Loss, Love, Learning, 3 Photos & 4P's.
The Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past Edition 1.
Welcome to my first issue of “The Future Does Not Fit in The Containers of the Past” newsletter. Thank you for subscribing.
What I hope you will get from this newsletter
The idea behind this newsletter is that of a gift.
Like a gift it is free (no subscription fee, no up-charges to access special content, no advertising, no affiliate links, your email will not be shared or sold, and no algorithm is running in the background mining your behavior)
Like a gift I hope it will be of some value in helping you see, feel and think differently about how to grow yourself, your team and/or your company in the future.
Like a gift, I hope it will generate goodwill for the giver. Your attention and time which is so valuable. Good karma. Stronger relationships.
Format and Schedule of this newsletter
This newsletter will be bohemian and eclectic in that it will mix art and science, it will have a certain wanderlust and will roam into different areas and will have no fixed format or schedule. When there is something worth sharing, I will. Otherwise I will keep away from your mailbox.
There will be new writing and curation of some old writing which is particularly relevant at the time.
This issue I will share some thoughts on the importance of a Unified Theory of Living, how great photographers teach us how to see and will re-introducing a piece on the importance of perspective, point of view, provocation and plans of action.
Hope you will find it worth the while. If not, you can always delete or unsubscribe. If you like it, you may want to share it.
A Unified Theory of Living: Loss. Love. Learning.
Earlier this week I was featured at a Lunch and Learn Session of the San Francisco Bay Area Innovation Group and one of my answers seemed to particularly resonate.
When you live your life are there some underlying beliefs and truths that drive you or you measure yourself against? If we are to grow where are we trying to go?
I have long believed that if there is a competition it is not with other people but to get better every day and to get closer to what you believe or your ideals. Your success is not housed in other people’s minds (what they think of you) but in their hearts (what they feel about you) and in your mind (what you think of yourself).
I shared that I believe that in many ways Life is about Loss, Love and Learning (the 3 L’s)
Loss is central to the human experience in three ways. The first is we often lose in our attempts to succeed. We lose pitches, Clients, jobs and opportunities. Many times, we win. Some people win little and others win a lot. But we all lose. But these losses are not the big ones. The second bigger losses are the losses we will face of loved ones and friends either because relationships end, or death comes, and our final loss is that of our lives.
How we live amidst this loss defines a large part of life.
The joy we make is because time is precious, and this moment of victory may not last forever. Given that loss is part of human existence it pays to be kind and to think about how to help those in loss for do not ask for whom the bell tolls since it tolls for you.
A big part of what makes life worth living despite the guarantee of loss is the hope of love and joy of learning. Love of people, of work, of art, of culture. Love may not compute but computers do not love. There is a great deal of progress made over generations on who one can love, the ability to do things one loves and because of modern technology to be exposed to new worlds, horizons and things to love.
And learning is particularly joyous. Learning in its first form is building knowledge. With great knowledge and practice we build skills and craftmanship. Learning to see things from other perspectives gives us understanding. Sometimes if we are lucky, we can graduate from knowledge, skills and understanding to wisdom.
How Photographers Help Us See Differently
I love photography for a variety of reasons including that it captures the passing of time, cages light and makes memory an art. It also allows us to see differently and therefore feel differently.
In each case the photographer Matt Stuart captured a moment in time from a unique perspective and point of view. Often great pictures are about photographers waiting and moving around and looking. And then it all comes together…
Photo by Matt Stuart. Trafalgar Square. London from All That Life Can Afford
Photo by Matt Stuart: Oxford Street from All That Life Can Afford
Photo by Matt Stuart: Aldersgate Street from All That Life Can Afford
Perspective, Point of View. Provocation. Plan of Action.
I believe that data is as important as electricity. No business or leader can survive without it.
But just as no company differentiates itself through its use of electricity, data alone will rarely differentiate a company or leader.
Almost everybody (with a few exceptions like Amazon, Facebook, Google) has access to pretty much the same data. When I see businesses hyperventilating about their “data lakes”, I feel sorry for what they will dredge up in this pool of increasingly outdated, irrelevant, commoditized sludge they massage and rub into gooey gibberish.
What story do you extract, weave and tell from the spreadsheet of numeric, the files of facts and the streams of notifications that cascade, glitter and dance on your screens?
In the past six months the entire world has been struggling with the impact of Covid-19. By March every country in the world had access to the same data. What differentiated one countries response compared to another country was a) how they read the data, b) the quality of the leadership of the country, c) the unique history or geography of the country and d) the trust in government.
Korea, Germany, New Zealand revered science and expertise, had trustworthy and transparent leaders, and either had a unique history or geography that made fast response or containment possible.
US, UK and Brazil leadership refuse to accept reality, and were polarized to a point that no one knew who or what to trust.
It was not the data that made the difference. It was the people, the history, the geography, the culture, the emotion.
If you want to lead, please lead and do not hide behind numbers and say crap like things are too uncertain.
Life is uncertain.
If things were certain, a machine could do your job. So be glad the future cannot be lived forward with only backward-looking databases.
What do you bring to the data when you bring the data to your bosses or to meetings?
What matters is not the data but the perspectives, points of view, provocations and plan of action you bring to the data.
Here for example is a perspective, point of view, provocation and plan of action regarding Covid-19
Perspective: The Great Re-Invention: Many people have called what we are all coping with the Great Acceleration (things that might occur three years from now will happen in 3 months), the Great Pause, or The Great Recession 2.0. There are comparisons to SARS/MERS, 9/11 and the 2008/2009 Financial Meltdown. I believe that this is far greater in impact than anything else in the past five decades because a) this is a health, financial and social crisis all at the same time. while the others were one or two but not all three, 2) this is happening to every country in the world and 3) when people start or stop doing something for 60 or more days, they form new habits. I believe that society, business and individual mindsets will literally be re-invented in the next 18 months which is how long it will take at the fastest for a vaccine to be both created and be widely distributed.
Point of View: The New Strange: The term “New Normal” is an oxymoron. It is also completely wrong. If you wish to take a peek at the future google “schools in South Korea” or” malls in china” or” restaurants post covid-19″ or take a visual tour on Instagram of airports post Covid-19. It’s a dystopian, science fiction filled landscape. Nothing normal. Very strange. Till a widely distributed vaccine strange will be the new normal.
Provocation:Labor gains at the expense of Capital. The cost of labor (particularly blue collar and front-line labor) is going to rise significantly as companies will have to prove that they are looking after their employees, society and government. (The new ESG is Employees, Society and Government and not Environment, Sustainability and Governance). They will do this through a) better health care and life benefits, b) much higher wages than $15 an hour in the US, c) payment of higher taxes either due to increased taxes or shaming/curtailing of tax avoidance. Talent and consumers will often judge a leader and a firm by how they look after their employees including diversity. The cost of supply chains will also rise as resilience, diversification from China and other factors besides cost will matter. To offset this, expect massive reduction in real estate costs and elimination of half or more of travel budgets.
Plan of Action: “Starting” Not “Re-Starting”: The biggest mistake companies are making is believing they are going back to restart their businesses. There are three reasons why this is not true.
First and most important consumer and customer behavior and expectations are very different than December 2019. People and society are fragile. They are looking for safety, security and value.
Second your employees and workplace have changed. You may have fewer employees. Many of them after the last four months are different people with different mindsets and are looking at their work and leaders with new eyes.
Third, your category and competitive set may have changed. After the Great Recession was over because of new mindsets as well as new technologies (social and mobile) a plethora of new companies were formed. GM and Ford were no longer each other’s key threats, but Uber and Tesla were. Gillette and Schick’s ultra-expensive over-engineered blades were now facing Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club. Post Covid-19 a different consumer mindset combined with scaled new technologies (5g, Voice, Cloud and Machine Learning) means you better think again. Start again not Re-start. What new needs and behaviors from consumers? What new competitors? What new products or services and ways of working?
As you move forward, I suggest that you expose yourself to lots of valid data and differing points of view. Next add value to your company and to your career by providing a perspective, a point of view, a provocation and/or a plan of action on everything you have imbibed versus just reporting facts and process.
If you do you will forever grow and succeed.
If not, you could be automated away.
Rishad Tobaccowala ( @rishad ) is the author of the bestselling “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” published by Harper Collins globally in January 2020. It has been described as an “operating manual” for managing people, teams and careers in the age we live in. Rishad is a sought after speaker and advisor who helps people think, feels and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves. More at https://rishadtobaccowala.com/