The Future Employee, Future of Work, and FutureNEXT Leadership

Q & A with John Sanei sponsored by Success Performance Solutions

The only John Sanei in the world joined me (Ira S Wolfe) recently for a Q&A about the future employee, future of work, and FutureNEXT Leadership.  This conversation was prompted by a LinkedIn post that John recently made about the differences between complicated and complex. This is just the tip of the iceberg!  We spoke about future essential skills such as curiosity and adaptability; the 4 different types of sight;  why current leadership is so out of touch, and AfterShock. You’ll want to listen and/or read the transcript below.

John Sanei calls himself a knowledge mercenary, one who travels the globe to uncover lessons needed to shift communities and help humanity thrive. We certainly need a lot of that these days. John is Africa’s first faculty member at Singularity University in San Francisco,  a lecturer at Duke Corporate Education and a partner at the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies.

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“Applying normal rules in a complex world is the worst thing we can do.”

Ira S Wolfe

Hi everyone, it’s a very, very rainy Tuesday on the East Coast. If you see me floating up, it’s because there’s water coming into our basement right outside my door. I think we’ve got to stop and barricade it for a while, at least for the next forty-five minutes while I’m here. But we hope everybody is also safe and healthy if it’s not raining and flooding. We’re certainly all living in the pandemic of new way of life.

And as John and I were talking about before, we live and die….well we hope we don’t die. But we live. We thrive for this conversation, for these things about what the future is. And  I love John’s next book. It’s going to be Future Next. So and that’s why you’re here. That’s why we probably have so many people that were interested in being here is about what’s next. And we certainly are living in an age of acceleration and change and whatever we want to talk about.

So before we get to that, I just want to pull up a couple of things here, a couple of housekeeping things. Obviously, everyone has found the chat so far. Please let us know where you’re calling from, where you are, where you’re located. You can also post questions there, but I prefer just so we can get them. If you have a question that you want to ask and we’re going to have time for Q&A, there’s a button on the bottom of a tab on the bottom that says quick ask a question.

And it looks like this. If you click on it and you can post your question in there and that way we can keep tabs on them. In fact, there’s a way to upvote those. If two or three people have the same question, you can basically vote on it and they rise to the top. This will be a lot of fun. I’ve been anticipating this for a few weeks.

I’ve followed Jon for the last couple of years. My TED talk, Make Change Work for You, was influenced significantly by research from Singularity University. John is actually Africa’s first faculty member there. That’s quite an accomplishment.  So you’ll recognize a similar theme today.

Before we get started, just a couple of housekeeping things here. My company,  Success Performance Solutions, is again sponsoring today’s Crowdcast.  During August we have a couple of great webinars. and I’m so happy that John was here today to kick it off.  Next week, we’ve got Dr. Diane Hamilton too. This fits right into our conversation today. John wasn’t aware of this, but she’s written a book, Cracking the Curiosity Code.

We all start out curious. But as adults, as parents, as teachers, as business managers, we screw it up, we crush it, we take it down. Dr. Hamilton looks at four factors that she’s identified after years of research that get in the way of that childhood curiosity. One of them is fear, which is a biggie. For the others,  you’ll have to attend next week.

As a bonus, there’s also a Curiosity Code assessment. Each participant will receive a code to complete one. The following week we have another fascinating topic from Dr. Solange Charas. She’s done a lot of research with business intelligence and people analytics. The current focus is on diversity and inclusion and equity these days.  She has found that although a lot of organizations are focused on diversity, inclusion, they get the numbers right. They’re doing the right things. There’s engagement. The problem is not everybody has equal opportunity and without equal opportunity to advance there is no equity. That’s a problem. And so she’s applied her analytics and will show you how you can become more equitable within your organizations and ensure that everybody has an equal opportunity.

And then we have the final webinar in our Future of Employability series, our leadership series on rebuilding workforce knowledge with Dr. Edward Gordon.

You can register for any of these crowdcasts HERE.

Today we have John Sanei. I really appreciate John being here. He’s published 3 books and working on a fourth book which he is excited to talk about. John calls himself a knowledge mercenary, one who travels the globe to uncover lessons needed to shift communities and help humanity thrive. We certainly need a lot of that these days. He is , as I mentioned, Africa’s first faculty member at Singularity University in San Francisco,  a lecturer at Duke Corporate Education.  You’ll immediately recognize he’s from South Africa as soon as he speaks. And here’s a little tidbit. He told me right before the show he went to the same school as Trevor Noah. He’s also a partner at the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies.

Welcome, John. Thank you so much for being here.

