The Future of Work Podcast With Jacob Morgan

In our increasingly connected world the way businesses compete has changed. It is no longer about competing within your industry or within your geographic location--you are competing with everyone. And that is especially true with talent.

 

The way that organizations compete has changed. It used to be that organizations would compete within their own industry or within their geographic location. But now with our world becoming more and more connected our organizations have to compete with everyone. And this is especially true in the war for talent.

Employees today have so many options. Organizations have to adapt if they want to attract and retain the best talent. It is not all about perks--you don’t have to have slides, ping pong tables, free food, and parties every week. The way to win the war is to bring humanity back into your organization. You have to treat your employees like humans.

Direct download: 3._The_New_Face_Of_Competition_Podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:24am PST

My guest today is Farooq Kathwari, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc., an American furniture chain founded in 1932 with more than 300 stores across the world. Farooq has a new book coming out on September 3 titled: Trailblazer: From the Mountains of Kashmir to the Summit of Global Business and Beyond.

 

He has a truly fascinating life story, some of which you will get to hear today. Our discussion today covers a lot of ground including how his background shaped his approach to leadership, the immigrant mentality to work, the six leadership principles he created over 35 years ago that his team still follows today, and how to get people around you to think like an entrepreneur.


Farooq Kathwari is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc. an American furniture chain founded in 1932. The company now has more than 300 stores across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Farooq has been President of the company since 1985 and Chairman & CEO since 1988. 

Farooq’s journey to his current role inside of Ethan Allen has been a very unique and inspiring one. He grew up in an area of conflict and he and his family became refugees and were forced to split up. At the age of 20, he made his way to Brooklyn, New York where he attended NYU at night and worked as a bookkeeper for a printing company during the day. 

He also worked hard as an entrepreneur to sell arts and crafts to stores like Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor. He later was hired as a junior financial analyst at Bear Stearns on Wall Street where he succeeded and therefore was recruited to set up an investment company. All the while he still sold his arts and crafts. It was at the investment company that Farooq was introduced to the co-founder of Ethan Allen, Nat Ancell.

He had a partnership with Ethan Allen which later on led to a merger. When he was in his 30s, he became the head of Ethan Allen. 

How has his past shaped his approach to work and entrepreneurship? Farooq says, “When you say immigrant, you can also use the word entrepreneur. When you leave your home, when I came here with enough money for, I think about five or six months to survive, well, you have to be entrepreneurial. So immigrants, by nature, who leave their homes, who travel, have more of an entrepreneurial attitude, because not everybody from every other world leaves. It's a few people who leave. They've got to have that DNA to be able to leave, to take risks. Immigrants also take risks.”

He also truly believes in treating all people with dignity and respect. He brings that belief into his role as a leader and tries to empower his employees. When he first started as the head of Ethan Allen he met several thousand employees from different locations and he said something shocking which was, “The main job of a leader is to help their people become better. If the leaders don't do that, people have a right to revolt.” Farooq says helping people become better is “a very critical factor in leadership. Leaders don't think that their job is to make people better.”

Farooq has all of the company’s managers and leaders write a report for him every single week. In the report, they can share things that are working well, things that need improvement, and issues they are having with any employees. 

This practice came from one of the leadership principles Farooq created 35+ years ago. He still follows all of these principles today. They are:

  • Leaders must have self-confidence. This also means leaders have to empower people. Leaders who don’t empower people don’t have self-confidence.
  • Hard work--if leaders don’t work hard, how can they ask their people to work hard?
  • Excellence in innovation--You have to have a passion for being the best
  • Accessibility--leaders need to be approachable and they need to treat people with respect
  • Customer focus--The customer is number one, you have to take care of them
  • Prioritization--Leaders must constantly think about prioritization because not everything is important



What you will learn:

  • A look at Farooq’s fascinating life story and how he went from an immigrant student at NYU to the Chairman, CEO and President of Ethan Allen
  • How his background shaped his approach to leadership
  • The leadership principles that Farooq created 35 years ago and why he and all the leaders at Ethan Allen follow them still today
  • How he provides feedback to employees who are not performing well
  • How to continue persevering in business when you keep getting told ‘no’
  • How to create an entrepreneurial mindset inside of your organization
  • What skills will be most relevant for employees in the future
Direct download: Farooq_Kathwari_podcast_-_done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:48am PST

Artificial Intelligence is not a new concept. Actually, it has been around for thousands of years and you can see representations of the concept throughout history starting with Jason and the Golden Fleece.

Did you know that the concept of Artificial Intelligence has been around for thousands of years? One of the first representations of AI in history shows up in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. Jason had to travel to get the golden fleece and along the way, he had to battle it out with Talos, a huge non-human man made of bronze.

Representations of AI also appear in Judaism and Chinese, Greek and Indian Philosophy. The concept has been around for a very long time. Now we have things like Siri and Alexa and it shows that AI is part of our human nature to want something that is higher and greater than ourselves.

There is a quote from Pamela McCorduck that states, “Artificial Intelligence began with an ancient wish to forge the gods”. And that “ancient wish” is still around today. But, what happens when our wish comes true? Be careful what you wish for.

Direct download: 2._AI_Stems_From_Our_Desire_To_Forge_The_Gods_Podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:24pm PST

This week I am joined by Ragu Gurumurthy, the Chief Innovation and Digital Officer at Deloitte. Today we are talking about a hot topic--digital transformation. What it actually means, what it looks like to be a digitally transformed company, what skills are needed to achieve transformation and much more. Ragu actually authored a report on this topic back in March of this year titled, Pivoting to Digital Maturity: Seven Capabilities Central to Digital Transformation. In our discussion you will also hear Ragu talks through the seven digital pivots mentioned in his report and why they matter. 


Ragu Gurumurthy is the Chief Innovation and Digital Officer at Deloitte, the world’s largest professional services company with 240,000 employees around the world. Ragu has been with Deloitte for over 13 years. Prior to that, he worked at companies like T-Mobile, Morgan Stanley, and AT&T. 

 

In March 2019 Ragu authored a report titled, Pivoting to Digital Maturity: Seven Capabilities Central to Digital Transformation that looks at why some digital transformation efforts succeed while others fail. In the report, he explores seven digital pivots that can improve the chances of success for organizations going through digital transformation. 

 

So what does digital transformation actually mean? Ragu says, “There are so many ways of defining digital transformation. It's an eye of the beholder, so to speak. Simply put, the way at least we would define digital transformation, it is about becoming a digital enterprise, holistically, by leveraging data, technology and people, data technology and people to evolve all aspects of the business; what they sell to their clients and customers, how they operate the business and how they sell to their customers. How do they relate to the... How do they reach their customers? How do they serve their customers in terms of customer experience? It is really thinking about all the aspects of business enabled by data, technology, and people.”

 

As a whole, when asked where the business world is at in terms of digital transformation, Ragu says we are still in the very early stages.

 

Ragu believes that although the digital era is upon us, it’s not all about technology. People are important, in the words of Ragu, “people are very important. I see them as the quarterback in this transformation.” A mixture of technological intelligence and human intelligence is what Ragu believes will get us to a new frontier. 

 

The seven digital pivots Ragu explored in his report are: 

  • Flexible, secure infrastructure
  • Data mastery  
  • Digitally savvy, open talent networks
  • Ecosystem engagement
  • Intelligent workflows
  • Unified customer experience
  • Business model adaptability 

 

Ragu’s advice for organizations looking to go through digital transformation is, “the biggest advice I have is to do a thought experiment. Think about, how would I use technology, data and available AI software, voice recognition, it could be semantic language processing. You don't need to be a technologist. Read basic at the highest level, what do these things do and see how can I use it to solve the problem differently? That's my advice, think about doing things differently in different things as a supporter would say, what exactly you can do and go do it. Experiment and learn.”



What you will learn:

  • A look at Ragu’s report: Pivoting to Digital Maturity
  • What it looks like to be a digitally transformed organization
  • Trends Ragu is paying attention to
  • What skills are needed to go through digital transformation
  • What Deloitte is doing internally to digitally transform
  • How to overcome the challenge of change management
Direct download: Ragu_Gurumurthy_podcast_-_done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:18pm PST

Over the years I have heard many different definitions of leadership.

One person might say that a leader is someone who has followers. Another person might say a leader is someone who has a clear vision and inspires others to move towards a certain goal. Someone else might say a leader is a person who is trustworthy, who acts with integrity and treats people well.

Everyone’s definition of leadership is different because it is a very subjective thing. What is your definition of leadership? After you define your view of leadership, look around, you might unexpectedly find people around you who meet your criteria.

Direct download: Midweek_podcast_-_How_Do_You_Define_Leadership.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:15am PST

My guest this week is Omar Hatamleh, the Chief Innovation Officer, Engineering at NASA and Executive Director of the Space Studies Program at the International Space University. In today’s discussion, you will hear how Omar has seen NASA change over the last 21 years, how they plan to use technology like 3D printing and AI in the future, and his thoughts on which technologies are overhyped. Omar also gives us a sneak peek into how NASA works including how they tackle problems, how they build effective teams and deal with failure, and how they focus on creative thinking. 

 

Omar Hatamleh is the Chief Innovation Officer, Engineering at NASA and the Executive Director of the Space Studies Program at the International Space University. He is the former Deputy Chief Scientist Ames and he has been with NASA for the past 21 years. 

 

Over his 21 years at the company, he has seen a lot of things change. Back at the time of the Apollo program, the whole environment at NASA was very competitive as several nations were racing to be the first to get to the moon. It then moved to a collaborative environment when several nations came together to put the space station into orbit. 

 

Now, Omar says, they are in a third movement, which has been to get into the commercial sector. They are now using their expertise to help small companies and startups learn the technologies, knowledge, and ability they need to have an impact in the aerospace industry. 

 

“Combined with the amazing corporate knowledge that we have, and amazing innovation and agility that the corporate sector has, I think that creates an excellent environment to create more jobs, improve the economy, and so on. Then, what you need to do, is basically, we're going to free up our resources, and go explore deep space. Our next goal is going to be, for example, going to the moon again by 2024. From there, we're going to go to Mars, hopefully soon after that, in a decade or so.”

 

Omar leads design thinking workshops at NASA where he tries to get people to think completely outside of the box. He shares some examples of real-life companies who have solved major problems by coming up with unconventional solutions. 

 

One example he gave was regarding an electric bicycle company that produced bikes with a lot of electronics and sensitive pieces. They found that 60-70% of their orders were being returned damaged because the shipping companies saw that they were bikes and assumed they were durable. Someone at the company had a brilliant idea to print a picture of a flat screen TV on the outside of the box instead of a bike and it solved their problem. 

 

NASA uses the latest technologies including AI, 3D printing, and quantum computing. Omar believes there are positives and negatives to all technology and the advances we are going to see in the future. 

 

With driverless cars, for example, they can cut down on the number of cars each family needs, it can cut down on accidents, and it makes traveling easier because you can sleep or work along the way. Having autonomous cars can also create new jobs for technologies that will be needed, such as new gadgets that people can use now that they aren’t focused on the road. But it also could have a negative impact on manufacturing workers because we will need less cars. It will affect insurance companies. It will affect hotels because now people are able to sleep in the car while continuing towards their destination instead of stopping and staying somewhere overnight.

 

These new technologies will displace jobs, but they will also create new ones. The question is will it all balance out? Will there be more jobs lost than created or vice versa? Only time will tell. 


What you will learn:

  • How NASA has changed over the past 21 years
  • How they plan to use 3D printing and AI in the future
  • What skills will be needed for the future of work
  • 5 technologies that Omar believes will have the biggest impact on the future
  • How design thinking is used at NASA
  • The importance of diverse teams and how to ensure you have truly diverse teams
  • How they deal with failure at NASA
  • Examples of real-life companies solving major problems by thinking outside the box
Direct download: Omar_Hatamleh_podcast_done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:39am PST

I’ve had a rule for myself that I have practiced for several years. The rule is to do one thing every year that I didn’t do the year before. Some examples of new things I have implemented over the years are my podcast, my future in 5 video series and my online courses.

Following this rule has allowed me to build up my personal brand and it has set me apart from anyone else in this space. It is important to note that this one item per year needs to be something fairly big, you can’t decide to do something for one week out of the year and expect results. It needs to be something major that become foundational elements in how you think and work.

This is a rule that anyone can implement, whether you are a freelancer, an executive, or an employee. So what one thing are you going to do this year that you did not do last year?

Direct download: Midweek_podcast_-_The_One_Rule_To_Keep_Growing_And_Learning.mp3
Category:Millennials -- posted at: 7:19am PST

Abe Greenspoon is the Program Lead for Canada’s Free Agents, a Government of Canada program launched in 2016 that proposes a new model for workforce mobilization. Abe has been in the public service of Canada for about 10 years. 

 

The idea of creating a more autonomous, mobile workforce first came from a report released in 2012 from Deloitte. The report looked at how the government might reorganize itself to better respond to problems of the future and it proposed a concept of a cloud-based workforce based off of the IT cloud computing. 

 

Essentially they have a group of workers in a database “available to do project-based work, move around the organization, solve problems, return to the cloud when they weren't needed anymore, and then just continue on to different projects.”

 

So when a position opens up, Abe and his team advertise for it within public service and those who are interested can apply. Abe says that this new way of flexible work has created greater employee satisfaction and better career decision making along with many other benefits. 

 

The process to become a free agent is tough, not just anyone can become a free agent. In order to become one, you have to be willing to continuously learn and grow and you can’t get stuck in one technical field of work. They need to be willing to explore, they have to be curious, and they can’t be scared to fail. Free agents should be quick learners and they should easily be able to adapt because they move around to different roles in different offices quite frequently. 

 

In order to make sure they are hiring the right people, Abe says they use a lot of unconventional hiring tactics including improv and puzzle solving. It tends to take about three months for people to go through the process of applying, interviewing, and then getting the official offer. 

 

Even though these free agents are technically gig workers, they still receive the benefits a full-time regular employee would typically receive like pensions and health insurance. 

 

Abe believes that this way of working also helps create a sense of purpose for employees as well. He says, “the opportunity to choose your job, to have that autonomy to make those decisions, I think puts you in a better position to find your purpose. I just think, naturally, you're going to try to look for those opportunities that suit you better, you're going to think more, and self-reflect more about what environments you'll thrive in, what environments you won't thrive in, and to have that ability to choose; it leads to all sorts of other kinds of downstream benefits, I think, once you give people that ability. So, finding your purpose, I think, it's something we realized over time is, it's a potentially really interesting outcome to giving people this sort of autonomy for their jobs.”

 

While this is only being implemented in the public service space at the moment, there are many ways that leaders in the private sector could learn from this concept as well. 




What you will learn:

  • How the government of Canada is implementing a cloud-based workforce
  • What it takes to be a free agent
  • How they use games and improv in the hiring process
  • Abe’s view of Universal Basic Income
  • How they handle benefits for flexible workers
  • The benefits of giving employees flexibility and autonomy
Direct download: Abe_Greenspoon_Podcast_-_done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:55am PST

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