Takeaways from “The Future of Work – How Colleges can Prepare Students for the Jobs Ahead” by Scott Carlson

“The world is now much more chaotic. It’s faster, and it’s continually changing as different factors come into play, whether it’s automation, which is a big one, or any of the other factors affecting the workplace. People, whether they’re already in the workplace or planning to enter the workplace, have to be prepared to be adaptive and to innovate. They are not going to be doing the same thing all the time. These jobs are going to morph into new things. you need a core set of skills to rely on that allow you to transcend boundaries and change.”

– Philip Gardner, Director of Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute

Scott Carlson, writer of Marxist scholars, resilience, and practical skills, just released a report for the Chronicle of Higher Education called “The Future of Work – How Colleges can Prepare Students for the Jobs Ahead.”

I read the report earlier this week and wanted to give my brain some time to chew on the findings, suggestions for next steps, and insightful quotes in the report. One week later, here goes.

Changing the way we integrate career centers into the college is necessary

“When parents were asked what aspects of the university most interested them, the campus center came in second to campus safety.” – Carlson

“Career services offices – once called ‘placement offices’ – have been around for about 100 years.” – Carlson

Colleges are not preparing students for the workplace

“Higher education must embrace its role as a gateway to the workforce.” – Scott Carlson

“All of the companies he applied for asked for experience, certifications, and other qualifications, and he had not gotten any of that in college.” – Mr. Darr, student

“If you did not seek the information for internships and career paths and plans, it wasn’t marketed.” – Mr. Darr

The center’s director of the Colorado State University “insists that the work of the career center needs to be integrated into the rest of what the university does.”

“The world of work will be much more chaotic in the future, and students should be trained to deal with the uncertainties that brings.” – Philip Gardner

“Instead of degrees, colleges will need to offer training in packages that are smaller, faster, and more relevant.” – Philip Gardner

“Many innovative career offices [] are leading the way toward a new role: one that needs to use technology and other techniques to scale up its services, make connections to alumni to raise money and provide professional networks for students, and form partnerships throughout the campus to more seamlessly connect students to careers.” – Carlson

Demand for STEM majors is and will remain high, but opportunities to allow students to develop soft skills while still in college are desperately needed

“Lower-risk, real-world working situations can provide opportunities to allow students to learn some of these attributes. ‘You don’t teach initiative and resiliency. You just put people in situations and encourage them, and then watch how they react, how do they resolve failure.” – Philip Gardner

David Ong, the director of corporate recruiting at Maximus says, “Subject-matter expertise is highly teachable. It takes an awfully long time to teach somebody about taking initiative, or how to accept critical feedback.”

Marie Artim, the vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings says, “Empathy, communication skills, flexibility, problem-solving skills, experience in working with teams of people – all of those skills end up being most important on the job.”

“Many of the managers noted that new, young employees opted for modes of communication that seemed inappropriate for the setting. For example, in a conflict situation, the employee might send an email or text to a colleague, rather than walk down the hall to talk it out. The ability to talk (and work) across divides in a workplace are critical, even in industries that are traditionally seen as top-down.” – Carlson

“More than one in three workers today is a millennial.” – Carlson

Brittany Palubiski, a manager of global university relations and talent acquisition at General Motors says “she and her colleagues are looking for technicians who can also think broadly about business strategy, push new ideas, and take the kinds of risks that distinguish leaders.”

Fully formed “T-shaped individuals” are required to integrate with increasingly multicultural workplace environments.

“Employers are actively seeking out graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, and students with that training will likely continue to be in demand in the future, even as colleges churn out more of them.” – Doug Webber

Philip Gardner is interested in building “T shaped” individuals. This means “They must have deep knowledge in a discipline and a system, forming the vertical line of the T, but also communication skills, curiosity, empathy, and other soft skills that allow them to relate to and interact with workers from other systems and disciplines.”

“Lawrence Katz, the economics historian has talked about the hollowing-out effect of technology. It does two things: It either requires more skills, or it decreases skills to a lower level and, or course, lower wages.” – Gardner

“If you can’t adapt your work to the context you’re in, and you’re limited within your own context, then you’ve got problems.” – Tim Brown, IDEO

Burning Glass Technologies, a company that “analyzes the labor market by collecting data on job postings,” sees “more employers asking for marketing managers who also have experience building databases or doing data analytics.”

