trust and empowerment. [27:20] Empathy is essential to understand who each person is, what they are doing, what their needs are. [29:00] Cultivating trust requires a safe space, time to adjust, and guardrails to avoid the worst. [30:24] People do best when they can discover on their own and co-create. [32:30] Eric sees potential of simplification in the future, especially in healthcare which can be overcomplicated and confusing. [35:00] Eric asks Sophie what excites her—understanding better how we each work, how we can come together effectively as a team, and what we learned by about what we are capable of under pressure. [36:55] Technological and societal changes are bringing additional layers of diversity we can address in different ways. [40:16] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If adapting with an agile mindset becomes overwhelming, take one small step that you haven’t taken before and explore the new experience. RESOURCES Eric Ng on LinkedIn Two Chairs website QUOTES (edited) “I think that's one of the things when you're growing where everything seems to be going well if you don't hit a roadblock, you don't grow.” “I'm hoping that the team members who are learning are also going to teach others. It gives them that opportunity to solidify the things that they're thinking about and really learn. There's nothing like teaching something in order to learn it!” “That connection with your therapist — this idea of a therapeutic alliance — is perhaps the best predictor of having successful outcomes for mental health. So if you match really well, you end up having a great outcome. I'm obviously interested in user experience as a...


70: Winston Peters — Understanding and Preparing Our Future Workforce

Winston Peters is the Program Director of the Entrepreneurs@MC program and the new Entrepreneur Center at Manhattan College in New York. He is a co-founder of WÜLF University and a Principal at MyÜberLife Consulting Group. Winston explains how he purposefully connects and builds trust with his Gen Z students starting with the first homework assignment. He teaches students the skills they want and need for entering the labor market including those not on the syllabus. Winston shares what drives and concerns Gen Z’s leaving college. He suggests how we can build bridges across generations and help each other find fulfillment at work. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:15] Winston quickly bores of building high-rises using his civil engineering degree and delves into the New York cultural scene. [03:54] Winston applies his skills differently to analyze and solve problems, wanting to make an impact. [05:00] Winston found many creatives don’t fully understand the mechanics of their business. [07:00] An engineer’s approach separates the fluff and breaks things down. [08:08] WULF university was launched to provide critical learning that students don’t typically get in the classroom to help them in their careers. [08:58] Empathy skills are needed to complement students’ competitive academic orientation so they can collaborate well in the workplace. [10:45] How does Winston shift students’ mindsets? [11:22] Looking through different lenses to develop understanding and build trust. [12:51] How Winston shows up to develop trust, engage on a personal level, and make education collaborative. [15:24] The importance of checking in and understanding how each student is (really) doing. [17:02] Setting the tone at the beginning by understanding where people’s energy is. [17:54] Human beings are judging machines based on pattern matching, and authenticity can be modeled to build a safe space. [19:15] Winston leads by example. [20:13] Winston’s compelling first homework assignment. [20:56] Asking people how they learn develops understanding and context. [23:12] The four +1 types of entrepreneurship students Winston teaches at Manhattan College. [25:08] The importance of being anti-fragile and having multiple revenue streams. [26:44] Some want corporate jobs to learn about corporate structure (for their own future venture). [27:27] Two areas Gen Z’s believe are going to be key to their future success: understanding financials and creating contacts. [29:25] Leaving college in debt, many students only explore the highest-paying jobs, not what will be fulfilling or give them security. [31:05] Many Gen Z’s are entering the workforce taking jobs to survive. [32:00] Why Winston doesn’t give extra credits in his class. [33:54] The fundamental teaching orientation for Winston is human-centric—how to solve humans’ problems and sell to them. [35:37] Winston is excited to work with students on a competition for a Blue Economy project—to convert water into reusable electricity. [36:44] How Winston effectively enforces his “no phones in class” policy! [38:24] Winston asks what students want to learn beyond the syllabus for their preferred career. [40:02] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: If you are older, have more empathy for Gen Z: the world they are growing up in is very different; they are under a lot of pressure. Ask Gen Zers deeper questions about fulfillment. There’s no job security, so how can you help each other find fulfillment and what does that look like? RESOURCES Winston Peters on LinkedIn Twitter @WinceP_ofMUL Instagram @Professor.p_ofMUL Entrepreneurs@MC at Manhattan College News about the Entrepreneur Center at Manhattan College MyÜberLife Consulting Group’s website QUOTES (edited) “The basic premise of being an engineer is being a problem solver and able to break things down into empirical forms.” “There’s no difference between hard and soft skills. Soft skills...


69: David Stillman – Generations at Work: Shifting, Sharing, Parenting, and Pressures

