I recently participated in New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman’s “Next New World” forum. It was my second time joining this group of young leaders and entrepreneurs from around the country. The focus was innovation in the new age of globalization. Technology has changed at such a rapid rate in recent years, and it is having a profound impact on our lives. There are significant implications, both good and bad. The issue was batted around with the goal of understanding where we are headed. It’s important to periodically take a break from the daily grind and reassess the big picture. It is fascinating stuff.
We are at an inflection point in our society that is bigger than anything since the birth of the printing press. The digital age allows content to travel fast anywhere, anytime at low cost. Data can be used and studied and manipulated like never before. New products, businesses and industries are created daily in response to this abundance of information transfer. It’s taking place in the cloud, which is a ubiquitous platform that allows people to create, connect, collaborate and compete like never before. We consumers benefit with the use of smartphones and smart devices. That’s the exciting part. But it comes at a cost. Machines are replacing humans. High wage, middle class jobs are going away. Today’s business world requires a new set of skills. Many Americans have fallen behind because they have not continually invested in themselves.
Average is officially over. Mediocrity doesn’t cut it in the global world. Innovation still begins with education. But knowledge expires faster today. People need to constantly stay fresh and relevant to succeed. The future of education is up for debate. Scholastic curriculum has not changed much in 100 years. The educational system needs to be more flexible and supportive to prepare students for this evolutionary age. Personal finance should be taught and emphasized at an early age. And how about this: 14% of Google employees did not go to college. In some ways, schools are preparing kids for jobs that no longer exist.
The world is flatter than ever. Americans are no longer just competing at the global level. We’re competing with machines. Productivity is very high. But this innovative world has also become more automated and less personal. The key going forward is for people to embrace and work with technology. Team + Technology is the new standard. Personal responsibility and accountability remain critical to success. Hard work still pays off. Those that understand it will continue to succeed. Character and integrity still matter.
Have a nice weekend.
By: Mike Frazier