“As the job market becomes more dynamic, and as employers look for increasingly unnatural combinations in skills, the most important talent will be harder and harder to find.” – Carlson

“Jobs that feature skills that require complex human interactions will remain in demand.” – Carlson

“It’s less about the major, he believes, and more about picking the people who present well, communicate clearly, show creativity, or are well connected – traits they began developing long before they showed up at college.” – Doug Webber, assistant professor of economics at Temple University

“Evidence suggests that the biggest wage gains will go to people who combine STEM training and technical skills with the kinds of soft skills often thought to be the hallmark of liberal-arts majors.” – Carlson

Robots are replacing humans in the jobs that are easiest to automate.

“Computers, robots, and artificial intelligence will continue to upend, eliminate, and create jobs in the years to come, in ways we may not yet fully understand.” – Carlson

“Machines are used to perform specific tasks. And if your job consists of a series of tasks, all of which can be automated, obviously you’re at risk.” – Jerry Kaplan author of Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

People need to work in order to feel like they are contributing members of society

“One in six men is not working, and they are often not counted in unemployment statistics because they have dropped out of the work force.” – Carlson

“People who have nothing to do or nothing to think about may fill their lives with destructive activities, like drugs and crime. This makes me nervous. Meaningful life is one where you are useful, where you are needed.” – Moshe Vardi, professor of computer science at Rice University

Employers are saying that new workers are not SOCIALLY prepared like their previous generations:

“Recent college graduates, employers and researchers say, may not display the maturity, initiative, communication skills, and workplace etiquette that would allow them to excel in a corporate environment.” – Carlson

“Where new college graduates years ago had time to mature in the workplace through their early 20s, ‘the pace and skills required when you hit the ground are higher now.’ It’s work attitudes and work behaviors, and personal characteristics like resiliency, initiative, and grit. If we just focus on skills and competencies, we miss half of what needs to be done.” – Philip Gardner

Leverage technology to increase precious time reserved for face to face counseling

“I also think you will see a greater emphasis on creating communities – communities of students, communities of students, communities of alumni, communities of recruiting organizations – and creating communities for people to interact in different ways. Social media will be one of the main vehicles for those communities.” – Contomanolis

“Ask the admissions office what their two biggest deals are when they talk to parents and students: Future and Finances win hands down every time.” – Podany

There are only 2 ways forward

1) More closely align their career centers with alumni organizations.

“The office embraces the employer, not the student, as its primary customer.” – Carlson

“It’s very clear alumni helping students is part of the success mix.” – Contomanolis

“Colgate University moved career services from student affairs – where most college career offices preside – to alumni affairs and development, to put an external, networking emphasis on career-services operations. Colgate puts on events like Sophomore Connections, a three-day conference, held during winter break in January where more than 100 Colgate alumni return to campus to tell sophomores about their professions and how to land jobs in them.” – Carlson

2) Push career training deeper into the academic function of their institutions:

Part of it is “recruiting people around the university to help provide career training for students.” – Carlson

“Academic learning and experiential learning are so woven together. The ideal dream would be for career services to be ubiquitous. It’s just part of the fabric and it’s blended in, but it means that people have to be more attuned to learning and the advances in learning, and how to frame learning outcomes that attain both academic and professional objectives. They’re not going to be able to just do the career fairs and event planning. They’re going to have to understand pedagogy and curriculum development as it’s evolving with technology.” – Gardner

“Learning to make things is inherently experiential, as compared to learning about things, which is much more cerebral.” – Richard K. Miller, president of Olin College of Engineering

“Academe has long been suspicious of, and even hostile to, notions of vocationalism in higher education. But the imperative for higher-education institutions should be clear: training for life and training for work do not have to be separate activities. Colleges can, and should embrace both. Given our need for both a strong workforce and an educated citizenry, the role of higher education is more vital than ever.” – Carlson


I still don’t know which way I would suggest going based on the 2 options. Perhaps the answer will get clearer as the points made have time to set in.

I hope after reading through this list of trends, proposed solutions, and insightful quotes from the report, you have a better understanding of the current state of work in 2017.

I’m still sifting through some of the things I’ve learned after reading this report. We’re planning to discuss this tomorrow. I’m hoping that by putting all of this information together, then shuffling it into common themes, more insights will come along over the next few weeks.

