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The Cost of Connection

Hi there!

I want to show you something. I’m a proud owner of a new cell phone. Now, I don’t have the time to actually use the phone part because I’m a multitasking millennial, but there is a phone here somewhere.

The model of the phone doesn’t matter, all you need to know is that it is new, which probably suggests that it costs a lot. That seems to be the topic of the day, doesn’t it? I mean, can we really buy cheap phones anymore? Does a phone that isn’t smart even exist?

What we don’t talk about though – and perhaps what we don’t realize – is what we give up when we get this new technology. I learned in first year economics that opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen

See, when we talk about new phones and new technology, we often talk about all the cool things it does, the price it retails for, and how we do things we wouldn’t have dreamed about even ten years ago.

10 years.

Only 10 years.

Lets take the iphone X for example, and know that the they revolutionized the way we talk, text, search, and play from our phones just a few short years ago.

What has happened since then is nothing short of remarkable. The habits we’ve developed since then are jaw-dropping: From literally risking our lives by texting and driving (88% of drivers in a 3 million car study), to being on our phones more than we even realized.

So I decided to figure exactly what this looked like. I mean, I could see that people had their heads down walking down the street or on the CanadaLine. I can see that in restaurants that kids are glued the ipads, parents are googling the answer to the conversations they didn’t want to debate, and teens (and dare I say people my age) are texting people that aren’t right in front of them.

Other than being rude, I wondered if there was anything greater than just this blantant… disrespect.

What I found was incredible. While the sources varied, people are now spending on average, over 3.5 hours a day on their phone. This is 53 days a year. 12 years of our lives- our lives- on the phone. This comes from checking our phone 85 times a day. A day.

And yes, I get it, we can work remotely, we can call friends and family that don’t live in the same city as we do, we can multitask like never before (which, yes, is debatable), but what are we missing in that 12 years? The kicker is that this time on on phone is still rising year over year.

It turns our that in the past four decades, reports of loneliness have quadrupled. When Americans were asked how many true friends, confidants, they had, the most common response was 0. That same group saw a tripling of people who said 0 in recent decades.

Generalizing, we’re more lonely than we’ve ever been before. Actually, nearly half of corporate America is reporting feeling lonely. This loneliness, believe it or not, is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which, if I were to do the math, is almost 4 for every hour you’re on your phone today.

So lets go back, and consider that in many cases, our phones don’t leave our side when we are commuting, eating, getting ready, or even socializing?

These habits are real, and we don’t recognize it. We’re getting lost in the speed of life. We want connections, but do we care as much about connecting?

When is the last time we looked someone and acknowledged them for something they have done. When have we truly understood the pain someone is feeling, and give them our full, undivided attention.

How often is the phone vibrating in our pocket? How often, whether we are at work or at home, are we disconnected from our phones and really tuned into the conversation happening in front of us?

It used to be that we would jump on our phones to escape reality. Now it seems like we have to escape our phones.

See, the kicker here is that we are entering the fourth industrial revolution, one where we don’t take steps forward, but exponential leaps. 90% of the information on the internet today was put there in the past two years and there was enough information that was transferred across the web to completely fill 250 billion DVD’s. Crazy.

And while this might come across as a call to turn your phones off – it isn’t. What this is is a call to be cognizant of cost of the device in our hands. What are we missing so we can be on social media on average 1 hour and 53 minutes a day? No, this isn’t just about those narcissistic Millennials, this is us. This is all of us. This is real.

I think that the biggest issue we will see in the coming years is that we will be more alone and depressed than we have ever been before.

But we can fix that. They say that it is darkest before dawn and we get to choose when the sunrises. We can choose to care and commit to the people around us. We can give them our undivided attention, and ask them not just how their day was, but what they were proud of that day, what they want to be acknowledged for, and what they’re most excited about.

We have the opportunity to take this device and keep it as a tool in our pocket, not a crutch to end debates early, screen calls for texts, and miss the world that’s happening right in front of us.

Because while we might be talking about the cost of the device, I’m stuck wondering what the cost of connection is.

I’ll leave it to you to give yourself the answer.

Beating Artificial Intelligence: Three Things We Can Do To Thrive In A Digital Age

If you’re like me and have opened any major newspaper or media outlet app, you’ve seen that automation is the topic of the year, and the uncertainty of jobs seems to be increasing with every post or article we see. And hey, rightfully so, in the next fifteen years, up to 40% of jobs may be able to be done by a robot. So with almost one in two chance of a mandatory career change by 2030, we had better start preparing for a future that is going to hit us faster than we could possibly imagine. Here are a few things we can do today to be ready for a fast-approaching tomorrow.

Take time to understand and filter ‘noise’

Today, whether we like it or not, we typically see about 5,000 advertisements in a day, a astonishing 150% more than 30 years ago. That number isn’t slowing. In a world filled with ‘fake news’ and more content than we’ve ever seen before, considering what information is truly valuable, accurate, and relevant is becoming increasingly difficult. Moreso, when we’re looking for job, a trip, or a relationship, and are trying to better understand the landscape of various job opportunities out there, it is important to know that the headlines can be misleading, context might be missing, and alignment may be off all together.

Develop stronger people skills

Since many of us are born pre ‘iPad parenting’, we grew up fighting with our siblings, bickering in the back seat of cars, and learning without interactive screens in front of us. Believe it or not, we’re at a huge advantage over kids that simply don’t have the social skills and the ability to make friends like we did. With that said though, and automation on the horizon (or already here), social skills and the ability to build a network is imperative. When Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert’s 15-year-old son asked if a robot would take his job, she replied with 'Don't worry — I've never met a machine with courage and empathy’. Take the time to network, build strong relationships, and don’t forget to actually care along the way.

Diversify your skill set

Right now there are just over 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States alone. With automation hitting the roads soon, many of these jobs are at risk of being lost in just a few years. Starting now and acquiring a new skill set is key for being prepared. If you’re looking for a place to start, consider the products and services people will want/need more of when automation hits like at a southeastern tornado. Looking at careers in health/dental care, physical and mental well-being, computers and tech, or community and people development.

Before we panic about the future of work (or lack of it), consider the following: everything automation and artificial intelligence related is designed to make our lives easier, and give us time back. Work as we know it today can be a bottomless pit that never gets filled. We can work from more places, more times of the day, and using more technology than ever before. Is this sustainable? Probably not.

Also consider than if and when the job we have today has a component of automation, we’ll be able to focus more on people, problem solving, and strategy, and less on some of the administrative and perhaps menial tasks that take more time than we’d like.

The future is bright, and if we can diversify our skill sets, ensure we can build strong and lasting relationship, and filter the increasingly noisy world we’re living in, there is no doubt we can all set ourselves up for success.

The Price of the Future of Work: Connection

It might just be me, but it seems as though the future of work has shifted from something that was incredibly exciting to something that we are far more cautious about. Sure, technology is making work easier to do from more places, more times of the day, and on devices that fit in our hands, but what does this cost us?

Harvard Business Review reported that over 40% of American adults are feeling lonely and I can’t help but to think that this whole ‘future of work’ conversation is partly to blame. Let me explain:

Work is no longer a 9-5 experience. We can’t leave it at the office, and rarely do we turn off. When we’re in the office, we don’t really ‘talk’ to our colleagues and teams like we used to, we text them, use tools like Slack, or the company intranet. When we look for jobs, we find that companies are advertising perks, and not necessarily the whole experience on the job.

The result? We’re losing trust and humility. We need to get it back.

There is no doubt that the world is incredibly noisy. Believe it or not, we’re actually subject to between 4,000 and 10,000 pieces of advertising a day. There is so much information being produced today that over 90% of the information available today was put there in the past two years.

See, we’re trying to be more efficient, effective, and productive. I get it; makes sense. Where the problem is though, is that we’re clearly starting to lose the human component of work. We aren’t building friendships and relationships like we used to.

We don’t go to a restaurant like we used to – we have it delivered to our door.

We don’t go to the theatre like we used to – we watch TV at home.

We don’t get groceries anymore – they’re delivered to our door.

We don’t go to the bar to date anymore – we swipe from our couch.

We don’t even go to work sometimes because we can work remotely.

The truth is that the future of work and the technology associated with it is a beautiful thing if we make sure we don’t get lost in the fury of it. Like anything, balance isn’t just a recommendation, it is a requirement.

If we can slow things down a bit and become more rooted in people, then I think we could actually speed up the development of our companies simply by slowing down and making the time to meaningfully connect.

Imagine a place where we were empathetic again. Where we actually cared about connecting with the people we spend the majority of our days with. If we could take the time to build rapport and actually trust the people wholeheartedly because we knew not just what their title is, but who they really were, imagine the possibility.

The future of work is exciting, but to get the most out of it, perhaps we need to think twice about what the the evolution of work (and our lives) is costing us.

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