Bold ideas, ethical insight and diverse viewpoints are tools you need to thrive in the 21st century.
Editor’s Note: It’s Graduation Week on Longitudes. With many college students set to take the plunge into the “real world,” we’ve put together a series of commentaries from senior UPS leaders aimed at making the transition a little easier. Today’s article features a speech given by UPS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, David Abney, to the 2018 International Business Symposium at Delta State University.
It’s wonderful to be back at Delta State, and I really like this year’s theme: Dream Big, Achieve bigger. Both are important.
Because the world is changing faster than ever before.
“Eighty-five percent of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.”
Back when I was at DSU, in 1976, Apple was a fruit, a “smart” phone was one that had buttons instead of a rotary dial — and people didn’t “talk” with their thumbs.
I never could have predicted how different the 21st century would be. I thought I’d be getting my Master’s degree and become a history teacher. Instead, I got married and became a package car driver for UPS. And here we are today.
Change is now exponential. Futurist Ray Kurzweil said the pace of progress is accelerating so fast, we won’t experience just 100 years of progress in the 21st century — but more like 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate.
Even if he is only 25 percent right, that’s a lot of progress.
And in the workplace you’re headed into, there are three phrases that just won’t make sense anymore.
The first phrase that won’t work in the future: “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
If you do, know that you will be dated soon. Eighty-five percent of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, so intellectual curiosity is critical. New technologies — like AI — will play a much more significant role. Predictive analytics will become prescriptive analytics.
At UPS, we’re always asking ourselves how we can make the most of the most important advancements.
The second phrase that won’t make sense in your world: “Knowledge is power.” More data was created in 2017 than the previous 5,000 years of humanity. It’s no longer a question about having the data, it’s about what you do with it.
Andrea Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills for the OECD, said: “The world economy no longer pays you for what you know; Google knows everything. The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.”
The third phrase that is as becoming obsolete is: “Great minds think alike.” Thank God that’s not true.
“‘The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.’ ”
The world would be a drab, boring place. Status quo could be our fate. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that ain’t so.”
I’m with Steve Jobs of Apple: Give me the misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
Diversity of ideas is important. Lack of diverse input can blind you to a world of things.
“I hope you know what you’re doing. Knowledge is power. Great minds think alike” — it’s time to let those go. It’s time to embrace these three phrases instead:
First, dare further. Dream big.
Sixteen years ago, when Elon Musk founded SpaceX, it was pretty daring to think a private company could design, build and launch rockets and spacecraft that actually worked.
But Elon Musk wants to make it possible for people to live on other planets.
“Daring further” is how the first reusable rockets may eventually become the first interplanetary Uber.
Don’t listen when people — even with the best intentions — tell you what you can’t do.
Moral? Don’t be afraid of bold ideas.
Second, care deeper.
If you focus on others — rather than yourself — it normally works out in the end.
A combination of technology and human beings always outperforms technology alone.
“Lack of diverse input can blind you to a world of things.”
Robots don’t have a moral compass. You do. Moral? Ethical ideas endure.
Share smarter. Involve others.
Some of the most amazing things we have today were dreamed up by a solo inventor in his or her garage, basement, dorm room, kitchen: Post-it Notes, cruise control, intermittent windshield wipers.
But when they brought those inventions into a shared space — with greater resources, diverse ideas and collaborative teams — they really took off.
Consider Asheesh Goja, a UPS employee. Asheesh spent his nights and weekends thinking about the Internet of things. He started building and testing small sensors that could be attached to packages.
Then he brought it to a UPS team.
Now, he has his own lab at UPS, where he and his team worked to move his innovation beyond the bright idea — and his invention is being used in UPS “smart” drop boxes. It could save UPS $24 million a day.
Moral? Collaborative efforts and diversity of thought take innovation to another level. No single person has a monopoly on good ideas.
Bold ideas. Ethical insight. Diverse viewpoints.
These are some the tools you need to thrive in the 21st century.
The words to live by in a world of exponential change.
The ideas that will allow you to dream big, and achieve bigger.
[Top Image: Delta State University. Second Image: Hitesh Choudhary/Unsplash. Third Image: Scott Areman]
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