Contact me if you have any questions!

Hawaii Public Radio is the most intimate medium

I had the opportunity to discuss student employment in Hawaii and the Hawaii iOS Developer Meetup on the latest episode of Bytemarks Cafe.

Two days ago I was invited on to Hawaii Public Radio to be interviewed by Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa in the first 7 minutes of the Bytemarks Cafe radio show. Follow this link to listen.

Before the interview, Burt and I had a chance to discuss our takeaways from the Purple Prize the Native Hawaiian app building contest we attended last week. Ryan shot, edited, and post produced the video in 2 days! Unreal, hard-working technology connectors and thought leaders. So lucky for this opportunity!

Radio is intense. You can’t mess up. You need to be completely in the moment. Thinking time turns into dead air.

Once the segment I was on was finished, Nicholas Yee, a former DJ at the University of Hawaii’s radio station KTUH spoke very kindly of our mutual friends.

I mentioned that my wife loves public radio and was interested in seeing how it’s all made. Nick was so kind. He heard the request and gave us a tour of the entire operation! We even got to check out the performance space in the studio The Atherton.

The Atherton is a lovely, 70-capacity studio, that is scientifically tuned with bevels behind the wood paneled interior. Nick mentioned that they are recording in the space. I’d just finished filming the Career Fair at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 360 degrees with 2 Kodak SP360 cameras. The footage came out great. He gave me his business card. I hope we can collaborate in the near future.

At the end of the tour I asked Nick, “Do you feel like working at KTUH adequately prepared you for this job?” He smiled and said, “Yes.”

What do you do to ensure the psychological safety of your coworkers?

5173lnlcqnl-_ac_us218_I love Saturday Night Live. I’ve loved this sketch comedy show since the first skit I saw back in the early nineties. Dana Carvey was dressed up as the Church Lady yelling, “Satan!” followed by her catchphrase, “Well isn’t that special?” My very religious grandmother was in the kitchen chopping vegetables. I looked over and saw her shaking her head, laughing looking down. 

Lorne Michaels has steered Saturday Night Live for 42 years. He shares that the trick to setting up the right group of people is counterintuitive:

“You know that saying, There’s no I in TEAM?” Michaels told me. “My goal was the opposite of all that. All I wanted were a bunch of I’s. I wanted everyone to hear each other, but no one to disappear into the group.”

But if everyone is an individual, how do you make sure there’s order in the room? How do you make sure that egos don’t get crushed? The point is made even clearer when Duhigg points out that, “Comedy writers carry a lot of anger.”

The norms a company’s culture cultivates play a huge role in allowing the “I’s” to soar without bringing the whole show crashing down.

“Allowing others to fail without repercussions, respecting divergent opinions, feeling free to question others’ choices but also trusting that people aren’t trying to undermine you – were all aspects of feeling psychologically safe at work.” – Duhigg

So how do you cultivate this psychological safety with your teams? Luckily Duhigg provides us with a check list:

What matters are five key norms:

  • Teams need to believe that their work is important.
  • Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful.
  • Teams need clear goals and defined roles.
  • Team members need to know they can depend on one another.
  • Teams need psychological safety.

Duhigg goes on to list ways to build up psychological safety in your teams as the leader:

  • Leaders should not interrupt teammates during conversations because that will establish an interrupting norm.
  • They should demonstrate they are listening by summarizing what people say after they said it.
  • They should admit what they don’t know.
  • They shouldn’t end a meeting until all team members have spoken at least once.
  • They should encourage people who are upset to express their frustrations, and encourage teammates to respond in non-judgmental ways.
  • They should call out intergroup conflicts and resolve them through open discussion.

“Teams succeed when everyone feels like they can speak up and when members show they are sensitive to how one another feels. What I’ve realized is that as long as everyone feels like they can talk and we’re really demonstrating that we want to hear each other, you feel like everyone’s got your back.” – Duhigg

What do you do to ensure the psychological safety of your coworkers?

I struggle with this at times as my programming position is a lonely endeavor. I find that doing favors for my colleagues and encouraging them to go for their goals, knowing that we all grow as we push ourselves to realize new goals is necessary, noble, and needed. 

“Leap and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs

Got any suggestions to cultivate psychological safety by example? Email me!