John Sanei

Wonderful to be here and to meet all the good people up there on that side of the world. I’m obviously on the opposite side of the world right now in Cape Town.

So hello to everybody out there. Thank you so much for having me.

Ira S Wolfe

One of the questions I’m going to start out with is this. Is there anything that really seemed odd or seemed unexpected during this pandemic? I mean, anything that really surprised you, that got you off guard?

John Sanei

An odd question and I like it because I’ve never actually been asked that. I think the pandemic itself is as good as it gets. The first time I heard that it really was going into shutdown, it was the first time I’d ever heard of 60 million people going into shutdown. That was really odd for me in many different ways.

The second thing that I find really odd is something that we have termed the Corona Coast, that in South Africa. I’m not sure if it has the same name in the States, but the Corona Coast is this incredible roller coaster of emotions that everybody is going through.

You are pinging between despair and hope and this lack of anchor into the future has many of us exhausted.  Our emotions are really at the end of their wits and affecting many, many different people’s lives. So for me, the odd thing is this inability to understand the future and not have an anchor into it is by far the oddest thing, because I don’t think any of us have ever had this situation happen to us where we are not looking forward to a holiday. We’re not looking forward to… We actually don’t even know what to look forward to because there is no end date to any of this.

Ira S Wolfe

I couldn’t agree with you more. I think everything feels odd. I’m not sure there are any particular exceptions other than, I guess, the shutdown and as you said,  that we actually shut down. And it’s amazing how well people adapted, but we anticipated both in your books and in my book Recruiting the Age of Googlization, we talk about how we expected this from technology. We expected the shift in work and attitude, and it was going to be a gradual thing.

Ira S Wolfe

And we were going to have to contend with the bureaucracies and the attitudes and the status quo and the resistance to change. But overnight, people were forced to figure this thing out. So here we are.

I followed you for a while, but I connected with you because just a few weeks ago because you put out a video that talked about simplicity or the movement from a simple to complicated to complex. And I there was an article years ago I can’t remember where it was probably HBR, Harvard Business Review, or something of that order.

Your article was about how we need to shift our mindsets. And so that you had a really brilliant explanation of that. If you can share that, we’ll take that, because we want to talk about within that context what has to change with the future of work, future employees, and leadership.

John Sanei

Well, look, as a futurist and somebody that’s always been interested in the future, I find it really tough that there is absolutely no certainty about what’s to come.

John Sanei

It’s almost as if all the trends have been put out and have been postponed or cancelled in some way. And we are now finding ourselves in a totally uncertain world. And so that any time that you are suffering from uncertainty and you don’t know what is to come, the only thing you can manage is your behavior and where you are able to manage your behavior. That becomes the key for you to thrive in a world that the paradigm and the rules and laws have changed for life and business.

So the idea around complexity and complicated world, I’m not even going to go into simple because it’s from far away. But let’s start off with complicated. It’s a complex because I think that’s the real crux of it. The reason we are in this sort of predicament. So in this sort of new state is that every business has three pillars the pillar of forecasting, planning and executing.

And what has happened now is that the forecasting that has lost its traction, it’s lost its power.

The world’s best futurist claiming they can see for hundred years in the future. Four hundred days in the future. And the many of us can only see maybe a month or two months into the future because there’s so much changing all the time. And the reason is, is that we have now squarely and firmly moved into a complex world. The world we came from. We were able to pre-empt the future based on past patterns. So let’s look at what it means to be a complicated world.

A complicated world has patterns, but these patterns are repeated. These complicated patterns can be worked out using mathematics and automation. And ultimately these patterns become automated because they are just the set of repeated patterns. And that’s what mathematics loves so much.

Complexity, on the other hand, has very intricate patterns, but they are not repeated. So you cannot use math and automation to work yourself out of complex situations. And so what we need is we need to focus and realize that the world of complicated is a very different beast.

And as far as what you focus on in a complicated world, you want to focus on hyper-efficiency, to bring about productivity and profitability. In a complex world, you need to focus on robustness and longevity. You need to express yourself in many different versions. And so the analogy that I use in the video that you’re talking about is when you arrive at an airport and you put your suitcase onto the conveyor belts, what happens is that the suitcase moves towards the plane, finds itself onto the same plane that you on, hopefully, but most probably it does, utilizing automation, mathematics and patterns that repeat themselves, hardly coming into contact with another human being, mostly automated. Why? In a complicated world, you focus on efficiency and getting to the target.

Now you get onto the plane. The plane now is not going to be dealing with a complicated world. It’s going to be dealing with a complex world. In other words, when the plane is up in the air, you have no idea what’s coming at you. Will a bird flying to the engine wheel, three of the engines malfunction. Will two of the pilots pass out will be a lightning strike?

