Personal and Exponential

Abundance Resources

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Key Point: The Singularity University Canada Summit‘s (currently underway in Toronto, Ontario) mission is to inspire and enable more Canadians to think BIG, take risks to drive global impact for the advancement of humankind. (Singularity U is doing this worldwide, and online).

To kick things off at the summit, one of the world’s most influential leaders and co-founder of Singularity, Peter Diamandis, took the stage to engage the conference community in understanding the difference between linear and exponential thinking. Until recently, most of the growth and change in the world has been comparatively linear. And Diamandis emphasized that the powerful advances in technology are combining to make change exponential. He went on to explain that if one took 30 linear steps forward , the outcome would be travelling a distance of approximately 30 meters across the room. 30 exponential steps however would result in us travelling 1,073,741,824 meters; 26x around the earth. That exponential world is mostly in front of us. If we think the world is changing fast now, hang onto your hats because exponential growth is going to redefine what disruptive even means. Faster, cheaper computing power including but not limited to dramatic change in networks & sensors , synthetic biology, robotics, 3D printing, virtual reality/augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain/cryptocurrency are blowing up (or about to) whole industries. Business models in all industries are under assault. The best of us see this emerging world filled with abundant opportunity. Thoughtful courageous leaders know they have to think in terms of platforms rather than “pipes.” And much more.

So how do you and I navigate through this? I feel strongly that we have to make this very personal and immediate. Don’t wait for someone and/or your organization to “teach you.” I strongly believe that you and I must not sit on the the sidelines until technology and exponential disruptions combine to swarm over us. If we want to participate rather than spectate, it becomes very necessary to get involved NOW.

One of the thought leaders in exponential leadership is Lisa Kay Solomon, the Chair and Managing Directors of Transformational Practices at Singularity University. The following are some very practical, personal things Lisa suggests in this context of active participation in the world of  transformation:

  1. Clip headlines.
  2. Watch trends.
  3. Map uncertainties.
  4. Find patterns.
  5. Go extreme (imagine extreme outcomes).
  6. Extinction (imagine things no longer necessary).
  7. Time Travel (touch the future through experiences).
  8. Visualize (imagine what the future looks like).

We do not have to be technology experts, go out and get computer science degrees, etc. However, I cannot emphasize enough the significance of self-learning and imagining how this technology works independently, and more importantly how they combine as systems to dramatically change our lives.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Commit to experiencing (not just reading about) ALL of the following in action over the next (x) weeks. (You decide pace and order): networks & sensors, synthetic biology, robotics, 3D printing, virtual reality/augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain/cryptocurrency. Play with this technology.
  2. Identify one or more leading commercial entities in each one of these areas. Follow them and learn how they are or will be transforming an industry/market.
  3. Think BIG about this. Picture and put yourself in the middle. Be a player, have courage, make a difference. 

Personal disruption in leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: When I took the Singularity U online course, thinking exponentially makes total sense but I’m thankful for Lisa Kay Solomon’s bullet points on “how to.” Thanks to my curiosity in podcasts, I’ve learned about things like cryptocurrency and synthetic biology (check out CRISPR if you want your mind a little blown), and yeah, the future is quickly going to look a lot different. Thanks to Singularity U’s abundant take, it definitely seems like a world I’d rather be involved in than just observe.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

How Do You View the World?

Abundance

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A globe, sitting on a radiator near a window

Key Point: Do you believe we are living in the most exciting and wonderful time with abundant opportunities in front of us? Or do you think the world is “going to hell” and falling apart? Or perhaps a little of both?

Certainly when we experience horrifying events like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s difficult not to feel miserable and wonder if things are totally “falling apart.” Thank goodness we do feel pain and become awash in empathy and compassion for all those suffering. We can never allow ourselves to become numb to violence of any kind. Simultaneously, without attempting to minimize these all too frequent atrocities we humans inflict on each other, some thoughtful observers do believe the world is actually getting better. They also think we are in the midst of a drug epidemic: The drug? Negative news. The drug pushers? The media.

