People need to shift into a new mindset when it comes to the ideas of career, education, and retirement. The model that society has been operating from is becoming obsolete.
Vice Dean at the Wharton, Mauro Guillén (@LinkedIn), and best-selling author’s work encourages us to look at our lives. His new book, The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Post-Generational Society, invites people to rethink the timeline and attitude toward careers, family, and future plans. Mauro is an expert in global market trends and is highly sought after as a speaker and consultant.
Mauro Guillén (@LinkedIn) is one of the Wall Street Journal’s best-selling authors. His book 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything is considered groundbreaking for the fields of futurism and economics. He promotes original thinking as the Vice Dean at Wharton Business School. He’s won multiple teaching awards and has recently released a new book, The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Post-Generational Society, which is an invitation for people to rethink the timeline and attitude toward careers, family, and future plans.
“I think many of the problems that we’re encountering right now have to do with the fact that we have been organizing our lives in the wrong way. ”
– Mauro Guillén
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Mark Divine 0:00
Hi, I’m Mark Divine. And this is the Mark Divine Show. Thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate your support. I love talking to folks from all walks of life. Really interesting people that bring great value to me as well as you as a listener, and one of them is my guest today, Mauro Guillén, who is a best-selling author and Vice Dean at the Wharton Business School. Mauro’s forthcoming book is The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Post Generational Society. I’m looking forward to talking to him about that. He’s one of the more original thinkers at Wharton. He’s an expert in global market trends. He’s a highly sought after speaker and consultant, and his online courses and concert Coursera have attracted over 100,000 participants. He’s won multiple teaching awards there at Wharton, and his presentation on global market trends has become a permanent feature in over 50 other executive education programs. He’s also the Wall Street Journal, best-selling author of 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything. Super stoked to have you on the Mark Divine Show Mauro.
Mark Divine 1:00
Thanks so much for joining me on the Mark Divine Show really stoked to have you here. How are you doing today, sir?
Mauro Guillén 1:05
I’m doing pretty well, thank you for inviting me.
Mark Divine 1:07
I’m really excited that I’m passionate about the intersection of leadership and also what you would call futurism. It’s probably one of my like sweet spots, even though I’m not an expert on future technology and the work you’re doing is pretty cool. Just for a quick background, like I am getting my PhD in Global Leadership and Change. And I’m a Navy SEALl. So I’m fascinated with how people shape their reality distortion field to use a Steve Jobs quote, that to become interested in this intersection of technology and demography in this field that you’ve created out of thin air.
Mauro Guillén 1:39
I think everything in the world depends on human beings, we own our futures. So that’s why I take demography so seriously, I think the numbers of people how they’re distributed, especially by age has a major impact on pretty much everything, politics, the economy, business, culture, everything. And so I decided maybe 10 years ago or so to focus a lot of my attention on the intersection among three things, really the economy, technology, and demographics. And that’s really the intersection of those three things. That’s a great window into the future.
Mark Divine 2:09
So technology is a hard science, economics is a soft science and demography is in between, is that considered a social science or a hard science?
Mauro Guillén 2:19
It is a social science, I think economists would disagree with you. They think that their science, their field has become very mathematical and very rigorous.
Mark Divine 2:28
Except none of the models work.
Mauro Guillén 2:30
But it is yeah, the problem is that and they’re trying to, you know, make up for that. But the problem is that human beings don’t necessarily conform to a model. And we all have psychological biases, and all sorts of things. But demography is the same kind of thing. I mean, it’s based on data is based on modeling. But again, sometimes demographers scratch their heads, not understanding why is it that something unexpected happened?
I think the latest example was what happened with the number of babies being born due to the pandemic.
Mark Divine 2:56
Mauro Guillén 2:57
And people were wrong, right?
Mark Divine 2:59
That’s right. In the 70s. What was the name of the book that got everyone terrified?
Mauro Guillén 3:04
The Population Bomb.
Mark Divine 3:04
Population Bomb, right. So the demographers thought that we were just going to be completely overwhelming the planet by 2000, or something like that?
Mauro Guillén 3:12
Yeah. 1968 I think it was.
Mark Divine 3:14
How did they get it so wrong?
