Rolling into a new year and new decade, I was having breakfast with a few friends during one of our “quarterly mastermind retreats.” It’s just a cool name for us getting together once a quarter and having stimulating, goal-oriented conversations and activities. We began to talk about what the next 10 years is going to look like for the workplace. All 4 of us have spent time in corporate leadership roles, and each navigate the world of entrepreneurship now. So there was a lot of healthy dialogue.
The conversation shifted quickly into not only how to survive, but how to thrive, as times continue to rapidly change. Afterwards, I spent a lot of time thinking, reading and researching about what future of jobs will look like. I found a study by the KcKinsey Global Institute that shows up to 33% of jobs in countries like the U.S. and Germany will be automated by 2030. This could be up to 800 million jobs globally (1). Another study by ABI Research showed that over 4 million robots will be placed in over 50,000 warehouses by 2025 (2).
Some might call it “the Intelligent Machine Age”, others call it “The Great Restructuring”, (3) some may not call it anything. But we’ll call it “The New Economy”. No matter what you call it – it’s a scary reality! Maybe not for everyone, at least for those who are prepared, but for the rest, this could be a very dramatic shift.
From my research, it’s clear that there are only 3 types of people who will thrive in The New Economy:
1. The High-Skill worker
Those who work well and creatively with intelligent machines and have acquired a skill that cannot be automatable or easily and affordably outsourced
2. The Superstar
Those who are the best at what they do; the specialists
3. The Owners
Those with access to capital (most likely a previous 1 or 2)
If you don’t find yourself in 1 of those 3 categories, don’t worry. Although I can’t give you the key to attaining capital, I believe the following practices can help you to become a 1 and/or 2 and secure your ability to thrive in the future.
How To Be These People
The thing about being a high-skilled worker, or a superstar, is that no one wakes up that way. They practice habits, routines and characteristics every day that over time evolve into these 6 abilities:
1. The ability to work with people.
Although AI and robots continue to automate manual labor and administrative roles, one thing a robot will never be able to do is sit down with a colleague or a prospect over a coffee and have a genuine conversation about what’s best for their business.
Tip: Meet 1 new person every day and learn a fact about them.
2. The ability to quickly master hard things.
With technology advancing so quickly, it’s easy to get caught up assuming that learning and mastering new tools is difficult. The reality is – the school systems are teaching children how to code, and if children can build websites, then so can you.
Tip: Commit to learning something new every day, and a major skill every year.
3. The ability to adapt to change.
We have experienced more change in the past 20 years than the world had in the 200 years prior to that. New ideas, inventions and businesses are popping up every day, while others are shutting down or fading away. It’s obvious now that change is more common than it ever has been, and in order to adapt, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Tip: Do 1 thing out of your normal routine and comfort zone every day.
4. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality AND speed.
This requires acknowledging how important working both smart and hard are simultaneously, then having the confidence in yourself that you can do that consistently. Most people assume those terms are one or the other, but they are not mutually exclusive. Producing quality work at a quicker than normal rate comes down to time management and task prioritization.
Tip: create a time budget, then schedule everything accordingly.
5. The ability to be a self-starter.
Growing up, we are accustomed to being told what to do and when to do it. Whether it’s at home with your parents, at school with your teachers, or sports with your coaches. When young people enter the workplace, their need for constant direction and motivation can handicap them.
Tip: keep a running to-do list, and always look for the next thing to do.
6. The ability to communicate consistently and at a high level.
Not everyone needs to be the charismatic public speaking type to succeed, but when it comes being a high performer, you have to let go of the introvert excuse and be the type of person that is always clear, concise and accountable with their communication. Emails, meetings and conference calls already take up far too much time, and leaders will continue to find ways to make those more productive, in turn, creating more profitable businesses.
Tip: when sending an email, elaborating on an idea, or answering a question, always think: “is this everything they need to know, and am I explaining it in a way that anyone can understand?”
All of these abilities will take a lot of time and intentional effort to become habitual. That’s why you have to think about them every day. The good news is: if you start today, you will be one of the few who thrive in the new economy. Then ideally, you can help bring others along with you.