The Best News About Work – Ever
It seems that all of us are going through a lashing storm (at home, I use a differing adjective). The one area where I have expertise is work and I reach out to all of you with the spirit of help.
Before the pandemic, about half of America’s workers characterized themselves as under-employed. Most are hard-working and conscientious but with each passing year, their work becomes more difficult and less valuable. As an election year sweeps past us, we have yet to find one member of either dominant party providing true leadership on the challenge of underemployment. They make promises when the nation’s workers need guidance, understanding, and encouragement. On that front, Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Canada are way ahead of us in making sure their citizens have the current skills necessary to continue building their lives as well as their country’s economy.
Over here, we dismiss their best practices as socialism.
That brings up the need for all of us to take deep responsibility in having a relationship with our work that works. Without that, times will be tougher than before.
Many business owners have even greater difficulty with change because to do so requires a stack of additional challenges. I gave a keynote to a group of petroleum entrepreneurs in Canada. At the time, the global energy market was under siege and the Q & A centered around their challenges. I brought up the fact that petroleum will come back in fits but overall, it will decline as consumers will lose interest. I added that if they didn’t change the world, their children would.
I have promised good news.
We spend an enormous amount of time in our culture studying dysfunction, bad news, and pain. But, there is an entirely new tribe of business leaders that is reshaping how we view work. Today’s social entrepreneur insists on growing businesses by making a solution to a world problem profitable.
That day in Canada, I posed a question:
“What is Al Gore up to these days?”
For one, he is making tons of money. In 2019 his net worth doubled from $200Million to $400Million. This happened because several venture capitalists from Goldman Sachs and Silicon Valley’s legendary Kleiner Perkins that have been working with Vice President Gore in making green energy more profitable than petroleum, natural gas, and fracking.
All of this began by realizing the only way to create vast and sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest problems, we have to make the solution itself wildly profitable. Today, the start-ups that Gore and his partners invested in had to get through one of the most vigorous vetting processes that require pristine business plans, fully competent management teams, and strongly engaged oversite.
Peter Diamandis, the pied piper of social entrepreneurs, says, “If you want to become a billionaire, help a billion people.” Peter’s brilliance as well as the smarts that are common to our new board insists that it is no longer enough to just make money. The new icons change the world by helping others. In Los Angeles, Diamandis is the co-founder of X-Prize. The organization began when Richard Branson made an announcement offering a truckload of money to the first engineering team that could come up with a feasible way to provide access to commercial space travel.
A close friend of Branson, Peter saw an opportunity to bring this funding model into solving problems where sustainability has proven elusive. After launching X-Prize, Diamandis and his team have been bringing in billionaires and companies to fund solutions to our biggest problems. Just a few examples include the 4ocean, the machines that are now cleaning plastic from our oceans. They recently funded portable CatScan and MRI devices, that are saving thousands of lives in third world countries by being able to get a diagnosis rather than taking a critically ill patient through hours of difficult travel.
Why am I so excited about this segment?
For one, they are my new tribe and most of them have jobs.
We launched Inspired Work in 1990. Over the years thousands of people have used our program to launch new careers, start their first business or go back to work with a solution to a big problem. Of the thousands of changes that have occurred with our participants, the most common thread is meaning. One of the truths about life is the only meaning we can use is the meaning we define for ourselves, which is beautiful and unique each and every time.
Our new company workskunk will help solve underemployment by making the best possible programs available without charge. Inspired Work will still be here, but that audience has differing needs and expectations. But there is urgency and meaning to solving the problem of underemployment. When people look ahead and cannot find a place where they will make a good living, of course, we will find turmoil.
My office is in the center of Silicon Beach. I am looking at organizations like HBO, Cornerstone on Demand, Interscope, and Sony Music. While editing this article, we also watched a family walk through the neighborhood. One parent was pushing a shopping cart filled with two kids. The other was pushing a shopping cart with their belongings. This is what I mean by urgency.
I hope that America is still the most abundant country in the world. But, it feels like our country is going through one of the most untoward periods of adolescence in the world. The movement of social entrepreneurism is based on the recognition that running a business to just make money, that’s for people who still don’t care. But, we also insist on making the kind of money that pushes innovation past the old decaying formulas.
We are in the midst of a huge restructuring and task-based jobs are going the way of the mainframe computer. If you are one of the many millions of people impacted by this change, stop waiting. Learn how to change as quickly and as humanly as possible. Then, go do it.
We might have to become more skilled in drawing attention to ourselves. Many of us run from the possibility of getting hurt feelings, but the alternative is starvation. In many cases, the prospect of staying in jobs that are in decline is spiritual starvation.
I get to work with social entrepreneurs. Some of them are devoting their lives to curing cancer and other horrific diseases. One of my clients pulled me into his lab and turned back to say, “Welcome to my temple of hope.” I don’t know about you, but that is far more compelling than being in an environment that is there solely for shareholder value. Other clients are engaged in bringing cost-free higher education to everyone that has a computer or tablet. Others are focused on net-zero reality. What I find time and time again, is that finding the work that matters to us is the first and most important into this new future.
What I hope to convey here is that it is time for many of you to find your way in from the cold and to come up with a solution for work that has greater value than simply paying the bills. It isn’t enough.
I used to be nice about this subject called work. But, when the pandemic hit, many of those jobs that slid down the rabbit hole and will not be coming back. If that is impacting you then this is the time to change, to find your way into a new life, and to develop the faith as well as the courage to take action.
If it is time to change, look for a target that provides for your family, that nourishes your soul, and that brings meaning and purpose to your life.
Do that and one day you will look in the mirror and see redemption.