7 Traits for Future Workers

As the world becomes more automated, fast-changing and innovation-driven, the traits that you need to be successful in business, and in life, have morphed and will continue to morph. How do you succeed and keep your job when jobs will disappear and change faster than ever? Here is my short list of the seven skills to master as we move from the digital economy into the intelligence economy where humans and computers are more symbiotic.


Creativity

As artificial intelligence takes on more and more of “routine” tasks, the tasks that will remain will be those that rely on creativity. The multi-level, quantum-state, human brain can hold ambiguity and faith together to be able to see what is beautiful beyond what is possible by today’s machines. This human creativity will be combined with AI to create new services, products and jobs.

Optimism

We must have faith and belief. This does not mean blind faith, but true optimism in the spirit and goodness of mankind and our ability to rise above the chaos and create technological and social breakthroughs. We have never as a species been more fortunate — less poverty, less crime, less war. We cannot give into the constant drone of sensational negativity that pervades the news and our facebook feeds. We have to live in the moment striving positively for a better world.

Grit

As Angela Duckworth writes in her recent book on the subject, “To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.” This deliberate and focused push towards success will be so important as change creates uncertainty. Odds will seem long but dedication and perseverance will win out.

Resilience

It will be more unclear what will succeed and what will fail as we enter hyper-growth and hyper-change past humans’ ability to digest the change. Having the ability to be elastic in our thoughts and actions is critical. We cannot break when bent in a world that will soon change more in a year than it used to in a decade. We must build tolerance to change and uncertainty and the stress these create.

Audacity

Audacity is taking on big ideas without the fear of failure. We will continue to make step function jumps in technology. You have to be unafraid of risks — big bets will win big. Small bets will not matter. As Astro Teller says of X’s moonshot projects, the secret ingredient is getting past your emotional nature to seek safety.

Connectedness

Working across boundaries has never been more important. Breakthroughs will come from recombining practices from one field into another. All things will soon be connected to each other. Our instant modes of communication across distance and time are creating more connected relationships. As humans, it is easy to get in our small tribe and not reach out beyond that, but we must strive to be more connected — we cannot build a wall around our lives as we will miss the change around us.

Empathy

As the global economy becomes smaller and our country, religious and class borders unravel, empathy will be a key trait in success. New technologies such as Virtual Reality are set to be empathy training machines. We will need to teach our artificial intelligence engines to treat humans and each other with empathy — to do that, we need more understanding of empathy ourselves.


I have arranged in a simple mnemonic: CO-GRACE which you can think of as cooperative grace/empathy.

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