Helping People And Corporations Move Into The New World Of Work
Q&A With Sophie Wade
What attracted you to the BIF Summit?
I met Rabbi Irwin Kula at an event, and we spoke about the new positive relationships developing in the workplace, which he suggested could be filling in some of the relationships that previously were provided by someone’s religious community. Later, he mentioned the BIF Summit to me. He told me the Summit is a fascinating event focused on transformation and innovation. He described how the Summit works, with cross-pollination among the storytellers and audience, and it rang very true with me.
Tell us just a bit about the subject of your BIF Summit story.
I realized that one reason I’m qualified to write my book Embracing Progress: Next Steps For The Future Of Work, is that perhaps I‘m one of the original “millennials!” I studied Chinese and moved to Hong Kong and have lived and worked in five different countries. There has definitely been logic to my career moves, across a spectrum of technology and media. At the same time, I have had a very diversified career, the kind people are starting to have now. So it’s easy for me to understand the desire constantly to be learning and open to change. These days, people do not stay at one organization for 30 years.
As you go through these work changes, there is also a huge opportunity for individual innovation — understanding who you are and how you’re interacting with the world. Everyone will need to be more aware of themselves, become more self-directed and manage their own careers. Meantime, much innovation is still needed to support the ongoing changes in the workplace. For example, venture capitalists are investing in new companies that will enable the “back end” operations for freelancers, such as creating credit lines for independent contractors.
What, to you, is the value of sharing stories?
Sharing stories is a way to make a connection on a personal basis, to help people relate to you as a person, and to connect in different ways. We can hide behind all kinds of data, numbers, and research. However, if you make me tell my own story, you make me open up, and that opening up makes other people share in the same way as well.
Do you have a motto, or “words to live by”? If so, what is it?
I do. “Embracing Progress”, which is the title of my book. The focus on progress helps people look further ahead to a positive future, distracting them from all the ongoing change that can feel scary. And, “Onwards and Upwards.” Where we’re going isn’t just onward or upward, it’s both.
What's one thing (or more, if you like) would you like Summit attendees to know about you before they hear your story?
As we are now encouraged to “bring our whole selves to work”, we find out people are quirky and wonderful. But managers haven’t been coached on how to deal with quirky and wonderful people. At the same time, Millennials haven’t had too much experience in the workplace to be able to navigate it well, and Boomers and Generation Xers are not familiar with the new landscape either. I believe we will need more coaching and mentoring relationships to help us muddle through this.
I often use what I call a “technical” term to describe the next 10 years as we evolve to the Future of Work environment — “messy”. People are messy, the transition will be messy. We need to get comfortable with that. My book has a lot of information to help explain what’s going on and how to prepare and adapt. It has cartoons too, as some humor is always helpful!