Organizations must understand, use, and control the stories that define them

“Want to develop a sense of belonging and buy-in in your organization? Collect and refine the stories of your group members that best embody the attitudes and outlook you want to promote. Actively tell these stories and encourage others to create and share their own.” – Haven

How important is story to your organization? Do you know the path that your organization took to get here? Are you the founder of your organization? What motivational stories to do you have to share? Why aren’t you sharing these?

“The conclusions of each of these studies shows that stories are an essential and inseparable part of successful organization existence. The question is never, “Do organizations need stories?” or even “Do stories play an important role in organizations?” any more than “Do humans breathe?” is a reasonable question. They do. Period. The question of concern in these studies is: do organizations consciously understand, use, and control the stories that define their beliefs, attitudes, decisions, and actions?” – Haven

When we learn about a new organization that we’re interested in (or are forced to interact with) Stories give our minds a way to process the information.

“Stories reveal causes and consequences that form the foundations of meaning.” – Hirst

We need stories to make sense of the motivations behind the organization’s decisions to do things the way they uniquely do.

As a consumer of products and services from the organization, I want to know why they choose to conduct business the way they do.

“Narrative fulfills critical sense-making function. If you can’t see the story; you won’t learn the content and its meaning.” – Spicer

Remember this important point:

“We humans live, think, and learn through stories.” – Haven

Why are you holding out on us? We want to know who you are before we choose to work with you. If we’re forced to interact with you, tell us who you are. Make it easy for us to like you.

“I believe that the way of storytelling and the ways of conceptualizing that go with them become so habitual that they finally become recipes for structuring experience itself, for laying down routes into memory, for not only guiding the life narrative up to the present but directing it into the future.” – Bruner

Let’s play a game.

Set a timer on your phone for 7 minutes. Think back to the founding of your organization. Why was it founded? Write on this topic for the full 7 minutes.

Connect the reasons with a beginning, middle, and an end.

Stories need these three points to show your readers the characters involved, the motivation behind certain organization-defining-decisions, and the realization of the goals of the organization through struggle, hard-work, and the awareness of their customers and their unique position in the market.

Stop holding back your story. We want to know who you are before we work with you. Make it easy for us. Share your story. Craft your story. Spread it. Share it!

Shape your material into a specific story structure and it will pass through to the conscious mind with few, if any, internal alternatives

“If you shape your material into a specific story structure, then it will pass through to the conscious mind with few, if any, internal alternatives, additions, and restructurings. Your story reaches the conscious mind, not some other story created by the receiver’s own mind.” – Haven

How many times have you heard someone say, “You need to own your story!”? I never really knew what it meant. Then I came across this quote,

“Make sure you set your own priorities. Because if you don’t, people will make their priorities your priorities.” – Unknown

What happens when you don’t advertise who you (or your product) are clearly? Do people even know what you stand for? Actually, what do you stand for? Having a hard time answering that question? Then it might be time for you to do some journaling. If you don’t know your story, how do you expect others to?

Oprah famously said, “You teach people how to treat you.”

Dr. Phil goes on to say,

“Say your bossy friend always picks the restaurant you hate. If you’d rather keep silently resenting her instead of speaking up, then don’t change a thing. (By the way, there is a payoff here for you, too; maybe you don’t want to put any effort into making a decision, or you enjoy feeling wronged.) But if you want to see a different result, then you need to teach her how to treat you.

Why aren’t you challenging her when she ignores your opinion? You’re the one who is refusing to say, “Wait a minute, I’m really in the mood for someplace else.” The only person you control is you—which is great news, because you’re the one who has been letting her call the shots time and time again” – Dr. Phil

In “Story Proof: The science behind the startling power of story,” Kendall Haven writes:

“If you shape your material into a specific story structure, then it will pass through to the conscious mind with few, if any, internal alternatives, additions, and restructurings. Your story reaches the conscious mind, not some other story created by the receiver’s own mind.” – Haven

It’s important to know how your story functions.

It’s important to structure your story in a way that other people will understand you, how you operate, and what you need. It’s even more important to make sure you’re telling yourself the right story.

Let’s play a game.

Take a moment to write out your story. Do this alone. Don’t let someone else tell you what your story is. This is the time you’ve blocked off for yourself to check-in.

