Thinkers50 Curated LinkedIn Live with Lindsey Pollak

 

The Multigenerational Workplace

The world of work is more diverse and varied than ever before. Millennials expert Lindsey Pollak combines her own research with the latest data to guide leaders and employees through the minefield of attitudes, expectations, and professional styles. Her most recent book is Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work and her other books include The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational WorkplaceBecoming the Boss; and Getting from College to Career. In this live webinar Lindsey, shortlisted for the Thinkers50 2021 Talent Award, shows us how to navigate through unprecedented times in the workplace.

Transcript:

Des Dearlove:
And I’m Des Dearlove. We’re the founders of Thinkers50, the world’s leading platform, the latest and best in management ideas. … Stuart, I think you might be muted. I thought it was me. Where did you get to?

Stuart Crainer:
I’m Stuart [inaudible] anyway. And he’s Des Dearlove, and we’re the founders of Thinkers50, the world’s leading platform, the latest and best in management ideas. And I was just telling everyone whilst I was muted that we’ve got an event in November and all the details can be found at thinkers50.com. And it’d be fantastic if you could join us.

Des Dearlove:
When we’re not on mute, we are currently announcing the short list for the awards. Today, we are delighted to be talking with one of those shortlisted for the Thinkers50 talent award, Lindsey Pollack.

Stuart Crainer:
Lindsey is a New York Times best starting author and one of the world’s leading career and workplace experts. She’s passionate about helping individuals and organizations navigate and thrive in the ever-changing world of work.

Des Dearlove:
Lindsey’s most recent book is Recalculating:
Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work. And our previous books include The Remix” How to Lead and Succeed in the Multi-generational Workplace.

Stuart Crainer:
We have 45 minutes with Lindsey, so please let us know where you are joining us from today and send in your comments, thoughts, and questions as we talk. Lindsey, welcome. I hope you’re unmuted.

Lindsey Pollack:
It’s how every zoom, every stream here starts. I’m so delighted to be here, Stuart and Des, and just so honored to be shortlisted for the talent award and to be a past listee on the radar list. So, thank you for the work that you do in all of us.

Des Dearlove:
So, the new book, the current book, how did that come about? Is that something that grew out of the pandemic, or was that already in the air, in the ether?

Lindsey Pollack:
That’s exactly right. I didn’t mean to write this book, and I know I probably shouldn’t say that, but I kind of call it my accidental fourth child. I had written The Remix about the multi-generational workplace in 2019, and I was out promoting it pretty heavily in March 2020 when we all know what happened. And I was sitting alone… I had gone, as probably many speakers relate to, I had gone from a full calendar of events to promote The Remix to a completely empty calendar in a two week period, and to be honest, it was really frightening. And my instinct in those moments is to reach out and interview people and say, “What are you doing? How are you handling this?”

And I started to have a lot of conversations with entrepreneurs like me and authors, but also people looking for jobs and heads of HR and so on. And I found it really interesting how different people were handling this unprecedented situation. And I’ve always struggled with book titles, but this one came to me in a flash. I was in my New York City apartment looking out the window and I saw cars on the street, and I just had this flash of that moment when you’re driving your car and you make a wrong turn or you hit traffic and your GPS or sat nav says, “Recalculating. You can’t go the way you wanted to go. You’re going to have to find another path.” And that became the inspiration for the book.

Des Dearlove:
I love that metaphor, I have to say, once I got it, the idea that you can no longer get out… have a kind of career map. We now have to be prepared to recalculate at every step along the way. But what does that actually translate into? I mean, how is that different to what we would… Because we were moving, it felt like we were going in that direction anyway, and then maybe this is hastened this change. Is that how you perceive it, as well?

Lindsey Pollack:
I really do. And when I started to research this topic, which essentially is a fancy word for pivoting. Right? Or career change or growth. Is that the people who I think have been most successful, let’s say in the past 20 years, are the ones who are constantly adjusting and pivoting. I don’t think anyone can be successful anymore by saying, “Well, I’m going to stay on the same path and just rise up the ranks.” That really doesn’t exist. So, whether you call it a portfolio career or a slash career or a Ferris wheel career, a jungle gym, a lattice, I’ve heard all those terms, what it means is you’ve got to be in control and constantly making adjustments along the way. Which means it can be a huge change like a career transition, or it can be staying in your organization and just taking on yourself to upscale or re-skill. But it’s the idea of never coasting. And I think really successful people have been doing that forever, but now, as opposed to being a nice thing, I think it’s a must have for anyone who wants to succeed.

Stuart Crainer:
In many ways, it seems to me we’ve been very slow to catch up with this idea, because I mean, someone like Charles Handy was talking about the portfolio career in the 1980s. So, people have been talking about it for a long time, but now, it seems to be reality. Why the time lag, I guess?

Lindsey Pollack:
It’s a great question. I started my business in 2002, and even then it was very unusual to say, “Well, I’m going to forge my own path.” You could start a store or something, but to be a thought leader or an author, a speaker was still very unusual. And I think what’s changed is the idea that being entrepreneurial, which in the ’80s was, I think, almost a negative word… Right? You were putting things together and trying to just make a quick buck. I think that the idea of being entrepreneurial, whether it’s having a side gig, which 40% of Americans do, or even pivoting within your own organization, is much more accepted. And frankly, I think a lot of it has to do, in the United States at least, with the loss of the idea that your work will provide you with a pension and a retirement path.

So, when you are now in charge of your own future, we’ve seen a lot more people jumping opportunities. In the global economy, we’ve seen a lot more opportunity to pivot and change and have a different kind of career. So, I think some of it maybe hasn’t been resistant, Stuart, but really necessity that a company is not going to keep you employed for 30 or 40 years and let you retire with a gold watch. I think that workers have realized that they’re going to have to take control, and unfortunately for a lot of people, they maybe didn’t want that because it was a nice idea that a company would take care of you.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. I mean on the upside, it should be, it could be, deeply liberating, but at the same time, you are removing a paternalistic sense that someone else is going to take care of us. So, what does it actually mean in practice, then? What are the new, if you like, the new career navigational skills and how are they different, perhaps, to what we might have thought in the past?

Lindsey Pollack:
So, I think the first step, and I don’t know if it’s different, but maybe more prominent now…. I’m kind of embarrassed. This is my fourth book and it’s the first time I’ve written very seriously about mindset and the importance of what happens here as opposed to your resume or your LinkedIn profile or your personal brand. My entire first chapter is about mindset because when I started interviewing people for this book, that’s where every conversation started. Because with the pandemic, how you approached it was absolutely critical. So, for example, I had people who said, “Okay, I’ve been out of work for six months,” and half of them said, “I’ll never get a career again. I’ve taken such a long break, my career is ruined.” And I kid you not, which is probably how I would’ve approached it to be honest… And the other half said, “I’m raring to go. Any company would be excited to have me because I’ve been out for six months and now I have all these fresh ideas.” And that was entirely a mindset decision.

Or even if you’re in a company, and maybe where we are now where they’re returning to the office, or it’s unclear, there’s a lot of uncertainty in waiting, well, what can you control? Where can you take charge of things? And can you make that decision? So, I think a lot of it is things like growth mindset which I talk about a lot. A lot of it is control what you can, a lot of it is knowing your priorities and values and making decisions on that. And then I think a lot of the strategies after that are quite similar to the past, which is have a strong LinkedIn profile, which is work your network maybe in different ways. But that mindset is just absolutely critical.

Des Dearlove:
It’s funny, isn’t it, how clear it becomes once you get the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. I see it now, it applies to every aspect of life, and you see it much more clearly. And the trick, of course, is if you lean towards having a bit of a fixed mindset is whether you can pivot your way out of that into approaching things as opportunities. I mean, are there any tricks to that, or is that just how we’re naturally set up?

Lindsey Pollack:
There are. And all credit to Dr. Carol Dweck out of Stanford and the fabulous book Mindset. I have to say, I think I leaned toward a fixed mindset, and when I started to study growth, it was a game changer. And it’s amazing when one thought can do it. And I’ll tell you my favorite trick from Mindset, which is the word yet, Y-E-T. So, “I don’t like change.” Well, no, you just don’t like change yet. You could find a way to adapt better to change. “I can’t change careers. I’m too old.” No, you just haven’t figured out a way to change careers yet. “I don’t want to work in the office.” No, you just haven’t found a strategy that works yet. And it’s really a magical way.”

The other piece of it, I think in addition to the yet, it’s like, “Okay, fine, I’ve said yet, what do I do now?” the number one question I’ve been getting in promoting Recalculating is quite simply how do I motivate when things are so bad, when I am so down, when the Delta variant is raging and I’m scared? What do I do when I don’t want to do anything? I can’t believe how frequently and from different demographics I’ve got that question from, college students to people who want to come out of retirement. And I think the answer with the growth mindset is you take the absolute smallest step you possibly can, and maybe that is altering one word on your resume. Maybe that is opening an email, you don’t even send it, but you open your email account and think about sending an email. It is these baby steps. Because people think career change or recalculating is this enormous cliff jump, but the reality is, if you take a small step every day, you’re going to get to your goals and it’s a lot less scary in these very uncertain times. So, I think the word yet and baby steps are really critical to actually putting a growth mindset into practice.

Stuart Crainer:
I always struggled with the word career because it seemed to me slightly delusional feeling that it could all be planned, and I think people have been diluting themselves. I think your work points out, really, that people… It can’t all be planned in a nice straight line.

Lindsey Pollack:
I’ve also really gotten away, Stuart, from the phrase dream career or dream job, which I admit I used to use a lot. And I actually had a lot of pushback online, and we know people are very vocal when they don’t like something you say on LinkedIn or social media, that you know what? Every job’s not going to be a dream job. And frankly, there were a lot of people I interviewed who said, “I wasn’t going to get a dream job right now.”

