Embracing Asynchronous Communication: There was a time when we would call someone on the phone and expect them to pick up and answer immediately. However, because of remote work, we have officially stepped into the age of asynchronistic communication. Therefore, parties know that there will often be a lag between delivering and receiving a message. The lag will become more acceptable and expected as we work in a virtual world because everyone is on a different schedule. In addition, timelines will increase asynchronous communication, making many work environments much more humane and manageable.
There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.
To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.
As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Super Julie Braun.
Super Julie Braun, also known as SJ, is the Founder & CEO of Super Purposes™. She intends to spend the rest of her life helping others grow by attaining the career and salary of their dreams through her wisdom and creative crew! Through her struggles and obstacles of having a learning disability of auditory processing disorder and dyslexia, she’s maintained the mindset of never giving up by creating optimal organizational skills and priding herself on a self-deprecating sense of humor.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I’ll start by sharing that at 16, I tested for a learning disability and discovered I have a fabulous combo platter of auditory processing disorder and dyslexia. I had spent the previous ten years learning to verbally communicate and solve problems while delegating my most challenging tasks to others. I did all of this unknowingly and was getting schooled on how to be a leader.
As a young adult, I quickly rose in corporate jobs, leading creative teams for Victoria’s Secret, MTV, Nike, Estee Lauder, and Carter’s Childrenswear. But I never felt like I fit in. I was ashamed of my learning disability, and it was a secret I wouldn’t share with others. Nevertheless, I knew how to get a high-level position without having a Master’s degree, how to charm my way by developing relationships, negotiating the offer, and, regardless of my hurdles, leading with confidence. It’s how I created the recipe for getting the salary that I deserved.
Today, I am an entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Super Purposes™. Our company helps people get the career and salary they deserve without fear and formality. I’m based in Seattle, WA, and we have around 95 teammates who live all across the US. We’ve always been a virtual company, long before it was the mainstream status quo it is now. Working remotely allows me to live a minimalist, digital nomad lifestyle. It gives me time to focus on my passions: animals, the environment, my sobriety, and volunteering for socially conscious causes. I intend to spend the rest of my life helping others, and I’m proud to say that we’ve helped over 16,000 people from all walks of life find jobs regardless of their challenges.
What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?
The most significant disruption is already happening, and it’s called The Employee Revolution. Millions of American workers are quitting their jobs in the wake of COVID-19. The time at home allowed employees to reconnect with loved ones and reevaluate their priorities. It’s been an eye-opener because people realized they could work virtually from home and be equally or more productive while spending time with family, loved ones, and pets. So now, people aren’t content to go back to the daily work-hamster wheel routine. The long commutes, low pay, few benefits, and poor work-life balance are several reasons people leave their jobs.
Many employees have been treated like crap for decades, and now the tables have turned. It would have happened in 10 to 20 years because we were already on a very slow boat to The Employee Revolution. But then the pandemic slingshotted us like a rocket around the moon. Within a year, many people were able to experience what it was like to work from home, and now they don’t want to go back to the office.
Employers have to adapt — maybe they should change from “Human Resources” to “Humane Resources” — and care about their employees more than ever before. They have to change their company cultures and embrace hybrid work schedules. If they don’t, their competitors will hire the best people. Creative companies are developing tactics for attracting new employees because workers are becoming more and more selective. Fortune 500 companies have already pivoted by offering signing bonuses to new hires, giving unlimited PTO (Paid Time-Off), and embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their cultures.
By the way, unlimited PTO sounds excellent, but it does have a dark side because there is no accrual of time off. If an employee quits or leaves their company, their employer has no obligation to pay them. The company wins when they eliminate the costs of paying unused PTO. It’s also a way to indirectly manipulate employees not to take as much time off as they need or want.
It’s the Wild Wild West right now because employers will put together new HR handbooks with rules about working a hybrid schedule, and in two to three weeks, the employees will say, “No, we don’t like what you put in this handbook. We need you to change that policy.” So it’s going to be pretty dicey for a while.
The choice as to whether or not a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether or not to go to college?
We are at an age where knowledge is obsolete. One good example is Sugata Mitra’s “The School in the Cloud.” In essence, Sugata proves that the education system is outdated and we need something very different. I have my own biases because I have a learning disability. I was a horrible student, but I was a hard worker. So, in my opinion, unless you’re a doctor, an attorney, or a CPA, I don’t believe that people need to go to college to get an education. People can go to Google and type in a question; there’s so much free education online like the Khan Academy, pretty much anything that we want to know or learn about is available to us. And that is why knowledge is now obsolete. We don’t need to know things. We need to use critical thinking skills and know where to go to get the answers.
