How to get smarter (Not yet, but soon)

Artificial Intelligence

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University undertook a study where she researched the “growth mindset”. This study aimed to ascertain whether humans have the ability to learn and solve new things which can be defined as one’s understanding and belief that their abilities can be developed.

What I found fascinating while watching her Ted Talk titled “The power of believing that you can improve”, was the concept of individuals falling into two mindset categories namely:

  1. Those who believed they had a “fixed” mindset and
  2. The others group that believed their mindset could be developed

Society has normalized this concept that we are all born with a gifts or a talent, there is no such thing as being multi talented and those who are, are just special/ different.

The difference between the fixed mindset and the growth mindset is one’s decision to “do” or not to “do”

If you don’t get something right the first time, do you usually run from the difficulty or do you acknowledge your shortcomings and see how you can succeed the next time? I for one have been crippled by the fear of failure that when it happened for the first time to me, I felt like the ground beneath me was giving way and I would surly tumble to my demise. Until I woke up the next day, alive…and very much within the reality of my “shortcomings” hahaha! This is when I realized that I could either quit and tell myself that this wasn’t for me (hence why I failed), or see things through and cut myself some slack. I did the latter and overtime since then I always find failing such an enriching experience. It gives me an opportunity to gain perspective and ENGAGE with failure as if it were a teacher as opposed to a disciplinarian.

So with this being said, are we going to confine ourselves to the reality of a single box or will we step out to discover the multi facets of the box from the outside perspective and venture on to discover the world outside of the box and beyond? When we decide to see that challenges and hardships don’t mean “find another alternative, you’re just not good at this” but rather, “not yet but soon if you work at it” we will find that there is so much more that life will begin to offer.

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Guest Post: My travel, my truth (tips for traveling with and without friends)

Travel
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

I have been privileged enough to travel overseas twice on someone else’s budget. My first overseas trip was to the USA in 2014 and my second trip took me all the way to Portugal in Europe.

On my first trip, I had 9 other companions and we were all friends so there was no doubt that it was going to be fun. All of us were heavily involved and committed to making the process perfect. Upon arrival, we were mandated to be in Boston for 4 days for a Young Leader’s Summit, but hey! We were finally in ‘Merica and we absolutely could not let this opportunity pass us by without some kind of exploration.

We had a grand ol’ time in Boston but as fate and “the spirit of YOLO” would have it, we made a pit stop in NEW YORK, (yes NEW YORK CITY the big apple) and boy was it magical!

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Trip to ‘Merica with my friends

TRAVELLING WITH FRIENDS

There is something special in travelling with friends. A dynamic you can’t really attain when you travel with family or work acquaintances. Here are some of the elements I found most enjoyable when travelling with people who are your friends:

  • Flexible itinerary– having the freedom to change the itinerary depending on how everyone feels that day with no hard feelings.
  • Prior planning– we knew how much it would cost if we were to go to every tourist attraction in NY and Boston.
  • Work hard play harder– we made time for work and time for fun. We also made time for people to rest when they needed to.
  • Friends bring familiarity and some sort of security– traveling to a different country can be overwhelming but having people you can call “friends” brings a sense of calmness and adventure.
  • Shared interests– Prior conversations around the trip ensured that expectations were laid out. We all knew what each of us wanted out of the experience and it was so comforting when the boys made time for the girls to do some shopping ☺
  • Picture perfect– We all wanted to share every moment so we became each other’s professional photographers.

I do not believe that these benefits would have been as prominent had I travelled with individuals with whom I did not share a common interest. So this trip really set the bar high in terms of how I would like to experience traveling in the future.

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Musings in Portugal

My second travelling experience was pretty interesting… I had an opportunity to travel again, but this time it was to Europe for a work conference.  I was tasked with hosting 4 delegates who would also be attending the same conference I was going to and had little to no time to plan my itinerary. So here I was with 4 complete strangers and a colleague in Portugal. FUN. To make matters worse, unlike with the USA trip, I didn’t know much about Portugal except that Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous football star was born there. Despite all of this the extrovert in me remained optimistic and hoped for the experience to turn into another perfect opportunity to make lifelong friends (Boy could I have been more wrong…. haha).

