Human Resources Management Articles on a variety of HR topics, Diversity and inclusion, leadership and more, offered by the Red Shoe Movement

Anxiety: What Causes it and How to Keep it at Bay

We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humanity. A moment that requires us to take care of ourselves and in most cases shelter in place in isolation or with our family. Today we talk about anxiety: what causes it and how to keep it at bay.

It is the first time in history that a pandemic is taking place through a virus of such rapid contagion and long incubation in the midst of globalization. This virus can get to any of us. It makes no differences.

In our normal lives, there are many reasons why thousands of people die, but since they seem like problems of another country or region, we usually feel safe.

Do you remember a couple of years ago, the photo of a little dead boy in the arms of a rescue worker on the shores of the Mediterranean? It moved us all for a few weeks and then we forgot. The image had the audacity to penetrate our daily lives and yet it did not provoke more than a few minutes of emotion in our lives. Soon that death, like that of so many thousands of other refugees who continue to die at sea, was forgotten and no longer news.

The same goes for wars, famines and many other diseases like Ebola that are restricted to areas far from our homes.

This virus, which in the early days could be believed only affected a far- away town in China, soon spread throughout the world. And it has the particularity that it makes all of us equal. (In Argentina, for example, the first case we had was of a passenger who arrived in first class on a flight from Milan.)

Here's another post on how to overcome anxiety inside and outside of work
Understanding what causes anxiety will help you control it. Photo Credit- Priscilla Du Preez. Unsplash

Understanding what causes anxiety will help you control it. Photo Credit- Priscilla Du Preez. Unsplash

What causes anxiety and how to keep it at bay

When we talk about anxiety, it is important to explore what causes it and how to combat it, since understanding the cause will help you find solutions tailored to your situation.

1Feeling like everyone is a threat

First, a source of anxiety is that anyone can be a threat and infect you. You don’t know where the enemy is. It is an invisible microbe that has humanity in checkmate.

2Feeling that you are not in control of the situation

Many people feel anxiety in response to thoughts like, “I can’t control it.” That is, the idea that you can’t control it simply because you don’t see it. These past few days, many of my patients expressed this concern. If this is your case, let me remind you that the idea of ​​having things under control is just an illusion. Actually, you never have complete control of anything. There is always a margin of error and chance that makes us susceptible to things not going the way we expect. When this illusion explodes against an indisputable reality it makes us anxious because we suddenly feel out of control. The illusion that dissipates and makes is that it is impossible to have absolute control. Ever. Only until now you did not see this fact clearly clearly. Therefore, let yourself be guided by the authorities, and live one day at a time without trying to plan anything, even in the medium term. This situation is changing minute by minute and we will have to adapt to the new normal.

3Feeling uncertain about the future

Uncertainty also generates anxiety. But this is a time to be patient, and not try to anticipate anything. In other words, as I said before, manage your life minute to minute. We do not know when the quarantine will end, nor in what situation we will be. Right now it is important to think about today’s actions and projects and perhaps those for the next 2 or 3 days. Let’s put to work our creativity and internal resources.

If up until now you were someone who liked to have her entire schedule planned well in advance, take the opportunity to “break” away from your structure. Maybe you can use that ability to organize your closets, drawers, books, the kids’ room, or the kitchen cabinets. For the next few days you will have to make friends with uncertainty since it is not possible to do anything else. The sooner you do, the less anxious you’ll be.

One of the activities to keep busy at this time is to clean up your closets and organize your home. Photo Credit- Dhruv Patel. Unsplash

One of the activities to keep busy at this time is to clean up your closets and organize your home. Photo Credit- Dhruv Patel. Unsplash

4Having an excess of information

You have to be very careful with excess information. Especially the one that flows from unofficial media. We all have many chats where we get videos or audios. Some seem scientific others are funny. People bombard us with information. In some cases, we ourselves go looking for it on the Internet. That excess makes you crazy. Because it often involves false or contradictory information that is hard to weave out from the real one.

I suggest that you focus on the information shared by the official channels of your country, such as that of the ministries of health. If you don’t trust your own authorities, you can visit the World Health Organization’s (WHO) page. Establish one or two times a day when you’ll seek this information and then disconnect.

The coronavirus ends up infecting everything, not only physically, but mentally. If you allow it, it will take over your whole life. Even if you are tempted to be on social media constantly or watch the endless stream of news, do your best to avoid it. More information will not benefit you. Also avoid forwarding messages and videos to others in your network. Not only does it overload them but it also overloads the system which is already stressed by everyone being online all the time.

Learn what causes anxiety to limit these situations

Learn what causes anxiety to limit these situations

5Formulating apocalyptic ideas

Situations like the one we are in lend themselves to apocalyptic ideas. Maybe it is not your intention, but when you see that your neighbor buys food as if he were preparing to spend six months in a bunker, or you see the empty shelves at your local supermarket, you start to think that perhaps the apocalypse is indeed around the corner. Keep calm. We are not facing the Third World War or the end of the world. It is important that you stock up knowing that you will be able to go out again in a few days. I reiterate that if in doubt go back to well respected sources: your government’s official page or the WHO site.

6Overestimating or underestimating the situation

Another thing that generates anxiety is not being able to assess accurately what is happening because we don’t understand it. Let us trust that in each country there is a committee of experts advising the authorities.

It’s as important to avoid overestimating the situation by creating an apocalyptic movie or underestimating it to the point of putting your life and that of others at risk. If you follow the guidance of your local authorities, anxiety will drop substantially. It is not you who has to make the key decisions right now. Delegate that responsibility on those who understand the subject. Your responsibility is to abide by their recommendations and to use common sense.

Don't miss 10 things you can do to stay sane during the quarantine
Anxiety: What causes it and how to keep it at bay. Avoid overestimating or underestimating the situation. Photo Credit-John Cameron. Unsplash

Anxiety: What causes it and how to keep it at bay. Avoid overestimating or underestimating the situation. Photo Credit-John Cameron. Unsplash

7Feeling dragged down by the vertiginous moment

Another cause of anxiety is the speed of changes we are experiencing. Between the uncertainty and the confinement, it would seem that nothing contributes to calm you down. But think about this: When there are strong winds, the trees that survive are the most flexible. The stiffer ones will probably break. So stay flexible.

The news flow is ongoing and the information is not always consistent. It’s two steps forward and one step back. Maybe two days ago you were working at your office, and now you are doing remote work. Maybe tomorrow you’ll be laid off. We all have to adapt all the time. Don’t think for a moment that you are the only one who’s having a hard time adapting. To a greater or lesser extent it’s hard for everyone. What you should know is that as long as you want to cling to the way things used to be, you’ll have a worse time.

As a psychologist, I have always seen patients in person. In the last few days due to the measures taken by the government, they weren’t able to come to my office. So I offered to hold our sessions by phone, Zoom, FaceTime or any other virtual platform.

Many accepted the idea immediately and some decided to wait because they still don’t feel ready for it. Think how permeable you are to change. The new norm, for some, is an inaccessible monster. Try going slowly, taking on the challenge of doing something you have never done before. You may be surprised to see that it was not so difficult. And the monster was nothing more than a defense mechanism of yours to hold on to rigid models.

This can be a great time to rest. It is as if the world has stopped for a while, giving us the possibility to look each other in the eye, or to look ourselves in the mirror. Reflect on the direction our life is in and the one we want going forward. Let’s think about the things we have never said, and to whom we would like to say something. It is also a great opportunity to get bored. Yes, getting bored allows ideas to bubble up.

While we don’t know how long this isolation will take, it won’t last forever. At some point we will meet others again, we will hug again, we will kiss again. Perhaps by then we will have discovered abilities that we did not know we had. Perhaps by then, a painting created by us will hang on our wall. Perhaps by then, we have become friends with unthinkable people. Or we have become wiser, more cautious, with some permanent habit changes, truly valuing leisure time.

There is so much to do …

Be flexible. Photo Credit-Mahkeo. Unsplash

Be flexible. Photo Credit-Mahkeo. Unsplash

2020 Perfect Vision on Gender Equality

The year is 2020. The time is now to make gender equality a reality. Here’s how you can engage with likeminded individuals around the world.

Just as the World Economic Forum set Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators “to create global and national public-private collaboration platforms (…) to address current gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future,” many organizations have set their own gender equality goals for 2020.  For our company it’s a big year as well. With the motto: 2020 Perfect Vision on Gender Equality, we are rolling out the 3rd annual “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative.

We've been Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas, a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality Global Initiative since 2018

We’ve been Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas, a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality Global Initiative since 2018

Why do we ring the bell for gender equality?

A few years ago, UN Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges, IFC, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges created the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” to “raise awareness of the pivotal role that the private sector plays in advancing gender equality to achieve SDG 5.” (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.) With this mission in mind, every year for International Women’s Day, March 8, (or close to that date) women ring the bell at stock exchanges worldwide.

Considering that the Red Shoe Movement’s mission is to accelerate the representation of women at the highest levels of leadership, it was only natural for us to support and echo the UN’s initiative with one of our own.

Ringing the bell in Tel Aviv

Ringing the bell in Tel Aviv

Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas

I’m sure you’ve heard that water represents 71% of our beloved planet Earth. This invaluable fluid substance never sits still. It’s constantly moving dynamically connecting us, nurturing us and making life possible. It’s the world’s connective tissue bar none, a true example of a global force with the power to erase distances and differences, and to bridge all gaps.

And since water has long been associated with emotion and intuition (starting with the Greek philosophers Empedocles and Plato,) it has also been associated with the feminine. No wonder then, that we call our initiative “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” the best way we know to communicate that gender equality is an issue that affects us all, and only by having men and women working side by side will we achieve success.

On International Women’s Day we echo the UN’s Ring the Bell for Gender Equality. We extend an immersive, hands-on invitation for everyone to grab their bell and join the worldwide conversation. We will be ringing the bell once again on the 7 seas and the 7 continents with a large number of partner organizations and millions of individuals. 

RSM Gender Bell 2020 commissioned to visual artist Scherezade Garcia

RSM Gender Bell 2020 commissioned to visual artist Scherezade Garcia

Debuting our 20/20 RSM Bell

From the beginning of our initiative the bell has played a key role. From the CEO of the company to guests, executives, associates all ceremony participants are invited to take turns ringing it.

We felt it was time to elevate the bell to an art piece and in doing so, conveying the message that this is no ordinary object but the symbol of a collective call to action. To achieve that, we commissioned Scherezade García, a unique visual artist with the kind of synergy you can only dream about. Born in the Caribbean, in the Dominican Republic, Scherezade moved to the island of Manhattan where she resided until years ago she moved to Brooklyn. Both the sea and the issue of inclusion have been a constant thread in her artistic exploration, culminating recently in her Liquid Highway series. For our project Scherezade created Chromatic Current, a painting that now graces our limited-edition bell collection.

Scherezade Garcia with RSM 20/20 Bell

Scherezade Garcia with RSM 20/20 Bell

“The sea is the liquid highway and the keeper of our ancestral memory. It carries our stories, our DNA, our memories, and our history. With this project I aim to imply the universal connection and the fluidity of our identities and our lives,” said Sherezade about her work. “The RSM 20/20 Bell is like a brush that I dipped inside my paint and it came out dressed up by the sea. When people ring it, they are calling upon all the stories that we weave together when we sail through the planet’s oceans. The sound has the remarkable power to unify us, men and women pulling together towards gender equality.”

Grab the Bell for a Perfect Vision on Gender Equality

Grab the Bell for a Perfect Vision on Gender Equality

Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas with You!

Our Smart Lead & Celebrating Partners

For this year’s exciting celebration, we are joined by Honeywell, our Smart Lead, ranked 77 in the Fortune 500 list, a company that produces commercial and consumer products, engineering services and aerospace systems. And by our amazing Celebrating Partners: Microsoft, Ultimate Software, Lexus, the Panama Canal Authority and the California Maritime Academy.

Gender equality for our time

You can already see how for the new generation, the one Greta Thurnberg leads (more so now that she’s Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year,) gender equality is a given. Young people today don’t even understand why we need to have this conversation. Inclusion is part of their make-up and gender fluidity one of the tenets that support their understanding of inclusivity. Yet, until there’s a full generational replacement in the workplace, several different generations will continue to work side by side for many years to come. So, the challenge of reaching gender equality in pay and in leadership positions will remain one we all need to address.

“Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas” is a fun, yet truly effective way to raise global awareness while encouraging everyone to actively engage with one of the key issues of our century. Join us, our Smart Lead and Celebrating Partners by grabbing your bell and wearing your red shoes and ties. Let’s make some noise together. Sound carries strong and clear across the oceans.

Shantaa Foster rings the bell for gender equality

Shantaa Foster rings the bell for gender equality

Our Founding Sponsor 

Joining forces with Celebrity Cruises was a no-brainer. A company led by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, a CEO set on changing the industry by making gender equality a priority, its ships started ringing the bell in every corner of the globe with the Red Shoe Movement on March 8, 2018. That first year, my team and I joined Lisa onboard Celebrity Summit at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale while the rest of the fleet as well as Royal Caribbean Offices joined from their own locations.

In 2019, we boarded the Celebrity Reflection anchored in front of Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea and then took a small tender to reach the Celebrity Edge, which was strategically positioned only a couple of miles away. After leading the morning bell-ringing ceremonies on each ship, we sailed on the Edge to Fort Lauderdale and took part of one of the Red Parties that Celebrity hosted on each vessel. We were joined by Ultimate Software, our Tech lead, a company that offers Human Resources software solutions, who carried out bell-ringing ceremonies in 18 locations from Singapore to Toronto.

In 2020, we recognize Celebrity’s leadership with the first RSM Hall of Fame Women Ensemble Award honoring four of their leaders: Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Captain Kate McCue, First North American female captain of a cruise ship, Captain Nathaly Alban, First Ecuadorian Captain of a cruise ship and Nicholine Tifuh Azirh, First West African Bridge Officer.

 

How to get more girls into STEM & keep them in tech careers

For the last few years there’s been an increased focus on how to get more girls into STEM fields. But that’s only the first step.  But if organizations want to be successful in the not so far away future, keeping young women interested in tech careers is just as critical.

Programs to get girls into coding, engineering, robotics and other STEM fields are beginning to make a difference not only in the way young women view learning about technology, but also in them considering a job in the tech world after graduating.

Start early to get more girls interested in STEM. Photo Credit: Andy Kelly- Unsplash

Start early to get more girls interested in STEM. Photo Credit: Andy Kelly- Unsplash

Wanna Know How to Get More into STEM? Early Introduction to Technology

Some studies show that toys can teach children important skills. Yet, contrary to what you might think, it seems that toys are actually getting more gendered than ever.  Girls continue to be targeted with more and more princesses that foster stereotypes that tend to stick with young girls, and boys with building sets that tend to encourage engineering skills.

According to Reshma Saujan of Girls Who Code, girls are “afraid of trying something they might not excel at right away.” This makes it easy for them to lose interest in things like coding, which is a process of trial and error where mistakes are not only unavoidable, but completely necessary. Teaching girls to be brave from an early age, to allow themselves to make mistakes and try new things, seems to be a key ingredient in keeping them interested.

Parents and educators play an essential part in keeping girls interested and helping them develop both skills and confidence. You can help by encouraging a balance in your kids’ toys and choosing activities you can do as a family on a regular basis. Remember, it’s not about taking all “girly stuff” away, but rather about introducing a larger variety of options and truly sending the message that anything is possible if they work hard and persevere.

Educators will have to find new ways to help girls connect with STEM subjects, providing good role models, creating programs that cater to their particular interests. They should also encourage girls to keep trying, not shy away from competition and to use their voice. The “one-size-fits-all” approach isn’t working and, unsurprisingly, girls need to be given work they can be passionate about to be lured out of their comfort zone.

Offer girls toys that encourage building things- Photo Credit: Rick Mason- Unsplash

Offer girls toys that encourage building things- Photo Credit: Rick Mason- Unsplash

Closing the “Interest Cliff”

But it’s not just about integrating girls into programs that have been largely built for boys. It’s necessary to develop better computer programs in schools with different options that appeal to a more diverse group of students, with projects that girls can be invested and involved in. Studies show that girls do stick around when projects are personally relevant.

A Microsoft-conducted survey found that young girl’s interest in STEM fields peaks when they’re 11 or 12, and drops significantly between 15 and 16. This “interest cliff” happens in some places around the world where young women get the message that these fields are not for them.

So, you can help avoid this interest drop by encouraging your girls to:

  • Plan vacations that have a volunteering component such us building homes, schools, etc. Organizations such as TECHO are ideal.
  • Organize trekking trips that include geological or botanical exploration. They can prepare ahead of time information about the sites they will visit.
  • Visit hands-on science museums.
  • Visit engineering-heavy plants such as NASA’s Space Center in Houston, Boeing in Seattle, etc.
  • Find conferences and movies with inspiring female protagonists. (Hidden figures, for example)
  • Look for programs where they can meet other teens who are also interested in robotics, engineering, programming, etc.

Stay involved and reward your daughters’ efforts. Remind them often how important it is to try even when the outcome isn’t always successful. And even most importantly, encourage them to keep trying when they make mistakes.

How to get more girls into STEM fields. Photo Credit: Emma Matthews. Digital Content Production- Unsplash

How to get more girls into STEM fields. Photo Credit: Emma Matthews. Digital Content Production- Unsplash

Game Changers to Get More Girls Into STEM 

Creating opportunities for young girls to meet women to look up to is also ideal. Some studies show that girls are 17% more likely to feel powerful working on STEM activities if they personally know a woman in these fields. Finding motivation not just in education, but in the future ahead.

It’s encouraging to find that programs looking to get more girls into STEM and hooked on coding from an early age have become more and more common, with platforms like the Girls Who Code Movement, Canada Learning Code, Microsoft’s DigiGirlz and the African Girls Can Code Initiative by UN Women, an Africa-wide program that aims to  empower girls through digital literacy and coding.

There’s also Kode with Klossy, a scholarship program created by model Karlie Kloss sending girls aged 13-18 to coding camps where they can be mentored by female leaders in tech.

And social media movements such as #ILookLikeASurgeon and #ILookLikeAnEngineer are also sources of inspiration.

Initiatives like Girls in ICT Day and the She Can STEM look to empower young women with an interest in STEM fields and encourage them to stick around, introducing them to role models in their fields of interest. These success stories can sometimes make the difference between choosing a career in these fields or giving up.

A New Kind of Education in Tech

Some software schools are trying to find new ways of tearing down inclusion barriers and shift the numbers in their classrooms and, hopefully, the workforce.

To achieve this, the Holberstone School of Software Engineering, for example, has an automated application process built on a challenge that can take 8 to 80 hours to complete. It’s built for beginners and ignores the applicants’ background, ethnicity, gender and experience to focus only on the motivation of the person taking on the challenge.

To get more girls into STEM fields and help them stay in tech careers will take a village. There are some hopeful signs that we are taking steps in the right direction.

Tearing Down Inclusion Barriers in the Workplace to Narrow the Gender Gap in Tech

One of the biggest challenges the tech world currently faces is coming up with new ways to narrow the gender gap that exists at big tech companies, both in executive positions and programming. Tearing down inclusion barriers is key to create a world we are excited about.

The lack of diversity in executive positions and programming is a noteworthy problem because it means that these voices and their invaluable insights are not being heard. Change is taking time. According to some studies, the stats for women who earn degrees in computer science are still pretty low. The numbers are even lower for young women who choose to go into computing jobs and even worse for executive positions in Silicon Valley companies.

But while the talent is out there, it needs to be lured out of its hiding place and nurtured and seduced with a brighter future for a more diverse tech world. One with possibilities for young women with an interest in fields like programming.

Tearing down inclusion barriers to narrow the gender gap in technology. Photo Credit: Karl Pawlowicz -Unsplash

Tearing down inclusion barriers to narrow the gender gap in technology. Photo Credit: Karl Pawlowicz -Unsplash

The Importance of Tearing Down Inclusion Barriers

Leveling the playfield in technology and creating a future we can be excited about has a lot to do with tearing down inclusion barriers that have allowed a pretty homogeneous group of people to occupy the big offices at tech companies for years. These barriers have kept others from reaching their full potential and holding progress back.

According to Monique Morrow, president and co-founder of Humanized Internet, it’s more important than ever for people in the technology world to make sure their teams are “diverse in thought and reflect the recipients or benefactors of the technology”. Emphasizing that it’s important to shine a light not only on women, “but also people of color and various diverse backgrounds via film, social media”.

More diverse teams not only serve better an organizations’ clients but they can help prevent unconscious bias within programming and even AI. (Think about recent controversies about facial recognition programs racial biases due to the homogenous  team of programmers who trained the algorithm.)

So it’s critical that organizations make Diversity and Inclusion a real priority and set specific interventions to overcome implicit biases when hiring and promoting.

Tearing down inclusion barriers. Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle Unsplash

Tearing down inclusion barriers. Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle Unsplash

 The Rise of Remote Work

Remote work is among the many ways in which technology has made life easier. There are some simpler, positive aspects of working from home, but there’s more to it than comfort or avoiding long commutes and traffic. A remote workforce can also play a critical role in tearing down social, geographic and physical barriers, making it easier for more diverse teams to come together naturally and for team leaders to avoid any issues of predisposition they may consciously or unconsciously have.

Working remotely also creates job opportunities for people who in the past would not have been considered for the role.  It pays no mind to location and allows a special flexibility in schedules that, in many ways, is unique to our day and age. This also makes it possible to focus on the work that’s being delivered and the proficiency of employees.

For women who take up on the role of primary caregiver of their families, remote work can open a world of possibilities and make it easier for them to grow and compete in the fast-evolving tech world.

It's important to focus on narrowing the gender gap to include more women in tech. Photo Credit: Marvin Kuhn- Unsplash

It’s important to focus on narrowing the gender gap to include more women in tech. Photo Credit: Marvin Kuhn- Unsplash

 Digital Fluency and Alternative Recruitment

 While women are still fighting for their much deserved spot in the world of tech, the tools and initiatives to tear down barriers and help companies operate outside the stereotypes are becoming more readily available. Finally, the recruitment process has started to change to give way to a more inclusive workforce.

Increasing number of companies have adopted automated processes in recruitment, employing algorithms that eliminate biases. These programs overlook variables like gender, past titles, years of experience and even names and last names making it possible for candidates to be hired based on skills alone. Companies like tilr.com go as far as skipping the interviewing process to provide its clients with background and skill ratings of their hires.

This makes it paramount for women to work on honing their tech skills and mastering “digital fluency”. The extent to which women can comfortably embrace new technologies plays a key role in narrowing the gender gap. Female leaders can and have thrived in the business, but education is key in the process of reaching those spots.

Together we should work on reducing the gender gap in tech. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder-Unsplash

Together we should work on reducing the gender gap in tech. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder-Unsplash

A future we wish to have

Creating a more inclusive workforce is, not surprisingly, a crucial aspect of creating a world we are excited about. Until there’s a better balance in the world of tech, the views, opinions and needs of a considerable part of the population (half in the case of women) will continue to be ignored in a digital era that needs them.

However, there’s hope. Hope in education, platforms and companies that have what it takes to change and inspire change in others. With opportunities being created in spite of how easy it may be to feel hopeless sometimes. It’s a process. An ongoing fight.

Morrow sees opportunities in spite of how easy it may be to “paint a dystopian world”, and she seems to feel optimistic about the future of young women in tech in fields like healthcare, cybersecurity and privacy: “There is so much to do and I am personally excited about the possibilities to truly create the world we wish to have not the one we would like to avoid!”

Aric Dromi Helps Design the Future We Wish to Live In

Aric Dromi is a keynote speaker, futurologist, digital philosopher and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker who helps people and organizations design the future they wish to live in.

He has one simple mission: inspiring a change in the way the world and the technologies that govern it are viewed and experienced. To question the status quo and stimulate the kind of critical thinking that’ll shift priorities and better equip us against challenges ahead. Challenges we’re not prepared for.

Aric is passionate about the transformation necessary at political, societal and personal levels in preparation of a rapidly evolving future and the technologies taking over it. He is CEO and founder of TEMPUS.MOTU and creator of Dead Rabbit Society – both dedicated to coming up with ways to make the world and its leaders take notice of a fast-moving digital era we are already a part of.

Here’s what the story-maker had to tell Red Shoe Movement about experiencing technology, the importance of critical thinking and creativity, and navigating our way through a new technological revolution that’ll be like nothing humankind has experienced before.

Aric Dromi helps people and organizations think about how to design the Future

Aric Dromi helps people and organizations think about how to design the Future

How to design the future

Aline Cerdá­n— Can you explain a little more about your role as a futurologist and what it entails? What are some of the elements you consider when navigating the future?

Aric Dromi— always take the simple approach answering the question of what a futurologist is. I tell stories about potential futures that could happen and reverse engineer these potentials into concepts and trajectories of futures that should happen. In this context, you can’t merely be reactive but rather build proactive frameworks that can design future trends. If you do that, you control the narratives of the future. Navigating the future is about controlling the waves, then the wind, and the sea rather than building better ships.

AC—How will things like work, life, and travel change? Is there a way to prepare for a digital age?

AD—We live in a world where technology is augmenting almost every aspect of our lives and enabling us to enhance our virtual presence using code. Empathy, freedom, wellbeing, intelligence, education, governance, creativity, economics, and politics are the primary benefactors of the exponential growth and impact of technology.

For the first time in the history of humankind, natural evolution has reached the zenith of its potential. There is no place to go from a biological point of view. Yes, we might become a little faster and jump a bit higher, but we have reached a point where our organic structure cannot evolve anymore. Even with genetic modifications – sooner or later – we will hit the limit of our evolutionary potential.

We live in a world where technology is observing us more than we are observing it, and it is reality, the information doesn’t exist behind the screen anymore – we are the information. Every aspect of our existence is being quantified, stored, and monetized. This has already fundamentally changed (even if not on the societal level) the narratives of work, travel, mobility, and more. The App economy improves the way we book a hotel, order taxi, pay for services, work remotely etc.

I don’t think we should put any effort into preparing for a digital age, as we are already living in one. My main concern is that we keep driving our economic models based on buzz words that force our resources to focus on technology rather on the development of humankind, individuals and strategic thinking.

When we keep building “smart” things (smart phones, smart cities, smart cars) the word smart means Technology. We keep surrounding ourselves with technology and forgetting that our entire infrastructure, that may be cities, legal, educational, political and economic models can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. Moving forward, we need to rethink the fundamental building blocks of societal development and evolution or we are simply building a house of cards.

Sergio Kaufman of Accenture shares how technology levels the playing field for women
Helping design the future you want. Photo Credit Clay Banks.Unsplash

Helping design the future you want. Photo Credit: Clay Banks. Unsplash

AC—How are algorithms affecting us as human beings? How can we rethink the way we experience technology?

AD—What is an algorithm? It’s math and code coming together creating a set of routines that are designed to solve a problem (OK, I’m over simplifying). How many people actually understand what an algorithm is? Yet we are surrounded, directed, and even manipulated, by algorithms every day. From phone notifications, to content recommendations, digital communication, food consumption, online shopping, and social interactions, algorithms are the invisible puppet masters that frame our existence in the modern age. I’m not trying to be negative, but rather emphasize the need to better research and understand the side effects (that are fast becoming the new norm) of living in a world where the control strings are written in code.

AC— What is The Dead Rabbit’s Society? What is it about discomfort that helps challenge the status quo and better design the future?

AD— The Dead Rabbit Society was born out of few lectures I did with students outside the normal academic framework. I saw a need to rethink the narratives of education and the objectivity of the important questions we need to ask ourselves to secure our desired future. In a world of sanitized, politicized and agenda-filled news broadcasts, finding the truth has become a full-time job. We are confronted by a cacophony of trite media stories that have little or nothing to do with our reality in the present or, more importantly, the future. Yet for all the noise there is no clarity, no critical thinking, no objective voices to defend our society from an imminent future for which we are more than ill-prepared.

The Dead Rabbit Society’s role in all of this is to highlight the major questions of our time and to get people thinking about potential solutions the will carry us forward toward our desired future.

We do this via our online community, through hosting events, conferences and keynotes and we are embarking on an ambitious plan to produce documentaries around these questions. The first documentary will examine The Future of Work in a world that will be increasingly run by artificial intelligence and automated production capacity.

Aric Dromi speaks about how to design the future. Photo Credit Owen Beard. Unsplash

Aric Dromi speaks about how to design the future. Photo Credit Owen Beard. Unsplash

People don’t seem to have fully grasped the implications of AI and automation. Our society is on the verge of seismic changes, the likes of which we have not seen since the Industrial Revolution. This revolution will also displace a lot of employees and professions. But it won’t just be truck drivers and taxi drivers that are affected. Lawyers, doctors, surgeons – all manner of professions will be threatened by this technological revolution. But you don’t hear people talking about this. Our goal is to change that. We would like to highlight the issues, the questions, and have people put pressure on their political representatives to come up with a direction, a strategy for a future where we may not be employed as we currently know it. We can either sit back and hope that someone puts the genie back in the bottle, or we can be proactive and try to shape the narrative so that the future we encounter is one of our own making and not the result of a string of poorly made decisions based on incomplete facts that exclude the most important component of our future – people.

What we have seen so far is that most people are blissfully ignorant of the coming changes and have blind faith that things will work out for the best. Guess what – they won’t. Without clear and agreed direction we will be at the mercy of despots, corporations the size of continents and we will be slaves to our own data footprint. We have a choice. The Dead Rabbit Society’s aim is to highlight the choices and instigate an informed discussion.

Companies design the future by thinking differently

AC—How can companies instill a culture of creativity and risk-taking?

AD— I think the keyword here is “culture”. Companies must remember that we are born into culture, we are not born with culture. It is something we learn through the interaction set by our environment. To instill a culture of creativity and risk-taking you must have an assertive leadership team’s commitment to set the example.

Focusing on increasing your core earning model – and forgetting how to nurture and defend it – will never give you the tools and know-how to expand the foundation of your business.

So, this is the end destroying the means. If you focus on how profitable your business is today, your organization will not be productive tomorrow. Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack as opposed to reap the rewards of being a thought-leader. Fear is the spawn of ignorance. If you only consider what has happened – or worse, what is happening – you can’t help us with tomorrow. Learn from the past, be present in the moment and let that insight allow you to think differently about the future.

We are in a major technological revolution. Photo Credit Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

We are in a major technological revolution. Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

Traits we need to prepare for what’s coming

AC—What can we do to educate ourselves on connectivity and the way we experience technology? What traits and abilities will we need moving forward to design the future we want to live in?

AD—I would start by asking the question, what does it mean to be human in a world where technology determines almost every aspect of our existence? I think we have already passed the point of no return where we can “live” without technology and as such we should find way to partner with it to define the next steps of human evolution. We need better-educated leaders and politicians. We need a better understanding of policymaking.

We can easily list the skills that today’s children will need to successfully navigate the future:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Originally
  • The ability to solve complex problems
  • Emotion and passion

But why is that list different from the skills we have always needed to excel in life and rise to the apex of our own potential? The truth is it’s not!

We do, however, need a set of new ideas for these skills:

  • We can’t use code the same way we use bricks
  • We need to move from managing-for-profit, to managing-for-impact
  • Experience should be measured by the quality of choices and not by the number of its functions
  • Don’t confuse symptoms with the appearance and root cause
  • Assets need to build up into properties and capital to deliver value to society
  • Think of technology as a legal system. The legal system was designed to be used (and sometimes abused) by lawyers – entrepreneurs use technology – technology is never the end goal, but simply a path.

We shouldn’t focus on experiencing technology but how technology can enable us to better experience ourselves and life. Think of technology as fire. Mankind learned how to tame fire (for the most part) – but we have already lost control of technology. This needs to change – quickly.

We have already lost control of technology. Photo Credit: William Daigneault. Unsplash

We have already lost control of technology. Photo Credit: William Daigneault. Unsplash

AC—How can concepts like morality and trust be redefined? Who will determine what the code of conduct in the digital age should be?

AD— I often ask people in my keynotes: If I visit a brothel run by robots and have sex with a robot, did I cheat on my wife? Can she rightfully sue me for divorce? What if someone hacked my artificial intelligence digital assistant and deleted the code. Can I sue that person for murder? I don’t have one simple answer around the future of morality, ethics and trust but rather a suggestion. We need to understand that our current system will never scale into a future that is anchored in code. We need to start telling stories about potential futures and stress-test them in front of policymakers to better help them rethink the process narratives that they use to design their policies. We can do this in a number of ways:

  • Identifying the unknowns in domains critical to the stability and development of humankind’s current societal structure
  • Defining the questions around which leaders and politicians can design a desired vision of the future
  • Developing strategies to realize this future by implementing the necessary tools and processes to deliver on the desired vision
  • Designing a set of experiments and scenarios in various domains to better prepare local, national and global leadership to tackle the upcoming challenges.

This is how we work with policymakers and governments, high business leaders and NGOs with our Think– Do–Rethink Tank, www.tempusmotu.org

Only by bringing the best minds together and providing space for them to develop these potential future narratives can we stress-test them and improve them through an iterative process. This is something that I am extremely passionate about.

In the end it is about defining the world you wish to live in, modelling it, testing it and improving it. If we continue to use the past as the gateway to the future we will not move very far. This is challenge I put to every leader I speak to. We can make the world a better place, if we want to.