We don’t know. So what happens when you get onto a plane? The plane is built for complexity, not complications. And because you have no patterns that are repeating, you have four engines. When one is enough, you have five operating systems. In case one breaks down, one falls away or one malfunction in case some new problem arises up in the sky. You find that you have four pilots when one is enough in case one of the pilots has a bit of trouble.

So we have to realize that we have moved from a world of just in time to a world of just in case.

We need to realize that the just in time scenario was focused on efficiencies, that just in case is a world that we cannot pretend what the future will look like. And so what we need to realize is that as a bank, you can’t just bake bread anymore. You have to have a YouTube channel. You have to teach a course on how to bake bread. You have to sell flour that you grow yourself in the farm where you come from. You have to have an apron that you can sell to people.

You need to have a robust expression of how you come forward into the world. And whatever business you’re in, the more robust you are in your expression, the more chance you have to thrive rather than just merely focus on one sector and try and survive.

Ira S Wolfe

We’ve had a once a month series on the future of employability. And my friend, Dr. Ed Gordon has studied this for 50 years. And with that, his last book was Future Jobs. He’s working on a new white paper on that. And it was about skill shortages. And I’ve said this over and over again. Anybody who has listened to my podcast has probably heard me say this. Sometime in March, at least for the U.S., everybody was sent home.

People used to have their job. They have the title. They have the skill sets, they have their expertise, they have their niche. And they all of a sudden they became parents, became teachers at home. Basically, they have become office designers because they had to figure out a way to work remotely. But most importantly, it really was this acceleration into a technology age, to a digital age. It should have happened before because everyone had to figure out how do we get a family of four using the same bandwidth 24/7.

How do we use Zoom? How do we connect things, get our computers networked? Some people have one computer for the family because pre-pandemic everybody else went to work or school where they were provided. At home, many shut those devices off but all of a sudden they had to have all their devices connected to stay in touch with the outside world. So overnight, almost everyone, whether they were a server in a restaurant, whether they were technology in healthcare, in education, in sales or a call center … whatever job they had, they immediately had to acquire a new set of skills. And as you said, move from a world that they thought was complicated to a more complex world.

There was another definition. And again, I can’t remember the article that this came from. You might recall it, but they talked about complicated was known unknowns and complex is unknown unknowns. That’s right.

John Sanei

Yeah, I’ve seen that. Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen that look.

Ira S Wolfe

And also this comes down to how we preparing ourselves and how we preparing our children because we have to realize that the subject matter that our children are learning has really got nothing to do with a complex world. They’ve got everything to do with a complicated world. And so we have to realize that the subjects need to change. What we need to be focusing on the need to change. We almost have to become incredibly fluid rather than rigid, and that adaptability or the AQ quotient becomes the most important quotient and we’ve got to see that it’s not survival of the quickest anymore, it’s survival of the quickest. The quick as you can shift and unlearn and move that becomes your magic power in this new world. And I love the fact you brought up IQ. That’s something that a number of us are working on. I do a lot of work with Cornerstone. I’m the man they write for their publication. I interviewed Heidi Spirgi just a few weeks ago.

She’s their Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer. They (Cornerstone OnDemand) are working a lot on adaptability. That AQ, that adaptability quotient.

John Sanei

The very structure of an organization is a hierarchical one. And often organizations want to be adaptive. But really, the truth is that the structure itself is built for efficiency, not adaptability. And so we have to move from an organization that’s hierarchical to networked. It’s a very different structure. And I think many organizations are on this drive to strive for digital transformation and agility. But often what they have to really do is start something on the side that’s built on a different structure that competes with them in the hierarchical process and then moves people over slowly into a more networked position.

So it’s something that many, many organizations are trying, but very few are getting right because of the very structure notion of what a corporation is set up to do.

Ira S Wolfe

So let’s put this in the context of employees. What’s the future? I know I mentioned that next week, we’re going to be talking about curiosity and I know that’s an important part of what you do. And in order to be adaptable, there are so many things that curiosity is the driving force.

You can’t be adaptable if you’re not curious because you don’t know what you’re adapting to. But you talk a little bit about that. So put that in the framework, because you’re also you followed I don’t know if the next one, but you also followed that that video you had about complicated and complex with one about students, about kids. How can we help their passion? And obviously, that’s where the curiosity exists. And then we crush it because you have to get straight A’s.