David Stillman is a generational expert, researcher, consultant, and author of three best-selling books on generations. David explains how the major events and prevailing technologies of our early lives shape us and our thinking, producing generational characteristics. He describes the effect of parenting trends on generations’ offspring and how these translate into workplace behaviors. David shares insights on issues causing friction and concern between and among generations including “entitlement”, quiet quitting, side hustles, and mental health. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:29] Starting as a journalist, David is asked to study Generation Xers. [03:40] How generations’ size in the labor market matters as well as inflow and outflow. [04:40] The ghost of the Traditionalists’ culture still lingers in many workplaces. [05:20] David believes companies will be haunted by lack of knowledge transfer as Boomers retire. [06:57] How Boomers disseminate knowledge could be improved and be better received. [07:19] David sees good healthcare plans as a competitive advantage. [08:55] Boomers raised Millennials and are more familiar with them—so why the complaints?! [09:33] 80 million strong, Baby Boomers faced much competition as well as structure, rules, and policies to manage them. [10:38] Boomers parented their Millennial children to be collaborative—even rule-breakers at home. [13:20] How technology enhanced Millennials’ group orientation. [14:50] As a smaller generation, Gen Xers didn’t have to follow policies and procedures, were enabled by technology, and raised independent Gen Z kids. [16:05] Gen Zs are more competitive and results-focused than Millennials. [18:42] Employee behavior that many people call “entitled”, David sees as “engaged”. [22:10] “Quiet quitting” began with Gen Xers and relates to (a lack of) job security. [23:42] Why would someone go “above and beyond” without any guarantee—just the possibility of burning out? [24:57] David observes older generations measuring loyalty in tenure rather than engagement and performance which are harder to measure. [26:59] David discusses the relationship between engagement, performance, and side hustles. [28:51] How side hustles can support mental health, work-life balance, and skills acquisition. [31:37] Millennials were smart, changing the tenure paradigm, saying “If I’ve mastered these skills promote me.” [32:07] Gen Zs are showing interest in pursuing more than one career at one company at the same time. [33:37] All generations have had work stress, but it could be left at the workplace in the past. [34:34] New approaches and ideas support mental health at work. [36:11] Encouraging judgment-free dialogue about mental health. [38:15] It’s not about who is right or wrong, better or worse—the generations are different. [38:08] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: First, sit down with people from different generations and ask them about a major event that has shaped who they are today. The next step is to ensure there is generational diversity at work especially when targeting any particular generation. RESOURCES David Stillman on LinkedIn David’s website QUOTES (edited) “Everyone's talking about Gen Z right now, and I'd say you need to look at the top of your chart because you're going to have a mass exodus of Baby Boomers and close to half the labor pool to fill those leadership positions.” “One of the biggest things I think that’s going to haunt organizations is this lack of knowledge transfer.” “You will not find a generation more collaborative than Millennials.” “A lot of Baby Boomers did really struggle with the notion of going from competitive rules and procedures to ‘let’s reinvent them’.” “For every time someone is trying to use the word ‘entitled’, I ask them instead to exchange it with the word ‘engaged’.” “The side hustle is not only here to stay, but I would say everyone...


68: Will Ridgway — Using External Goals to Optimize Work Outcomes: Extreme Sports Case Study

Will Ridgway is a Cloud Solutions Architect at Microsoft, an extreme athlete, and a Guinness World Record holder. Graduating from his Masters in Aerospace Engineering just as the pandemic hit, Will launched his work career remotely. Supported by his employer, Will found that extreme sports goals forced him to develop effective training and working patterns. He discovered ways to hold himself accountable and micro steer his activities to optimize all outcomes as well as achieve life/life balance. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:24] Right out of university, Will starts trying to optimize his working life. [04:29] Will and his friends wonder if their pre-pandemic job offers are secure. [05:21] Feeling disconnected from his university, Will is skeptical about virtual on-boarding. [07:00] When the second lockdown happens in the UK in November 2020, Will and his friends gather a large group to go work remotely in the Canary Islands. [08:07] Will finds it hard to balance on-boarding with learning how to work effectively entirely virtually. [09:48] Before serious work starts, Will wants to benefit from a less intense schedule and surf more. [11:51] Will decides to set himself a sports related challenge to force him to improve his work pattern. [13:24] Preparing for an Iron Man race requires 2 to 3 hours of training a day. [14:12] To improve productivity, Will starts alternating periods of high intensity work and training. [15:21] The culture of Will’s employer supports open conversation about mental well-being and how to achieve high outputs. [16:04] His company backs the fundraising that Will connects with each race. [17:15] Will gets more responsibilities and starts to focus on how to maximize outcomes. [18:25] Sports training models help Will figure out optimization patterns for his work. [19:30] WIll develops two ways to stay accountable and on track—a mentor and fundraising goals. [20:30] A big hairy audacious goal is always the starting point! [21:22] Will applies the same approach to commitment to his work goals. [21:49] Setting a Guinness World Record as a new goal! [23:35] Will and his friend tell everyone about the new goal so they can’t back out. [24:10] They break the Guinness World Record and raise over £20,000 pounds for charity! [25:27] Guilt about his non-traditional work routine was key for Will to manage. [26:37] Work has a daily flow which Will “micro steers”, recalibrating often. [27:25] The fine-tuning model was developed together with his boss—through experimentation and ongoing conversations. [29:00] Will and friends are contemplating a new audacious goal! [31:03] The difference between “willpower” and “way power” [31:30] Removing layers helps maintain a baseline as well as motivation. [32:42] Will wants to inspire people by what he has discovered through experimentation in sports as well as committing to something and finding external accountability. [34:38] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Discover what drives your energy patterns. Work out how to hold yourself accountable. Then map the way to remove steps or hinderances to achieving your goals. RESOURCES Will Ridgway on LinkedIn Instagram @will_ridgway Built to Last by Jim Collins (source of “big hairy audacious goals”) QUOTES (edited) “As long as I would give the output that was required, I could free myself to experience more surfing.” “I would work intensively for 90 minutes, focus only, everything off, phone away and be very productive. And then I would allow myself to completely disconnect and have a 90-minute recovery from brain activity by doing exercise and physical activity. And then, switch back.” “Aim big and you will figure a way to do it. You're not too busy. Aim to do a big fundraising, this will hold you accountable to your race because you've raised that much money.” “Every time I complete one of those crazy extreme challenges, when I cross the line, I...