Mauro Guillén 3:15
They got it wrong, because I think you know, has always been the mistake that Thomas Malthus was the first one to make that mistake that demographers think oh, population is growing exponentially. But they don’t realize that technology in particular can also change the way in which we produce things and how much we produce, and so on, so forth. However, I would say that the jury’s still out on that one, Mark, because now we have climate change. And clearly, we would have less energy consumption if we had fewer people on the planet. So I think we need to keep an eye on this thing. Whether The Population Bomb was an exaggeration or not now in the context of global warming.
Mark Divine 3:50
So much to talk about when it comes to demographics.
Mauro Guillén 3:53
Even the President’s election as a whole debate now about whether we should be having two candidates with the former either approaching 80 or above the age of 80.
Mark Divine 4:03
Mauro Guillén 4:03
So that’s another thing we’re laughing variable, right? And it’s this huge debate is out there.
Mark Divine 4:07
And let’s stay with this theme of global population. Why is it that developed countries tend to depopulate or tend to have their population growth slow and decline and then eventually dip below that replacement number of two point whatever children?
Mauro Guillén 4:23
That’s a great question. And it’s a puzzle, right? Because, hey, people have more money, maybe they should have more children because they can afford to have more children, even though children its expected you have to pay for the education, and so on and so forth. But the problem is that countries get rich. And as a result of that, you have people moving from the small village to the city. And then things change, right? Because you no longer have a family farm, or would you need family labor. Your in the city, maybe your apartment is not that big. And therefore you cannot have five children and you can only have one or two. But more importantly, countries get developed because they manage somehow to put the other half of the population women who in the past were not active were not actually producing things outside of the household, they get them to work. And that’s how you double GDP essentially, right? I mean, if you started from a position in which you have no women working out of a household. But then you have like a very sizeable percentage working, that’s of the household, you’re essentially doubling GDP, right? Gross Domestic Product by doing that, and it is that women have a higher access to greater educational opportunities, they now have careers so they postpone having their first child. So Mark, that is the critical thing.
In the past, they will have their first child at age 18, or 19, or 20, on average, but now it’s more like 28, 29, 30 years old, when they have their first child on average. And if that’s the case, obviously, they have one child, maybe two, at most, they don’t have five or six.
Mark Divine 5:42
And obviously, we have the role of government in the case of China in a overt sense, saying you can only have one child. And they recently changed that. And it’s again, human behavior doesn’t always just change with the flip of the switch.
Mauro Guillén 5:53
Oh, no, absolutely not. There’s not a single demographer in China, who says that now that the government has removed all of the restrictions that now the birthrate in China is gonna go up, because you try to tell those women in Shanghai who have a university degree and they want to work.
Mark Divine 6:08
Mauro Guillén 6:08
They don’t want to have five children, just because the government tells them that now they have to have more children, or they’re going to continue having, on average, maybe only one. The interesting thing, Mark is that we always talk about the Chinese one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979. And it lasted until seven years ago. And first they put in place a two-year two-child policy, and then a three-child policy. And as of a year ago, they removed all of the limitations. But I would strongly argue that in the United States, we also had a one child policy, and the one child policy was college for women.
Mark Divine 6:39
Mauro Guillén 6:39
Because if you consider women in the United States who have a college degree, the average number of babies that they have over the lifetime is exactly one.
Mark Divine 6:47
Interesting, I was reading just the other day something called the Kissinger report, where it’s talking about the fear of population explosion, and actually government getting involved and maybe just through kind of promotion of a certain way of life and policies that were going to encourage fewer family members or fewer or lower birth rate.
Mauro Guillén 7:06
Mark Divine 7:06
So it actually happened in our country as well.
Mauro Guillén 7:09
Oh, no, absolutely, we have to think about the following. This is no longer the case. But back in the 1960s, early 70s, the population of the world was growing by one additional billion people every 25 to 30 years.
Mark Divine 7:23
Mauro Guillén 7:24
Had that trend continued, I think we would be having a very different conversation today. But again, because of women getting an education and working outside of the household, then that number has been coming down in the United States ever since the 1970s. And after the United States, in most countries around the world, even in Africa, the number is coming down, but from a very high level, right.
Mark Divine 7:42
And they’re still far outpacing the Western world in terms of population growth.
Mauro Guillén 7:47
But the number is falling down.
