Monday, March 31, 2014

If You Have a Weak Stomach or Fear of Future, Then Don't Read This!

WARNING! If you have a weak stomach or a fear of the future, then don't read this! However, if you want to explore where our collective intelligence has taken us, then grab a beverage or your favorite snack and indulge.

I'm deeply passionate about the integration of technology and humanity. I'm also deeply concerned about the impact of technology on jobs and livelihoods near term and beyond. Everyday I make an effort to research and share at least one tidbit of compelling information with my readers in these areas.  Inevitably I find something new - new to me, newly created, new perspectives on something old - or something just plain crazy. That's what the documentary below is to me - new, compelling, crazy, and wow (aka scary)!

We're pushing boundaries at unprecedented rates and our awareness hasn't yet caught up to what we're collectively capable of. It's fascinating and at times simply unbelievable. I stumbled on this documentary while exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs across the U.S. The focus of my research is to determine effective ways to break down barriers in STEM for women and girls - and to find out how I can help.

The U.S. is not ready and the alternatives are deeply troubling.
  • 69% of high school graduates are not prepared for college-level science
  • 54% of high school graduates are not prepared for college-level math
  • 4% of bachelor's degrees awarded in the U.S. are in engineering, China 31%
  • 40% of men with STEM degrees practice in their field compared to 26% of women 
  • 92% of all U.S. STEM jobs will require post-secondary education by 2018
  • 23% of STEM workers are women though women are 48% of the workforce
  • 4% of workers in STEM careers create jobs for the 96% of workers in other fields
  • 30% of middle school science teachers did not major in science and are not certified to teach it
Don't look away! If you don't like the view, explore what you can do as a professional in your field to help change it. After all - it's our collective futures on the line.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Divergent Leadership Characteristics Are Now Preferred

I don't typically catch movie fever, but the trailers for Divergent had me hooked. I usually wait a few weeks for movie follow-ups via DVD, Netflix, or other alternatives to the theater, but I had to see the movie on the big screen. I'm now fully on board with the concepts and messages delivered. My test results would show that like Tris, one  of the main characters, I'm Divergent - a Divergent Leader. It's been tough keeping my secret over the years, but I pulled it off (a bit of movie humor). Now divergent leadership characteristics are preferred.

A Divergent Leader understands norms and standards, but always goes beyond them to create next level solutions. They are courageous and act in spite of fear to break down barriers wherever they find them. They challenge themselves and others to stretch and try new ways of being - always building new connections. Normal is a horrible concept to the Divergent Leader and boundaries don't stand a chance. They will certainly destroy any boundaries that don't serve the broadest possible vision or the highest possible virtues. Divergent Leaders are threatening to traditional leaders due to their disruptive tendencies.

Divergent Leadership Characteristics
  • Have no finite limits
  • Unable to follow a predefined script
  • Differ from a set standard
  • Depart from conventional ways of thinking
  • Explore many possible solutions to problems
  • Generate creative and innovative ideas
  • Go the distance in thought and deed
  • Do not conform to outdated expectations

Not only are divergent leadership characteristics preferred, they are required in the knowledge economy where market disruptions are a daily occurrence. Traditional leadership styles while containing solid traits will make failure a certainty in a fast-paced world where global equality is just around the corner. Previous competitive advantages for traditional leaders are disappearing at record speeds. Divergent Leaders can see around corners by way of facts, analytics, intuition, creativity, and innovation. They are not reckless, but they can be aggressive when pursuing the future. Their risk tolerance is high and they aren't afraid to face danger head on. The Divergent Leader delivers.


In the book, there were five factions based on human virtues:
  • Abnegation (The Selfless) - like to make others happy; doesn't like to draw attention to oneself
  • Amity (The Peaceful) - like art and music; wants everyone to get along 
  • Candor (The Honest) - not easily offended; prefer to hear the truth even when painful
  • Dauntless (The Brave) - fiercely independent; acts on what is right no matter how frightening it might be
  • Erudite (The Intelligent) - enjoy learning new things; like to understand how things work; logical

These virtues are admirable separately. However, Divergent Leaders inherently embody all of them and more. They are brave, honest, selfless, peaceful, intelligent - and visionary. Have a bit of fun and take the Divergent Aptitude Test to examine your dominant faction traits.