You have to get you to have to be perfect. You have to do all this. And we take away that thirst for curiosity. So and so we talk about that a little bit. And then in addition to that, what are some of the other skills that you believe we need to embed, not only our kids but basically everybody right now is sort of on what’s the next step in everybody’s career, unless you’re an older boomer like me who actually owns his own business. So it’s fine. But if you’re looking to continue to work, what are the skills you’re going to need?

John Sanei

Great question. Thank you. So I always like to give context and to zoom out a bit. And if we think about what’s the world we live in right now, some people are calling it the surplus society. In other words, what we have today in the world of work is a surplus of similar skills. And so what has happened is that the Industrial Revolution many, many years ago created the roles that we needed to play to fit into the cog of the machine when it came to the production line where you needed efficiency and profitability of everything else through the process and the doctrine of growth. That was economies of scale that the Industrial Revolution spoke about.

But today, we find that millions and millions of people around the world have studied the same things, so you have millions of accountants and millions of lawyers and millions of engineers and you just have such a surplus of people with similar skills. Now, all of these people were purely intended. They went out there to get the degrees because those are the ideas and stories of success that our society and education have told us for the longest time. And as you said, curiosity was never part of that.

Curiosity was set aside for your hobbies. And what you were told to do and task to do was try and fit into the 10 careers that were available to us at the university. But where we find ourselves today is that when you’re in a surplus society and your skills are commodities, what happens? You just get pushed down for price as well as any of these left-brain skills are also getting automated very, very quickly. So we must realize that the future of work is much more about curiosity because the future post-COVID will, I believe, become a new renaissance for us as humanity.

And just like the Italian Renaissance started to celebrate beauty, arts, and knowledge, we are going to see the celebration of uniqueness, authenticity and humanness. And in this new world of networked Internet circles and tribes and groups and fans, what are you able to do is build a very successful business based on this new notion of your curiosity, leading to your authenticity and your uniqueness. The world that we are moving into requires us to stand up and stand out from the rest of the world because if we are sane, same we then are able to thrive in a world where the industrial revolution doesn’t matter anymore, where we move from a world of economies of scale to economies of learning.

How quickly can you unlearn to relearn? How quickly can you pre-empt what your customers want and how much can you stay in a process of flow so you can be naturally adaptable and naturally optimistic? And curiosity is your gateway into accessing your genius. And we’ve all got a very unique makeup. All of us are very, very interested and curious about very unique things. Our expression of those things become a superpower in a world post-covid-19. So what I believe is I’ve researched and run a masterclass on the ten subjects we should be teaching our children as well as ourselves.

But let’s just keep this for the children. How can you teach somebody how to be passionate? And the truth is, is that it’s very difficult to be passionate if you haven’t been exposed to many different types of careers. Because think about it when you are growing up and I was growing up, our kids were only exposed when we were only exposed to our parents careers and maybe our parents, our friends’ parents’ careers. So we didn’t really have much exposure.

But imagine that we had a subject at school. We got kids to look at different careers and make a presentation to the class every month about a career that really excited them, the pros, the cons, the videos, the ideas around that career. And then the next month I had to present another one. What this does, it exposes our children or even ourselves to lots more options out there and in that process gives us a better inkling of what we could be passionate about.

And that becomes the key here is that many of us have never even given ourselves the chance to ask ourselves what makes us most curious and could that make us money. And the story has always been that can’t make you money. But in this new world, that’s exactly what’s going to make you money. Because when you’re in a state of flow, in a state of curiosity, in a state of excitement. You have constant energy, a constant ability to create. to be innovative, to collaborate because nobody else is competing against you because you’re so unique.

Another subject I think is really important for our kids and even for ourselves is grit. And so how do you teach grit? Because it’s a tough thing to teach. But imagine our kids or even ourselves had to put a presentation together where we showcase careers of great entrepreneurs and highlights the story of persistence and just talk about the persistence of certain entrepreneurs that would go through lows and highs and lows and highs. And in that process of presenting about them and studying them, they would understand that all successes have a process of rollercoaster emotions to get to them. And that would develop the understanding and the clarity on the need for grit to get what it is they want.

So I have another eight subjects that I’ve worked out and researched, and I believe that all of us need to be retraining ourselves in these new types of skill sets like storyteller, passion, or grit that we require for this new, adaptable, multifaceted world that’s coming.

So we have these skills. We need to adapt. The other part of this equation is, what’s your vision, your insights that  you can provide. Well, actually, let’s talk about that in a second.

You talk about the four sights. You talk about hindsight, plain sight, insight, foresight. I think that’s a great reference point before we get into looking at what’s the future of work is, and then also I want to follow up, especially in today’s need, the future of leadership.