Mark Divine 7:49
So let’s draw a big picture for anyone who is listening and maybe isn’t been tracking. But from my understanding the demographics of China and Russia are almost devastating in terms of where they’re going to be demographically in the next 50 years. Africa is ascendant and then the Americas are largely neutral, probably because of immigration, if we can get our immigration laws right.
Mauro Guillén 8:11
Mark Divine 8:12
Am I somewhere on target?
Mauro Guillén 8:13
Absolutely on target. So we have at one end of the spectrum, we have Japan, China, Russia, Eastern Europe is also very low birth rate. Then as you get into Western Europe, there’s some countries like Sweden, or like the UK, that actually approximate the US, which is somewhere, as you said, neutral in the middle, right. And then on the other end, we have Africa, we have some parts of Latin America, we still have some parts of South Asia, but not India, right? Because in India, they’re approaching two children per woman.
Mark Divine 8:40
Mauro Guillén 8:41
It’s hard for me when I was growing up, Indian families, on average would have six or seven children. But today they’re approaching two, which is replacement.
Mark Divine 8:48
Mauro Guillén 8:49
Mark Divine 8:50
That is incredible. And linking these demographic broad trends that are happening the next 30 to 50 years to economics, what does that mean for these countries and for us in America?
Mauro Guillén 9:00
All sorts of things. So think about, for example, the fact that we have a number of people retiring each year, and we have a number of people entering the labor force young people, that number of young people is shrinking, right from one year to the next, because there’s fewer babies being born. So in other words, I think this is going to trigger a lot of competition among companies, because they’re going to see all of these people retiring, but at the same time, fewer people, young people entering the labor force. So there’s going to be more competition there. Now, of course, we should also think about that technology, how robotics and AI may affect the demand for labor, right. But the other big thing that I think is really worth thinking about is that this also has an impact on savings, has an impact on how many people enter educational institutions, right. A lot of colleges and universities as you know, are going out of business for a lack of students.
Mark Divine 9:44
Mauro Guillén 9:45
So the repercussions are just everywhere to be seen. I mean, it affects pretty much everything affects politics, big time, because now all above a certain age can outvote younger people for the first time.
Mark Divine 9:55
Mauro Guillén 9:55
And they have different interests right and different priorities.
Mark Divine 9:58
I read a book recently, I was trying to remember the author in my company is like Zeihan or something. He’s a geo-political guy. He made a lot of sense and said, because the baby boomers have basically turned the corner. And we’re now sucking money out of the global system, like money that went to places that it never would have gone to if we didn’t have this excess capital, just flooding the world. And so now you have all this money being sucked out, because baby boomers instead of putting more money into their 401, k’s and retirement plans are sucking it out, right. And so this is going to start taking all the capital that flowed to some of these, like the global South, and some of these regions start sucking in a way, and to begin to excelerate the de-globalization and the polarization or this multipolar mini lateral world that we’re in. And he actually makes the case that America is pretty well situated both economically, demographically and geopolitically to be the center of the global universe. For the next Yeah, a few 100 years, which is pretty interesting. What are your thoughts and all that?
Mauro Guillén 10:57
I think the US certainly has a lot of advantages. We have a very flexible economy, which responds very well to moments of crisis, we continue to have at least for the time being a legal system that works. Unlike, many other…
Mark Divine 11:10
For the time being, that’s right.
Mauro Guillén 11:12
Yeah, that attracts investors, and that attracts interests, and all that. And of course, the US continues to have a commanding lead in terms of technology. But you know, if you ask yourself, Where was the UK, let’s say about 120 years ago, it was roughly the same kind of situation, it was like, very prosperous, it was dominant in the world. And you know, within 30 or 40 years, that was all gone. So you really have to pay attention to what’s going on right and not make any assumptions that anything is going to last forever. Right?
Mark Divine 11:40
This is true. And I think one of the things that really ends up changing things very quickly, as you know, very well is technology. So we have this acceleration or exponential technology explosion, and it seems like it’s speeding up, which it might be because of Moore’s law, the pace of technological innovation and adoption is becoming unbelievable.
Mauro Guillén 12:03
Mark Divine 12:04
Can you talk just to help listeners really understand kind of where we’re at in this inflection curve? It seems to me like everyone’s starting to feel it. But we’re still at the very beginning of this exponential curve of innovation and new technology, stuff that, you know, maybe took the good 20 years for it to be adopted by a good percentage of that. And now we’re seeing it happen much faster and faster. So what is the next 10 years look like?
Mauro Guillén 12:28
Yeah, that’s a great question. Let me answer it directly. But first, I want to make a point that I think is important in order to context my answer, which is, there’s some people who say that what we’re going through is not unprecedented. Their argument is that if you go back to the last few years of the 19th century, we had the telephone being invented, the telegram, moviemaking, we have chemicals, we had all of these revolutions, right? That really changed people’s lives. And now of course, we have internet, we have the genome, we have robotics, we have AI, and so on and so forth. But I don’t agree with these school of thought, because I think what’s going on now, are technologies that have a huge impact on pretty much everything, right? So you can say, oh, social media has changed marketing, but hasn’t only been marketing has changed politics.
Mark Divine 13:11
Mauro Guillén 13:12
It must change the way in which we consume news.
Mark Divine 13:15
It has changed culture.
Mauro Guillén 13:17
Exactly. So in other words, I think the changes that we’re seeing today are essentially affecting every aspect of our lives and every aspect of our societies. And like those changes from 120 years ago, so the next 10 years, I think there’s going to be a massive convergence of robotics and AI, which hasn’t happened yet. AI will continue to be to develop, of course, but then robotics, I think are going to be joining with AI. I think this is going to have a big impact on a number of things, including manufacturing, and other aspects of the economy, but also armies and how wars are fought in the world, right? All of that is likely to start changing has already changed, I think, to a very large extent with drones, but it’s gonna go other steps further, before we know it. And then then it’s the human genome. And there’s this potential for individualized therapies for everybody, and how that’s gonna change the disease landscape out there. But then the other thing that I would like to tell your listeners is that we shouldn’t be triumphalist about technology, right? Because we tend to think that technology is just going to make everything better and so on. It has made one thing worse, this one thing and we saw that with a pandemic with the Coronavirus, which is that all of this interconnectivity essentially has meant that a virus, if it’s stubborn enough, can actually make the entire world very unhappy, miserable,
Mark Divine 14:30
Mauro Guillén 14:31
Those two years or so that you have to live through. So sometimes technology helps. Sometimes technology creates a lot of problems. Plus, we have the other issue, which is how many people are going to lose their jobs, in robotics, in AI and so on. I think that’s also a very important question to be asking ourselves.
Mark Divine 14:46
Yeah, I agree. And I want to come back to that kind of speaks to your work in your new book Perennials. I’d like to double click on just AI. There’s so much disparity of thought on what AI actually will be likeIn the future, and whether it’ll be benevolent or some Overlord, or what do you think the risks are, and we all can surmise what the benefits would be?
Mauro Guillén 15:09
So, I think about benefits, for example, these days, AI can be used to read X rays or to read MRIs. And it tends to do a much better job than doctors looking at them. In any event, it can be just a check on that. IT helps make our cars even if they’re not driverless, it makes them safer, right? Because there’s also a lot of these AI things. Now that occurred, you know, if you’re about to hit an object, it starts…
Mark Divine 15:31
It could almost eliminate human error, right? If you look at the medical profession, like you said, 750,000 people literally killed by the medical industry itself every year, that’s like the third leading cause of death.
Mauro Guillén 15:42
Absolutely. I think AI will also make education much better.
Mark Divine 15:46
Mauro Guillén 15:47
Now, all of these benefits, there’s no question about it. I think there are two basic concerns about AI. One thing is the famous singularity, that is to say that machines take over, I’m not even into science fiction. So it may happen, it may not. But as even from the beginnings of the field, like Alan Turing already alerted the world through singularity, right, the possibility of singularity. But I’m not too concerned about that. I think the biggest concern is the short term effect on people and their careers and their jobs. Because robotics so far was essentially replacing physical or manual labor with machines.
Mark Divine 16:20
Mauro Guillén 16:20
But now AI simply threatens the concrete occupations like what I do as a professor, and as a researcher. You know, it may well be the podcaster’s are also replaced by AI, maybe out of a job pretty soon as well.
Mark Divine 16:30
We could all be out of a job, we might be the ones who fought against universal basic income or be like, hey, we need a UBI.