67: Zoë Routh — Modern Leadership: Shifting Mindsets, Meta Skills & Sphere of Impact

Zoë Routh is a leadership futurist and multiple award-winning Author. Zoë discovered and developed her own leadership skills in the wildernesses of Canada and Australia, learning from and then running Outward Bound training. She shares insights from her ongoing work with leaders and teams exploring what’s ahead and what that means for leadership of the future. Zoë discusses aspects of her fourth leadership book, “People Stuff - Beyond Personality Problems: An Advanced Handbook for Leadership”, how to move through difficult transitions, and the meta-skills required for the world of tomorrow. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:33] Zoë’s leadership initially manifests with her volunteering to carry a moose “rack”! [04:33] The different ways leaders show up. [6:09] Why it made sense for Zoë to be carrying the canoe, but not others. [06:57] Zoë rethinks what is fair and equitable. [08:14] Zoë leaves Canada and starts nine years with Outward Bound in Australia. [08:50] HR for wilderness expeditions is far more complex and nuanced than for “office” jobs. [10:06] How staff have to manage the emotional duress of being part of a group. [12:04] People joining Outward Bound as staff have a human-centered value set which guides them. [13:06] Staff go through a challenge course to learn from and be able to relate to lived experiences. [14:00] Zoë learns the commonalities of Outward Bound and corporate experiences. [15:03] The sources of most dysfunction and conflict at work. [15:58] Zoë learns more about leadership theory at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. [17:59] How archetypes are practical—rather than theoretical—to embody and act upon. [19:34] Leaders need to understand the context of any situation before deciding how to act. [20:18] Flexibility and adaptability are essential for good leadership. [21:25] An exercise in self-awareness—especially understanding shadow sides of archetypes. [23:15] Technology is driving many shifts and challenges us to do things differently—which Zoë finds exciting. [25:03] Leaders need to be authentic, genuine, and ethical—transparency is key. [25:50] ESG principles are not “nice to have” but need to be integrated aspects of operations. [28:27] First new theme for leaders: Negotiation as employees bargain more. [29:27] Second theme: Increased responsibility for managing employees’ well-being, using empathy. [31:16] Zoë sees three major shifts for leaders: maximizing energy, reducing friction, and amplifying ability. [32:51] Why people are struggling with the shift to delegating, coaching, and training. [33:46] Leaders need to think about their system-wide “sphere of impact” which is a massive maturity shift. [36:01] Transition generates grief, growing pains, and a sense of failure, getting comfortable with discomfort is a new necessary meta skill for leaders. [38:50] How younger employees are reacting to being stuck in the conventional system—radical change is (mostly) not evident to Zoë. [41:02] Zoë believes the rising tide of ESG will wash through everything and start to change the entire ecosystem. [41:22] Zoê’s views on the Future of Leadership and the three meta skills to embrace: exploring, mapping, and adapting. [43:09] Adaptation goes beyond resilience. [43:48] Major trends: transparency, collaboration, and co-creation, as well as collective decision-making through DAOs. [45:08] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Consume—being selective and intentional about what you’re reading and listening to. Question—sit back and ask “what does this mean?”. And then Connect—give your brain rest time that allows your subconscious to make the connections between the threads. RESOURCES Zoë Routh on LinkedIn Zoë on Twitter @zoerouth Zoë on Instagram @zoerouth Zoë on Facebook @Zoe.Routh Zoë on Youtube Zoë’s website Outward Bound Australian Rural Leadership Foundation GenTech by Dr. Rick Chromey Ministry for...


66: John Riordan -- Leading Remote (First): Learnings From A Pioneer

John Riordan, the so-called “Godfather of Remote” and Chairman of Grow Remote, an Irish-based social enterprise organization, has led fully remote teams and divisions for over 20 years including for multiple airlines, Apple, and Shopify in the US and internationally. John’s remote working division’s expertise enabled the office-based 60% of Shopify employees to transition quickly to fully remote in March 2020. John shares transferrable insights from his experiences leading remote, hybrid, and on-site empathetic customer services teams—emphasizing community. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:07] John Riordan starts in investment banking but quickly pivots to sales and marketing. [03:49] John moves to the US loving the accent of positivity of personal marketing. [04:55] The sheer size of American companies and amplification of scale quickly teaches John to be more structured and rigorous in his thinking and execution. [07:14] John steps up to join Virgin Atlantic as VP of Sales and Marketing leading a much larger than at US Airways, spread across nine US cities. [09:17] John is challenged to deliver on Marketing’s promises and transition to be VP Customer Service. [10:40] John spends valuable time in the call centers and airports learning to empathize with customers. [12:40] Humility as a leader comes with recognizing reliance on the team and the importance of choosing team members well. [13:57] John learns from the staff what real empathy is. [14:25] A seismic shift in outsourcing customer service happens post 9/11. [15:53] In 2006, Apple calls researching how to create a remote-based customer service operations for the first iPhone launch. [17:48] Why a remote-only call center was Apple’s sustainable option. [18:55] The challenges of the very beginnings of remote work: teleworking or telecommuting. Remote working was a small percentage of workdays in 2006. [20:35] John starts selling remote services and finds a general lack of acceptance. [21:33] The fully-remote services company originally started to serve underemployed and under-resourced workers. [22:46] Fully-remote-served customer service was an important niche market. [23:36] Key points of resistance to fully-remote services—especially “I don’t think I could do it myself”. [24:30] Mavericks made the leap, but John sees the inflection point as happening in March 2020. [25:09] The next move, with Apple, is fully on-site—a tough transition for John. [22:55] The points of resistance from companies are easily managed, except for one. [25:08] From consulting for remote work with Apple to working for Apple back home in Ireland, but in a traditional brick-and-mortar call center. [26:22] Without knowing John’s a remote pioneer, Shopify calls about a fully remote leadership role. [27:38] Ecommerce requires 24/7 support, but local coverage leads to constant churn out of the night shift. [28:48] Shopify becomes 40% remote (customer service) and 60% office-based pre-pandemic. [30:44] Learnings from a major office move helped prepare Shopify to go remote in 2020. [32:40] John has to readjust to remote working—eg self-discipline. He tunes into team members who excel at remote working. [34:12] Painful personal experiences teach John what does NOT work in hybrid meetings. [35:30] Pre-pandemic, office-based leaders start staying at home to participate equitably in meetings. [37:44] 24/7 coverage teaches asynchronous, well-documented hand-offs and timing adjustments to wait for local contributions. [39:55] John leads the company-wide initiative to remote in March 2020, as decentralized communication is humanized and normalized. [42:50] The three most important areas to focus on that ensured emergency remote working success. [44:55] The HR department had already compiled a “how to” book of the customer service department’s remote work experiences which became very useful for the whole company. [45:31] The...


65: Allison Allen — The Strategic, Integrated Role of Human Resources in the New Era of Work

Allison Allen, worked at Twitter as Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, through December 2022. She starts a new job at an as-yet-unnamed company in February. Allison’s expertise spans HR roles including Organizational Development, Diversity & Inclusion, and Talent Acquisition, mostly involving change management. Her experiences equip her well to recognize and adapt for ongoing workplace transformations—for leadership, HR, and managers at all levels. Allison discusses performance management, how leaders can foster employee engagement, who is responsible for retention, how Talent Acquisition can hire people internally, ways Human Resources can benefit from integrating silos, and much more. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:22] Allison starts her career in risk management but decides she prefers a more “human” focus. [02:55] Allison joins McKinsey during a period of change and is fascinated by people’s reactions. [05:35] Next, she overhauls Cushman & Wakefield’s performance management process. [06:05] After Deutsche Bank, Allison moves to Bloomberg focusing on organizational development during a strong growth phase at the company. [07:03] Allison considers her interest in helping companies in the midst of change. [07:28] What people need to deal with change: communication, strategy, understanding, and time. [09:28] Drawing on her range of experiences, Allison thinks holistically how to help each person succeed. [11:24] What are the learnings from each role to take away and grow as a leader? [12:44] Performance management started to protect organizations, but it should be about employees and supervisors being on the same page. [14:12] It is a leader’s role to connect with their team members individually. [15:00] Feedback is not a gift—what is it? [17:16] Allison sees a huge opportunity in Talent Acquisition stepping back and reframing perspectives and approaches. [18:20] Instead of hiring new people, a first consideration can be reassigning existing employees. [18:49] Talent Acquisition can also be responsible for retaining people and helping their career development. [21:56] What drives people and what do they need? Organizational Development exists to provide the answers. [22:31}Talent Acquisition can be responsible for helping ensure an organization can attract and satisfy people. [24:01] The multifaceted nature of Gen Zs. [26:15] What Allison would say to a leader who is concerned about younger employees’ side hustles and how to achieve their discretionary effort. [28:10] McKinsey was a formative experience for Allison when she was assessed on her ability to deliver results. [29:13] We should get over ourselves and move on from traditional ideas of tenure (and more). [31:30] “This is going to end badly” was Allison’s reaction when observing earlier mass hiring in tech. [33:39] Firing new employees before they started work was a negative new trend Allison witnessed. [34:02] Leaders—especially in the people team—need to be bolder about asking (strategic and operational) questions about the business. [37:00] Allison is excited about her new job—wherever that may be! [38:02] Aspects that attracted Allison to her new employer: leadership, operational agility, accountability, responsibility, and integration (rather than silos). [39:59] Allison believes the world needs more leaders who have and lead with empathy. [42:50] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Within your people team, look for ways to break down the silos and integrate everything so objectives are not isolated by function. For example, it should be important to the Talent Acquisition leader to retain—as well as hire—people. RESOURCES Allison Allen on LinkedIn Allison on Twitter Allison on Instagram QUOTES “How do we get people more comfortable with the notion that things will change, that they are not going to stay the same?” “My role is actually to figure out how all these pieces come...