So look, for many years I spoke about the future to organizations and governments and what I realized that very few people actually were changing their behavior in line with the future.

And so I would speak to organizations, do the strategy sessions. Everybody was positive and I would go back and pretty much nothing had changed. And so then I started writing this book called Foresight, and I broke it down into understanding the different sights we have as human beings. And by sight, I mean the sight, but I mean the perspective of sight. And so the first site that I broke down in that book was hindsight and hindsight are people that live in their memories and keep repeating their memories.

There’s a great saying from Dr.Joe Dispenza. He says, Are you living a life based on a set of memories from your past or are you living a life based on the vision of your future? And many people are in the repetition of their pasts, expecting a different outcome, but really just living the same life over and over and over. And businesses and people in positions of executive power are really kind of trying to relive their past and do it just a bit better.

And if you’re living in hindsight, you’re never able to prepare for the future because you’re much more focused on your past and repeating it than you are actually developing anything new and working towards it. And most of the world is stuck in hindsight without even realizing that they stuck in hindsight.

The second site that I unpacked is plain sight. The people that are the logical thinkers because they don’t like any idea around what we perceive as what we receive. They are not thinkers or believers in quantum science. What they are is believers in Newton science. or Newtonian science. Newtonian science says for every action there’s a reaction. Quantum science says you are the reaction. You are the one who is actually creating what you need to be seeing and receiving and projecting and expecting all of it is you, none of it is anybody else’s.

And it’s funny because as human beings, what we do is we love to take ownership of the cool things that we create are the synergies, but the bad things are never us, that is somebody else or the government or whoever it is not us. And so we fall into a state of victimhood when we are in plain sight.

And then you get insights. Insights are all the people with incredible levels of education, the ones that have got all the degrees ready, geared, and tooled up for a complicated world, those people are in high levels of insights.

But what foresight is for me is the level of heart-led, decision making based on what makes you curious, adaptable, optimistic, and excited. Because when you start making decisions from that place when you break out the mindset that you have to be following a degree to become successful when you can realize that your uniqueness, your combination of topics, no matter what field or sector that is in, will actually be your most powerful version of yourself. Because what you want to do is you want to include or infuse or focus your life on what makes time disappear.

And when you are doing something that makes time disappear, you’re now in your flow state, and when you’re in your flow state, you are at your most curious, you at your most creative. And so size is the combination of brain-heart-coherence so that you can have this very elegant, calm, focused energy and access to this collaborative process of innovation and disruptive ideas. So you have to ask yourself a question, both in your organization as well as in yourself.

Are you living in hindsight, plain sights, insight? Are you ready for some foresight?

So applying that moving to foresight, which is how I jumped into this, I think I said Insight, but we’ll talk about foresight. What what are you looking for? What do you and what can you share where the work is going to be? I mean, at least in the US where there’s still a lot of the population, if they’re not unemployed, they’re still working from home, expecting we’re going to go back to normal.


Ira S Wolfe

Again, for anybody who’s been on one of my podcasts or webinars in the past, I don’t know if you know this, I wrote an obituary to normal, that normal died. So there’s a lot of people mourning normal. We’re hoping that we’re going to get we’re going to bring it back to life. That’s not going to happen where we’re going to phase into this futureNEXT. What’s futureNEXT look like for work.

John Sanei

Well, look, I mean, I think the thing is, is there are so many moving parts in this process that it’s very difficult to get any concrete anchor points into the future. What I can tell you is that the era of safe employment is well and truly over, no matter how much you work, how hard you work, how long you’ve been in the company, how well you educated. If you have your future in the hands of an organization that cannot guarantee your future, that cannot guarantee anything, in fact, anymore. And the only thing that you can guarantee in the future is your own ability to become the business of you. And the business of you is never disruptable, because there is no other you. And the way you bring your combined skills to the world is no way that anybody else can copy it. So the best example I give is myself is because I’ve never been to university. I lecture at some of the top universities in the world. Now, I’ve never been in corporate and I help some of the biggest corporates in the world now.

And all of it is based on my unique combination of human psychology, neuroscience, futurism and business strategy. And this combination is so unique that nobody else is doing it. So I really don’t have anybody else competing in my world, which means that I’m not relying on anybody to guarantee anything for me. And so the era of forced entrepreneurship, that era of the business of you, I think, is the future of work. And slowly but surely we’ll start to see the disintegration of the hierarchical organizational structures and they’ll stop moving to much more networked, much more symbiotic sorts of models that morph between open and closed and big and small different projects of people coming together to achieve similar outcomes for short periods of time.