That’s the view of futurist, best selling author and co-founder of Singularity University, Peter Diamandis. In his important book “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,” Diamandis argues that we pay 10x more attention to negative news than positive news. To highlight his argument, the following is a summary of the real trends as outlined in his recent blog (read the entire blog for a complete picture including sources supporting his perspective). He points to the evidence, sourcing data from many credible sources, that the world is advancing and overall things are going in the right direction:

  1. “Global Economy”
    Over the last 200 years, the world’s GDP has *skyrocketed* 100-fold. Humankind has never been more prosperous and productive.
  2. Health
    No matter where in the world you are, mortality rates have dropped precipitously over the last 300 years.
  3. Environment
    The world is getting warmer but without the Montreal Protocol, the planet would have been about 4 degrees warmer by 2050 (…resulting in more extreme weather events like droughts, floods and hurricanes).
  4. Energy
    A key measure of economic growth, living standards and poverty alleviation is access to electricity… More people around the world have access to electricity than ever, and the absolute number of those without access to electricity is dropping (despite population growth).
  5. Food
    Despite the headlines, we’re making steady progress in the realm of food scarcity and hunger… Globally, 18.6 percent of the population was undernourished in 1991; by 2015, it dropped to 10.8 percent.”

So, if we objectively look at the data, we truly live in the most progressive time to be alive. And if your mindset enables you to see problems as opportunities, the future is even brighter than the present.

Leadership Moves:

  1. Embrace an abundant mindset and allow yourself to fully contribute in accelerating the positive trends in the world. Of course, be outraged and take appropriate action in response to human atrocities. At the same time,  consume a perspective of opportunity rather than one of defeat.
  2. Only work on and do things that advance us as human beings. Why invest our precious short time on earth wallowing in what causes hurt or live in fear, hopelessness, and self-proclaimed defeat? Understand the emerging positive power of the technological exponentiality, and how it provides a path to profoundly advancing humankind. Each of us has a role to play. Determine what your’s is.
  3. Take the following online course… It’s free. If you find it valuable, please pass it on. We can accelerate the forward movement of humankind together.

The world trend is our friend in Personal Leadership.

Lorne

One Millennial View: I took this Singularity University course and found it extremely eye-opening. As a journalism major, we were taught in school to be unbiased. But anyone who has worked in media knows that advertisers (where all the money comes from) are often agenda motivated. Plus, filling a 24-hour news cycle is more compelling if you’re scaring the heck out of your audience. Unfortunately, that is truly how cable media survives. Think about seeing a murdered body on the street… That sounds horrifying, right? But, Joe Rogan’s podcast made a point recently that before around 1950, personally seeing people killed in your lifetime was probably a guaranteed thing. Today, it literally makes news if you do. Let’s keep it as simple as that. Yes, we’re living in the best time ever for human beings, despite what your TV/Social Media is telling you.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Principle of Inversion and Anti-Goals

Abundance Be Abundant Productivity Time Management

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Key Point: Let’s learn from Warren Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger, and the co-founders of Tiny. First, reflect on these three Munger quotes: “1. A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: Early death, a bad marriage, etc…” “2. It is remarkable how much long-term advantage we have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent…” “3. Problems frequently get easier if you turn them around in reverse. In other words, if you want to help India, the question you should ask is not ‘how can I help India,’ it’s ‘what is doing the worst damage in India and how do I avoid it?

Munger is talking about inversion in the last quote; the idea that problems are best solved when they are reversed. It’s often easier to think about what you don’t want before what you do. My experience is that both people and organizations are out of balance regarding the amount of time spent determining what they want to achieve versus what they’d like to avoid or stop doing. And strategic legacy planning processes often just add stuff up without declaring anti-goals. The outcome becomes lists of stuff to do/measure and are made up of executives’ favorite ideas that reflect compromise more than clear intent. 

I loved the blog by Tiny co-founder, Andrew Wilkinson, where he put Munger’s wisdom into action. In his words:

“So, instead of thinking through what we wanted our perfect day to look like, we thought about the worst day imaginable and how to avoid it. We inverted and came up with what we call Anti-Goals.

Our worst possible day looked like this:

  1. Full of long meetings.
  2. A packed calendar.
  3. Dealing with people we don’t like or trust.
  4. Owing people things/not being in control/obligations.
  5. Having to be at the office.
  6. Travel.
  7. Tired.