I interviewed a young woman who graduated from university, she couldn’t find a job at the beginning of COVID, she needed money, she had to start paying back her student loans, and she got a job at the grocery store because that was all that was available. And she said, “You know what? Was that my dream job? Absolutely not. But I needed the money so I went in with a really positive attitude. I talked to everyone I met at the grocery store. I wanted to work in marketing so I asked the head of the store if I could work on the displays and some of the advertising. I turned that into an opportunity.” And I wrote an entire chapter called Turn Any Job Into A Good Job. Instead of this idea that there’s some perfect utopian job out there, you can take whatever situation you’re in and make it an opportunity, and I think that that really resonated with people, as well, particularly if you’re not able to make a change right now.

Stuart Crainer:
I think working in grocery stores is really underrated. I mean, we were involved in a project, and it was about the backgrounds of CEOs and successful leaders, and many of them had very early experiences in sales jobs. I can’t remember which CEO it was, but one of them had been a tour guide, which is kind of a selling job.

Des Dearlove:
That was the farmer guy, Stuart. That was the farmer guy [crosstalk].

Lindsey Pollack:
I was a tour guide. I was a tour guide in college. Yeah, it’s a great start.

Stuart Crainer:
It’s a great thing. And then another guy had sold dog food from the back of his car. So, I think that kind of salesmanship and those sorts of experiences are crucially important, have been pushed to one side as people try and do internships at merchant banks and things like that.

Lindsey Pollack:
I had a lot of recruiters also say, “I am never going to hold it against you how you got through this pandemic. If you were worked at the grocery store, if you were care taking, if you were unemployed.” Everybody had to get through this and survive how they could. Now, they’re going to ask you in an interview what you did and why you did it, but in some ways I think… The other pivot point of recalculating is I think people have a little bit of a get out of jail free card right now, which is this is a really unprecedented time, as we all know, try something different. Do what you need to do. See how it goes. I think that paralysis is what I’m most afraid people will fall into, which is doing nothing, when I think right now you have a little bit of an opportunity to take some risks.

Des Dearlove:
[crosstalk].

Stuart Crainer:
[crosstalk] retrain as a soccer player.

Des Dearlove:
I think [crosstalk].

Lindsey Pollack:
Absolutely.

Des Dearlove:
Might be too late for that. There’s a great quote from Steve Jobs where he said, “You can’t join the dots looking forward. You can only make sense of it and see where you’ve come but when you look back on what you’ve done.” But some of the experiences, obviously, he had earlier in his life that then came back and were really pivotal in the creation of Apple and the whole thing. Some of the things you are touching on, though, and I think what’s become possibly… we’re now able to articulate better, I hope, is you’re almost touching on mental health issues, resilience in terms of being a career attribute, and I don’t think we’ve really talked about that openly in the past. I think it’s incredibly important, particularly if you’re struggling or you have a career setback or knock back.

Lindsey Pollack:
I think that’s exactly right, and it’s so interesting. I myself have struggled with general anxiety for 20 years. I take medication. I’ve been in therapy. I do a process called EMDR. It’s just how I’m wired. And I never talked about it publicly until the pandemic, and I can’t tell you… Particularly, most of my work comes out of work with Millennials. I started as a college campus speaker and a campus spokesperson for LinkedIn, and I’ve evolved into the multi-generational workplace, but I really cut my teeth on college campuses. And the mental health concerns of Millennials, and now even more so with Gen Z, who are about 24, 25 years and younger, are off the charts. And with the pandemic, it’s gotten even more pronounced. There was a, even before the pandemic, a 30% rise in college students accessing mental health services. It is a tough time to grow up with social media, with everything going on in the world, and now with the pandemic.

I think that the workplace talent issue of 2022 is going to be mental health. I think that people need support. I think whether they’re working at home or in the office, we won’t be able to keep mental health under wraps. I think it’s going to of ooze out of every nook and cranny. And I think really progressive organizations are talking about it. I’ve now become very vocal in saying, “Hey, I’ve got this too. It’s okay. And I’m going to talk about it.” Morra Aarons-Mele has a great podcast, The Anxious Achiever, where she talks about leadership and mental health. I don’t think you would’ve seen that 10 years ago. Wall Street had a mental health awareness week. I don’t think you would’ve seen that 10 years ago. So, I think leaders who make it okay to have these conversations, who talk about their own struggles, and I think organizations that add mental health support services to their benefit offerings are really going to lead the future.

And I think particularly for young people who have less of a stigma to talk about these publicly, which I think is really, positive is a game changer. But it’s not something I ever kept a secret, it just didn’t occur to me to talk about it publicly and professionally, and now I make a point to do it because I think you’re right. This has been under wraps for too long, and with the pandemic, I think we have no choice but to admit that a lot of people are struggling. Thank you for bringing that up.

Des Dearlove:
I mean, I think, too, as part of the… It’s the anti… You’re talking about the dream career. We’ve been fed some lines and we think that because somebody’s become a CEO that everything’s perfect and they don’t have moments of doubt. I mean, all this stuff, this whole notion that things aren’t as black and white or as simple, and that everybody struggles with uncertainty and it’s okay, seems to be… Which I think can only be healthy for wider society, too.

Lindsey Pollack:
Yeah. Stanford University did something they called the Resilience Project because they had so many students who thought they had to be perfect because they were at Stanford. And they interviewed professors. They did these videos, which were fabulous. And professors would say, “Hi, I’m the head of the physics department and I failed my first physics exam,” or, “My first three books were rejected.” I think it’s so powerful to share it. And one of the things I always say to college students, I’ve been doing this research for 20 years, I have yet to meet a person who said, “Hey, my career was just smooth sailing whole way through. Never had a problem. Never met a difficult person.” It just doesn’t exist. So, if you understand that from the beginning, I think you’re going to save yourself a lot of pain and suffering. So, I love that you at Thinkers50 make that prominent. None of us, even we’re shortlisted for this amazing award, we’re not perfect. We struggle just like everybody else.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. No. And we deliberately leave things on mute sometimes just to show our imperfections.

Lindsey Pollack:
I mean, Stuart, you were such a beautiful example of that. Thank you.

Stuart Crainer:
Yeah. I was only doing it to be an example. Yes.

Lindsey Pollack:
Yeah. Thank you.

Stuart Crainer:
Thank you to everyone, too, who’s joining us today. There’s a question from Madeline who’s in Belgium. “Would love to hear more about the multi-generational aspects of the new realities of work:
meetings online, hybrid.” I suppose the pandemic has exposed the multi-generational approaches and comfort areas.

Lindsey Pollack:
Yeah. Madeline, thank you for that. I think there’s a myth that young people love working from home and hybrid because they love to be in front of their screens, and older people want to be in-person, and that is absolutely untrue. There are very few generational correlations, although you’ll see articles that say, “Young people want to come back and older people don’t.” It’s not true. I think there’s more of a personality piece that introverts versus extroverts, I think, have different feelings regardless of age. What I do know is that the pandemic has been an extraordinary way for people of different generations to show why we need generational diversity.

So, the silly example is I was on a call with Gen Z who said, “I’ve never been through a bad economy like this before,” and I said, “I lived through 9/11 and I remember how uncomfortable it was to try to do business when there was such a tragic event happening in my country. Let’s talk about it. I’ll tell you how I got through it.” And there were times when I couldn’t make StreamYard work and I needed somebody who was really good at technology to help me with that. It showed why people with different experiences and perspectives are valuable to have on the same team. So, I think the message is don’t make assumptions, that because of somebody’s age or gen generation they have a certain feeling about remote or hybrid work.

And I think that the critical action item that I would recommend to everybody, and I think it’s generational, but I think it’s also just human, is I’ve gotten a habit now of anyone that I’m going to communicate with saying, “Stuart, Des, would you prefer camera on or camera off? Would you prefer a phone call or a Zoom?” never make assumptions that somebody wants to communicate a certain way. And be adaptable to the person you want to communicate with because it’s not just about the message you want to say, the medium has become really important. I know here in New York, some people are not comfortable getting together in-person because of the Delta variant, and I want to be respectful of that. I don’t want to to assume that anybody has a comfort level that I do or don’t have. So, I think the generational piece is not making assumptions and really being flexible and questioning how people choose to communicate, which may or may not be generational.

Des Dearlove:
And in terms of, I mean, all the way back, as Stuart mentioned, all the way back to Charles Handy, and Tom Peters was another one talking about our personal brand, I remember years ago Tom saying, “Everything you do at work, you should be able to put it on your CV. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be doing it. It should be something that advances you as an individual.” Is it a different world now? Can we build a personal brand virtually? Are there new skills to do that? Is it still possible to do that? [inaudible].

Lindsey Pollack:
I graduated college in 1996, and that article, The Brand New came out in the cover of Fast Company in 1997 and I saved that thing for it’s got to be 10 years. So, that article was absolutely seminal for me and I use it in all of my presentations to college students. I think personal brand is more important than ever before. For every topic that we’ve already talked about, you have to be the CEO of your own career. And everything you do, it’s my favorite quote from Tom Peters as well, everything you do is contributing to that brand. I mean, one of the things I think is so valuable about building a personal brand virtually is I have total control over this rectangle. Right? I have complete control. So, why wouldn’t you have good lighting? Why wouldn’t you put it at the right angle? Why wouldn’t you curate that particular? Because in so many situations you don’t have that control, so I think it’s really powerful.

Again, asking people if they prefer to communicate and having a point of view yourself about where you know you’ll thrive in those situations. And I think, I see people networking in the comments here on LinkedIn Live, that’s a personal brand opportunity. I’ve had a lot of say, “I’ve met people because we’ve naturally been drawn to the same topics on a LinkedIn Live or a webinar, and I’ve been able to interact in those situations.” So, Carl in the chat talked about introvert and extrovert. It may be hard to walk into the Thinkers50 awards ceremony and schmooze with people there. You might be more comfortable in the chat on a webinar, and use that. That’s great. So, absolutely, personal brand is critical and I think more important than ever before. Thanks for bringing it up.

Stuart Crainer:
Yeah. I think Carl’s research is really interesting about introverts and extroverts. He’s at McGill and he’s writing a book about it. Because our experience is that the CEOs, we’ve often encountered, and senior executives, are actually natural introverts rather than extroverts you would expect them to be.

Lindsey Pollack:
Surprisingly, I’m, I think they call it an ambivert. When I do Myers-Briggs, I’m actually like 51% extrovert. I’m outgoing, but man, after this, I’m going to go into my hole by myself and read three books after being on a call like this. So, I think people are surprised how many leaders are introverted, and I think how many people discovered during COVID how successful they could be being alone for a while and getting really deep work done, I’m thinking of the work of Cal Newport, and being able to do deep work in private or quietly is really powerful for some people.

But at the same time, I don’t think we’re giving enough attention to people who desperately want to go back to the office and miss that. I think we’re saying, “Oh, it’s wonderful that everyone wants to be home, but I’ve interviewed many people who say, “I want to be around people. I need that. I enjoy it.” And a lot of young people, I’m very concerned about young people at the beginning of their careers who want apprenticeship and they want to overhear leaders talking and they want to walk past your desk and they want to be in meetings with leaders. I think we really need to think about that apprenticeship osmosis time and the mentoring that certainly can happen over Zoom and so on, but I think as companies plan their hybrid work arrangements, you’ve got to think about having the different generations and experience levels mixing. I’m very concerned that the young people are going to come on some days, the experienced people on others, and we’re not going to get that cross pollination. So, there are a lot of people who really find value in being together, too, not just the extroverts.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. It’s interesting. I was talking to, it must be a 26, 27 year old, and he’s part of a startup in London, but he said that what he’s really missed out on is the ability to watch the founders of the company, to actually effectively be shadowing them and learning… literally used the word osmosis. It’s not so easy to do that virtually, but that’s one of the reasons he took the job, was because he wanted to learn from these people at a very exciting time in a startup. Presumably, with a view at some point, he might like to do the same thing himself. So, it was a development opportunity which he hasn’t been able to fulfill. He’s come over to London, he’s hanging out in London in order to go into the office, even though he’s sleeping on friends’ floors and things, just so that he can go into the office, because he’s based in Spain.

No, it’s fascinating. But It’s good to know, too, that introverts can be leaders. I mean, I think that’s another one of those myths that people have the sense that unless you are very confident and able to do public speaking and all those things that we associate probably with CEOs, you were excluded from the leadership game. But that’s obviously not the case.

Lindsey Pollack:
And I think one of the benefits maybe of what we’ve all been through in the past 18 months is that increased self-knowledge. Right? Which is where do I work best? What hours do I work best? Some people realize they really… Everyone made fun of the commute. “Oh, nobody wants the commute.” I’ve met plenty of people who said, “I need that commute. I need that time to ramp up or come down.” So, I think we should take what we’ve learned during this period and say, “Okay, how can I now apply that moving forward and be really deliberate in making choices?” And some people don’t have as much control as others, but I think that’s really powerful to think about what you’ve learned about maybe what hours you work best or how you like to collaborate and try to find ways to use that moving forward.

Des Dearlove:
No, I think, what has happened is a bit of a reset in the sense I think people… We all, we just got in the habit, you got on the train and you went because that’s what you’d always done. You got on an airplane, a lot of people were shooting all over the world just simply because they didn’t actually stop and think, “Is this…” Because some trips you do need to make and they’re very valuable, but it was just a default, people had their default setting. Some people it was to always be in the air and traveling and some people… So, at least we’re thinking about our choices now, which is good, hopefully.

Lindsey Pollack:
Absolutely.

Stuart Crainer:
How much of this is universal? I mean, it is always difficult to tell that… It always seems to me that there’s a kind of a Silicon Valley way of working and that’s projected to the world as if it’s a good thing, but it’s often a fairly unforgiving environment. And it strikes me, there must be huge differences across national cultures and across industries. I’m sure there’s particular industries where coasting is probably quite possible in some organizations.

Lindsey Pollack:
Absolutely. I think that’s such a good point. There’s Silicon Valley, there’s Wall Street, there’s big law, there’s small business, and so what I’m projecting is that we’re going to see a widening of variety. So, it used to be that some people went into the office every day and they sat at mahogany desks with their closed, and then you have the other extreme of Silicon Valley, it’s a wide, open space, and everybody’s on scooters and doing their laundry and taking naps. There’s a whole lot of gray area in between there. And what I’m hoping is that people find that gray.

So, for example, I think Goldman Sachs is going to be back five days a week. I just do. I could be wrong, but I big Wall Street client-driven banks and law firms are going to be back. I think small businesses with 12 people are probably going to be remarkably flexible and be able to employ people all over the world that they couldn’t do before. So, I think just as people have to be self-aware, I think organizations have to be self-aware, and perhaps as you think about people choosing careers… Maybe you are an accountant and part of your choice is not just, “Do I like company A or company B? But company A is five days a week in person. That’s a good choice for me because I’m extroverted. Company B has a hybrid company. C is fully remote.”
So, it’s not just the brand of the company or the salary, but maybe an entire other factor of career choice is going to be these different ways of working. And so, I don’t think everybody’s going to follow the same model, but I can imagine maybe a second tier organization that’s never been able to break out their employer brand with other companies might find an opportunity because they create a way to work that attracts the kind of people they want. Does that make sense? I just think it could create opportunities for employers to find a new lane.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah, I think it changes the catchment area, as well. We’re suddenly aware that we are global citizens and that we can do these things. I see [inaudible] picking me up on my old school views of introverts. Absolutely right. Sorry about that, [inaudible]. Yeah. So, again, presumably there’s some fluidity in all of these things, but yes, people being able to make more informed choices. You don’t necessarily have to work for the company just because it’s in your town or city. Again, it potentially is very liberating.
I mean, when I was trying to… I’m not sure I ever got on the career ladder, actually. I’m not quite sure what happened. But that metaphor of a ladder, there seemed to be for some people at least a sense of inexorable climbing, does that or any or anything like it exists? I know we’ve talked about the sat nav kind of metaphor, but is this a better time or a worse time to be trying to come through if you’re in the early part of your career?

Lindsey Pollack:
I hate to talk better or worse. I think it depends. I think there are so many more opportunities for women, for people of color, for people of different abilities. I think that the world has widely opened up to not have to work every day, five days a week for 40 years straight without any breaks. So, do I think there are still ladders? Yeah. I know people who are still working at the same company for 30 years, and that’s great. It’s just a significantly smaller number than ever before. And by the way, we always exaggerated how many people had that kind of career anyway. It was always against the norm because many people had to take a break. Many people got laid off. Many people started businesses and then did something else. So, it was always a smaller percentage than we thought. Just like the traditional family of a mom and dad, two kids, and a dog was never the norm anyway, but we somehow created it to be that way.

So, I think it’s a lot more honest now. I think it’s a lot more helpful to young people to not feel that they have to a company where they’re going to stay for their entire lives. I think it takes a lot of pressure off. Now, the challenge is you have a lot more decision making, you have a lot more change. It’s a lot harder to have to keep pivoting over time. And so, I think it puts a lot more of the burden on the individual to find these paths, but to your point, that can also be very liberating. And I wonder… When I talk to college kids or even younger today, it doesn’t even occur to them to work at the same company for their whole lives, so they don’t even have that model. I’m in my 40s, I’m a Gen Xer, I might be the last generation that even knew that existed, and I think we might see young people who just never have that model in mind anyway. Now, this is different around the world. Right? Certainly in certain Asian countries, that would still be the norm and what people aspire to, but I think in a lot of countries and a lot of situations, that’s not on the radar screen anymore.

Stuart Crainer:
So, in a way it’s a bit like in the 1990s, we were talking about everyone becoming a leader and then everyone becoming an entrepreneur, and now it’s everyone’s got a plan or take charge of their own career. But within that, there must be a lot of people who just don’t have the ammunition, really, to organize their work in that way. They need the guidance, they need the corporation and the organization to be more active.

Lindsey Pollack:
I think there’s a real role, and I expect… I don’t think we will call them unions, but unions or professional associations, I think, have a tremendous opportunity right now to be supportive and help people in this kind of guidance. Again, I don’t want to get into a pro or anti-union debate, but I think the idea of having these external organizations that support people… I think it might even come out of higher education. Right? Which is I’ve seen a rise in alumni career services at universities, or maybe credentialing organizations that are able to come in and say, “We can help you navigate all these different kinds of opportunities and changes.” It doesn’t have to be entirely up to you. You can band together to find these different ways of working. But I think people are seeking support. Nobody wants to feel like everything is entirely up to them. So, I think organizations that provide that kind of support can be really, really powerful, and it might just be a way to evolve higher education where you don’t just get your degree and never come back. You’re sticking around, re-skilling, up-skilling, finding ways to get back into the workplace.

I also would say, I called on that stat, in the United States, 40% of people have a side gig outside of their job, so people are doing this anyway. People have found a way to do this. And I think a lot of people it’s out of necessity. So many women in particular have had to leave the workforce to take care of children or elders because of the pandemic and not having support. What are all those people going to do? I think anyone who provides services and guidance is going to have a really valuable voice as we move forward. I think it’s a real opportunity. I know everyone says crisis is a bad thing to waste, but maybe this leads to a lot of new ways of working and a lot of new organizations that can support people so they don’t feel alone.

Des Dearlove:
I mean, the side gig thing I think is fascinating. I mean, I remember when Dan Pink was writing his book about [crosstalk] Free Agent Nation, wasn’t it? Back in [inaudible]. Gosh. And we were all entrepreneurs then. We’re, obviously, we are moving in that direction. But it must be a good thing, too, that people don’t have all their eggs in one employment basket just simply in terms of resilience. If you’ve got the side gig, you’re not so beholden to a job. And the side gig could be a way to pivot, as well, without losing all your income. Because that was the all thing. You didn’t lose part of your job, you tend to lose the whole job. That’s good about being freelance, is that you might lose a couple of clients, but it’d be pretty careless to lose all of them in one go the way you do with a job.

Lindsey Pollack:
Yeah. Stick with me with in this metaphor for a minute, but one of the stats that has blown me away is most people used to go to university and have a major or a focus and you would study one thing. “Oh, I’m in university studying law. I’m in university studying English.” Great. There’s been an 85% rise in people having double and triple majors. So, I wonder if the idea of one thing that you study and one career and one job is old school, let’s say Gen X and older, and the idea of studying multiple things and having multiple careers and multiple sources of income is the new way that Millennials and younger see the world.
I think that we did it our way because that’s just how I thought I was supposed to. I didn’t know that you could do more than one thing. And now, when that’s the norm, who’s to say that that isn’t a better way to do things? It doesn’t feel harder if that’s what you’ve always known. So, I think it’s just a completely different model of life and income that the younger people have, and I think it’s changed out of necessity as we’ve talked about, with lack of job security and so on. But I think that’s how many of them see the world and they don’t necessarily see it as a negative.

Des Dearlove:
No, I agree.

Stuart Crainer:
Job security is one of those things I always thought was an invention of the middle classes and the professions because working people never had that security. They were cast off at the whim of the employer. I’m all for recasting education institutions and unions in new ways, and I think you’re right, they’re big opportunities. There’s a-

Des Dearlove:
I’ll be honest… Oh, go ahead, Stuart. Sorry.

Stuart Crainer:
There’s a question from Alexandra in Poland about mentorship, which is something you’ve touched on. How important is mentorship, and what’s your advice to build these relationships, which are often cross-generational? Because I think [crosstalk].

Lindsey Pollack:
Thank you, Alexandra.

Stuart Crainer:
… strikes the heart of your work, really. And mentoring.

Lindsey Pollack:
Absolutely. It’s the heart of my work. I started my career, I trace it to being a resident advisor, an RA, at university. I was overseeing a dorm of girls, and I loved it and I loved being in that position. What I will say is I think we need a reimagining of mentoring, the idea that you have a Yoda mentor who’s wise beyond his years who’s going to guide you through your career, I think that’s old fashion, and frankly, I think that puts a lot of pressure on you to find some amazing person who knows everything that you don’t know. And frankly, at the beginning of the pandemic, if I looked for somebody who had led a public speaking and writing career during a pandemic, I wouldn’t have found a mentor because nobody had done it before. So, I really believe in a widening of our definition of mentoring.

I like micro mentoring, which is… I hope we’re giving some micro mentoring on this call. I hope that every time I follow you on Twitter, Des or Stuart, I get a little micro mentoring. I like that I get micro mentoring from a nine year old kid who attends one of my talks and asks a really cool, interesting question. So, number one, I think mentoring can be much more broad and young people who say, “I don’t have a mentor,” I think it’s on you to find mentoring wherever you can.

From a generational perspective, what I recommend and I aspire to have, and think I do, is what I call a multi-generational board of advisors. So, just as a company or an organization has a board, I think every individual, and certainly a leader, should have people of every generation who they talk to and ask questions to. And one of the people I admire most is the CEO of Estee Lauder Companies, Fabrizio Freda, and Fabrizio is very well known for having a reverse mentor, or a co-mentor, which is a junior person at his organization. And once a quarter… And he does this with his whole leadership team, they all have a junior mentor at their company, and they go shopping for makeup together. Because it is critical for the CEO and leadership team of Estee Lauder Companies to understand how people in their 20s shop for makeup. And they are smart enough to understand, “Yeah, we’ve been in this business for 30, 40 years, and we know how to run it, but I don’t know how you’re using TikTok to buy lipstick. And I need to understand that.”

And I think that is so cool and such a reimagining of who has power and who has a voice, because if you’re smart in this world, you know that your client base, your customer base, your investors, your brand is in the hands of every generation. So, Alexandra, my recommendation is for everybody to have people of all generations on your speed dial. Is that a thing, speed dial, anymore? To have them in your list of favorite contacts in your iPhone. I just dated myself. I think that’s the goal. But I think mentoring is absolutely critical, but I think sometimes we’re very limited in how we define it. Thanks for the question. Love that topic.

Des Dearlove:
No, I think we all need young people to be our mentors, especially with technology and the phrases we use.

Lindsey Pollack:
Now, wait, can I just clarify, because I’ve gotten in trouble with certain clients of mine, this does not mean if you are entry level that you should walk up to the CEO and offer yourself as a mentor. So, you want to be a little subtle and wait to be asked, but yes, I do think we all need to get voices from everywhere. I did get dinged on that once when a young person said, “Lindsey Pollack told me to come offer myself as a mentor.”

Des Dearlove:
We’ve got a question come in. if you had a chance, what advice would you give your younger self?

Lindsey Pollack:
Oh, I love that. The best advice I got when I was young, I was on a rotary international scholarship, I went to Australia after college, and a Rotarian said to me, “Keep building your contacts. Everything you do will be because of other people.” And so, I think Thinkers50 is such a good example. That was the best advice I got. The advice I would give to my younger self 100% is to be less hard on myself. I think that I’m just one example, but I was so hard on every mistake, every failure. Every time I messed up, I just berated myself. I think it’s part of the anxiety. And I wish that I had realized mistakes are part of the learning, they lead you to the right path, but I think that I wish I had learned that lesson earlier and I would try to impart that on younger people. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Mistakes are part of the process.

Des Dearlove:
Yes, I forget who said it, but there’s no such thing as failure, it’s just feedback.

Lindsey Pollack:
Yeah. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but I love that. Thank you.

Stuart Crainer:
It’s amazing. Networking is so easy these days, and yet, we often say the people in our community is people stand out, there’s only two or three of them who are really fantastic at networking and most other people are pretty clueless. It’s still astounding how limited our appetite for collaboration and helping others is in the working world.

Lindsey Pollack:
I was a spokesperson for LinkedIn for six years, and people’s biggest fear was networking. Right? There’s always a fear. I’m going to bother somebody. And I think some of it is that word. I think that word has gotten very negative. So, I don’t even use it when I’m talking to junior groups. I just say it’s building relationships and maintaining relationships. It’s making friends, which everybody knows how to do. But I remember Reed Hoffman, one of the things I learned from him at LinkedIn is he said, “I think people use LinkedIn wrong.” He said, “I think most people log into LinkedIn and they say, ‘What can I get from people today?'” And he said, “I log into LinkedIn, and what I recommend is logging into LinkedIn and saying, ‘Who can I help in my network today?'” And when you approach networking, relationship building, from that perspective that, “I’m here to help others, I’m not here to take from anybody,” I think it completely shifts your mindset of what those relationships are about.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. No, it’s interesting. Reed was actually shortlisted for one of our awards and we tried to get him to come on. People close to him said… I didn’t end up meeting him [inaudible], but they said he’s very introverted and doesn’t really like to travel or go anywhere. So, it’s funny, so he created LinkedIn.

Lindsey Pollack:
Shout out to Reed. Shout out to Reed.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We would love to have him on. It would be great. We can do it virtually. We could do it from anywhere, really. That’s the great thing about the way things are now. So, what’s next for you/ I mean, you’re promoting the hell out of this book, but we’re talking about joining up dots and… I mean, obviously, the books have a logical sequence to them and you’re adapting and you’re recalculating your own career as you’ve had to, as we all have. Can you see beyond… I mean, just before we started, we were saying it’s still too early to even really talk about post-pandemic. We still seem to be in the midst of it. What do you see yourself doing the next couple of years?

Lindsey Pollack:
Thank you for the question. First and foremost, I am launching my first LinkedIn learning course. So, I’m moving into virtual presenting officially, which I’m very excited about. My first course is called Building Organizational Awareness about how to handle office politics. But beyond that, my next topic, which is so funny how life happens… I have spent my entire 20 year career teaching people how to build careers… Stuart, apologies for the word, but build careers and income from jobs. And I have never actually written about what I do myself, which is going out on your own and being entrepreneur. So, my next topic is how to make a living on your own and to follow your own path. So, I’m really excited to share the lessons of how I’ve built my business for other people who want to do the same.

Des Dearlove:
Brilliant.

Stuart Crainer:
Brilliant, Lindsey. Unfortunately, we’re out of time for [inaudible]. Thank you everyone for joining us from throughout the world. And we’ve learned that ambiverts rule the world, it turns out. [inaudible] monitoring and reverse mentoring, I think are really apparent. Lindsey’s book is called Recalculating. Out now. You can find more about Lindsey’s work… And your website, Lindsey, is Lindseypollack.com.

Lindsey Pollack:
Correct.

Stuart Crainer:
We recommend you check Lindsey’s work out. She’s been shortlisted for Thinkers50 talent award, and the results of the award will be announced in November. So, thank you very much, Lindsey, and thank you everyone else for joining us.

Lindsey Pollack:
Thank you so much.

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