The experience of going to college is not for everyone. For example, a March 2017 survey by the Rockefeller Foundation noted that half of the college graduates are not using their college education, and 86 percent were learning new skills outside of college. A college degree doesn’t mean that someone is more intelligent than someone who doesn’t have a college degree. People absorb certain things in colleges, such as social skills, cooperation, collaboration, discipline, and theory. But, unfortunately, many colleges lack teaching critical thinking skills. The advice I have for young adults considering whether or not to go to college is to figure out what kind of career you want because people can spend decades in college. We all know professional college students who keep going back to change their degrees because they fear the real world. That fear keeps them in academia. We call this the “Higher Learning Vortex.”
One excellent example is someone we worked with back in 2014; I will call her Linda. She worked for NYU as an administrator for Research and Ph.D. programs. She wanted to work in Human Resources. But, unfortunately, everyone was telling her to go back to school to get “another degree,” and I told her not to spend one minute more at school. My opinion was that if she kept going back for more degrees, she would be stuck in the “Higher Learning Vortex” forever.
Linda believed she would get an entry-level position after getting another degree. I said that she had all the transferable skills she needed from her previous work; she just needed hands-on experience — at any cost. Finally, after 11 months of working remotely 10 hours a week in three consecutive unpaid internships, Linda had what was required. She found the company she wanted to work for, and we prepared her for the interviews and acceptance process. Guess what? She didn’t get an entry-level job. Instead, Linda became a Human Resources Manager and was able to quit her job at NYU. Every year, I speak with Linda, and I have coached her from HR Manager to Director to Vice President, and now to the Board of Directors. Today, Linda works for a Fortune 500 company and is making the most money she has ever made in her entire life. It’s been seven years since Linda went from an unpaid intern position to her dream career.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment, but employment that fits their talents and interests?
Instead of filling out online applications, job seekers need to change their approach by identifying the top three companies, people, or organizations they want to work with and develop those relationships. Today, human beings never see your online applications. Instead, the applications go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software, and if the application doesn’t have enough keywords, it doesn’t get through the filters. As a result, your application will go into the trash can. ATS and other automated systems will become more prevalent as machines replace humans in this aspect of job search.
When looking for a company you resonate with and want to work for, you need to be thinking about what gets you excited about your work. What are the things that you love to do? For example, say you’re an accountant and love working with people more than the numbers; then that’s where you need to be spending more of your time. Maybe educating, training, teaching, or consulting people about accounting is your calling? Or if you are an accountant and you love crunching numbers, filling out spreadsheets, rolling out reports, and analyzing data, then that’s what you should be spending your time doing. Whatever gives you the most satisfaction is how you should spend your time.
The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appears frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?
It is a beautiful time for human beings because robots will never take over our creativity. Instead, we must focus on creation; whether it’s content or videos or coding, or creating applications or inventions, we need to shift our thinking to higher creativity. So it’s not a scary time at all; in fact, it’s fascinating!
Thankfully, the low-level jobs will be the robot’s job, and people will get to spend more time with their families and friends. If we do it right, we won’t have to work 40 hours a week. My prediction is that if we are smart about our workforce and what work means, we’ll spend 10 hours a week getting paid what we were making in 40 hours. Can you imagine? We’ll be spending more time doing our passion projects or being able to assist or express ourselves through art, sports, or adventures. Who said that working 40 hours plus a week was a good idea? We’ve bought into the concept of the American Dream, and frankly, it’s more like a nightmare. When we evolve to understand that our “jobs” will help transform the world, we’ll be able to do more self-growth, support our communities, and help our friends and families flourish. That is the utopia that most workers or companies have never imagined.
Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?
Yes. People will continue to work from home. People have now tasted the 15-foot commute to their laptop from bed to desk, “clock in,” and not have to shower or take off their fuzzy slippers. Now they get to cook breakfast for their spouse, partners, or roommates, see their children, love up their fur families, and spend time with their elderly parents or grandparents.
People have had time to reflect on the rat race, live with less, and take a moment of pause. We will see the trend continuing, at least for the next decade to possibly forever. So I think a hybrid work model will always be there because people will want to get together in a physical space; it is good to see people face to face and have that human connection. But working from home is not going to go away anytime soon.
What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support the fundamental changes to work?
Work will not be defined by the position or title of what people do but by what people can learn. I know, this sounds weird, right? Please stick with me! The old model was people going to school until they were about 22–24 years old and working in a field of expertise until somewhere around 65 or 70 years old. That model has collapsed due to digitalization and how things are now automated. So anyone who thinks they are going to be doing the same thing in 5–10–15 years is setting themselves up for the rollercoaster ride of unemployment.