Divergent Aptitude Test

Despite your test results, you always have the right to choose so choose well. What kind of leader are you?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Are Women the Real Power Behind Social Media Platforms?

Social media platforms are a tremendous phenomenon that even passionate technocrats like myself didn't envision when I entered the tech arena many years ago (I won't say how many years ago). Before I went into the military or went to college I was absolutely smitten by the possibilities that would some day come from the work that I would perform as an Electrical Engineer.

After graduating I relished in the challenges that came my way and immersed myself in the work of testing the earliest versions of ferro-electric thin-film capacitors and wireless data technologies. Wow! - I'm still amazed. I spent countless hours evaluating system designs, testing product releases, building and selling technology solutions, and creating an ever expanding awareness of the economics of leadership and human capital along the way - always digging deeper to create better, stronger, faster, more efficient systems and solutions for the companies where I worked for and more broadly for humanity in general. I still believe in the whole good of technology and what it does for us.

With all of my passion for technology and the good that it does, I'm deeply bothered by the gender gap and its impact over time - even more so after Oxford's research study. Much research has been done and initiatives have re-started to turn up the volume on this topic. I'm still perplexed about the 'how' and 'why' of the gender gap and of course I continue to examine ways that I can use my talents and capabilities to help close the gap just a little more. The urgency is real!

Social media platforms provide us with ways to connect, interact, and innovate at the speed of light. All one needs is an idea and a computer and the world is literally at your fingertips. Technology, education, and barriers to entry have virtually disappeared and market disruptions are everywhere as a result. The great equalizers - internet and education - are free making it possible for the entire globe to participate in reshaping our world. Yet the economic distance between men and women remains galaxies apart.

There are two equalizers in life - the internet and education

John Chambers
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco


Social Media Platforms - Owners versus Users

Mashable's article reviewing the Top 10 Highest Rated Tech CEOs prompted me to think about who "owns" social media platforms versus who "uses" these platforms - and whether there is a way to leverage these platforms to dramatically change gender dynamics. To ask the question a different way - can women leverage time spent on social media platforms to help secure stronger leadership roles in companies or as influencers of policies that will drive the desired changes in leadership? There are may ways to answer this question, but the simplest answer is 'yes'. Alone social media platforms aren't the only answer and it would be silly to think so. There also must be 'push', policies, programs, and participation from the target audience - women - to change the trajectory.


Will Social Media Become Girl Territory Soon?

That's the question at the bottom of the infographic. If women use social media platforms to build and launch personal brands, to run their own businesses, and to add massive value beyond shares, likes, and comments - then yes - social media will soon become girl territory. If not, then social media will continue to provide even greater ownership and leadership opportunities for platform founders, leaders, and businesses without maximizing the opportunities at women's fingertips.

top social media sites

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Bossy" Is Only One Leadership Indicator

The "Ban Bossy - Encourage Girls to Lead" campaign is a super step forward for women and girls around the globe.  I'm excited (almost giddy) to see this level of engagement and visibility on the topic of girls and leadership - especially in partnership with Girl Scouts. I have a Girl Scout and she's the apple of my eye so I pay close attention to the messages that she's given about virtually everything - even from me. Okay I admit it - I'm an overprotective parent. Sue me! ;-)

We know that what we say is often interpreted differently by children than as intended so let's take "ban bossy" for a spin. If I'm a "bossy" girl, this statement tells me that I'm great and I have what it takes to lead. If I'm not "bossy", what message do I receive? Does it mean that I'm not a leader? After reviewing the site with my daughter and listening to her questions, it became clear to me that the message has to be expanded in order to be positively received by all girls. It's not just the "bossy" girls who have what it takes to lead.

The confidence gap starts early. Between elementary and high school, girls' self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys'
Bossy holds girls back. Girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem “bossy.”
Girls get less air time in classrooms. They are called on less and interrupted more.


Alternative to "Bossy"

My daughter is a kind-hearted peacemaker. She was awarded her school's first Peacemaker's Award in 2012 for her brilliance in negotiating solutions between her classmates.  She abhors conflict and making peace is a natural part of her personality. She's not "bossy" yet she is a leader. I tell her often that she'll win the Nobel Peace Prize someday. She smiles and takes it in...

I absolutely agree that girls must be encouraged to lead and I wouldn't have it any other way. However, I think it's important to ensure that girls are also shown different types of leadership models so that they don't flip the script and turn this positive campaign into a negative reflection of themselves.

Take the pledge to "ban bossy" but don't stop there!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Technology's Devastating Impact on Women's Jobs

March 8th, tomorrow, is International Women's Day - a day for celebration of women's accomplishments.  The official UN theme for this year is "Equality for Women is Progress for All".

Before diving into the details about the pending challenges regarding women's jobs, take a look at the International Women's Day Doodle video for this year. Celebrate and acknowledge outstanding women. Ah hem - that would be ALL women.

Technology's Devastating Impact on Women's Jobs
Topics like are never pleasant to examine, but looking away from them won't change reality. Awareness is the first step towards change, right? Since the changes and challenges are already in progress, it's time to determine next steps.

As I reviewed the recent Oxford study which concludes that 47 percent of US jobs may become computerized in 10 or 20 years, I wondered about impacted demographics like as gender, age, and race - with a sharp focus on women. A close look at data tracked by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2010 (the same year used in the study) shows how devastating the reality may be for women if a fundamental shift in skills doesn't occur.

According to our estimate, 47 percent of the total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two.

 C. Frey, M. Osborne; Oxford University (September 2013

Why my focus on women in particular? Well - because women's productivity is the backbone of the global workforce - clocking 66% of all working hours on the planet. Simply put women's productivity drives global economies.
Women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property. Whether the issue is improving education in the developing world, or fighting global climate change, or addressing nearly any other challenge we face, empowering women is a critical part of the equation.
Former President Bill Clinton 

...The challenges to gender equality just got a whole lot more complicated.

Disruptive Technologies Are Disrupting Women's Jobs

Disruptive technologies will impact the most susceptible occupations in services, sales, administration, construction, and transportation. Most of these jobs are currently performed by women.
  • Services jobs are being replaced by personal and household robots at a pace of 15% to 20% per year.
  • Sales and related administration jobs are rapidly succumbing to automation and software advancements.
  • Industrial robots may automate 15% to 25% of tasks associated with jobs in construction, maintenance, and manufacturing by 2025.

And on the story goes...

A straight-across look at the percentages by gender and job category show significant challenges for women who hold a majority of roles in sales, office, and services occupations. As if the flags weren't red enough in general, they are particularly red for women.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics
SALES-OFC - Sales and office occupations
SVCS - Services occupations
MGMT-PROF - Management, Professional, Related occupations
PROD-TX-MAT - Production, Transportation, Material Moving occupations
NR-CONST-MNT - Natural Resources, Construction, and Maintenance occupations

Now what? It's time to retool for the knowledge economy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Economics of Intelligence and Creativity

Intelligence and creativity are the new economy - the knowledge economy.  Individuals who are able to adapt quickly and make use of technologies to build new solutions to old problems while helping to shape the future through innovation are the clear winners. The differentiators are 'what we know', 'who we know' AND 'how quickly we can adapt'. The combination of know-how, social media, and technology is lethal for individuals who are stuck in the industrial age.

Intelligence and creativity are driving the new economy at hyper-connected speeds where being average is no longer viable. Everyone has to step up and redefine their own 'How-To' in order to interact with this new world. Knowledge is the key.

Strong knowledge economies contain:
  • Appropriate economic incentives and institutional regimes
  • Skilled, flexible, and creative people
  • Dynamic information structure
  • Efficient innovation systems

Some tasks for knowledge workers include:
  • Information gathering and data mining
  • Data analysis and trend identification
  • Understanding cause and effect
  • Brainstorming or modifying strategies

Reinforcing the knowledge economy requires schools that are able to respond - and many traditional institutions are not even close. Peter Drucker and others have demonstrated forcefully, workers at all levels in the 21st century economy will need to be lifelong learners, adapting continuously to changed opportunities, work practices, business models, and forms of economic and social organization. Education systems will have to adapt accordingly...

Final Report of the Knowledge Economy Forum
World Bank and OECD 

Do schools kill creativity? Take a few minutes to listen to Sir Ken Robinson's humorous examination of this very serious topic.

If schools kill creativity, then Destination Imagination (DI) is the type of organization that brings it back to life. DI nurtures teamwork, creativity, and problem-solving which are essential ingredients in the knowledge economy.
Destination Imagination encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus, and frame challenges while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts, and service learning. Our participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Teams may showcase their solutions at a tournament.
My daughter is in her second year with DI thanks to a tremendous and tireless Team Manager. After watching her team work through various scenarios and serving as a tournament appraiser this year, I'm inspired to ask the question - 'should DI challenge elements be used to help screen job candidates?'

Sunday, March 2, 2014

5 Ways To Increase Your InterNET Worth

Intellectual capital and intellectual property are compelling to think about, right?  We typically go about our lives educating ourselves, working hard, building families, and making a difference in the world without generally considering how much we’re truly worth.  Is this OK?  Sure it is - if we’re not interested in maximizing ourselves or our contributions. I challenge myself to ask better questions and to find different answers other than “that’s just the way it is” or “everyone needs to pay the bills”. Is that really just the way it is? There is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We really can choose our destiny. Take a closer look.

In his essay titled The Nature of the Firm (Coase, R. H., 1937), Nobel prize-winning economist R. H. Coase (1910 – 2013) defined the legal concept of employee and employer as closely related to  the “master and servant” relationship.  He explored “...why a firm emerges at all in a specialized exchange economy.”  In this context the term firm refers to corporation or organized structure that controls and manages production of goods and services.

This is a complex subject made simpler by Coase’s flashes of insight about an individual’s desire to “...accept less in order work under someone instead of dealing with the stress normally laid on the advantage of “being one's own master.”  I suspect that this is the trap that many of us have fallen into and it can be difficult to get out - but hundreds of millions have taken the step.

According to an article by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM, 2012), the number of entrepreneurs in the world approached 400 million across 54 countries in 2011!  That’s right 400 million—or 5.7% of the world’s population!  Keep in mind that these figures are from 3 years ago.  Let’s break it down further.  Of the millions of entrepreneurs, 39% are Women Entrepreneurs, 40% are Young Entrepreneurs (18—25), and 17% are Innovators, and 4% are Global Entrepreneurs.  Undoubtedly these individuals are dealing with the stress of “being their own master” in order to maximize their contributions and their worth in the world.

Not clear yet what this all means?  Take a look at this INFOGRAPHIC.  What can you do to increase your InterNet worth?  Here are 5 steps that you can take.

STEP 1 - Know Your Industry: Is the industry that you’re currently in growing or dying?  When will major shifts occur?  Who is the competition?  Where are they located?  What do you read to stay on top of it?  Who do you know that can help you stay smart?  If you think these types of questions are just for the “bosses” or strategists, you’re wrong!  These are the types of questions that every person should be asking themselves in order to create winning personal outcomes.

Step 2 - Know Your Numbers: How many people are there in your industry?  Where are the majority of workers located?  Has there been a shift in the number of workers in a particular location?  Is there a clear migration pattern emerging?  What is the market rate for your current position?  What is the top role in your industry?  What is the market rate for that industry top spot?  Is that role in the private sector or public sector - could be either?  Explore it!

Step 3 - Know Your Outcomes: Are you where you want to be in your career?  If not, why not?  Are you in the right industry?  What is your ultimate objective - to make a difference, to make more money, to solve a social problem, to support your family?  What alternative paths have you considered?  How much time do you intend to spend where you are before making a shift?  Have you explored higher education as an option?

NOTE: Higher education is a must-have just to remain status quo.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the competition!

Step 4 - Know Your Support System: Who do you have in your corner that can help you get to where you want to go?  Expand your networks and circles of influence. Do you have mentors or coaches?  Are you on your own?  No one gets to where they want to go on their own. Build a substantial and influential support team.  Don’t wait until the last minute to ask someone to “be your mentor”. Actively seek out individuals who have what you need and borrow with pride. This is called modeling and it’s not a crime. It’s what human beings do.  We model others to learn.

Step 5 – Know Your InterNET Worth: Social media profiles are a great way to let everyone know who you are and what you stand for. Watch your traffic! One of the first things potential employers, business partners, or curious bystanders do is to “google” you to see who you are. Are you leaving a data footprint that you’re proud of?  If not, change course and mind your data!  Clean up what you don’t want to be seen and be proud to tell the world who you really are.  My social media preferences are Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn along with my blog and my website.  Social media profiles are the new “business card” and I’m leveraging the advantages offered to increase my InterNET worth.

Do you know your worth - InterNET or otherwise. If not, find out. You're WORTH it!