Mon, 9 October 2017
Ep 155: Employee Experience, Preparing for the Future of Work, The Importance of Building a Human Company, and more
Jacob Morgan is an author, speaker and futurist living in the Bay Area. He recently started a new Facebook group called, The future if. This group is a global community of business leaders, authors, and futurists who explore what our future can look like IF certain technologies, ideas, approaches and trends actually happen.
Jacob is also working on a new course called The Future of Work Crash Course. This will go live in a few weeks. It is a companion course for his newest book, The Employee Experience Advantage.
He is looking at writing another book, sometime in the next few years. In addition, Jacob is looking at creating more interesting podcasts and interviewing new, fascinating guests.
What themes have stood out for Jacob from hosting this podcast?
First of all, Jacob says he’s learned a lot in the past 3 years and it turned out that a lot of people also enjoyed learning along with him. The podcast gets about 4000 – 5000 listens per episode, about 30,000 downloads per month.
One thing Jacob loves about the podcast is that the guests are honest. In conferences, events, etc. the information that comes across is often sanitized. The guests don’t get an advanced list of the questions, so it feels like it is a coffee shop conversation.
Jacob shares that he is amazed the future of work and the employee experience is getting so much traction. From HR to IT, a lot are paying attention to this. Jacob likes to think he had a hand in driving some of that. He is pleased that companies are thinking about this. Jacob is always amazed to hear how far companies have come along. From workspace design to corporate culture and where employees want to show up.
What is Jacob’s vision for the future of work? He believes that in 5 years – 10 years out, not much will be different. There will be some evolution but it won’t be unrecognizable. In 50 years, he feels there will be a heavy and strong emphasis on AI. Perhaps androids. Maybe.
What should Jacob encourage leadership to think about? First of all, remember it’s People 1st, Technology 2nd. There is no substitute for people. No company can exist without people
It is also important to build a company that people want to work for.
How do you create systems to prepare people for the future of work? Jacob says you have to start by understanding the purpose of schools; schools don’t do a good job of preparing people for the future of their work. The purpose of schools is changing.
What threats will companies face in the future around the subject of compliance and integrity? One thing is transparency – companies need to be aware that both positive and negative information is out there. Another threat is the pace of business (for example, Uber). And also putting the right people in positions of power
What does Jacob feel is hype and what is reality? He says the most hype is around augmented and virtual reality and AI. He doesn’t believe we will see massive job displacement. Wearables are cool but they are on the fringes.
There are some things that Jacob feels are likely to happen and the ideas and technology are there but we are the barriers to these changes. In 10 years or so out - Jacob expects scalable virtual assistants, autonomous vehicles (10 years or so out). Also, we will rely more on voice commands. But Jacob sees that there is a lack of discussion around timelines for these things.
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
Mon, 25 September 2017
Today’s guest is Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. During our conversation Seth talks about what it was like to work at Google and why he left, how he went about analyzing the data for his book, why he believes we are all liars, and what he learned about our true human nature.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has used data from the internet -- particularly Google searches -- to get new insights into the human psyche. A book summarizing his research, Everybody Lies, was published in May 2017.
He worked for one-and-a-half years as a data scientist at Google and is currently a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times. He is a former visiting lecturer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Seth received his BA in philosophy from Stanford, and his PhD in economics from Harvard.
The area of big data that Seth researches is ‘social science questions about what people want and need’. It is very straightforward based on information that humans create. (Like from Google or Facebook)
Traditional social science experiments take months but today it is possible to experiment in minutes using such resources as Facebook.
When asked what a data scientist is, Seth said that it is someone who knows how to code and build models of human behavior to predict what people will do and what will work in the future.
For his book, Everybody Lies, Seth used Google searches to measure racism, self-induced abortion, depression, child abuse, hateful mobs, science of humor, sexual preference, anxiety, son preference, and sexual insecurity, among many other topics.
Just a few of the topics discussed in the book are sex, searches for sons vs. searches for daughters, anxiety, and insecurity.
When asked questions about these sensitive subjects, people may lie. But searches indicated a variety of areas people search - areas that people don’t talk about. Therefore, people seem to have more interest in these topics than they are willing to admit.
Searches with the term ‘daughter’ are most often asking about issues related to appearance. For example, ‘How can I get my daughter to lose weight?’ For the term ‘son’ it is often, ‘Is my son gifted?’ There seem to be marked differences between sons/daughters in the searches that use these two terms.
While common thinking may be that those living in large urban areas such as NYC or San Francisco are more anxious, Seth’s research showed that searches for these terms was higher in Kentucky, Rhode Island and Maine - and in rural areas, contrary to common thought.
Stereotypes are often wrong. It is often assumed that women have many more insecurities about their bodies. However, the data does not show an overwhelming number of women versus men searching about these topics. In fact, about 60% were women and 40% of searches are men – not a ‘blowout’ on the side of women - that might have been thought.
Seth’s advice for individuals living in this new data world is to understand that Google has a lot of incentive monetarily to keep our data private, so he is not worried. One thing he is concerned about is that we may enter a society where we put resources such as time and energy, towards how we present ‘on paper’, because we are worried that we might be penalized based upon our ‘paper trail’ - and that could become a problem.
His advice to organizations is to use A/B testing (analyzing what people click on) is highly effective and should be used even more.
What you will learn in this episode:
● Surprising most often searched terms in Google
● Advice for individuals living in this new data world ● Tips and discussion on Google Trends – website with data that is available to everyone
● What was it like working for Google and why he left
● How Seth analyzed the data for his book
● Why Seth believes we are all liars
Mon, 18 September 2017
Michael Bungay Stanier is the founder and senior partner of Box of Crayons, a company that works with organizations, ranging from AstraZeneca to Xerox, to help them do more great work. A Rhodes scholar who earned both arts and law degrees with highest honors from Australian National University and an Master’s degree from Oxford, he is a popular speaker at business and coaching conferences, and was named Canadian Coach of the Year in 2006
He is also the author of a number of books, his latest book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, was published in February 2016 and is a bestseller.
Bungay Stanier talks about how it is possible, in 10 minutes or less, to ask strategic questions to drive changes in behavior, have a more engaged, smart, autonomous team that will allow you to work less hard and have more impact …if you stay curious.
The 7 essential coaching questions that he talks about in his book are:
To have authentic conversations, the culture needs to be one in which employees feel safe to share. Consider TERA when considering your work environment.
TERA stands for:
Tribe – make it feel like ‘you & me’, rather than ‘you versus me’
Expectation – how do I know what is about to happen
Rank – how do I feel the same as you rather than less than you
Autonomy – how do I get to make some of the choices, rather than you telling me everything I need to do
Bungay Stanier advises employees who want to be coached by their managers to be the change they want to see in the world. Practice being more coach like yourself. Ask your manager for what you want (and buy the book!).
His advice to managers who want to get started as coaches is to pick one thing and see if you can get some traction on that. Go to coaching.com and download the first few chapters. Pick a question, build a habit around it, practice it and when you fall off the wagon, start again.
What you will learn:
Mon, 11 September 2017
Cathy O’Neil is a mathematician who has worked as a professor, hedge-fund analyst and data scientist. Cathy founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company, and is the author of Weapons of Math Destruction.
Cathy says she was always a math nerd. She loves the beauty of mathematics, and says it is almost an art – the cleanliness of it. One of her favorite things is that math is the same no matter what country you go to. She also had had an interest in the business world, which led her from academia to work as a hedge fund quantitative analyst.
Big Data is both a technical and marketing term. The technical term depends on the technology you are using. Big data used to mean that it was more data than you could fit on your computer – now it means more that you can perform in a simple way – that it needs to be put it into another form before it can be used.
The marketing term, ‘big data’ is misleading. However, it represents the belief that you can collect data for one thing but then the same data can be used for another purpose. “It is a technology that allows us to collect seemly innocuous data and use it for another purpose.”
One profession in which O’Neil has at looked at the use of big data and algorithms in detail – and discusses in her book – is teaching and their evaluations. She says there were teacher evaluation algorithms originally designed to eliminate the achievement gap between ‘rich kids and poor kids’. Eventually, a new system was devised entitled, ‘value added teacher model’.
The idea of this new system intended to offset the previous way of looking at assessing teachers - where they solely looked at the teacher’s students’ final test scores.
The ‘value added score’ system holds teachers accountable for the difference between students’ final score and what they were expected to achieve/receive.
O’Neil says that this method ‘sounds good’ and seems to ‘make sense’. However, with only 25 (or so) students in one teacher’s classroom, there is not enough data. Additionally, both the expected and actual scores have a lot of uncertainty around each of them. So this final number ‘ends up not much better than a random number’. With that, there is not enough credible data to base important decisions such as terminating a teacher’s job.
One of O’Neil’s main points in today’s discussion is that every algorithm is subjective. Whether it is used to evaluate teachers, hire or fire employees in a financial organization - people should know that they have the right to ask the algorithm explained to them. The 14th Amendment provides them ‘due process’ to ask why they are terminated, not promoted, etc. - other than just alluding to a algorithm result.