Working backwards from there, we made this set of Anti-Goals:

  1. Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all).
  2. No more than two hours of scheduled time per day.
  3. No business or obligations with people we don’t like—even just a slight bad vibe and it’s a hard no.
  4. Never give up voting control of our businesses, no favors from people who could need something from us (ensure the rule of reciprocity doesn’t kick in).
  5. Work from a cafe across from a beautiful park where we can come and go as we please with nobody to bother us.
  6. Video conference or pay for people to come visit us.
  7. Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed.

Problem solved.

Of course, we still have the odd unavoidable crappy day, but these simple Anti-Goals have made our lives immeasurably better by setting an Anti-Goal instead of a goal. Try it sometime, it’s insanely simple and strangely powerful.”

Character Moves:

  1. Try inversion and anti-goals. As Wilkinson notes, it is a simple yet powerful process. Sometimes to be crystal clear about what you want, the best starting route is to get there through declaring what you don’t want first. I do argue however that establishing BOTH goals and anti-goals are important. The processes are related, but different. Connect them. 
  2. Don’t be become that person that whines about how stupid your schedule is, how crazy hard you’re working, and how everyone/thing else is making you miserable. Be self-accountable and do something about it. Try inversion and anti-goals. It will help you break the cycle and move forward with more control over your situation than you might realize. 

Anti-goals in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I love Munger and Wilkinson’s quotes and the freedom they’ve allotted themselves with anti-goals. Some Millennials might read this and say, “But, I don’t have the professional control to accomplish my anti-goals.” That could be the case at the moment, but, at least by “setting” anti-goals, you can get a better sense of where you’d like to make your professional life more malleable as you further your career.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Ban All “Just A” Jobs!

Abundance Be Abundant Contribution Management

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Key Point: Every role and job in every organization is vital. There is no room for what I call “just a” type jobs. Of course, some jobs pay better than others for a variety of reasons. However, from a company’s “brand” perspective, every job counts big time.

Many of my readers know I work in the financial services sector. In our retail business, we have a frontline customer-facing position called a CSR (Customer Service Rep). When we first held Culture Days (our on-boarding event for new hires), as people introduced themselves, some might say, “I’m JUST a CSR.” As the exec sponsor and facilitator, I would politely intervene; asking the CSR to take out “just a.” Why? This position creates the brand impression for our company due to the number of customers they touch each day and every minute. It is an essential and vital role! You and I see this at other workplaces daily. For example: The coffee barista, bus driver, receptionist, call center person, flight attendant, waiter, etc. Regardless of what companies advertise as their brand, the real brand “smell test” starts when we interact with the frontline customer-facing folks. How could we afford to have anyone of these people see himself or herself in “just a” job?

I remember when I first became the Chief People Officer of the company in 2012, and attended one our prescheduled on-boarding sessions. I sat down at a random table for lunch, and asked people why they joined the company. The very first response came from a CSR and it was, “my mom wanted me out of the house.” “Holy cow” is the politest response that immediately came to mind. I had to squeeze hard to keep my inner voice under control. If this is how we recruit for our customer facing positions, we had huge work to do. And we did. As a result, we are at a much better and different spot today. Every role is vital, and direct customer-facing ones, even more so.

Character Moves:

  1. As a leader, it is your job to make sure every role is a vital one based on the impact to customers and other teammates. Ban “just a” jobs. Help every person in every role connect to the organization’s purpose.
  2. As a team member, you also have a responsibility to connect to your company’s purpose and to act as if you matter… Because you do. Think big. Be big. Do not “mail it in,” as the saying goes. 
  3. Have the highest standards of recruiting for every position including “dishwasher.” Do not let anyone in just to fill for “just a” job. Unless, of course, you do not care about your brand.