Mauro Guillén 16:37
Exactly. So I think that is the more immediate concern. And it’s also the concern, I think about how AI may make some companies extremely powerful, right.
Mark Divine 16:47
Mauro Guillén 16:48
The ones who succeed at developing the right type of AI that then gets adopted in the world, we have in this IT sector is tendency for the winner take all kind of dynamic, right?
Mark Divine 16:58
That is exactly right.
Mauro Guillén 16:58
The thing, winner or winners, but that gets very few companies like three or four companies essentially making big bucks.
Mark Divine 17:05
Far surpassing, except in the case of like China, which is corporatized the state, it’s the global corporations that seem like they’re far more powerful these days than a country or a nation state that used to be the center of power.
Mauro Guillén 17:19
Absolutely right. So we are living through interesting times. Let’s put it that way.
Mark Divine 17:22
Yeah, for sure. That’s fascinating. Now, you mentioned the genome and like personalized healthcare as it relates to both prevention as well as also longevity, what are your views on lifespan and health span?
Mauro Guillén 17:34
Yeah, I think the biggest potential would be as to just hinted that we might be able to prevent disease. So for example, you find out that you have the gene that may predispose you towards a particular illness.
Mark Divine 17:44
Mauro Guillén 17:44
So you can take every action. And I think we should probably all remember the very shocking case of Angelina Jolie, who found out that she had the gene and she decided then to have a double
Mark Divine 17:55
Mauro Guillén 17:56
Mastectomy, exactly. So that was brought to people’s attention. Its very interesting potential with a genome. But then also, if you get a disease to try to target the root cause of the disease through genomic research on each individual patient, and in other words, then thinking about what the best course of action is, and you know, when it comes to cancer, we no longer really thinking about liver cancer, or lung cancer as separate things. Now it’s more, like, what is the underlying genetic mutation that led to it, rather than thinking in terms of which organ of the body is affected?
Mark Divine 18:26
More systemic view?
Mauro Guillén 18:28
Absolutely. What about just reversing aging, though? Besides the hacks, I’m looking at my hyperbaric chamber, right? So study out of Sweden says that actually can lengthen your telomeres and reverse or slow down aging? Maybe both? What’s your view? Because you’re at Colombia, and you’re talking to all the pioneers?
Mauro Guillén 18:46
Look, I’m not an expert, obviously, in this area. But from what I know, I recount a number of stories about this in the book. The issue here is that obviously, when you think about the problem, genetically, there must be a gene that essentially causes us to age, right? And not to have cells renew themselves so that we can live forever, right? There must be a gene. And if you can identify that gene, then perhaps all you can do is turn it off somehow, and then we would live forever. Now secondly, of course, the problem is that the human body is very complex, because it’s highly evolved. So researchers have managed to turn off the gene with worms, which are very simple organisms. And these worms, for example, when they turned the genes have they managed to live three or four times longer. But tell your truth Mark, I’d rather be a human being who passes away at some age rather than be a worm.
There’s another thing here this this obsession with living longer, which is the lifespan or life expectancy, but we haven’t thought I think enough about the health span. So how many of those years we continue to be in good physical and mental sexual health so that we can enjoy life?
Mark Divine 19:48
Mauro Guillén 19:48
And you know what? Over the last 30 or 40 years in the United States, life expectancy has grown slightly faster than the health span and the United States we are the only country in the world in that situation because every other company in the world, both things have grown at about the same rate. Okay, so the lifespan and healthspan my interpretation of that is that we don’t have a great lifestyle in the United States in terms of nutrition.
Mark Divine 20:12
Mauro Guillén 20:13
But we have these big problems with obesity, and other chronic diseases. That essentially means that yes, our healthcare system is good enough to keep us alive, but not with the quality of life.
Mark Divine 20:23
I would submit that another reason for that is just the way that we treat families, right and separate them. And so my grandparents, they lived in Florida, while my parents lived up in upstate New York, and I always wondered, like, gosh, that didn’t seem very, you don’t get that robust interaction all the time, and the grandparents with the grandkids. And anyway, so these other cultures have a different way of organizing families so that the elders are engaged and have meaning and purpose, right. And the blue zones all say that, right? The Blue Zone studies like the elders are, you’re working in the garden, they’re being grandparents watching the grandkids, they’re having fun.
Mauro Guillén 21:01
But let’s not minimize the importance of psychological factors in terms of life expectancy and the health span. Because we all know that stress kills, right?
Mark Divine 21:09
Mauro Guillén 21:10
It really kills a lot of people around the world, including the United States. So there’s also a lot of psychological things, happier people who smile a lot people who joke a lot. They’re known for having greater longevity, right? We also need to think about the cognitive and the psychological side of all of these.
Mark Divine 21:24
Yeah, setting aside just that issue of like, would you even want to live for 200 years, if you really, let’s say, you were just like, bored to death, I think a lot of people would be like, I don’t want to do that. Like my son. He’s like, I have no interest in that. Personally, I do if I could continue to serve and teach and I’m finding passionate that I’m like, okay, just keep it going a little longer. That’d be fun. Yeah, but what are the practical issues with regard to the economy? And culture, if all of a sudden in 20-30 years, everyone’s livinng to 150- to 100+?
Mauro Guillén 21:54
And, yeah, of course, but not only that, also, we would have a much greater population in the world, so much more consumption, much more energy used.
Mark Divine 22:01
Mauro Guillén 22:02
Even though fewer people are being warned this, a lot of people who are being born.
Mark Divine 22:06
A lot of people not dying.
Mauro Guillén 22:07
But if at the other end, we don’t have enough people exiting the stage.
Mark Divine 22:11
Mauro Guillén 22:11
Then the earth will get crowded, there’s no question about it. But on the other hand, I think all of these changes are going to be relatively gradual. So yes, I think less expectancy at some point we break the 100 year barrier, which once again this is the average number of years, the average person, let’s say, American with leaf, so that I think it’s highly likely that we will reach the 100-year barrier.
Mark Divine 22:31
Mauro Guillén 22:31
At some point in the future.
Mark Divine 22:33
You wrote a book recently called Perennials. Can you tell me about just the general theme and what got you interested? And where did this emerge from?
Mauro Guillén 22:40
Absolutely. So all of these emerged from the idea that I think many of the problems that we’re encountering right now have to do with the fact that we have been organizing our lives in the wrong way. For 100 years or so we have organized our lives in terms of sequential stages. So first, we play when we’re very little, then we study, then we work, and then we retire.
Mark Divine 22:59
Mauro Guillén 22:59
And I think we have to reified retirement as this golden age in which we’re going to have all of the fun that we didn’t have when we were working.
Mark Divine 23:06
Of course, and people on average die within five years of retirement, because they have no meaning and all the energy that propped up that third stage dissipates.
Mauro Guillén 23:15
Exactly right. And it also causes other problems like for women, that model doesn’t work very well, because of biology, right? Because they wouldn’t have to have the same thing that under that model, they would need to be promoted at work. And they would need to be very dedicated to their jobs. And it doesn’t serve also other kinds of groups in American society that are disadvantaged, like teenage mothers, or like high school dropouts.
So people who essentially miss the train, that will make the transition in life from one stage to the next at a time that is supposed to happen.
Mark Divine 23:40
Or they step off the train, and then they have a tough time getting back on it because the world seems to have moved on.
Mauro Guillén 23:47
Yeah, only 2% of teenage mothers in the US, for example, get a college degree.
Mark Divine 23:50
Mauro Guillén 23:51
And we all know that a college degree is the issue better jobs and better careers, and better salaries. So the point here is that the model as we have it now is not serving anybody. And now technological change and economic change is making matters worse, because we see situations in which people made a bet when they were in their 20s as to what is it that they wanted to do in life? And then they realize, oh, my gosh, technology has made my occupation redundant.
Mark Divine 24:13
Mauro Guillén 24:13
Right, not just my job. It’s like my entire everything that I do. So we need more flexibility, we need to think about, hey, why don’t we go back and forth between learning and working several times, you will do retire, let’s make sure that there is a way out of that. So in other words, that you can unretire either full time or part-time. That’s also going to help by the way with Social Security deficit and so on and so forth. So again, the overall idea is that we need more flexibility. So the perennials are people who do not think or act thier age. So they work, sure, but they learn and an age in which in the past, we didn’t have any learners, right, those are things we see increasingly people in their 50s or 60s, learning going back to school literally or joining an online program. This didn’t happen 30 or 40 years ago, I can assure you.
Mark Divine 25:03
Mauro Guillén 25:03
And we see people going into retirement and then un-retiring. So we see all of these complexities, essentially proliferating, which don’t fit the old model, and I think provide us with more flexibility. So I think it’s a welcome trend.
Mark Divine 25:16
Yeah, part of it is a trend, but also part of it can be just almost teaching a whole new way of being.
Mauro Guillén 25:23
Exactly. This requires a new mindset. So we need to change our mindset. In other words, we’re not going to have a job for life. We’re not even like a vision for life that we may need to be all of us career switchers at some point. It’s also about companies and the government. So both of them also have changed, because as you know, the government then companies, all they do is they categorize us in terms of age. And so the government then offers us different programs,
Mark Divine 25:45
Wasn’t it FDR or his administration that came up with the concept of retirement.
Mauro Guillén 25:50
Yeah, originally in the world retirement emerged in Germany in the 1880s.
Mark Divine 25:55
Mauro Guillén 25:55
So there were two key developments at that time, right. So one was the introduction of universal schooling, which simply meant that there was now a separation between early childhood and being a teenager. And then pension systems, which essentially meant that there was a separation between your work life and then your rest life or your retirement. So those two innovations there, which, you know, a lot of people saw as positive, essentially, then got us into this compartmentalized very rigid system of living our lives.
Mark Divine 26:21
What changes do you think government will need to make in order to move in this direction and help people adopt this mindset? And now, I’d like to talk about corporations, a lot of corporate leaders who listen to this, and I think that there probably is some strategies they should be thinking about right now.
Mauro Guillén 26:35
So governments, they play two roles. First is they’re the biggest employer in almost any country in the world. So by example, if they tell everybody else, we’re going to change the way in which we think about workers, we’re not going to try to get rid of a worker who is 50 years old, or 60 year old. In fact, what they could do is invest in those people, which they currently don’t do,
Mark Divine 26:55
Mauro Guillén 26:55
With a view to helping them prepare for the labor market access changes in the future. That’s number one. Number two is all of those government programs that are targeting specific age groups, they need to be more flexible, right. So in other words, we shouldn’t only give money to or loans to people who are relatively young so that they can study, we should also give it to people who are in their 40s, or 50s. Because they may still have ahead of them 30 years worth of active life. So those are the two ways in which governments need to change, I think it’s important. We’re asking about companies, right?
Mark Divine 27:26
Mauro Guillén 27:27
So two thoughts that I want to share with your listeners. The first is that companies I think, will adjust because they’re in a competitive market in terms of talent. So remember, there’s more people retiring, than new people coming into the labor force. Because of them were lacking changes. So companies, I think, sooner or later will realize that if they really want to be effective in terms of attracting and retaining talent, they’re going to have to think very seriously about retaining people in their 50s or 60s, even in their 70s. And there’s an increasing number of companies that are doing exactly that, right, because they also realize this is the other message that I want to send to your listeners who happen to be in business. We also know that a diverse workforce is more productive, and also more creative. So we know this from research on teams. And so far, we have been thinking about diversity in terms of ethnicity, in terms of gender, in terms of national background, those sorts of things. I think it’s about time that we also define diversity in terms of age. So there is research indicating that multigenerational teams at work are more productive, and they’re more creative.
Mark Divine 28:27
Yeah, that’s fascinating. I remember the one anecdote from I think it was Uber where the founder was mentored by a much older individual, and attributes a lot of the success to his ability to like team and bring a little bit of wisdom to the table. And what a great role talk about unretiring all corporate executives to consider unretired to come back and help these millennial leaders out.
Mauro Guillén 28:49
The interesting thing is that, especially in the tech sector, we are seeing more and more that people report to bosses or managers who are younger than they are.
Mark Divine 28:57
Mauro Guillén 28:58
Which 50 years ago, that didn’t happen in corporate America, the boss was always older than you were right. But not today, necessarily.