So that is definitely something that we’re starting to see. And also, look, if you look at any of the digital nomads around the world, those were a far-reaching left-field group of people. And now there’s many, many, many more of them. In fact, I’ve become one of them.

And so more and more people are picking up the sort of habits. And look, if you are employed, it’s great. But the sooner you can get out into a place of adding value yourself to the world and partnering and collaborating with other people to help innovate, the better for you. And guess what’s the best thing for your kids? Because your kids can’t hear a word you’re saying because your actions are so loud. So make your actions louder so that they can follow your way of becoming this type of entrepreneur and being adaptable in the future.

And this is why the last few months may have been a good thing for a lot of people, because they’ve learned to collaborate remotely because I think before was it even if you were part of the gig economy, you went to work, you got retained or hired by a company, and they gave you an office and a place to work while you were there for a few months. And then all of a sudden you couldn’t do that anymore. So, again, that that digital collaboration to be able to use even something as simple as a Google doc that you can share is pretty amazing because I’ve gone up and look and go, hey, who’s editing my doc.

Ira S Wolfe

Yeah. Yeah, what? I’m looking at it. Right. Yeah, I know. But all of a sudden we took this giant leap forward where, you know, I was talking about the shift or the Googlization exponential change. Everybody has their own term for it. And we were anticipating that people would fight and kick to get there. And then all of a sudden it was there. And now people say, you know, this isn’t so bad.

I don’t have to commute. I don’t have an hour to hour commute each way. I don’t have to take that subway. I’m saving a ton of money. I didn’t realize how much I was saving by not commuting. Even me and I don’t commute. I mean,’ I’ve been virtual for a long time. But we have one of our cars is parked in the garage. I have the same tank of gas that I filed in March. That’s a lot of money.

John Sanei

I think the thing is, is what we have to realize is that 2030 arrived ten years earlier than we expected.

Ira S Wolfe

Yeah. Right. Yeah. In the fall of 2019, I spoke at Workforce 2030 and I said whatever you think is going to happen in 2050 is going to happen in 2030. And whatever is going to happen in 2030 would happen by 2025. Well, it turned out to be six months later 2025 arrived in 2020.  I think this is important that especially in the U.S. we’ve got a huge election coming up. We got divided sides but worldwide before we got to when we were in the green room before this, you and I were chatting and we were talking about leadership, and regardless of how bad we think the COVID-19 response has been here. And this is not a political statement, but it could have been better. Even if you don’t think it was bad, it could have been better. There’s a leadership void. There’s a gap. And you were talking about it in Africa, all the countries have had an immaturity in leadership.

Obviously leaders need to have foresight. But how do you see that evolving? What is this, a wake-up call? How is this going to help us in growing more mature leaders for a futureNEXT world?

John Sanei

It’s a great question.I think what we are seeing right now is a there’s a book called The Fourth Turning. I’m sure you know about it. It’s about the gender, the guys who came up with the generational archetypes. But what they’ve been explaining throughout their book is that there is a cycle of thinking. That every 80 years or so, the young generation pushes out the old generation. So I think that the people that are in power and in leadership now have got the skill sets required for leadership 20 years ago.

The understanding of leadership is based on old ways of thinking, old ideas of success. And we see that the younger generation has just had enough of the older generation in the way that go about practicing leadership. So leadership is not about new practices, it’s about new principles and a deep human philosophical discussion we actually need to have. And look, this happens in all fields of human endeavor. It’s happened in physics, in medicine. It’s happening in climate change right now.

And it comes to a point that you cannot solve new problems using old ways. And so if we realize that the principles of bureaucracy are formalization, specialization, standardization are great if your goal is efficiency at scale. But today, the world doesn’t need efficiency at scale. It needs adaptability at scale. And so we have to realize that it’s not just the coronavirus that’s done this. We’ve also had the fear of climate change or the reality of climate change happening around us.

Ethnic conflicts, massive economic migration, cyber threats, job displacement. There are so many moving parts of the leadership are really out of their depth. They don’t understand how they want to go about doing this because ultimately most leaders are addicted to power and they can’t let go of the power. They don’t trust the younger generation to do a better job. And that’s where the real immaturity lies, is that they have totally out of their depth and understanding this new world.

Every time you watch the Senate interview anybody in tech, you can see how out of touch they are with what’s actually going on in the ground. And a lot of leaders want the organizations to seem agile, but are really willing to dedicate themselves to the principles of autonomy, speed, transparency, meritocracy a,and experimentation. The older generation can’t actually let go of the old ways of thinking. And so it’s like almost a dictator holding an election. It’s got all the trappings of democracy.

