Episode 17: Tilt your future in your favour with Karena DeSouza
Updated: May 27
As futurist and host of Tilt the Future Podcast, Karena current observes trends and signs in the world around us in order to see what the possible futures might look like. She doesn’t predict the future but rather uses current data to imagine what the future could look like – futurecasting. She is a global citizen having lived on multiple continents and now finds her joy in helping families Tilt the Future in their favour and imagine what could be possible for their futures.
In this episode we explore the future of work, future of education and how the skills developed on a gap year can actually tilt the future in your favour. We are in a very exciting time of change and young people are poised to lead how we all come out of this pandemic.
When advising her own kids on their future pathways, she realized the she was advising her kids from a historic place. Her advice, though well intentioned, was looking at what had historically been profitable and stable, but as a futurist, she knew that technology was going to change the way that the world operated. This change was going to be big, not the difference of manual to electric typewriter but on the scale of moving from the agricultural era to industrial era.
Karena has seen the changes that were anticipated to come in the next 10-20 years accelerated into the scale of weeks. COVID19 has acted as an accelerant to things that were going to come anyways but now they are coming in the immediate future.
Here are some tips from Karena to navigate these changes:
1) Be aware of your decision-making horizon. Are you thinking in short of long terms? What do I need to survive the next decision I need to make vs. having a longer runway to how things are going to play out long-term – sometimes survival mechanism is short-sighted.
2) Reframe your relationship with time. How long do I think I am going to live? In that context, how long is one year? If it takes us 5 or 8 years to do a degree how significant is that on your overall life. Think about all of the other life experiences you get in the inter-education time - what happens in that time that will make you successful in the rest of your career and life.
3) Complete a Family Calendar Exercise: (email Karena for a copy of it)
a. Write down the people in your community that matter to you.
b. Think about where they will be in their lives over the next 3 years, 6 years, 9 years, until each is 80 years old.
c. When you map them all together, there are decisions you can make today that will positively impact your life many years from now. With this map it is easier to see what needs to happen and when in order for you to achieve your life and professional goals.
d. Think about how your decisions change if you only look at what is happening in the next 12 months. Try setting your sights further out, not just what is immediately in front of you.
4) Look at life more broadly than your career aspirations – Education and career are important, but so is the rest of your life. There are ways to look at your life so that you can make better decisions for better work and play balance and feel fulfilled in all aspects, not just in the thing that makes you a paycheque.
5) Look for Current Opportunities. Do something today. There are so many problems that need to be solved in the next 5 years! What problem do you want to solve right now? Thinking this way will tell you what you enjoy, don’t enjoy, and give you a good idea of how much need there is in this area in the coming years. It will also point you in the direction of what skills, learning and knowledge you need to acquire in the shorter term.
Future of Work
There is a current distrust and fear of how technology, AI, robots, and algorithms will impact the job market, but with COVID19 we have seen how these innovations have become enabling, where they have been helpful rather than hurtful (robots disinfecting hospitals, AI analyzing existing medications to treat or cure COVID19).
This has also highlighted the need for humans to leverage HUMAN skills rather than knowledge. We need to know what questions we should be asking and develop emotional intelligence - empathy, creative problem solving, imagining different solutions, seeing opportunities/applications of existing knowledge. These are what are going to be valued over the next 20 years.
Young people are learning these EQ skills during this pandemic at an accelerated rate, something usually achieved much slower through micro-experiences. These skills are actually more important for future success than the knowledge they would have acquired in a classroom setting. Communication, negotiation, supporting their family, filling boredom, etc. These students are being exposed to opportunities to grow this and will be an asset to their personal and professional journeys.
Right now there are no rules, no map as to how to navigate coming out of a global pandemic. You don’t have to fight the system in the same ways we did a year ago. We can challenge the status quo, we are all explorers, there are simply fewer barriers to doing things differently. You can help create the system that the next 4 generations will live in. You are in the driver’s seat.
Future of Education
Education is a keystone to change. Even before COVID hit, colleges and universities had begun to debate how they interact with their students and how learning would be delivered and assessed. There have been many conversations around switching from 4 year degree to shorter degrees that are time-stamped degree (learning SEO in 2010 is no a valid credential today, learning is life long). There is much promise in the process of micro-credentialing – earning smaller, skill-based, 3rd party recognition for learning and skill development rather than a summative paper at the end of a 4-year degree.
Karena strongly believes that in the next 5 years, the way that degrees and education is going to change significantly. She recommends that you worry less about which university and program and focus more on how you learn – it might not be in a lecture hall, but perhaps remotely or project-based experiential learning.
Karena says that she actively encourages the gap year pathway as a way to develop confidence, to get more clarity on your path which will save you time and money in the long run. Gap years are worth it, if you focus on learning during that time.
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