Mark Divine 29:06
That’s fascinating. And when I work with my clients, I really encourage them to really do the self-awareness work. And so I think this is another thing that’s really neat is like, we’ve really in the past, double clicked on horizontal skill development for workforce, getting the right job or preparing the technical skills to become a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. And what I like to focus people on is what I call vertical development is let’s focus on the skills of enhancing your capacity as a human being to see more to be more inclusive to be more compassionate for different terms for that age we’re heading into, I’ve heard Fourth Industrial Revolution. I’ve heard Exponential Age, but also the Conceptual age. The skills that are most important aren’t going to be those technical skills because Chat GBT or some future AI can do those right? What do you think leaders of all ages should be doing now to prepare to be more relevant in terms of their own development?
Mauro Guillén 30:00
Number one is they need to learn about all of these new technologies, but not so much in terms of how they work. Or rather, what are the implications of those technologies for all the different functional areas within their organization. So we know that AI, for example, has changed finance, or marketing. But how about organization, how about the interaction of human beings, and so on and so forth. I think that’s number one. That’s really important. But the second is, as you were hinting that they need to realize that technical skills are important, but increasingly, AI is going to be able to handle those. But social skills are harder to learn, and they becoming really important. So I’m talking here about your capacity to work in teams, and negotiations, abilities, and also emotional intelligence, the ability to communicate, I think the social skills are becoming, and the data that they indicate that they’re becoming really important in the American labor market and the other labor markets around the world.
Mark Divine 30:51
And yet, they’re difficult to develop, as you mentioned, and this is one of my areas of passion. So I’m working on the even in my doctorate is to flesh out a global leadership development program that really brings out some of these capacities; more compassion, more empathy, greater communication skills, because they’re difficult to develop. You can develop through hardship, you can develop through therapy, you know, but there’s not a lot of leadership development programs that have done a good job of really cultivating all that stuff. We’re reaching critical mass time to develop those.
Mauro Guillén 31:23
Mark Divine 31:24
That’s awesome. Well, sir, top three takeaways for your Perennial book.
Mauro Guillén 31:29
Number one is that we need to change our mindset, because the economy and technology are requiring us to be flexible. So we cannot continue to live our lives according to the old ways. Where we move from one stage to the next, we need to change the way we run ourselves, our lives. And let me just paraphrase in a way Roosevelt here. So we have to realize that the only possible response to change is change itself. Right? In other words, if you remain static, while your environment is changing, then you’re going to be out of whack very quickly. Number two is something that we already touched on, which is that the book is not just for people who are already successful, so that they can continue to be successful. It’s also, I think, a recipe for addressing those groups of disadvantaged people that I told you about earlier. So women in general, because the old way of doing things is not necessarily the best for them.
But also all of those other categories of people that I told you about high school dropouts, teenage mothers, people who went through the foster care system, the disadvantage, and the model doesn’t really help them because they need more time. They need more flexibility, in order to adjust in order to do well in life.
I would say perhaps the third is to ask our leaders that they need to lead on this.
Mark Divine 32:43
Mauro Guillén 32:44
That there’s so much inertia, we have been following the old model for 100 years. So I think it’s about time that our leaders essentially told us, there’s another way of doing these things. Let’s just discover that new way together.
Mark Divine 32:56
Yeah, hallelujah, I’m sure everyone would be like, boy, we sure would like to see some same conversations coming from our leadership, at least in the political spectrum. So we can get on with the business of change, because we all know, it’s coming at us fast. If we can adapt and ride the wave, we’d be much better off.
Mauro Guillén 33:13
Mark Divine 33:14
This has been a fascinating conversation. I really appreciate you for the work you’re doing and for spending your time with us here today. Where can people learn more about your book and your work?
Mauro Guillén 33:23
Definitely at any bookstore, it’s not going to be published until August, but you can preorder it. But more importantly, what they can do is reach out to me on LinkedIn. That is, for me the best platform because we can exchange messages. And I regularly post updates, and so they can also get those.
Mark Divine 33:40
Awesome. Well, thanks again for your time. I really appreciate it, sir.
Mauro Guillén 33:40
Thank you, Mark for inviting me. This was wonderful.
Mark Divine 33:46
It’s been terrific. That was a fascinating conversation. Wow, man, my head is still spinning. Thinking about the future of the intersection of technology and demographics and the economics and some really, really important things need to be discussed at the political and corporate level about how to organize for what’s coming. And people need to think with a different mindset, that perennial mindset, which doesn’t get you stuck or locked into a single career technical skill, but become more fluid and conceptually oriented. So great, great stuff. And I appreciate you all for joining me.
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Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai