The Future of Work Podcast With Jacob Morgan | Futurist | Workplace | Careers | Employee Experience & Engagement |

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:

  1. Find your purpose in the organization you work
  2. Cultivate a feeling of well-being
  3. Have the capacity to learn and relearn

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:

  • How to make an HR ‘more human
  • How Unilever is moving away from a vertical progression model
  • Leena’s 3 steps to making decisions
  • How to help people who aren’t comfortable being human at work
  • Things Leena and Unilever as a whole are doing to encourage human qualities at work

Links from the episode:

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/nairleena

Twitter: LeenaNairHR

Direct download: Leena20Nair20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm PDT

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: 

  • How many cyber attacks NIH encounters each day and how they protect themselves against the threats.  
  • Differences between private and public organizations 
  • How people stay motivated at NIH 
  • Workspace changes NIH is going through 
  • How Dr. McGowan first became interested in science
Direct download: Dr.20John20McGowan20Podcast20DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:14pm PDT

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: 

  • How less than $1000 launched the video game industry 
  • Why the ‘Pong’ ball was square instead of round 
  • Why Nolan will never ‘retire’ 
  • What it was like to work with Steve Jobs 
  • How the Tiki room at Disney helped create Chuck E. Cheese 
  • Nolan’s view of the world of technology and how things are changing 
  • Why it is important to read science fiction 
Direct download: Nolan20Bushnell20DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:56pm PDT

Georgia Collins is the Senior Managing Director and Co-Leader of the Workplace Strategy Practice at CBRE. CBRE is a Global commercial real estate company that ‘helps clients identify opportunities to reduce and/or reallocate their costs, more effectively manage their resources, improve employee engagement and make decisions faster’.  With specific responsibility for research and development, Collins’ focus is on enhancing and expanding their service offerings so that clients can better understand, and more effectively deliver, environments and services that improve employee effectiveness and act as competitive differentiators in the war for talent.

Collins has more than 15 years of experience in the field of workplace consulting. A recognized leader in the industry, Collins’ project experience spans a wide range of markets and industries.

Prior to joining CBRE, Collins led strategic business consultancy DEGW’s North American practice where she led significant engagements for companies like Autodesk, Cisco, eBay and Microsoft. Prior to DEGW, Collins worked as an urban planner for Sasaki Associates.

Change management considers how to create workplaces that inspire and allow people to work at their best. When opening a new office, CBRE uses 80% of standard resources – market stand-up desks, for example. The other 20% are designed to be specific to that particular office. The time spent defining what makes each location special is an important part of the change. So offices in Hawaii look and function differently than those in Chicago.

Three steps in the process to successful design is thought of as a pyramid, with the base as the foundation, the middle, relational and finally the top of the pyramid is transformational. Specifically,

  1. Foundational – what are the things that people need to do their job? (i.e., fast internet or parking)
  2. Relational – how do you enable people to build their internal networks? (collaboration areas, break rooms, etc.)
  3. Transformational or differentiating – what makes this particular organization special?

Collins’ advice for corporations is threefold. First, consider how to strip out the friction in work. Second, think about how to elevate the work experience. And third, intentionally don’t ‘plan’ everything

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What Workplace360 is
  • Why CBRE decided to make some changes and how they figured out what changes to make
  • How to get people that are reluctant to embrace change to come along
  • What is ‘life admin’ or ‘work admin’ and how it might work for your office
  • Personalization in an open office – is it possible or necessary?

 

Direct download: Georgia20Collins20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:29am PDT

John Hass is the Chairman, President and CEO of Rosetta Stone, a language and literacy company with around 1,000 employees in the U.S. and around the world. Prior to Rosetta Stone, Hass spent two decades at Goldman Sachs both in New York and in Chicago. He was in the advisory part of the company working with Fortune 500 companies around the world on strategic initiatives. 

Learning another language has a lot of benefits, whether you are taking a language class in school as a 4th grader or whether you are learning some key phrases in another language for business purposes as a 40 year old. Some of the impacts that go beyond just learning another language, are creating a cultural awareness, inspiring empathy and rewiring your brain to make it easier for you to learn in general.

Hass says learning another language is, “a demonstration of a willingness to meet someone halfway, when you’re working with someone cross border, cross culturally, your willingness to speak their language, to be part of their environment, is always very well received in business, in culture, in travel and in most of what we do. It’s a very powerful, powerful tool, but it’s an incredibly rewarding tool as well.”

When asked about the changing nature of learning in general, Hass brought up a staggering statistic regarding newly graduating high school students. He said that according to the former United States Secretary of Commerce, students currently in high school will change jobs 10 to 16 times throughout their career. Because of that, learning has to adapt to prepare these students for the world of work they are entering. Education needs to prepare students to be flexible, adaptable and it has to give them a broader set of skills.

Hass is a huge believer in perpetual learning. He understands the importance of lifelong learning and says, “you have to love to learn, you have to be willing to learn. Your learning can’t end when you graduate with whatever final degree you have. You have to continue to learn to be successful.”

Another important aspect about the future of learning is personalized learning. It is not good enough anymore to have one teacher standing in front of 30+ kids teaching them all the same material, at the same rate, and in the same format. Hass believes that AI and other technology will play a huge role in the future of personalized learning and allowing students to learn at their own pace and in a way that makes the most sense for their abilities.

Hass admits that he is not an expert in robots or automation, however when asked about his take on robots in the future of work, he says this really goes along with his beliefs about the future of learning. We have to broaden our skill-set and improve our flexibility. He sees robots and automation replacing jobs in industries he never would have expected in the past, and he believes we are only at the forefront of this move towards automation, so we need to be prepared. 

Hass’s advice for the audience, especially the younger people just about to enter the workforce, is to look for new ways to learn, love to learn and always continue to learn. Find great sources that allow you to continue learning throughout your professional career.

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What benefits come along with learning a new language
  • John’s take on the changing nature of learning
  • Who is responsible for learning? Individuals, Companies, or Schools?
  • What technology Rosetta Stone is using
  • A look into Rosetta Stone’s corporate culture
  • What does personalized learning look like
  • John’s view on robots and automation in the future of work
Direct download: Arthur20John20Hass20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:36am PDT

Dr. Alissa Johnson, aka Dr. Jay,  is the Chief Information Security Officer for Xerox Corporation.  She is also the former Deputy Chief Information Officer of the Executive Office of the President. Dr. Jay is an IT strategist and visionary with experience in government and private industry.

As the world goes to a paper-less society, Xerox Corporation is focusing on companies’ document workflow. They work to ensure that all of these assets are protected, crossing many boundaries. Dr. Jay’s department looks at both the offensive and defensive aspects of cyber security in order to anticipate all of the things that ‘might happen tomorrow and five years from now’.  She describes how organizations get billions of attempts of hacking a month.

Due to the constant onslaught of potential hacking, it has required companies to collaborate and share information to work to offset the threats.  The hackers are automated so this has required companies to think along the same lines. Her advice is to ‘protect the crown jewels’ – the critical information in an organization, for example intellectual property and passwords.

Security Tips for Individuals:

  1. Change your password
  2. Have multiple bank accounts – put an amount in each account – that way if it is stolen you will have some money in other accounts. It is important to diversify - don’t have all your eggs ($$) in one basket!
  3. Don’t be afraid of technology, but be smart. You can’t go all in with everything – for example, mixing work friends with high school friends on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  4. Be mindful of everything that is connected. You have to know what is connected

Security Tips for Organizations:

  1. Set where you want to be in your ‘risk appetite’. Consider that the threshold is something that can be reevaluated each year but maintain during that time period.
  2. CISOs can’t hinder innovation – perhaps the answer is … ‘Yes, and …’
  3. Remember the basics – password updating, etc.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What the future of privacy and security will look like
  • The difference between privacy and security
  • The risks of automation
  • New possible hacking techniques
  • Suggested book to read: The Cuckoo’s Egg. The introduction of cyber security.
  • The future of virtual reality in education
  • The trade-off - use of smart homes and loss of privacy
  • What technology Dr. Jay is paying attention to…and what is ‘overrated’
Direct download: Dr20J20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:50am PDT

Seth Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow.

In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth founded both Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing "seth" into Google) is one of the most popular in the world.  His newest book, What To Do When It's Your Turn, is a bestseller.

Godin says that it is important to define work. People have been brainwashed to think that work is something where we need to ‘do what we are told’ – that it is all about compliance.

People that go out on their own – freelancers - fall into two camps. The first are those that are ‘workers without a boss’.  They do fine work when they have a client that acts like their boss and then they get freaked out when they can’t get another gig. This is because they are compliant and loathe taking a stand on something at the same time they are compliant.

The second group of freelancers are those that often fall into the trap of thinking they need to invent something original, be the first to do something. When in reality, no one asked them to do something original; instead they need to do something worthy, which creates value.

Often, people are hiding in their jobs –without realizing it. There is a cushion of comfort at their job. The company will take care of you if you become ill, there is a sales department that will sell for you and so on. However, this can keep employees from their end purpose, interacting with their customers and really understanding everything that goes on in the workplace.

How should we be preparing for the future of work?

  1. Learn how to be generously persistent as you fail. Try something new, fail, get back up and try again. Once you’ve mastered that – start something else new, fail, try again …until you are comfortable of the concept of launching something new.
  2. Work on understanding symbolic logic, how ideas work and the validity of an argument from a scientific point of view. This will enable you to be an informed consumer of information and form your own opinions - the opposite of dogma and compliance.

Godin’s advice for employees is: regardless of the past you ‘get the chance to do the future over again’.

His advice for manager is that a manager and a leader are different things. A manager gets you to do the same thing you did yesterday but faster and cheaper.

Leaders are people who take a team and figure out how to solve a problem even though they don’t know how to do it. If you are manager, figure out how to be a leader, if you are a leader figure out how to shine a light on problems.

Things you will learn:

  • How to hire people that you really need
  • Putting your ‘sucky’ job in perspective
  • The reality of AI in the past, present and future
  • What makes Godin successful at what he does and why he left full time work
  • How to be a perpetual doer
Direct download: Seth20Godin20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:19pm PDT

Jon Gordon is a best-selling author whose books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. Gordon’s principles have been put to the test by numerous Fortune 500 companies, professional and college sports teams, school districts, hospitals and non-profits. He is the author of 17 books including 5 best-sellers: The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, Training Camp, You Win in the Locker Room First and most recently, The Power of Positive Leadership.

Gordon explains how - from the brink of bankruptcy - he built up a personal brand to write best-selling books and develop a very successful speaking career.  He describes that he tackled this by being very purposeful and ‘building a brand and business’.  The process was that he:

  1. Created a website – added events and articles
  2. Wrote a one page overview of his speaking topics – The first was 5 Ways to Become Addicted to Positive Energy
  3. Sent out 1000’s of emails with the one page – 99% did not respond
  4. Eventually got a speaking gig with the Jaguars team and they became a client
  5. Spoke for ‘free’ in many locations, adding clients along the way & then included on them on his website
  6. Created a newsletter with no advertising – just great content, people shared it and it grew. (Currently 120,000 readers.)

Now, 15 years later he charges $35,000 a talk, and has over 3 million books sold. Gordon says one of the most important parts of his process was, “Showing up every day, sharing the message, being passionate about it and never really about the money. It was the message.”

Great leaders are the same as great coaches. They have the ability to connect with the people they work with. They need to believe in them and see their potential. Also, it is very important to provide accountability to those they lead.

Gordon gives three actions to become a positive leader. They are:

  1. Talk to yourself rather than listen to yourself. Listening is often full of fear and doubt. Speak encouraging words to yourself – and listen to those.
  2. Realize that the world is created from the inside out. It is not our circumstances that have power; it is our state of mind.
  3. Grit – the number one factor of success. It is not talent, title or anything else that determines your outcome. It is the ability to keep moving forward in the face of obstacles. Don’t give up, don’t listen to naysayers.

Things you will learn:

  • Steps to develop a positive outlook on life
  • What makes a good leader or manager
  • One question Leaders should ask their employees
  • How to build your personal brand
  • How Jon went from working for a .com to being an author and speaker
  • Your role in overcoming negativity in the workplace
  • How to measure and evaluate a positive leader
Direct download: Jon20Gordon20Podcast-DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 4:14am PDT

David Deming is the Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses broadly on the economics of education, with a particular interest in the impact of education policies on long-term outcomes other than test scores. Before becoming a professor at Harvard, David attended Berkeley and Ohio State University where he was trained as an economist. He has always been motivated by policy oriented questions and how economics can affect the real world.

When asked if there is a skills gap, Deming indicated that if you look back to the job market 30 years ago organizations would hire people with few skills but then they would invest in those people to train them on the job. They were willing to take a chance on the new graduates. Now, the jobs are more fluid, employers don’t want to pay to train employees and then have the employees leave a short time later. So we have people graduating from school without skills but people aren’t willing to invest in them - we don’t have the ‘connective tissue’ to pull the two together.

One idea, Deming pointed out, is to develop a European style of building durable partnerships between universities and employers to bridge the skill gaps. They can share the cost and effort.

On the topic of Universal Basic Income, Deming said it has some ‘appealing aspects’, and it is transparent and easy to understand. He also maintains that it does not discourage work and in fact, has some appealing aspects. People talk about it as a solution of the ‘technological unemployment’ (which Deming does not think will happen). Everyone gets the base amount of money – so if you want to earn a lot of money then this won’t help. It is different than welfare. Welfare is a work disincentive because we only will give it to you if you are poor. Universal Basic Income goes to everyone regardless of the amount of money they have.

Deming gave some advice to organizations. He says, don’t be afraid to take a chance on somebody who doesn’t come from the standard background - but might be good a fit for you.

His advice for individuals is to try to be good at two things that are not common together. For example, a good coder who is also good social skills will be in demand and provide more opportunities.  

 

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What David sees for the future of higher education and whether or not traditional education institutions will exist in the future
  • The 90/10 gap in incomes
  • The role of AI and its impact on future jobs
  • Future job skill sets needed
  • What schools should be doing and whether or not they should look like a workplace
  • What skills should we learn in school and how quickly will they be obsolete
  • David’s view on the skills gap
Direct download: David20Deming20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27am PDT

Steven Tobin is a Senior Economist and the Team Leader at the Research Department of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and currently heads up the Policy Assessment Unit. His team is currently focused on undertaking policy assessments across a range of labor market and social issues. Before joining the ILO, Steven held several management positions at both the Federal and Provincial level of the Canadian government.

The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States , to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programs promoting decent work for all women and men.

One trend that Tobin is looking at now is unemployment. There has been a downturn in Latin America which is pushing the global unemployment lower. The US and Canada have been doing well in this area but the lower numbers in emerging countries are negatively affecting overall rates.

This downward trend impacts us all as the world is becoming more connected – if there is less demand for a product in places, such as Latin America, it will ultimately affect workers and consumers in the US.

The US economy is one of the strongest labor markets in the world. However, there is still a perception among some people that something is wrong.  They feel they are working hard but can’t get ahead. This leads to feelings of injustice and may have played a role in last year’s elections. It also may be fueling the ‘America First’ emphasis.

There are jobs available in the US – and other countries – but are there enough? Many are short term, casual jobs and may lead to a mismatch of expectations.  They do not provide the same benefits that ‘standard’ jobs do, such as sick time, paid vacation and retirement benefits.  The ‘gig’/freelance economy is a trend that the ILO recognizes and sees growing. Their concerns are whether people are choosing these types of jobs for their benefits or rather because there are no standard employment opportunities that meet their skill sets or needs. 

This gig economy leads to challenges for entire societies. Who should ‘take care’ of these employees when they cannot work? In Canada they have created voluntary accounts in which self-employed people can contribute to a 401 K and so on.

Finland and Canada are piloting the use of universal basic income on a small scale. Basically, it is when everyone is guaranteed an income whether they work or not. The question remains as to what extent this would replace programs such as unemployment insurance. This notion of providing a minimum of a safety net is growing in the policy sphere.

What You Will Learn In This Episode:

  • What the next 3 – 5 years will bring in terms of employees/employers
  • Some main trends in the world of work
  • ILO’s perspective on the role of AI and technology in the future of work
  • What is ‘Zero Hours’ employment?
  • Universal employment pilots
  • Why it is important for us to pay attention to economies outside of our own country
  • Steven Tobin’s perspective on the US economy
  • The difference between job creation and quality job creation
  • Steven’s perspective on Universal Basic Income
Direct download: Steven20Tobin20Podcast-DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:00pm PDT