64: Liam Martin – The Asynchronous Mindset & Methodology--Key to Working “Remote First”

Liam Martin, who co-founded and runs Timedoctor and, is an avid proponent of remote work and co-organizer of the Running Remote conference. Liam draws on much personal experience learning the asynchronous mindset and optimizing designing processes to enable “deep work” by distributed teams. For the new book he co-authored, Running Remote, Liam researched how remote pioneers built their businesses. He shares high level and granular advice, including useful tools and practices for organizations interested in improving their hybrid models or going fully remote. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:30] Liam left home at fifteen to compete internationally for Canada in ice dance. [04:39] Liam suffers a career-ending shattered kneecap which forced him to refocus his life at 19. [07:28] Growing up in international training centers left Liam with no High-School diploma. [08:45] The discipline required to compete at the highest level of sports can be useful in other fields, such as business. [09:40] Liam starts teaching as a lecturer at McGill but discovers entrepreneurship is a better fit. [12:10] 6 For those interested in entrepreneurship but thinking about college after high school, Liam shares his opinion based on his own experience. [13:29] Liam discusses what he worked out about the mechanics of business. [14:23] Key learnings as Liam was forced into a remote business early on. [16:07] The tutoring business hit an issue tracking work which Liam and his new business partner, Rob Rawson, created a new venture to solve. [17:20] They launch the Running Remote conference in 2018 to support people wanting to build and scale fully remote companies. [18:16] In 2018, there were only seven companies with over 1000 people that were fully-remote. [19:07] In his book, Running Remote, Liam explains how remote pioneers have a different methodology to running their businesses. [20:17] The Future of Work is trending to be mostly hybrid, but distance bias must be overcome. [21:20] Leaders are choosing to work remotely certain days to mitigate distance bias. [22:34] Asynchronous management is the key methodology remote pioneers implemented - the ability to be able to communicate without directly interacting with someone synchronously. [23:47] To deploy a hybrid work model successfully, Tenet 1: Deliberate over-communication. [25:06] Liam starts interacting with “on-premise” organizations and is very surprised at the lack of documentation for everything. [27:03] Tenet 2 - Democratized workflows – the ability to have information available to everyone. [27:37] Relinquishing control of information is difficult, but it enables better decision-making. [28:54] Tenet 3 – Really detailed metrics – the most difficult part. [29:23] If process documentation feels overwhelming, Liam advises starting with an asynchronous week. [30:41] More than 95% of process documents are never accessed. Is this an opportunity for ChatGPT? [32:23] The number one reason companies failed to become fully (90%) asynchronous. [33:40] The system needs to become the manager then managers can focus on people. [34:34] Weekly iterations are ideal, biweekly at the most. [36:08] Liam’s book “Running Remote” is “Deep Work” (by Cal Newport) for organizations—emphasizing people working independently. [38:17] Most asynchronous—remote first—organizations Liam spoke with for the book target ~10% of synchronous communication per day. [39:12] Synchronous communication for fully-remote and hybrid organizations is currently probably around 40-50%, which is too high to be effective. [40:32] Liam believes that synchronous may allow better communication and development of ideas in the startup phase, but asynchronous management is much more effective to scale a company. [42:19] 13% of all remote workers are customer support reps. From onboarding to training asynchronous can do it better and faster. [44:06] Liam’s...


63: Steven Miller — Zillennial Insights on Work: Productivity, Impact, Security, Creativity, and Skills

Steven Miller is a Senior Growth Manager on Uber’s product team, co-Founder of startup ChatSight, and an angel investor in early stage technology ventures. Steven wants his work efforts to have impact as so many young employees do—he is a “Zillennial” on the cusp of Millennial and Gen Z generations. Steven offers his and his friends’ views and learnings from experiences at multiple startups and large corporations about emerging realities and preferences—the new what, why, where, when, and how of work—sought by younger cohorts of workers. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:10] Steven’s own early approach to learning. [03:44] Studying finance, software engineering, and social entrepreneurship, Steven was also interested in having impact. [04:14] Steven focused on outcomes and productivity not work for the sake of it. [05:12] Consulting and banking sounded like “busy work” without impact, so Steven started his own company based on artificial intelligence. [05:42] Steven found it very rewarding to work on a high impact venture even if a moonshot idea. [06:50] Friends on the entrepreneurship path tended to be happier and more fulfilled than those on the corporate path who were generally burned out. [07:27] Impressions that corporate work is how you look like you are working rather than the impact you are achieving. [08:33] Young employees in large corporations often feel disconnected from the impact they want to have. [10:11] Steven has seen promotions given to leaders with larger teams resulting in unnecessary team expansion. [11:25] Larger tech companies ballooned leading to lower profit margins and current layoffs. [12:09] Startup dynamics contrast with few people, more ownership, and investment in efforts to collaborate and create impact. [13:15] Side hustles are Millennials and Gen Zs safety net after growing up seeing their parents’ laid off, to improve their financial stability. [14:08] Hardship catalyzed side hustle growth which also fulfills people’s desire to invest in themself. [15:26] During the pandemic, the experiment of all remote work allowed interesting development of side hustles. [16:30] The 40-hour work week is so old! [17:08] Why outcomes are more important than hours in an output and knowledge driven world. [18:39] It doesn’t make sense to timebox creativity. [20:27] Reason 1 Young workers move jobs: I don’t want constraints when I can be productive WFH. [20:49] Reason 2 Young workers move jobs: “Lifers” were shaken up with the recent boom to bust. [21:54] The growth of the creator economy, gig work, and new classifications of employment. [23:03] Steven’s views on the new type of struggle between labor and owners. [23:43] Individuals have more voice and empowered to be more creative and not be forced into traditional occupations. [25:35] Steven started at Instacart during the pandemic—fully remote (messy) onboarding! [26:49] Learning to deal with ambiguity and chaos! [27:22} How to be productive when working fully-remote - #1 Communicating well, especially in writing. [27:39] How to be productive when working fully-remote - #2 Being organized. [28:54] Remote/hybrid is a new game and you need to learn the rules to reduce friction. [30:33] Steven shares experiences in startups and big tech companies, including rebuilding the Uber rides business. [31:58] Mixed reviews for the back to the office moves, Steven recognizes that people do enjoy seeing their colleagues occasionally. [33:05] Steven gives Uber empathy credits as they transition in 50 countries, hiccups are inevitable. [34:32] Governments should rethink the idea of “an employee”. [35:52] What DO workers want (looking at balanced and nuanced viewpoints)? [38:10] AI GPTChat essays are not very creative yet – perhaps C minus graded papers! [39:50] Focusing on skills for the future—starting in early education—to develop specializations across many critical needs such as...