Get out a piece of paper. Set a timer for 5 minutes. And get busy answering the following 3 questions:

  • What is my personal story?
  • What is my work story?
  • What is my family story?

Now read over what you wrote.

Does it make sense? Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end? Now go find someone you trust. Read your story back to them. Ask them what parts are unclear.

Make notes of what parts are unclear. Revise what you wrote with feedback from your trusted friend.

Repeat this process with other trusted friends. Keep revising until you get responses that the story is clear.

Now that you have a clear story. Look to see if this really defines who you are. Are there parts to the story that could be integrated better? Are there glaring inconsistencies in your story? Patterns?

This exercise should give you a chance to get clear on what parts of your story are clear and what areas need work. Finally, ask yourself, “What parts of my story can be ripped away?” Old beliefs holding you back?

You write your story. If it’s crystal clear, you won’t leave any room for misinterpretation.

You write your story. Make it a good one 🙂

People often move their lips or make speech sounds as they read, which can make them project their own voice into the other person’s text

If Freud were alive and guiding 21st-century people through analysis today, he would have written “Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality.” Aboujaoude’s patients’ notes (with all names changed to protect the innocent) provides a great baseline to begin discussing the strange and insidious new problems that come with living life online.

Ever think of the process communication goes through? How it’s groomed by those who benefit from it. And edited by those who want to come across a certain way?

Pay attention to the ways you reprocess communications. This includes text messages and emails.

Do you ever find yourself reading over text messages and saying them aloud? Do you notice how the voice, intention, and requests change as they become your voice?

In Virtually You: The Dangerous Aspects of the E-Personality, Aboujaoude writes:

“People often move their lips or make speech sounds as they read, which can make them project their own voice into the other person’s text. The result can be that the conversation is experienced as taking place in one’s own head, much more a soliloquy than the dialog that it really is between two separate entities.”  – Aboujaoude

Stop reading your own meanings, worries, and hangups into the text messages you receive.

“Since talking to oneself is generally considered safer than talking to someone else, the result is more indiscriminant openness and less responsible disclosures, not to mention a dissolution of boundaries between “self” and the “other.” This dissolution, we will see, does not help our universal goal of psychological independence and healthy autonomy.” – Aboujaoude

When I find myself rereading texts to search for hidden meanings I know it’s game over. Time to put down the phone. Time to go for a run. Time to lift weights. Time to do something that expends energy that I am wasting aggressively rereading text messages to get some kind of upper-hand, moral superiority, or to rewrite my views of how things “actually” went down.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

What do you do to keep yourself from revisiting old conversations, replaying them in your head, or envisioning how this all would have all turned out if you had just done this one thing differently?

I’d love to hear what works for you. Email me with your suggestions.

Moore’s Law is not about transistors it’s about the mechanics of human belief

I finished my undergraduate bachelors in Computer Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2007. Moore’s Law was drilled into our eager brains from the first day of class. It’s the kind of easy concept that is so simple no one bothers digging for deeper meaning. Let’s do it!

Here’s how Wikipedia explains it:

“Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit, and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. In 1975, looking forward to the next decade, he revised the forecast to doubling every two years. The period is often quoted as 18 months because of Intel executive David House, who predicted that chip performance would double every 18 months (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and the transistors being faster).” – Wikipedia

Imagine how surprised I was reading Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants when he quotes Moore:

Moore says, “Moore’s law is really about economics.”

What does that mean? Sounds like Moore’s Law is a prophecy about the strength of the infrastructure surrounding the manufacturing of transistors.

Kelly goes on to say,

Carver Mead made it clearer yet: Moore’s law, he says, “is really about people’s belief system, it’s not a law of physics, it’s about human belief, and when people believe in something, they’ll put energy behind it to make it come to pass.”

Mead defines Moore’s Law further:

“After [it] happened long enough, people begin to talk about it in retrospect, and in retrospect it’s really a curve that goes through some points and so it looks like a physical law and people talk about it that way. But actually if you’re living it, which I am, then it doesn’t feel like a physical law. It’s really a thing about human activity, it’s about vision, it’s about what you’re allowed to believe.”

What concepts do you leave on the table? What beliefs have you actually tested? Hindsight’s 20/20. What predictions can you make to alter (and guide) the beliefs of your customers?