No “just a’s” in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I’m sure some Millennials might be told by peers or even society that their position is “just a” job. You can see how that’d be an easy mindset to trap yourself in, especially if you’re still searching for a position that fully utilizes your earned skillsets, or find yourself between jobs and needing to pay bills with work you’re overqualified for. But, I suppose that’s when you have to lend a nice middle-finger to anyone who tries to knock you down a peg, and believe that anything you do that (legally) keeps the lights on is something to find pride in.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Evangelist Phenomena

Abundance Be Abundant Change Organizational leadership

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Key Point: We may need to reinvent the way we engage teams to create “movements” within organizations. The company I work for made a commitment to move our productivity and communication application platform to Google’s G Suite. In order to transform the institution, we knew we had to reimagine and work in profoundly better ways, with much better, more modern tools. This included applying a software tool set that facilitated the full democratization of networked ideas, imagination and contribution. While we already had a culture that honored collaboration, connectivity and engagement, we knew that we needed a platform to accelerate innovation and exponential results. This called for a “movement” to cause a work renaissance that we branded as “Work Reimagined!”

A dedicated team of leaders assigned to this movement created a mini transformative purpose (mTP) that included: “Freeing and unleashing the ideas and contribution of 5,000 plus people, with the outcome of creating a work revolution to drive an exponential transformation of the company in making our Story (purpose) true.” We then created three major phases to fully engage all 5,000 team members: “Ignite and Listen,” “Excite and Discover,” and “Adopt and Master.” Each phase was populated with numerous tactics that will be further elaborated on in another blog. Additionally, we knew we needed a network of team members that would evangelize and propel the movement. Hence the birth and rise of our now famous “G Evangelists.”

Over a five-day period, we invited all 5,000 team members to “audition” for the G Evangelist role, which essentially asked for their commitment to become a spark for the Work Reimagined movement. While we outlined a role description, it essentially asked potential candidates to be willing to participate in a 30 day boot camp (starting two weeks after selection), commit to fully learn G Suite, help the company journey through the three stages noted above, and then be open to support assignments after. We told them NOT to seek approval from their next up manager, and promised, with the CEOs support, that we would clear the forward passage for any successful candidates. The response from the team community was incredible, and the sub-team leading this recruitment and selection process was remarkable. My following description will underwhelm the profoundly powerful outcome of this initiative. However, these are the highlights:

  1. Thousands of team members expressed interest.
  2. Over 300 people auditioned with the most creative applications imaginable. 
  3. Over 200 interviewed, and a final 50 were selected (we could have hired 300 exceptional team members).
  4. The 50 represented the most inclusive slice of the company possible; what proved to be a perfect blend 
  5. They came together as an inseparable cohort through the boot camp, and created a fiercely connected community to lead our movement: True G Evangelists.
  6. They have become teachers, coaches, experts, and facilitators (both individually and collectively), filled with deep knowledge and empathy.
  7. We have just entered the “Adopt and Master” phase, and to some extent their work is just beginning. 

While the jury regarding the long term effectiveness of the G Evangelist cohort is still out, so far the learning involves the extraordinary superhero powers of a self-nominated/carefully selected group of inclusive team members from all levels, positions, geography, generation, background, tenure, etc. to fully connect, collaborate and contribute. The learning content and boot camp facilitation was genius, even magical. And the groups’ road trip to Google HQ and Singularity was highly impactful. Further study and research on the effectiveness of these troops will likely reveal other insights. In the meantime, it is absolutely clear the G Evangelist 50 are leading the Work Reimagined movement with almost super human energy. Their momentum has created peer-to-peer flow, and the conditions for the work renaissance we are “star shooting” for. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you’re a leader, experiment with the idea of selecting a cohort of self-nominated, passionately committed people to sprint (outside of their day-to-day job) for a short period of time on a focused challenge. They will likely amaze you with their ability to get results; probably in highly inventive, even 10x ways. Give them the support and air cover to fully connect, collaborate and contribute without interference from upper management or other distractions. Expect greatness not sameness from participants, and they will deliver.
  2. As a team member, look to raise your hand and get involved in addressing gnarly problems and/or initiatives you have deep passion for. If your leadership is timid, find like-minded “Evangelists” and get s#!* done anyways! What are you waiting for? What have you really got to lose?  

Evangelists in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Wow, what an impressive project! My favorite part is the “if your leadership is timid, find like-minded ‘Evangelists,’ and get s#!* done anyways.” That is just plain always an option, no matter what you’re doing, and it’s applicable to more things in life than just work. An extra “to-do?” You bet. But, c’mon, if you’re a regular reader of this blog then you know what you should/can do. Let’s make it happen.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis