Mon, 30 March 2020
Jeremy Gutsche is the founder and CEO of Trend Hunter, a website where people from around the world can share business ideas and trends. It’s basically like a giant innovation focus group. He is also the author of two books, Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change and Create the Future: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking.
As Jeremy points out in his books, it is still possible to innovate in times of uncertainty, which is encouraging with what we have going on in the world right now. He says, “Chaos creates opportunity always. And what happens is that we get intimidated by the doom and gloom of bad times. But actually, if you look in history, what happens is that we get caught in a groove. Successful people get caught in a groove. Successful people are the ones that miss out and get disrupted because we get caught on a path of repeating past decisions. And chaos changes that. So if you look historically, you will see an astounding list of companies that were founded during periods actually of economic recession. Disney, HP, Apple, Burger King, Fortune Magazine, the list goes on and on, I've got about 50 in the book, but these are all companies that were actually started in a period of recession. And of course, this is a difficult time that we're in with Coronavirus. It is going to spark different opportunities, people are trying new things, like more of these virtual seminars, ideas, we're starting to rethink about what's important and why.”
So during this time are there specific mindsets and skills individuals should be focused on in order to deal with these crazy times? Jeremy says it is important to embrace what is happening around us instead of trying to fight against it. We are all going through the same difficult time so everyone will be more understanding of failures or mistakes, but it won’t work to fight against what we are going through, so just embrace it.
He also says we have to be willing to destroy the old way of doing things. “It's a simple note that right now the rules of the game have changed. And if you're willing to just embrace looking into what those new rules could be, combined with your curiosity and insatiability, then you're really well prepared for the future.”
Jeremy has always focused on trends, for his books and for his website. So how can you go about spotting trends? Jeremy says “The trend is your friend and your best guess at where the future is headed is to better understand trends. And I'd say just increasing your knowledge of how trends work could actually have a pretty big impact. And I'll give you two example lessons on that. The first lesson would be, that we tend to use the word "trend" to represent a pretty wide range of things. On one end, there's this super mega trend like the rise of female purchasing power or eco, and those are interesting but they're just so big and everybody knows them that they're not necessarily going to change your mind too much. You're gonna follow them anyways and that's life. On the other end, we use this word "trend" almost incorrectly to describe what's trending on Twitter, and the new little product that's interesting. But actually that's so little and a flash in the pan that you might not be able to do anything with it. So what you're actually looking for would be something in the middle which we would probably call cluster or consumer insight, which would be when you can find grouplings of multiple examples that all show you something that's new and interesting.”
Things you will learn:
- Long term implications of something like Covid-19
- How to innovate in chaotic times
- Why success can be a double edged sword
- What skills and mindsets individuals need right now
- Real life examples of companies who found a way to thrive in difficult times
- How to spot trends
- What leaders can do to support people on the front lines of the virus right now
Direct download: Jeremy_Gutsche_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:01am PDT
Wed, 25 March 2020
You’ve decided it’s time for a change and is ready to switch jobs. What should you do now? Switching jobs isn’t something that should be taken lightly, but if you find yourself in a toxic work environment where you can’t advance, it may be time to move on. After you’ve made the decision to look for a new job, here are three things to consider:
Understand why you want to leave
People leave their jobs for a huge variety of reasons. Before you leave your job, make sure you’re leaving for the right reason, not a superficial reason like there not being enough perks or your desk not being in the right spot. A good reason to leave your current job is if you feel stuck or if you and your manager don’t get along, even after trying to improve the relationship. Changing jobs is exhausting, so before you get in too deep, make sure you are leaving for the right reasons.
In our modern work environment, your skillset is often more important than your job title. Organizations value employees who have the right set of skills. Take the time before you leave your current job to develop skills that will make you desirable and valuable to future employers. Take advantage of programs or trainings your current employer might offer and build a skill portfolio.
Leave on good terms
No matter how rocky the time at your current job has been, don’t burn any bridges on your way out. References and resumes still matter, so try to make things right before you leave. The last thing you want is a disgruntled former boss or co-worker making it difficult for you to move on to a new opportunity with a bad reference or a black spot on your resume.
Remember, you are in control of your career path. If you’re in a situation that isn’t getting better no matter how much effort you put forth, it could be time to switch jobs. Don’t take the decision lightly, and once you’ve decided to go, follow these three tips to ensure your job search and transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Direct download: Best-Tips-For-Changing-Jobs.mp3
-- posted at: 3:05am PDT
Mon, 23 March 2020
Toby Ord is a philosopher and Senior Research Fellow at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. He focuses on the big picture questions facing humanity such as global poverty, health, the long term future of humanity and the risks which threaten to destroy our entire potential. Toby is also the author of a new book called, The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity.
How does he research and think about future risks and possibilities? Toby says, “I have looked into a lot of the astrophysics of questions about the earth's lifespan and things like that. And when it comes to particularly the risks that we might face over the next 100 years. Yeah, I've had to read a lot about science and technology and really talk to a lot of experts. That's been a real focus with the book. It looks at a lot of issues in cutting edge science and I really... This is a real area where it's easy to screw it up when you're writing a book like this if you have a great idea about something closer to your own discipline, but then you have to say a lot of things about other disciplines for it to make sense. It's easy to just kind of make it up. So I wanted to really make sure I didn't do that. And I talked to really the cutting edge experts in all of these different risks and I also have them look over the book before it went to print to make sure that I hadn't made any errors and that I was faithfully conveying the cutting edge information about these things.”
In his book Toby breaks up the future risks into three categories:
- Natural Risks such as asteroids, super volcanoes, and stellar explosions
- Anthropogenic Risks such as nuclear weapons and climate change
- Future Risks such as pandemics and unaligned AI
Toby also spends a lot of time advising governments and leaders at organizations around the world. When it comes to the things they are most concerned about Toby says, “So some of this was on my earlier work about global poverty. So trying to understand how we can most effectively help people in poor countries. And some of it has been... Yeah on future trends and technologies and ideas for example, about interest in AI and work. I would like them to always be asking me these other questions about existential risks. These are risks to the entire future of humanity and what they could be doing to protect us. They don't tend to ask me about that. Hopefully, after this book comes out, they will... But my experience when talking to them about those existential questions is that... And they say, "Wow that's really interesting, but it's above my pay grade." And everyone seems to react like this at least up all way through the national level of government. That it's something where it just feels a bit too big for them to deal with. And they're used to thinking about the new cycle the next week or so or about the election cycle. But something that's, that you're talking about, what do we need to put in place such that we can be protected from engineered pandemics in 20 or 30 years time? How do we need to start working now in order to avoid that? It's so far beyond their normal horizons and it's at such a level thinking about not just a country and not even just global level, but the entire future of humanity that they're not really used to thinking about those questions at all. And I'm hoping to make them better at thinking about these things.”
But despite all these risks Toby is not pessimistic. He shares, “We have the potential to have a really great future. It's not a pessimistic book. And I think that we want to with clear eyes see the types of risks see how high they are and then act appropriately and defend our future, so that we can have a great future going forwards.”
What you will learn:
- How Toby goes about determining what the future risks for humanity will be
- A look at some of the most immediate risks we face
- Toby’s view of the future of AI and automation
- How we can think about the big picture without getting overwhelmed
- How we are currently doing when it comes to climate change
- How much technological progress have we experienced
Direct download: Toby_Ord_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:39am PDT
Wed, 18 March 2020
Are you prepared for the future? What about your organization or the people around you? Futurists don’t predict the future, but they do make sure their organizations aren’t surprised by what the future will bring. More people are becoming futurists, especially as the pace of change increases and many organizations look towards the future with uncertainty. But futurists don’t just take a shot in the dark to guess what will happen — their projections are rooted in thinking through multiple scenarios to make sure they and their organizations are as best prepared as possible.
Here are three ways to think like a futurist:
Look for signals
Every day, futurists scan the horizon for things that are coming in the future. These things may seem small now but can turn into major events and developments for the future. Signals could be geopolitical events, technology developments, demographic changes, or a number of other things. Signals come from reading reports, listening to podcasts and talks, researching, and talking to people with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise.
Think of implications
From there, futurists consider what the signals could mean. Thinking of implications means taking things one step further, looking at how new developments could manifest in different areas, and considering the potential impact. Things in the future are connected, and futurists work to connect those dots to make sure they understand and are prepared.
There isn’t just one way the future will work out. Organizations and people who only consider one way of doing things won’t succeed in the future. Futurists look at multiple different possibilities and are open to new ideas. They ask lots of questions and run through a variety of scenarios by asking themselves what would happen if they went down a certain path. They follow that path to the end for a long-term view instead of stopping short of letting it fully play out.
Thinking like a futurist takes practice and involves paying attention, having an open mind, and running through numerous possibilities to find potential outcomes and which is the most likely. Getting in the habit with these three steps to thinking like a futurist can put you in the mindset to better understand the future and help those around you prepare for what’s to come.
Direct download: Three_Ways_to_Think_Like_a_Futurist.mp3
-- posted at: 8:02am PDT
Mon, 16 March 2020
Jim McKelvey is the co-founder of Square and the author of a brand new book, The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. Square was founded in response to a problem Jim had in his glassblowing business. He ended up losing a big sale because he couldn’t take an American Express card. So he set out to solve that problem along with his former intern, Jack Dorsey.
Jim says true entrepreneurs solve problems that haven’t been solved before, they don’t just start a business, they do something that has never been done before. And that is what he and Jack did, they solved a problem in a way that no one else had ever thought of before. They even were able to beat out Amazon when the company tried to copy the setup Square had.
The reason behind how they beat Amazon, Jim says, “In Square's case, I outlined about 14 things that we were doing absolutely differently from everybody else, 14 separate things and we were probably doing some more subtle stuff on top of that and each of those 14 things influenced each of the other 14 things so it was very complicated but imagine the difficulty of trying to copy 14 things at once and what I do is I just... You need to just fall back to math, you say "Well what are the odds of copying one thing successful?" Well, let's say it's 8 out of 10. Four out of five times you're gonna get it right. You're gonna try to copy something that's been done before, you're a company like Amazon, you got a lot of smart people, a lot of money, you got an 80% chance of nailing it. Okay, great, so that's one thing. Do two things, that's 80 squared or 80% squared so now you've got a 64% chance and you keep adding and adding. Now you're down to the point where the odds of actually going in and successfully copying all of these things which are necessary for the company to succeed is very slim and even a company like Amazon couldn't do it.”
When it comes to true entrepreneurship Jim doesn’t believe is starting with a product or a service. He says it all starts with a problem that needs to be solved. “So if you say somebody has an idea for a thing, I'm not particularly interested but I am very interested in a problem that somebody tries to solve. If somebody says to me, "Hey, I have invented this widget." I don't care. If somebody says to me "Jim, I've got this problem and I am annoyed by this thing and here's how I plan to eliminate that problem." That's fascinating because the elimination of problems, the solution to an existing problem is super fascinating because that's what moves the world forward.”
And Jim shares that innovation cannot happen without failure. So we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. He says, “I see people who I know are capable of doing great things disqualifying themselves. It's not even that they're failing, it's that they're not trying because they sit there and their whole life, they've been conditioned to get this guarantee before they do anything and then you come to the situation where by definition, there are no guarantees. It is impossible to have a guarantee that something that has never been tried before will work. Then the answer is, "Well, don't ever try" but that's insane, right? But we've become so conditioned for this that I figured we needed a way to, first of all, discuss it in a way that allowed people to argue with me. So read the book, use my definitions and then get in my face.”
What you will learn:
- How to get your team to innovate
- Why we’ve been defining the word entrepreneur the wrong way
- How Square was created and how they took on and beat Amazon
- Whether or not you should follow your passion
- How to deal with failure
- Jim’s view on whether or not you can buy happiness
Direct download: Jim_McKelvey_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:35am PDT
Wed, 11 March 2020
Here are three ways to upgrade your technology and improve the employee experience:One of the most important aspects of employee experience is technology. Think of how much your employees use technology every day — it’s a crucial part of every business, and if your company doesn’t have the right technology resources, it can be a drain on the employee experience.
We’re surrounded by great technology in our everyday personal lives, but many employees face the struggle of having to set aside those programs and devices to use slow and outdated programs at work. Consumer-grade technology is tools that are so useful and intuitive that you would use them in your personal life if possible. An outdated computer or a clunky intranet system can be frustrating to employees, lower their productivity, and cause burnout. Employees should have tools at work that match what they use at home and reflect the year we live in.
Video communication and collaboration
More employees are working flexible schedules or connecting with remote teams, so they need technology that can help them work effectively. The best video and collaboration tools allow employees to communicate anywhere on any device. No matter if it’s Slack or an internal chat system, employees should have a way to collaborate beyond just email.
Although it’s not an actual technology itself, flexible work is powered by technology. Modern employees crave a flexible schedule, but an organization can’t offer flexible work without the right technology in place. Things like collaboration tools, video, and task management systems make it possible for employees to work remotely, which can greatly improve their experience.
All companies need technology, no matter what industry they are in. Technology plays a huge role in the employee experience. Focus on these three improvements to create a technology-powered experience for all employees.
Mon, 9 March 2020
Victor Hoskins is the President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Prior to that, he was Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the District of Columbia. In his current role, he works hard with his team to attract companies and jobs to the area. Most recently he led the team responsible for winning the Amazon HQ2, which will be bringing anywhere from 25,000 to 37,000 jobs to Northern Virginia.
What was it like to compete for the Amazon HQ2? Fairfax county was one of 238 jurisdictions in the running and their initial proposal was 250 pages long. A few months later Amazon responded with over 100 questions which took 1100 pages to respond to. It was definitely not an easy feat!
When looking at the big picture Victor has been paying attention to two main trends when it comes to talent. The first one is the need for regions to find ways to keep college students in the area after they graduate. In Victor’s region there are 60 universities and he says, “there's a real retention effort that we're launching focused on the kids that are in school right now and connecting them directly to companies, whether that company is Leidos or that company is Booz Allen, whether it is North Broman or Boeing we're trying to connect them directly to the companies as they're going through their undergraduate education because what we find and what I think all of us found is, when you work at a place while you're in school you may be going back to that place or a similar company when you get out of school so really bridging that, making that connection or may not just doing this at the undergraduate level but we also want to look at this at the high school level, trying to get these kids into internships, just to get to understand what companies do and develop their interest early on.”
The second thing he is paying attention to is the need for companies to retrain the talent they already have instead of hiring new people. It makes a lot more sense to utilize the people already inside of your organization who know the company culture, then to hire a new person who has to learn everything from square one.
When it comes to AI and technology, Victor is not worried. We have had many shifts in the way we work in the past, for example there was a day when milk and ice was delivered by horse and carriage, but we have always adapted and created new jobs. He believes we will continue to adapt, create, and learn.
Victor’s advice to students in high school or college is do your best every single day. He says, “I feel like I'm at a job interview every day. Every day, I'm at a job interview, which means that I have a chance to make a good impression or bad impression. Me, I choose every day to make an extraordinary impression. I throw my body and my mind into everything that I do. Listen, I was at that brown bag talking about a book. It was the last thing on earth to discuss before I go six feet under. I mean, to me that was a moment to explain something to them that I do wanted to talk to them about since I got there. And this is, this moment right here, this is the greatest moment in my life right now, you know why? Because you only have these moments so do them in an extraordinary way. Do not be average.”
What you will learn:
- What it was like to compete with 238 jurisdictions to win the Amazon HQ2
- What companies like Amazon and Nestle are looking for in talent
- Workplace and talent trends Victor is paying attention to
- How Victor inspires his team
- How companies are attracting and retaining talent
Direct download: Victor_Hoskins_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:32am PDT
Wed, 4 March 2020
With the growth of AI, machine learning, and automation, many people are worried about their jobs and think everything will soon be run by robots. But no matter how advanced technology gets, there are some things it will never be able to do as well as humans. These uniquely human abilities and characteristics, including practicing empathy, innovation, creativity, communication, collaboration, vulnerability, mentoring, and so much more can only be done by humans. It’s important for humans to embrace their natural abilities and showcase them at work.
Over the past few decades, we’ve been conditioned to leave our natural human abilities outside of the office. But to succeed in the future, we have to embrace these qualities. That means doing things like taking a stand to be vulnerable at work, fighting for something you believe in, and taking the time to coach and mentor someone. A lot of technology now is developed to take over mundane and repetitive tasks. Don’t run away from technology. Instead, leverage it so that you have time to work on more human qualities. Be intentional in how you tackle this. If you can automate a task that usually takes you three hours a week, spend those three hours developing a human quality and encouraging your teammates to do the same. Even if those abilities are hidden deep within us, they can come out and shine with practice.
Technology may be a driving feature in future organizations, but humans also need to be involved. Employees who can tap into these human qualities will be more valuable and in-demand at work. People who are good at communicating, collaborating, and innovating will have more opportunities for growth because people will want to work with them and work for them.
Technology is always changing, but the need to remain human stays the same. To create more value and be successful in the future of work, practice being human at work and encourage others to do the same.
Mon, 2 March 2020
Jason Fried is the co-Founder and CEO of Basecamp and bestselling author of Rework and It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work. He has also given a TED Talk titled Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work.
Jason is a big believer in capping a workweek at 40 hours, he says, “We don't want people working more than 40 hours. You don't need to. And if we're doing that, then we're doing something wrong, actually. I know a lot of companies, long hours is seen as doing something right, like, "Let's stay late, and let's work on the weekends and let's pull all-nighters." I think that's completely wrong. And so, we're very careful about not encouraging our employees to work that way.”
Anything that cannot get done in 40 hours can wait until the next day or the next week. The reason is 50, 60, 80 hour weeks are not sustainable. In an emergency, they can be done once in a great while, but to keep it up consistently, it doesn’t produce the best results.
Jason says, “I'm sorry, 80-hour weeks if you wanna be in business for a long time. Sometimes you're gonna burn out, or you're gonna burn people out, and it's gonna be very difficult. Okay, maybe you can do it, but it's not gonna be pleasurable, it's not gonna be enjoyable. You're not gonna keep a good team together with you for a long period of time. And you're gonna lose a lot of great people along the way. And I don't wanna lose great people. It's hard enough to find great people. So I wanna keep them happy with the reasonable work hours, challenging work, great people, great environments, and those kinds of things.”
Just because you put in a lot of hours doesn’t mean you are producing good work, you can spend extra hours on bad work. Most of the time the best ideas and new innovations come after people come back to a problem refreshed. Working until you are beyond exhausted and stressed doesn’t usually lead to breakthroughs.
“It's just kind of unusual in the United States, with our work hustle culture that's just I think really damaging and really destroying people over the long term. And I know that, hey, sometimes when you're in your early 20s you wanna put all the hours in, and you want bust your ass and the whole thing, I get it. But the thing is that it's not sustainable. And when you have companies that encourage that kind of behavior when those companies themselves know it's not sustainable, that's almost fraudulent, and I just don't wanna be that kind of company.”
There may be people reading this who are feeling stuck in a situation at work where leadership encourages people to work 60+ hours and rewards those who come in early and stay late. For those people, Jason says you should assess the situation and figure out what you have control over. Can you talk to leaders to get them to change? Can you set an example and change the mindset? If you have some control, figure out how to make it better.
If you don’t have control, it may be time to look for another job. “Most people who profess the craziness and are all in on these long, long, long hustle things, they keep doing it until they can't. They don't choose all of a sudden, like when they're 35, to go, Oh, I don't have to do that anymore. I'm gonna go back to a normal day's work. Because the habits they've built are all built around busy, and packed schedules, and hustling, and the whole thing. So it's very hard to break habits. If that's what you're used to doing, you're gonna keep doing that, and at some point it's going to collide with reality and life. Or it's going to keep you from reality and life. And I think that's really unfortunate too. Work is not that important to keep everything else out of your life.”
What you will learn:
- The problem with the hustle culture
- Why Jason feels work should be capped at 40 hours per week
- What to do if you feel trapped by work
- Advice for leaders who want to give employees more autonomy
- What it is like to work at Basecamp
Direct download: Jason_Fried_Podcats_-_done.mp3
-- posted at: 12:00am PDT