What you will learn in this episode:
Mon, 4 September 2017
Perez-Breva, PhD is an expert in the process of technology innovation, an entrepreneur, and the author of Innovating: A Doer’s Manifesto for Starting from a Hunch, Prototyping Problems, Scaling Up, and Learning to Be Productively Wrong. (MIT Press 2017).
Currently Perez-Breva directs the MIT Innovation Teams Program, MIT’s hands-on innovation program jointly operated between the Schools of Engineering and Management. During his tenure, i-Teams has shepherded over 170 MIT technologies to discover a path to impact. He has taught innovating as a skill worldwide to professionals and students from all disciplines; and has gotten them started innovating from pretty much anything: hunches, real-world problems, engineering problem sets, and research breakthroughs.
There is a lot of confusion around the term Artificial Intelligence – AI. What is it?
“Today AI is essentially an aspiration. What we do have is – a lot of – automation, machine learning, data learning and robotics.” The dream is to have a partner. Google show how you would operate with AI. You go into Google, use keyword and can get the information you need. We are all more powerful because we can so readily go onto Google to find answers. Siri and Uber are neither really ‘intelligence’. Intelligence is much harder than what we thought.
Does Perez-Breva think job displacement will happen? He believes we are confusing AI with automation. Automation has always made jobs ‘disappear’. For example, gas lights, now we have light bulbs. We have always had jobs be lost to automation. The question is to how do make sure we are training leaders so that they are creating those new jobs into the middle class.
Automation can create gateways to the middle class – such as Ford did 100 years ago. If you don’t find a new job, it is a lack of imagination.
Robots are in all of our local coffee shops – are they taking the jobs of humans?
Not as easy as it might seem…the number of robots that would need to be produced and maintained is massive. One robot in one coffee shop is an example of human endeavors but one in every coffee shop seems a bit of a reach.
What you will learn in this episode:
Mon, 28 August 2017
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, a Customer Experience Futurist and author of the new book, "More is More: How The Best Companies Work Harder And Go Farther To Create Knock Your Socks Off Customer Experiences.” She is also my wife. Blake is an adjunct faculty member in Rutgers University’s executive education MBA program. She contributes to Forbes, the Harvard Business Review and the American Marketing Association. She hosts The Modern Customer Podcast and a weekly customer experience video series on YouTube.
More is More is about hard work. Blake says that companies today cannot sit on their laurels. “The only thing that will differentiate themselves from their competitors is customer experience.” Customer experience is what the customer thinks of the brand. It doesn’t matter what a company thinks, the customer has preconceived ideas of what it is.
The book discusses – a ‘D.O. M.O.R.E.’ framework. This is not just spending more money but making customers lives easier and better. Do More comes from the following:
D – Designing something special
O – Offer a strong employee experience
M – Modernizing with technology
O – Obsessed about customers
R – Rewarding responsibility and accountability
E – Embrace disruption and innovation
What are some trends Blake is seeing? More big companies are hiring remotely. With that in mind, it is important to be smart about the types of people who you hire. Hire for attitude not only skill set. Hire people who are wonderful representatives for your brand.
What you will learn:
Sun, 20 August 2017
Nilofer Merchant is the author of The Power of Onlyness and the recipient of the Thinkers 50 #1 Future Thinker Award. Nilofer began her career in business 25 years ago as an administrative assistant, and quickly rose to division leader, to CEO to board member of a NASDAQ-traded company. She has personally launched more than 100 products, netting $18B in sales and has held executive positions at Fortune 500 companies like Apple and Autodesk to startups in the early days of the Web (Golive/ later bought by Adobe). Logitech, Symantec, HP, Yahoo, VMWare, and many others have turned to her guidance on new product strategies, entering new markets, defending against competitors, and optimizing revenues.
The term ‘Onlyness’ was coined by Merchant because it captured something that couldn’t be characterized in any other way. The way in which ideas are becoming the nucleus of all valued creation, it’s no longer about organizations or the capital that comes from that – it’s about ideas. ‘Onlyness’, is the spot in the world that only you stand in, which is a function of your background and point of view, as well as your vision and hopes. Merchant encourages everyone to reclaim ‘only’ as a strength, because your perspective has value.
There are three lessons for claiming your ‘Onlyness’. First of all, you need to understand your history and what it means it to you.
Secondly, embrace or value your full self.
And thirdly, realize that what surrounds you affects you – your environment shapes you, the 5 people closest to you influence you. You are a product of the people around you.
Merchant’s advice is to find 5 people that can most influence you in a positive way. Build those relationships. In those relationships you can find safety to claim and nurture your own ideas.
What you will learn in this episode:
Sun, 13 August 2017
Leena Nair is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Unilever. Since 1992, when she joined Unilever as a trainee, Leena has had many firsts to her credit. Prior to her current role, she undertook a wide range of HR roles in India and currently, she is the first female and youngest ever CHRO of Unilever.