But there’s the spirit of this new type of leadership is missing from these old school types of leaders. And these old school leaders have been focused on economies of scale because that’s what’s being shoved down our throats through accounting and economics and through every type of business, formula or business degree that anybody got was all about economies of scale. And these leaders are all following that doctrine. But today we find ourselves in the economies of learning. And so we have to move from this hierarchical process to a networked one.

And it’s not really a bureaucracy that’s stifling us. It’s our addiction to power and it’s our leaders that don’t want to let go of that power. And the new world we in right now doesn’t need power over anymore. It needs power with. And this is the new type of power, which is actually a much more feminine power and not less a young, immature, masculine power. And so we have to realize that the world we’re living in right now doesn’t just require a new principle, it actually requires a new philosophy.

Ira S Wolfe

I put this up here, the book Aftershock, you can see it over here. I was excited to see that you were part of that.  Almost a year ago, I had interviewed Daniel Levine, who was also part of it. Daniel has a company I interviewed him a year ago and he mentioned Alvin Toffler. I forgot that I had actually quoted Alvin Toffler in my book. I assume you were a young man at the time he published FutureShock. I still have the original copy.  It’s a thick book, like the Yellow Pages.

In it, Alvin Toffler felt that we would reach a state in the future when we would be so stressed and disillusioned by the accelerating pace of change. Now, his fear was technology would create stress. And it did to some extent. It’s maybe chicken-or-the egg whether the pandemic caused our pandemic stress and disillusionment and change or it accelerated the impact of technology, whether it was just the catalyst for that change really doesn’t matter.

The outcomes the same or here. And we are stressed and disillusioned. And he described it as a disease and the disease was future shock. Well, I didn’t realize I forgot that it was 50 years later and they put together I don’t know how many people were in here. You might know that, but I know you were one of them. And Daniel and a few other Jason Schenker, who I know a few other people were in there. And you each contributed a chapter on what you believe is going to be the next 50 years.

So I really encourage everybody to go out there and pick up a copy.

John Sanei

But hey, congratulations. It was an honor. It was an absolute delight when I got my essay was accepted to be amongst some of these top futurists in the world was just an extraordinary privilege. So it was almost like I was watching Roger Federer my whole life. And the next thing, I’m playing tennis with it. So is that sort of thing and being in this book. But yes, AfterShock was a great coming together of different theories and different ideas. And I also really enjoyed reading some of the essays.

Ira S Wolfe

And you can get the Kindle version. There’s a hardcover version that you can get up on Amazon. And certainly, I highly recommend it. And the fact is that if you don’t like one essay, you can flip on to the next. There’s a lot of essays in there. They’re like reading short stories.  In addition to waiting for John’s book, Future Next, that’s coming out.

John Sanei

Your current your late your current latest book is Foresight, correct? That’s the third.

So I’ve decided to write a book every year because I know why you become good at something and get to not get better and better. So for me, FutureNEXT comes out in the next two months and I’m excited about it.

Ira S Wolfe

Good. We’ll have to get you back on and remind everybody. I’m sure people will be listening to this for a while, so that’ll be great. For reference, we’re in the beginning of August. So summer in September. October, right. There is the expectation. Yeah. If anybody has any questions, please post them in the chat.

John Sanei

I see one from Issac. That’s right. I don’t know how to say your name. I’m just going to say Isaac. Yes. Economies of learning instead of economies of scale. And I think there’s another question there. What is the one skill that we need for this new normal? And the skill for me is a combination of curiosity and robust expression. And by that I mean you need to express your skill sets and your curiosity and as many different ways as possible because you have no idea and nobody else does what’s going to be big and what’s not going to be big.

And so, you know, there’s a jewelry designer and an artist that lives in the forests of Sweden and she has a YouTube channel and a YouTube channel actually makes more money than her jewelry and art. So, you know, you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to be robust in your expression of your curiosity. Those are the two skill sets I recommend and something I practice myself.

Ira S Wolfe

So Adriana had a question we have 2 Adrianas, actually, if the conversation going on over there, we mentioned a couple of books. One was Aftershock, and you can look at that. It was edited by John Schroeder. But your new book is FutureNext, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. And your latest book is Foresight. That one’s already out. That’s available.

John Sanei

Yeah. It’s almost as if you’re OK. If you think about any books that don’t talk about COVID-19decision-making, they almost seem irrelevant to a certain extent because the world has done such a massive change in the future. Next touches on three different topics that I think are really important. The first one is the mental and emotional health that we have when we are going through uncertainty is key to bring about some level of clarity in our decision-making process. The second part of the book is really starting to understand how to utilize our imagination.

And what I do in the second part of the book is trying to get people to reimagine a new socio-economic system that’s not based on the capitalist world that we know and have become used to and realize that it’s just a type of model of economics. There are many others, and I think it’s nice for us to reimagine that and share some new ideas around the new socio-economic system. And the third part of the book is a guidebook, a guidebook to how we must show up as citizens, how we must show up as employees, employees, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.

What does it mean to be part of a new world and what does it mean to be the characteristics of a future type of human being rather than sitting on the sidelines and hoping that governments do that. So it’s really just a guide book to try and help people get ready for futurenext.

Ira S Wolfe

So we had a couple of questions. The FutureNEXT, by the way, will be available in two months, about two months. I did post while we’re talking about change, I got to plug my book as well. It’s my show.  You can get the book at  The book is Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, but don’t be turned off by the recruiting part. The first one hundred and thirty pages was originally going to be When the SHIFT Hits Your Plan. It’s your plan. It’s all about exponential change things. We’re talking about today and things like scenarios of what autonomous vehicles are going to do. It created a snapshot into our future. And it was really interesting because I wrote about the thing with the autonomous vehicles. And every time you talk about it, people say we’ll never have self-driving cars.

It’s going to be years in advance and it’s not going to happen. It’ll happen in rural areas. It’ll never happen in the cities. And then all of a sudden with the pandemic did was everybody was home and convenience stores that depended on traffic driving by did not have traffic driving by and convenience stores turned into the local grocery store because they weren’t pumping gas. They weren’t selling gas. So all those businesses that depended on vehicle traffic went away.

And that was just sort of a snapshot into what the future was going to be like because autonomous vehicles will change. And I think now that a lot of people stop commuting, there’s going to be, again, a collateral effect of that or a downstream effect. But that’s what the first half of the book’s about. So if you only read the first hundred and thirty pages, you have no interest in recruitment. What’s going to be like to get a job? You can stop there, but I hope you pick it up. And the best thing about is that you can get book for free. You just pay for shipping.

Now, I know we have a couple of international people on the call. I know Issac is from Nigeria. I don’t think we’re shipping to Nigeria, but I can send you a digital copy. So if you try to order but can’t, then let me know.

I put John’s website in the chat He’s got his books up there or you can get them on Amazon as well.

So, John, I know I said I’d keep you about forty five minutes. I lied a little bit. We’re a few minutes late. but we had a great conversation. The feedback and comments have been tremendous.

Everybody’s been enjoying it. What’s a final word of advice.? And then how can people get in touch with you?


John Sanei

I think we must realize we are in a transformation of the deepest of levels. Transformations always have three different sections. It has the goodbye, a familiarity, no man’s land and then the momentum of the new world. Many of us are still saying goodbye or in no man’s land. It’s an exhausting time. It’s a winter when it comes to our emotions. It’s a winter when it comes to us trying. Figure out new things, so be kind on yourself, be patient with yourself, because we still have a couple more years to go until the momentum kicks in again. So just survive, recreate, rethink what you have to do. And then when spring starts and I mean in years is not the season itself and at least you’ll be prepared.

I am the only John Sanei in the world. I’ve looked it up a few times, which is quite funny. So Instagram and LinkedIn are the best places. I’m constantly sharing videos and books and stuff online just to add some value to the population. So join me on that. Lovely to see you and thank you so much. It’s been wonderful chatting towith you.

Ira S Wolfe

It’s been my pleasure.  I could talk all day with you. And I think everybody would agree. Just a couple of quick announcements.

By the way, this is the Success Performance Solutions logo. This is goodbye to the familiar. Yes. The edge of the paradigm shift. This is coming up. And this is the chaos in between.

John Sanei

Oh, that’s perfect. I love that.

Ira S Wolfe

Next week we’re going to continue this conversation. You’re going to really enjoy Dr. Diane Hamilton next week when we’re going to be talking about curiosity, talking about what you need to do to develop your adaptability, your emotional intelligence. And also kids as far as what we need to be doing in education. And then following that (August 20), we’re going to be talking about quantifying equity, another important topic. If we really are serious about taking diversity and inclusion and doing what’s right.

John, thank you very, very much. You stay safe. You created a whole lot of new fans today. Thank you.  Everyone else, especially those in the US, but worldwide. Please stay safe, wear your masks, keep your social distancing. Let’s get over this. There is a future. We’re going to live to see it. We want to get there faster than you thought possible. Hopefully, today’s session helped. Until next week.

John Sanei

Thank you. Bye bye.