62: Sophie Wade - Let's Review '22: What's Working?

Sophie Wade, work futurist, Workforce Innovation Specialist, and host of this podcast, reflects on the past year and all that we have experienced and been adjusting to as we emerged from pandemic conditions. Sophie considers the wide-reaching effects of increased digitalization, changing customer behaviors, and evolving talent management dynamics and needs. She invites you to review your successes, sharing context and a framework for understanding what worked and why. She also encourages analyzing areas for improvement, identifying reasons and what aspects to focus on so as to have the necessary data and priorities to move forward with clarity and confidence in 2023. KEY TAKEAWAYS [00:44] Sophie prompts listeners to learn from your actions, reactions, and results in 2022. [01:29] A recent history recap gives important context for reviewing the year and orientation for 2023. [01:48] Extensive recent digitalization has changed the trajectory of our businesses for the long-term. [02:55] Conditions have “normalized”, but our personal lives are more digitally facilitated. [03:55] Pandemic-related technology integration forced beneficial and overdue modernizations in the business realm too. [04:43] More adjustments or further redesign may be needed or worthwhile to take full advantage of digitally-based advances. [05:36] To assess 2022, it is essential to recognize our current context and what is necessary to stay competitive. [06:09] Who are your target customers now--how have their behaviors been changing over the past year? [07:13] Sales – understanding achievements, issues, and overall alignment during 2022. [08:19] Checking business fundamentals during a period of flux to confirm or make adjustments to operating practices. [08:53] Most countries are now managing COVID19, but restrictions or issues continue elsewhere. [09:50] What epiphanies did you have during the year eg relating to technology or supply chain management? [10:56] Have employees been able to engage and perform well despite uncertain conditions? [11:18] How has the Great Resignation affected your company, division, or team? [12:36] Why Gen Zs’ and Millennials’ departures are useful to understand. [14:03] Many people are questioning the role and meaning of work, and it’s not a bad thing. [14:40] How many days a week different age groups want on average each week. [15:36] The benefit of talking to team members considering or on the point of leaving. [16:04] How any layoffs were handled in 2022 will likely affect workforce dynamics in 2023. [16:36] Who on your team is engaged and how did you foster and support that? [17:24] Whatever your results, how were they achieved and what learnings are relevant for 2023? [18:12] Getting personal about business—respecting people’s experiences and reactions. [20:02] Sharing our vulnerabilities can help us support each other beyond the pandemic. [20:49] The importance of recognizing our new circumstances to prepare for the year ahead. [21:57] Listening to other episodes during the break to gain wide-ranging useful insights. QUOTES (edited) “The Digital Genie is not going back in his lamp.” “If your business is to stay competitive—with your customers and employees—it means recognizing the attributes of the current operational landscape and seeing your company on the new growth trajectory.” “Do you feel that working conditions were healthy and encouraging employees to go above and beyond?” “Business got personal in March 2020 and that human connection isn’t going away.” “We have discovered what is possible and how we can and, yes, must work differently.”


61: Meghan Grace – Gen Z: Who They Are, What They Think, How They Work

Dr. Meghan Grace leads Gen Z research at the Institute of Generational Research and Education and leads research and data strategies at learning and development consultancy Plaid. She sheds light on who the youngest workers in the labor market are—a group whom leaders and managers across all sectors are struggling to attract, engage, and retain. Meghan shares illuminating research findings about Gen Z’s college experiences. She explains their concerns and desires are as they enter the workforce and develop their careers as well as how they respond to our new work environments. KEY TAKEAWAYS [03:12] Meghan’s Gen-Z-focused career began by accident at a staff retreat. [04:48] Meghan and her research partner’s first study in 2014 was on Gen Zs then still in their teens. [05:39] Understanding “peer personalities” in generational theory and differences between Millennials and Gen Z which begin before college. [07:36] Gen Z’s world feels bigger and their collective reactions to society and the world shapes their peer personality. [08:39] How multimedia consumption of information differs by generation. [09:35] Meghan’s research was initially driven by the need to ensure colleges and universities are structured and supporting students effectively. [11:41] Their studies have always been mindful of exploring Gen Z’s from several different angles. [12:42] While themes haven’t changed, Gen Z’s have evolved over the seven years of studies. [13:00] Gen Z’s major issues/concerns: stability (especially financial), healthcare, and homelessness. [14:10] How Generation Z has been affected by watching the challenges older adults have been facing. [15:14] Safety and security-related issues are also key issues relating to mass violence, sexual predators, climate and environment, and inclusion. [18:52] Without shared values—such as integrity—Gen Z feels a trust gap with older generations. [21:47] This young generation is maturing and developing agency—such as in politics. [23:00] Collaboration between Millennials and Gen Zs could positively influence change at work. [26:30] Meghan observed Generation Z dealing with very tough conditions during the pandemic with maturity and grace. [29:20] Many of this generation missed an important year when young adults typically develop their world view through different social interactions and settings. [32:19] Gen Zs were talking about work-related issues such as flexible work structures, financial stability, and meaningful work before the pandemic. [33:02] Gen Z’s priorities are the same as most employees’. [34:18] It is easy for the youngest generation to be the scapegoat, and they may be the loudest voices as a cohort, however, they aren’t creating the trend. [36:04] Core values and characteristics to attract and keep Gen Z: meaningful work, transparent and empathetic leadership, and an opportunity to participate. [37:57] Side hustles are integral to the concept of work for this multi-faceted generation—whether developing multiple income streams or monetizing a passion. [39:20] The world of the “lifer” is over—time at any company can be viewed as a “productive layover” for both sides. [41:05] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Gen Z’s don’t take themselves too seriously and are willing to share if you ask, with curiosity and care. [43:13] How to approach questions—recognizing vulnerability in the conversation—by channeling Ted Lasso’s “That is fascinating”! [46:05] The issue of “shared language” for different cultures, companies, and generations. RESOURCES Meghan Grace Ed. D. on LinkedIn Meghan on Twitter Meghan on Instagram Meghan’s website Institute for Generational Research and Education For recent research visit Global Gen Z Study Meghan’s podcast: #GenZ QUOTES “Gen Z’s world feels bigger because their access to the world is bigger.” “Financial security is at the top of the Gen Z list of concerns.” “Gen Z is...


60: Rowena Hennigan – Digital Nomadism: Enhancing and Expanding an Enriched Experience

Rowena Hennigan is a university lecturer at TU Dublin, published academic author and researcher, remote work expert, and digital nomad. She lives her ethos “work is not a place” and transitioned from working remotely—starting in 2007—to establish a digital nomad life for herself and her family. Rowena explains how digital nomad options are expanding to encompass slow travel, nomad families and communities, and extended business travel. She shares her experiences and learnings that have helped her improve productivity and performance as a remote and traveling worker. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:52] Rowena’s journey starts with leaving Ireland for a drier climate as her daughter was sick. [04:19] Moving to Spain improved her daughter’s health and changed their perspectives. [05:02] During the pandemic, they wondered “why not travel all 4+ months of the school holidays?” [07:38] The new possibilities and value of extra curricula activities for her daughter. [08:52] Digital nomads emphasizing time without devices. [10:47] Why any remote worker or digital nomad should master teaching skills. [11:45] Establishing virtual learning agreements to create common ground. [13:06] Understanding when/how you learn and the role of asynchronous interactions. [14:27] Good educators are constant reflecting and ensuring they are accessible and understood by all. [15:37] Setting up effective meeting norms. [16:59] It is essential to manage expectations and dealing with the nuances of any human exchange. [18:40] The importance of vulnerability and honesty to have productive conversations. [20:18] The emergence of digital nomad hubs and communities—for families too. [21:56] New nomad education options being offered that span more than one location. [24:40] Discussing productivity for digital nomads and what’s sustainable for you personally. [26:15] The benefits of slow travel—adding extra days away and working remotely effectively. [28:53] The changing profile and lifestyle of digital nomads. [30:31] The mentality of nomads who crave new experiences around where they work. [33:21] Improving upon “helicoptering” in/out of places for meetings and events. [34:15] The enriching experiences and leaning into curiosity and broad interests. [36:20] Developing a habit of tourism—near and far. [37:44] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: What new digital nomad experience might you explore considering the emerging and expanding options including work trip extensions, new tourist locations, and nurtured nomad communities. RESOURCES Rowena Hennigan on LinkedIn Rowena on Twitter Rowena’s new LinkedIn Learning course: Staying productive when you remote work and travel Rowena’s newsletter Remote Work Digest. Digital Nomad Village Madeira Islands Boundless Life website Adventurely’s website (CEO Mita Cariman) Selina’s website QUOTES “Work is not a place.” “Any good educator will be constantly reflecting.” “Can you travel slower? Can you extend your time? Can you take it easy on the way back rather than rushing to and from? “We need to look at workload and make sure that with the act of travel I can do it as well within my performance and I’m managing everyone’s expectations because we can use remote work to supplement and complement that, but we have to do it with intention.” “Increasingly, there’s a big slowmad, slow travel movement that’s emerged. It’s because of things like sustainability.”


59: J.R. Richards – Learning from the Music Industry: Evolving with Technology Disruption

J.R. Richards is a platinum selling American rock artist. He was the lead singer and songwriter for the band Dishwalla which achieved a major US No 1 hit, several music awards, and released five albums. J.R. now is an artist entrepreneur with four solo albums who continues to develop his 30+ year career. He shares the open-minded and entrepreneurial approach which allowed him to ride the technology wave that disrupted the music industry. What learnings can help us adapt through the current period of disruption? KEY TAKEAWAYS [01:28] How the music industry can offer us ideas having faced earlier major technology disruption. [04:16] J.R. writes his first song at nine and then starts studying opera techniques at 18. [04:58] The importance of protecting and managing content creation ability as an artist. [07:40] J.R. enters the music industry at the tail end of its traditional operating model. [08:19] Control was signed away to get essential physical distribution on finite shelves. [09:32] Artists mostly kept revenues from touring but events also relied on labels’ power. [10:32] The opaque economics as labels lent artists money to record, market, and distribute their albums. [12:24] Technology disruption hits and the labels scramble to restructure as revenues drop. [13:15] As digital music quality improves, distribution barriers disappear along with the need to be on a major label. [14:30] Label consolidation took Dishwalla from A&M Records to Polygram to Universal to Interscope. [16:24] A merger grounds release of Dishwalla’s second album prompting them to embrace technology developments to connect with fans directly and get more control at a smaller label. [18:15] Who actually had the rockstar lifestyle—the label executives or the rockstars?! [19:37] The industry is in upheaval exploring revenue models in licensing deals with multiple platforms. [21:50] A dramatic murder causes the band’s label to fold and J.R. gets disillusioned. [23:35] The band breaks up and J.R. goes solo just as digital distribution becomes mainstream. [24:43] A massive Aha moment as J.R. gets his first ever accurate sales reports. [26:31] How the pandemic forces JR to develop emerging opportunities as venues close. [28:30] Why it is beneficial to check out and experiment with new options. [29:40] J.R. pivots well creating innovative experiences for fans (helped by a talented marketer—his wife!). [31:37] The vital importance of owning your core IP—the master of your album. [34:35] New, tougher touring economics after many venues closed down. [35:59] J.R. continues experimenting on YouTube, Spotify, and other platforms to engage new fans. [36:58] A young singer has millions of views on TikTok of him singing a Dishwalla song J.R. wrote. [37:25] J.R.’s equitable approach to collaborating with the singer. [39:25] J.R. enjoys the collaboration process and finds more access and conversation helps. [40:24] Inviting big fans into the song development process, J.R. agrees with one fan’s suggestion. [41:37] How scary it was to show fans behind the curtain. [43:19] The new balance of art and business as creators have to push themselves out in front of people. [45:22] Using data to make educated decisions, control your career, and make a living. [46:53] How ongoing learning allows you to develop your craft and create long-term value for yourself. [48:35] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Be really open-minded and when change starts happening, instead of fighting against it, check it out and ideally embrace it because you may find it’s better now than it was in the past. [53:02] J.R. Richards sings! RESOURCES J.R.Richards website J.R.’s Shop J.R. on Facebook J.R. on TikTok J.R. on Instagram J.R. on Patreon J.R.on YouTube J.R.on Spotify QUOTES “It was the nineties, you had to sign a deal with a big label if you want to make it big.” “It always felt like the...


58: Adam Tuckwell - Leaders are Listening to the Voices of Change

Adam Tuckwell, Managing Director for Mobas, a brand transformation business in the UK, crafts, seeds, amplifies, and channels corporate messaging to affect change as social media and other communications platforms shift information power dynamics between leaders and their constituent audiences. Adam brings communications experience spanning video gaming, traditional publishing, and brand agencies to explain how customers’ and employees’ voices generate and facilitate transformation externally and internally. KEY TAKEAWAYS [02:49] Adam imagined his career differently to how it turned out. [03:36] People have helped Adam identify his skills and what they are best suited for. [04:34] Adam recognizes the importance of communications. [05:59] The challenge of engaging teens in the video game sector. [06:52] The wonderful challenges of wide-ranging tasks involved during the company’s growth stage. [09:07] Adam’s next employer couldn’t be more different! [09:45] Updating how Cambridge University Press communicated with their audiences. [10:16] Adapting to different pace and process challenges at his new job, Adam also launches a podcast. [11:20] The role of empathy in interviews—stopping broadcasting and starting to listen. [12:03] Being naturally inquisitive, the next move was to an agency to explore diagnosis and problem-solving. [14:16] The Future of Work manifests differently for SMEs versus for large enterprises. [15:10] The Future of Work is being driven by workers—not management—being empowered. [16:03] Companies’ transformation involves exploring different ideas and ways of working, getting beyond blinkered views of their situations. [17:30] How the Future of Work is entirely changing the way we work. [20:35] Clients want to solve a particular problem and don’t initially recognize how the issue fits within their wider organizational structure. [19:08] The ongoing journeys of change—some are iterative, some are fundamental. [21:39] Helping future leaders identify where there are issues as iterations are ongoing. [22:30] In the current environment, where everyone is strained and stretched, how to identify the opportunities. [25:17] Customers now have choices and voices which mean companies need proactively to manage how they are viewed so issues don’t snowball. [27:20] Adam gets excited about inward communications and the Employee Value Proposition, which is hard for some organizations to adapt to. [30:30] The next generation of workers give Adam hope with their openness and different expectations of the workplace. [31:52] As a child, Adam communicated visuals for his parents and appreciated the experiences of others and the relevance of tailoring messaging. [33:40] The importance of trust and sensitivity to bring people along, combined with transparency and openness. [34:20] Different types of leaders are rising now with diverse backgrounds and experiences. [36:08] The future for leaders who can channel Gen Zs’ insights and appetite for change. [39:12] The importance of investing in failure, experimenting for the future. [40:52] Encouraging companies to focus 70% of their energies on today. [43:40] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Don’t be alone as a leader. Ensure you have a friend or a group of friends with whom you can be vulnerable and who will be honest and critique what you do. Invest in relationships that ensure the decisions you make are the right ones for everybody. RESOURCES Adam Tuckwell on LinkedIn Adam Tuckwell on Twitter@adamtuckwell Mobas website QUOTES “People have helped me along the way to identify what I’m good at and how my skills might best be used.” “The future of work is already here, it’s just that some companies haven’t opened their eyes to it yet.” “So what I really like about transformation within the organizations we work with is that there’s a real appetite to try...