As people stop doing low-level jobs that robots can do, learning will be more important than anything else in the future. Companies will be creating more of a coaching culture, which means there will be some heightened level of developmental guidance with opportunities for people to grow on the job. It is so much more exciting than the way we think about working and living today.
Business leaders will start shifting their top priorities to become flexible, agile, and adaptable. The days are gone when CEOs start a business by making one thing, saying it is a widget, and it’s the only thing they ever create. Instead of looking at their business saying, “How can we make a 1% increase this year?” company leaders will have to change their critical thinking to “Let’s improve our user experience!” “How can we have happier employees?” “What will we be pivoting to next?” Agility will also pertain to the workforce because it, too, will have to become incredibly adaptable to thrive. In this environment, employees will need to feel supported and motivated because people will be the essential resource to companies.
A company can prepare for this shift by creating collaborative communities, ensuring they are not working alone, encouraging them to brainstorm in a group environment, and building inclusive and diverse cultures. We keep talking about diversity, but making this supportive environment will give people confidence that they are working for the right company. It is about creating a community with the same values and supporting the team’s health, well-being, and workforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). They are all connected.
Right now, everything related to DEI is blowing up. Take, for instance, in the 1980s when there were rumblings about genderqueer in the sub-culture zines. Today, it seems like even grandma has heard about the gender non-conforming they/them or recognizes a famous transgender person on the big screen. I predict that Ageism, like gender discrimination, will become the next significant barrier that society will demolish. People live longer and want to work longer, and they want to contribute in a meaningful way. Because of that, companies will view those with age and maturity as wise unicorns. It is a relatively new frontier for Americans. It is fascinating to know that I will become more valued the older I get; I’m hopeful, at least. Companies can prepare for this shift by rethinking a job design to employ older workers that will thrive in their companies.
We have to consider age as another kind of diversity criteria. We are waking up to women’s and gender rights, diversity, equity, and inclusion; we’re embracing people from the LGBTQIA+ communities. However, we have not done anything significant for people of an older demographic. As soon as society and workplaces address that issue, older people will become a whole other workforce vital to their successes.
What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employers to accept? What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employees to accept?
It will take a while for many employers to change how they treat their employees.
I just worked with a client who treated their teammates horribly. First, they discounted what their team said and made it known that it was challenging to work with them. Next, they were condescending; “They were slow,” “They were not skilled,” and frankly, that kind of attitude doesn’t fly. If employers treat their employees with disrespect- which has been the norm in many work environments, and we see companies do it all the time- people will not stick around for long and go elsewhere. It is called the Great Resignation for a reason.
Employers have to change their company cultures, seriously. If they don’t, and they already have a reputation for chewing up and spitting out their employees, people will not want to work there. It will be hard to hire and keep people because a company’s culture has to be genuine. It has to be from the heart. There has to be a profound systemic change.
As for employees, I believe some will struggle with the concept of change. Some employees want to be told how to do everything, which is fine in specific low-level jobs. However, as those jobs disappear due to AI, employees will need to learn critical thinking skills. They will need to say, “Hey, I’ve got an idea for a project,” and not only point out problems but solve them. Employees who have not had a voice in the past will have to learn how to develop that skill quickly.
We are moving towards a more creative, knowledgeable, and teachable workforce. People who are already innovative, agile, flexible, capable of picking up new projects, learning quickly, and being excited about that work will make the most money and have the most opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight the inadequate social safety net that many workers at all pay levels have. Is this something that you think should be addressed? In your opinion how should this be addressed?
The answer is yes; I think we should address it. I’m a socialist by nature, and I believe that we should have basic things taken care of for us as human beings. It’s not new thinking that we’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet we have the worst health care. And there are so many people in the United States who have housing and food insecurity. So we need to take care of the essential things, like ensuring that everyone has a place to rest, food in their bellies, and giving them healthcare. Then, we’ll be a better society, and we will be happier people. We’ll be able to focus on solving enormous problems, like saving our planet.
Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
I am excited about The Employee Revolution! By doing meaningful work, we can help others, and that is powerful. I’m very optimistic about where we’re going and that we’ll be constantly challenged by learning new things. We’ll be less likely to get stuck in a dead-end job, but those who do get stuck won’t have to be for long because in 15 years or so, things will be changing very quickly. We’re going to go through massive changes, but they’re going to happen faster and faster as technology increases and picks up speed.
My most significant source of optimism is that I know that we can change. People are creative beings. We’re capable of building bridges, skyscrapers, transportation systems, curing diseases, inventing problem-solving products and services, rocketing to the moon, making art and music. We’re capable of creating beautiful things. So let’s do more of that.
Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between the job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?
One thing that we can do to reduce the gap between job losses and the growth of new jobs is to adopt new ideas more quickly. Here we are in 2021, and we’re saying to ourselves, “Oh no, the earth is dying!” Haven’t we known this for a long time? I remember growing up in the seventies and watching the news when the EPA passed all kinds of emission laws in California. Fifty years later, and now people are just starting to wake up to climate change? We need to adopt solar power, electric cars, public transportation, eliminate waste, clean our oceans, eat vegetarian or vegan diets, and live a minimal lifestyle. We have to be thinking about remote working, so we don’t have to fly across the country every week for a job. Adopting new ideas more quickly will be beneficial to society.
Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- More Flexibility: As companies become more sophisticated in understanding their employees’ preferences, it will likely become “in-person Wednesdays,” and employees will develop so much autonomy that they will not have to ask permission to work from home. They’ll decide what will best serve them and the company. But before writing the company handbook on working hybrid, each side will likely make many mistakes. But eventually, people will be performing at all kinds of hours, late at night, early mornings, weekends, whenever they “feel most productive” with more of a life-work blend vs. the unattainable work-life balance. At our company, we’ve been working with flexible schedules for over a decade. So if someone doesn’t show up to a big team meeting, it’s not the end of the world because we have the processes to record all sessions. So our teammates can watch anything they have to miss, get caught up, and interact and collaborate immediately.
- Results-Oriented: In general, leaders and management will complete the work instead of hours worked. This performance expectations shift will shake up the previously recognized model of “how many hours did Bob work this week?” thinking. Highly effective employees will get promoted faster, while the more traditional paper pushers will be encouraged to become “results-driven.” We know that this exists already in some areas like sales. However, it will soon become more prevalent. Industries like real estate have long understood that bottom-line results are more critical than clocking hours.
- More Cyber Security Issues: With more people working from home, we have already experienced more individual cyber security issues, which is the company’s headache. Handling customer data in a remote environment, security around employees, and not having company equipment adequately installed in the employee’s homes are just the beginning of the challenges remote or hybrid companies will need to solve. We have seen a significant increase in companies’ security breaches during the pandemic’s last two years. Unfortunately, it will only worsen as remote work opens more human error doors to the company by the very nature of Working From Home (WFH).
- More Collaboration Using Cloud-based Technologies: Because there won’t be the typical teamwork, but rather individuals working on a project simultaneously or consecutively, the need for more collaboration tools and cloud-based technologies will continue to sky-rocket for most companies. Significant shifts in project management, organization, and collaboration tools will continue to be a vast space for companies to consider every season as they update their processes. At every meeting, we use cloud-based technologies while collaborating and creating solutions together. Our company is big on “share your screen — show and tell,” which allows many people to be on the same page at once, adding their ideas, drawing their solutions, making cloud platforms precious.
- Embracing Asynchronous Communication: There was a time when we would call someone on the phone and expect them to pick up and answer immediately. However, because of remote work, we have officially stepped into the age of asynchronistic communication. Therefore, parties know that there will often be a lag between delivering and receiving a message. The lag will become more acceptable and expected as we work in a virtual world because everyone is on a different schedule. In addition, timelines will increase asynchronous communication, making many work environments much more humane and manageable.
In the early days of email, we were astonished that people could communicate so quickly with one another, and then texting leveled that up even more. Today there are so many places to communicate that the opposite is happening. It can be days or even weeks before people get back to you. So the pendulum is swinging back to a more humane level of communication.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?
I will paraphrase this quote because I want to include all people and not solely speak of men. “You can easily judge the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.”
It’s a quote from Simon Sinek; Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together, and Others Don’t. I am a fan and a TikTok follower.
This quote speaks to the value of being kind and respectful to everyone. I have to admit; I didn’t always practice that philosophy. But, I adopted this thinking because of my life-learning bumps and bruises along the way. Whether it’s the company’s CEO or the janitor who cleans the toilet, you should be kind and respectful to all people because everyone has value.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I’m going to go with Mel Robbins. Mel has recently started to do The High 5 Challenge, where you look at yourself in the mirror, high five your reflection, and celebrate how awesome you are. I just started doing this, and I love it. But, the first week I did it, I cried every time I gave myself a high five. I was very emotional and needed to call a waaahhhh-ambulance! (Super Julie laughs out loud!)
I don’t usually practice self-love and appreciation. But, Mel has helped me celebrate myself by saying, “Good job!” and, “You’ve got this!” I’ve seen a transformation in myself, so I would love to meet her to thank her!
Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.