Unilever is a Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands and London, United Kingdom. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. It is the world's largest consumer goods company and is also the world's largest producer of food spreads, such as margarine. With 170,000 employees, Unilever is one of the oldest multinational companies; its products are available in about 190 countries.
“I can’t talk about being ‘more human’ if I am not living it every minute of the day.” Leena’s commitment to creating a more human experience is embodied in the way she functions each day. She gives 100% of her attention to the people she is meeting with each day – she doesn’t carry a phone to check emails, instead she waits until the evening before handling them.
Leena gives 3 main steps to being human:
How do we get leaders on this journey towards being more human? Most managers are going through the same feelings as employees. They are required to do more, with fewer resources and are left feeling anxious. Encourage them to recognize their feelings and understand these are the same feelings as their employees are dealing with each day. As companies have become more focused on becoming more human, health care costs have been reduced. Productivity has gone up, pride in the company has increased – there are many positive aspects.
Unilever found that people were spending 2 million hours calibrating people, giving people labels and ‘putting them in boxes’. Leena changed that by getting rid of the labels and boxes and instead asked the managers to spend the 2 million hour having conversations with people. She asked them to invest their time in the people, making HR much simpler.
What you will learn in this episode:
Links from the episode:
Sun, 6 August 2017
Dr. John J. McGowan, is a PhD and he serves as the NIAID Deputy Director for Science Management. In this position, Dr. McGowan provides leadership for scientific, policy, business, and administrative management of the Institute and conducts senior-level interactions with the extramural community, other National Institutes of Health (NIH) components, and the NIH Office of the Director.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. It is comprised of 27 separate institutes and centers of different biomedical disciplines and is responsible for many scientific accomplishments, including the discovery of fluoride to prevent tooth decay, the use of lithium to manage bipolar disorder, and the creation of vaccines against hepatitis, Haemophilus influenzae (HIB), and human papillomavirus (HPV).
NIH represents a different world than private sector organizations – the public sector. For example, they are required to seek Congressional approval to make changes in their site facilities. Though Congress must approve the budget, they do not necessarily provide the funds for it to be carried out. The most recent building overall took a total of 8 years.
Beyond the need for budget approval, the government also controls the salaries of the employees at NIH. This makes it challenging to attract and retain the top talent within their fields. People must be motivated by the mission to stay at NIH. Often, people can leave the public sector and go to private organizations, making up to 3 times the salary. It is also a highly competitive environment; about 2000 – 3000 scientists begin working each year but only about 1 – 3% become permanent scientists.
When asked for leadership advice, Dr. McGowan says leaders must first be present with people and understand where what they are thinking and feeling at that moment
Second, they need to evaluate people’s emotional state. What is the level? Low, medium, high? If they are at high, they won’t hear you – so let them burn that level down before you talk with them.
Leaders also need to connect with the emotion they are trying to convey. That emotion is 90% more effective than anything you will say.
What you will learn in this episode:
Sun, 30 July 2017
Ep 146: Working With Steve Jobs, Why You Should Never Retire and How Today's Companies are Becoming Soft
Nolan Bushnell is a technology pioneer, entrepreneur and engineer. Often cited as the father of the video game industry, he is best known as the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese. Currently, he is Co-Founder/Chairman at Modal VR, HearGlass Inc. and Brainrush, where he is devoting his talents to enhancing and improving the educational process by integrating the latest in brain science.
Atari was started in September 1970. Everything about it was hard. This was before the microprocessor was invented. It was a ‘paranoid’ company; it always felt like others were at their back. Mostly, there was a sense of urgency to get things to market within the shortest time possible.
It was also a very innovative culture. Perhaps the first to have a beer tap in the office! The ‘beer light’ was lit every night at 6 pm – people were encouraged to come in and share their problems and also their ideas. This informal communication style was purposeful; there were no executive parking spots. This egalitarian company had flexible hours and an open vacation policy. The emphasis was making sure the job was done, rather than where and when it was done.
Bushnell says that they tried to have a flat organizational style. The best management was by cheerleading rather than assigned tasks. Leaders would make sure the desired outcomes were clear but it allowed for each employee to become passionate about the job they wanted rather than the one they were assigned.
One of his techniques was having a plan he called ‘rotating to excellence’. This required that someone was fired every month. He acknowledges that this is difficult but if you fire the ‘worst employee’ every month, eventually you will end up with a stellar company.
Nolan mentioned that he regrets having exited from Atari when he did – believing that there were a lot of things that he could have accomplished, that fell by the wayside after he left.
What you will learn in this episode: