Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the workplace has undergone years’ worth of changes in a matter of weeks. We’re in the middle of what Gary Bolles, Chair for the Future of Work at Singularity University, calls a “Great Reset,” in which we’re establishing the new normal. Our conversation today with Gary is an exploration of work, what it means to find purpose, and the practical steps that you can take to position yourself for the future.

Gary discusses the need for hope in achieving your goals and how you can hone your agency by developing four key skills — Gary calls this the PACE framework. Gary reveals how purpose can exist on a spectrum and shares the various factors that lead to work motivation and how young people are prioritizing transforming how impact happens in the world.

To foster a future-proof career and increase your chance of finding meaningful work, Gary emphasizes the need to understand the what, where, and how of your skillset. After talking about shifts in the workplace, he shares his views on what the future may hold. We live in a brave new world — tune in to hear Gary’s advice on how you can find your place in it. To hear the full episode, click one of these links:

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Key Points From This Episode

PACE — the four skills that help you develop your agency

  1. Problem-Solver
  2. Adaptive
  3. Creative
  4. Empathetic

These attributes are what make you hireable, and developing these skills and being able to provide examples will make you attractive to employers.

Why we have ‘portfolios of purpose,’ not only one purpose in life.

For some, having a roof over their heads and feeding their family is enough to make their work meaningful. For others, they want to find meaning beyond themselves. But this is fragile because sometimes jobs disappear. Gary encourages us to not find purpose in only our jobs. We can find Purpose in family, friends, communities, countries, and the world.

How young people increasingly focus on ‘what the world needs’ over making money

The youth have flipped the traditional structure of working their way up the ladder. Instead of thinking that if they do what the world needs, even if it doesn’t make as much money, that they’ll love their work. In turn, loving the work tends to yield better work, and that can eventually get people paid more.

People are often unable to recognize their own skillsets

If we have already solved a problem ourselves, we often discount the value of what we’ve achieved and automatically think that someone else would know how to do it. It is important to recognize the different processes we use that require skills that others don’t have.

For those reading this before Monday June 29th, Gary is speaking at the Grooves Work Technology Summit on The Great Reset: The Next Evolution of Work.

The global pandemic has transformed organizations and industries overnight, and accelerated a huge shift toward a digital work economy. What could the brave new world of work look like in coming years, and what can we do to prepare for it today?


“When you’re thinking of what you want to accomplish as an organization or individual, you need a longitudinal aspiration —a North Star to guide you.” — @gbolles[0:03:47]

“There’s a spectrum of purpose. There are people who derive purpose simply from getting a paycheck and feeding their family. The challenge is that in a world of constant change, it’s increasingly difficult to tell someone that their work might not be there tomorrow.” — @gbolles[0:10:13]

“I think that you actually have a portfolio of purpose. There’s a range of different things that you can do to have your values show up in your work and in the way that you have an impact on the world.” — @gbolles[0:12:21]

“The way that companies have defined and sourced workers relies on hierarchy and structures to scale. Now, we don’t need that. We don’t need round pegs that can fit into round slots.” — @gbolles[0:24:48]

“You can change at the micro-level and you can change at the macro-level. You can choose. And then you can build that more benevolent future instead of waiting for robots to take our jobs or for the ice caps to melt.” — @gbolles[0:36:32]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode

Benjamin Von Wong
Impact Everywhere
Gary Bolles
Gary Bolles on LinkedIn
Gary Bolles on LinkedIn Learning
Gary Bolles on Twitter
Singularity University
John Hagel
Deloitte Center for the Edge
Charlene Li
What Color Is Your Parachute?
Dan Buettner
The Inside Gig
Kelly Steven-Weiss on LinkedIn
Sophie Otiende

Coming Up Next

Tune in next week to hear from Sophie Otiende, a human trafficking survivor and advocate from Kenya. Subscribe here so you don’t miss her sharing her perspective on justice, ethical storytelling, and measuring impact when fighting against complex corrupt systems.