TRAVELLING WITH ACQUAINTANCES

The city was beautiful and there was so much to do and explore but because the sense of “shared interest” and of familiarity which I spoke about earlier was kinda missing, the trip was a complete dud. Looking back on my experience I would say there are definitely some key learnings and take outs. It is possible to have fun travelling with acquaintances and here is what you can look out for in order to ensure the greatest time:

  • Preparation is KING– but also leave some room for spontaneity. Have a plan in place but also allow yourself to be moved by adventure. The last thing you want to experience when traveling is the monster called frustration.
  • Understand the most optimal means of transportation in your destination AND ENSURE YOU ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE ABOUT THE DECISION- you know why? So you avoid that thing again, frustration :).
  • Have a budget and communicate this with others around you so you all can participate in things that will leave you breathless ☺.
  • Pre travel drinks– If you will be traveling with people who are not your friends, make some time for a quick hangout over drinks so you get familiar and understand expectations.
  • Have fun– try to make the most out of any situation; after all you’re stuck together in that country, truly be open-minded.

Traveling is priceless it enables you to take a pause from your normal life and experience how other people live. The benefit truly outweighs the cost. After all, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” So it’s okay to go beyond how you regulate your life on a daily basis but travel with people who will make the experience unforgettable.

Girl traveling

                                                                                           Guest Post Author: Faith Tembe

Faith Tembe is a vibrant young professional with a passion for purpose driven work.

She holds an honours degree in Industrial Psychology and currently doing a Masters of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation.

She draws her experience from the corporate environment with specific focus on Innovation and Transformation management.

The future of work from a millennial’s perspective

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Photo by Martin Shreder on Unsplash

It’s no doubt that organizations have started considering and taking shape in order to be future fit. Some organizations could be progressing more rapidly that others due to a geographical influence but what matters is that the pivot in business complements the environment these organizations are working in.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of sitting in on one of South Africa’s most renowned business trends expert and from this engagement I was exposed to quite a few insights around where are businesses going which I would like to share with you.

Business disruption is occurring across all industries.

PART 1

We are moving to an age where organisations are obsessed with company culture:

  • Being collaborative and not silo-driven, employers will hire employees who basically push beyond boundaries. We will begin to see a rise in people who are driven by achieving a greater purpose rather than a monomaniacal focus on profits.

Death of the legacy companies!!! Agile companies have a lifespan of 15 years and not because they exit the business lifecycle at the end of the 15 years but because they pivot frequently. (Because this is the future of the business and business- owner mind-set corporates will be serving/ servicing, the big question here is “what steps do corporates in South Africa need to take in order to become relevant for their future client?”

Collapse of the value chain. The space between the product and customer is getting narrower (E.g. Beyoncé and Tidal). Business owners are cutting the middle man and the need to quantify value for money/services rendered increases

The lengthening Omni-channel. It is becoming crucial for corporates to find out where customer are experiencing their brand and whether all the channels are “saying the same” thing.

Digitization pawns, the essential business pivot (Biggest disruptions globally being seen in the automotive industry: ride sharing and driverless cars, and healthcare: Augmented Reality learning techniques)

Mechanization, robotics and the erosion of jobs (Google: Relay Robot).

PART 2

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Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

So in the midst of the tech hurricane, what’s going to happen to our jobs?

Critical thinking, leadership, communication and problem solving ability is key!!! The ability to display the skill of Lateral Thinking in a role will be crucial. Punt this and evolve in this.

New economies enabling new industries. People find themselves in industries they would have never imagined because of this new need of different thinking. (E.g. the partnership between the digital music guy who was hired by LVMH to help build them an ecommerce website….)

The on demand economy/ The sharing economy (Hyatt pairing with Airbnb to create “unhotel” experiences)/ The gig economy (This is forcing companies to rethink labour laws!!!).

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Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

The need for unconventional thinking will force educational institutions to ready students in a different way for the workplace.

Effect on education: The need for education disruption

  • What is your degree worth because there really isn’t any scarcity?
  • Already in EY UK no degrees are needed for employment

The biggest challenge and commodity will be the skills gap: critical thinking, problem solving, communication, leadership and ownership will be highly valued

So how do we bridge the gap?

What’s wrong with the way we learn? The education system isn’t geared for the knowledge economy….

Vocational training schools need to get mixed in with high tech. (No degree, actual training using holograms for surgeons (Google: HoloLens))

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The future of work

It’s no longer linear. There are a lot of stop- starts and career changes

Hybrid skills will be needed

Organisations will hire for attitude, and retrain for skills (this will fix the millennial churn)

Nomadic work swarms. You don’t have to watch an employee working to know that they are getting work done. (reskill yourself to do what you want to do, get your work life flexibility by doing what pays the bills while leaving time for passion projects)

Remote flexi-working options and productivity impact

The impact of the female century will see an increases profitability in companies

Millennials see mentors as people they can take advice from and give advice to.

Jobs of the future- what will they look like?

Things related to drones, coding, virtual reality, UX (We will see skill and career combos that have never existed before such as Life Coaches with an IT background etc.)

Rwanda; the South Korea of the technology realm… delivering blood samples to hard to reach hospitals via drone technology

Ultimately, organizations and their staff must understand the movements of their industries in order to stay relevant in their environment and careers respectively. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore.

I am especially excited though to see how resourceful individuals will become with their toolkit of skills and how they will couple what they know in order to excel in the digital age where their customers are just as, if not more aware of what they need, how they want it and what their service providers must do in order to ensure excellent delivery in a radical and client- centric way.

Advice to the matriculants of 2018

Friendships

As you prepare for your final year in high school, on behalf of the generations and age groups that came before you I just want to start off by saying please bear with us! You are about to see some really dumb and hilarious challenges we experience with technology at work. Please don’t laugh.. try with all your might to be patient and help us where you can.

Having a sister born in this age group, I can tell you one thing for certain. These- kids- are- quick. Technology is inherent in them and unfortunately for consumerism, so is common sense. These guys are drawn to corporates with strong CSI focus and delivering goods and services via technology, to them, is a no brainer. The hardest generational group to service, they are both relevant and knowledgeable. Their future inclusion in the entrepreneurship space will without a doubt see a rise of new and unique marketing strategies, a heavy reliance and preference for seamless delivery through technology and groud- breaking ways to target consumers; never mind the influence they will bring on corporates to heighten focus of CSI involvement, because work won’t just be about getting a steady paycheck every month.

Already being in the environment and seeing the tension and internal battle with employers around millennial management, my soul can only cringe at the thought of this matric group entering the workplace. Many of these individuals will not come to understand  or tolerate the “whys” and shortcomings of bureaucracy, they will come to work, simply work, shoot the lights out and dare you not remove the obstacles in the way for them to flourish. These guys have got it figured out with a Plan A, B and Z and while my generational group is still polite with being acknowledged and included, this group won’t be taking any prisoners. Interesting times ahead…

Friendship

In closing, some friendly advise from a post matriculant to ALL 2018 prospective matriculants:

  • There is no better time to be true to yourself and what you want your future to be than when those university applications open. All of a sudden, EVERYONE WILL KNOW “WHAT IS BEST” FOR YOU.
  • If there is one thing I can tell you, which I emphasize to my little sister all the time, it is that your future is yours and yours alone, and so is your happiness. Do what makes you happy, go with your gut and grow a tough skin early, it will help you learn when and when not to justify your decisions and also to stick with them.
  • Not everyone wishes you the best, even if they are a relative or a friend. So keep those goals and dreams in your heart, constantly visualizing them and working every day to realize them.
  • Your dreams are valid. I repeat, YOUR DREAMS ARE VALID. Each and every one of them. You might have a dream that will seem so “big” or so crazy… maybe because you haven’t seen anyone who looks like you in the field you want to go into… maybe no one from your family has ever attended university… or maybe you’ve been told that in order to make it you need something that people like you just don’t have (I have been told this…. I have been told many things but they are all NOT TRUE). Your mind is a powerful tool. Whenever my sister tells me she can or cannot do something, I always tell her she is right… because its true. Nothing is more powerful than your mind and no one else can encourage you to work hard, aim high and do your best unless you want to.

Lastly, enjoy this year… before you know it, it will be gone and you will have no choice but to adult. 2018 might seem like its holding you back from living your “best life” but just like anything, it shall pass and if you weren’t present in doing what you needed to do, you’ll find yourself coming short with skills and lessons for your next journey. So be present, be mindful and do your best, the first time over.

I love all you young millennials so much and wish you all nothing but the best in your matric year of 2018!

Managing Millennials: Don’t ask us what we want because we actually don’t know

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Over this past weekend I spent some time reflecting on some of the millennial focus projects I have had the privilege to work on in my organization. During this reflectional period I thought about the impact I made with my suggestions and how much my opinion, as a millennial was depended on for strategic direction and influence on our certain workplace environments.

As much as I am proud of the effort and successful impact we made as a working group, although a little part of me can’t help but cringe when I think about how a dysfunctional, barely able to adult group was tasked with so much responsibility and freedom to experiment.

Two of the things we did really well (unintentionally); which I think contributed to our success were:

  • Having numerous, diverse initiatives (because in hindsight now that I think about it, no two 25 year olds are the same)
  • Seeking more guidance and partnerships with experienced senior sponsors (because although we belong to an incredibly special and unique generation, our behaviour and motivational drivers are not revolutionary, someone, somewhere has wanted the same thing before, whatever it is and to a varying degree)

Some of the questions I am asked now more than ever are ” How do you want me to manage you?”, “What makes millennials happy”, “What workplace dynamics will make you thrive” and each and every time, true to Simon Sinek’s video titled “The Millennial Question” I had a smart succinct answer that I was sure was correct, universal and would guarantee my loyalty. I believed I was giving away a formula that when used, would curb global millennial attrition in the workplace. Until it dawned on me one day. I had the environment I wanted, the resources and the leadership backing to implement the formula I had suggested but it was just not working. With my working group, I had sat down and created this magical Utopia that we thought incorporated elements that would make work life incredible but even so, there was something we had missed, a huge oversight.

The big thing we miss with the millennial generation, on both sides, as the manager and the millennial, is that we try to get a “1 size fits all” strategy that we try to paste to INDIVIDUALS. What my experience on these projects taught me was that strategies are great as long as they don’t involve implementing them directly on people. Although millennials are all born into the same generation, we aren’t all motivated by a bean bag and flexi-hour workplace some millennials thrive in traditional bureaucratic settings and others couldn’t care less for the mastery of unwritten office rules. At the end of the day, millennials, like the rest of the human race, are fickle and forever evolving. Today we might want complete autonomy and the next day we could be accusing you for being a distant leader who isn’t interested in growing their people.

Millennials are really great at having opinions which can sometimes be uninformed and rash when given the opportunity to have a voice.So next time (as a manager/ leader/ human capital business partner) you have an engagement with your millennial employee, instead of asking us what we want, try asking what we don’t want from an organization/ management perspective. As human beings, the things we dislike tend to stick because the decisions we make to rule them out usually stem from concrete and tangible past experiences unlike a future state, wish list  made from fantasies we have no experience in.

I hope this post helped to shed some light into the thought process of a millennial. But, then again, this opinion piece might just be coming from an “entitled, know-it-all millennial” perspective that could change in the next two blog posts haha! Who knows?