Seth Mattison - The Future of Work

Seth Mattison
April 27, 2021

Seth Mattison

Workforce Strategist and Management Trendspotter, Author of The War at Work and MeetingsNet Editor's Pick for Favorite Speakers
Future of Work Future of Work Leadership Leadership Speaker Change

Transcript

Brian Lord: So our guest today here live in [the] studio is Seth Mattison. Seth is a renowned author and expert on the future of work and workforce development. He's the founder and CEO of FutureSight Labs. He's been in Fortune magazine, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal. Just about everything. Spoken to everybody from Microsoft to IBM and one of my personal favorites, John Deere. We are both farm boys, I found out. So I'm really excited to talk about that. So, Seth, thank you so much for joining us.

Seth Mattison:

Thanks for having me, Brian, so excited.

Brian Lord:

So you are a farm boy. So I- we were just talking about this before the interview. So where did you grow up and what did you guys farm?

Seth Mattison:

Because you grew up in Indiana?

Brian Lord:

Yes.

Seth Mattison:

So I grew up in Southern Minnesota, just outside of Rochester and for a long time, you know, I thought, because I grew up on a fourth-generation farm, a hundred-year history farm, I thought that was like a really big legacy. And then I come to find out that your family goes back like nine generations.

Brian Lord:

A hundred years. Yeah.

Seth Mattison:

Incredible.

Brian Lord:

Yeah. Yeah. So one of the things I think that really helps with farming and understanding this is that you have like literally different silos, but there's so many different things that go into a farm and making sure everything works and the adaptability portion.

Seth Mattison:

Totally.

Brian Lord:

How do they, how do you think that applies to like this, where everybody keeps talking about a post-COVID world or at least adjusting to the world we're in now, how do you think those two things apply?

Seth Mattison:

Yeah, well, there's, there's so many great life lessons that you learn from farming. One of the things that really stuck with me, number one is just the seasons. You know, when you live close to the land, your intimately familiar with the change of seasons and each season represents a different period of time, a different set of, of, of activities and work that needs to be done, you know, in the spring is, uh, is a time of planting. And when you put seeds in the ground, you know, there is not an immediate return. It's like you're doing the work thinking long-term that this is going to pay off. And then you get to the summer and the summer is about taking care of those seeds. So you think a little bit about just our, our past year with COVID in are a lot of us as business owners. You know, we had to adapt to some pretty monumental transformations that were rocking us and you can make a choice to pull back and hunker down or to be planting seeds. And if you can plant seeds in those downtimes, and I know that that you have done that here at Premiere and we absolutely did too, and it's difficult and it's scary to invest into the unknown and to lean into it. But that's what this past year was really about. And so, you know, your summertime is about caring for those seeds. And then your fall obviously is about harvesting and, you know, Jim Rohn, I, you know, I'm a big Jim Rohn fan. He was one of my, sort of the original, uh, inspirational speakers that I, and authors that I follow. And he's an Idaho farm boy, you know, and he always had a classic saying of, you know, is the goal in the fall, talking about the seasons is to, is to reap without complaint. And I also, you know, it's like, whatever your fall harvest turns out is is no one else's responsibility, but your own. But I think not only without complaint but with also without apologizing, because one thing I noticed over COVID is that some people did really well and they almost felt... I don't want to use the word ashamed, but they didn't feel like they could really celebrate it because so many people were hurting. And I think it's important to remember that you can, you should always be able to feel okay to celebrate. Reap without complaint, but don't hold back celebrating as well. And then the winter is, you know, learning how to weather those dark, lonely dark months. And certainly COVID was a part of that too, of just, you know, knowing and trusting that the spring is going to come back around. And fortunately, as we sit here right now, um, I think spring is around the corner for us, both in the real world. And from a business perspective, I think we can all feel the momentum of the world coming back. And personally, I can't wait to get back out there.

Brian Lord:

What do you, what are your tips for approaching the winter? So like for farmers, I know like my dad would like drive a truck or build models or fix up different things that were needed to be fixed on the barn or something like that. What, what is your approach to handling the winter?

Seth Mattison:

It's, it's, it's a great question. You know, it's one of the things you can do is use the winter to get better and whatever that looks like. So from a farming perspective, and I watched my father and grandfather do that, it was like, don't start preparing your equipment and everything for the spring, when it starts getting warm, you have everything ready to go, right. So that you make your repairs, your get your, you you've ordered all of your seed. You're ready to go. So that the second that spring breaks, boom, you're ready to respond to it. And the same is true in our personal lives. When you're experiencing a winter is to number one, you know, I'm a big fan of the Stoics, you know, in a lot of their philosophies of controlling the controllables. What can I control in this moment? And there were a lot of things that were outside of our control with COVID. And so focusing on what, what can I control as my activities, my attitude, my, my mental health, the skills, things that I need to work on, you know, we were thrust and I know you, you were here too, of how do we adapt to a virtual world, all sorts of new tools. I didn't have a virtual studio, you know, a year ago right now. I didn't know how to, uh, develop and create great learning outcomes in that environment, the same way that I did in the, in the physical. And I'll give you a specific example as a presenter, you know, I, I'm pretty big energy. And I think almost to maybe almost to a fault, I knew that I could just overpower an audience with enthusiasm and energy.

Brian Lord:

You've got that good Tiger Woods thing.

Seth Mattison:

There's some Tiger Wood action, right? And like, and, and it comes from a genuine place because I do love the work. But when I got put in a virtual environment and you're just in of a camera, you can't be that over the top. And so I had to learn how to be small and speak quietly and softly, but still be impactful. How do you tell a better story and not be overly animated and still make an impact? Those were new skills that I had to develop. And so the winter time is for going to work on your craft, preparing your systems, your processes, your technology, your equipment, to respond when the moment comes back and the moment is coming for us right now.

Brian Lord:

So moving on next, I guess we'll just do this in the season. So spring, how do you, how do you plant those seeds and how would you do it? And then how have you seen successful companies do it during that, during this transition?

Seth Mattison:

You know, and I think about planting seeds specifically in my business where it's like, you know, we're, we're researching, we're writing, we're putting out content and then ultimately serving our clients around this theme of the future of work. Planting seeds has been, you know, this was a time to do more research to partner with external research partners, to be able to get fresh data to, and I thought of planting seeds from a sales perspective of I'm going to just go out and serve clients right now. It's partially what you've been doing with this platform here is like, how do we plant seeds in our relationships, add value without asking anything in return so that people remember us, people know that when it comes back, we're there to serve them. This is planting seeds. And again, like we referenced earlier, you don't harvest in the spring, right? You plant now, and you have to have the faith and the trust in the end to, to be diligently showing up every day, taking care of that crops that you can harvest in the fall. Who knows when we'll see those, we've got clients where it's like, maybe they'll come back to us this year. Maybe there'll be ready. It might be two years. It might be three years, but we invest now in the spring for the longterm. So what you're doing now is, is thinking about who am I investing in, what relationships, right? From a sales perspective, how do I touch people and add value and not just, and it doesn't matter what your industry is, right? You can't just launch the call of like, you know, are you, are you in the market right now? It's like, let me serve, let them serve. Let me serve. And then be planting seeds in yourself and be working on your own skills. That's how you use this spring.

Brian Lord:

What's the nurturing look like as far as the summertime goes, were for yourself companies as well?

Seth Mattison:

Great question. So, you know, I would give an example of me being here with you right now is an example of nurturing relationship, is coming and spending time. You know, we've been in this, this environment with COVID where social distancing and isolation, we haven't been able to physically be together. And so there are still ways to make nurturing deposits for your relationships. And I'm a big fan of going analog in a digital world. And so finding ways to, you know, sending out little gifts, writing handwritten cards, picking up the phone and even calling technically we call a call today being digital, but you know, there's some, some video and Zoom fatigue. So instead of making someone get on another video, you know, I'll send somebody a quick text and say, "Hey, you got just quick five minutes for a call?", Get on a call, go for a walk. I think that's a great thing. And I'm seeing more and more of our leadership teams in terms of nurturing their relationships with their remote teams is instead of another Zoom meeting, another video conference is to set up a walking call and have the person, you know, you and they in your own respective areas, get out, go for a walk, but beyond a call and just have a touch base. The other thing I'll say, that's been something I've been thinking about in this virtual environment is to make a connection and to nurture relationship. It's hard to feel connected through the camera across that digital divide. And one of the things I've noticed, and I think we all experienced this at times is hard when it's like, your face is up. It's hard not to look at yourself. Like, am I looking weird? What's going on with me? You're looking at the person. But when you look at the person you're not looking in the camera lens in most setups, and what happens is, is our eyes are shifting all over the place and not actually looking the other person in the eye. And we know from neuroscience that we're hard-wired to question when a person's eyes don't give us a look periodically, can we trust them? So trust can inadvertently erode when we're not good at being able to bring our full presence to a virtual exchange and even just getting good at like, how do I lock into the camera? So you feel I'm actually talking to you, we inadvertently create distance between us. So that's just a little tip around, you know, nurturing these relationships is like, how do I elevate how I show up to connect with my virtual teams?

Brian Lord:

How do you do that specifically for, for leaders and then also from a client, like either sales perspective or just talking to your client?

Seth Mattison:

Yeah. So with leaders, I find the leaders that are really nurturing high-performing virtual teams is they set up, they've got really powerful routines, rituals and habits that they establish with those virtual teams. So it's not just about getting on another session. It's like when they get on, there's a formula, there's a structure to how they connect. So whether it's it's going around and people giving a quick story as to something that's going on in their life, or the really switched on ones, you know, our values are what drive our cultures. And everybody has values that live on the wall or in the employee handbook. But this really switched on companies. They embed their values into everything that they do. So if one of your, your values is generosity, uh, or listening or fill in the blank, let's just take generosity. You say, okay, we need to, we need to create opportunities for people to give to one another and give them opportunity for that to take place. And so when we have a meeting, one of the things people do is people go around the room and their job that week is to teach the rest of their team members, something new from the week before. Right. If, if we're all tied into learning and development, part of my job is to give, give what I'm learning. And so the, the leaders that I see doing well, put structure in place to allow their values to manifest in real time to make people feel connected. And when it comes to clients, you know, I think it's interesting. I actually ask, take that back to you have with your clients, are you getting clients on virtual? Will you pop them up on video and do a quick connect or is it primarily been, um, because the reason I ask that is because I find sometimes even just a quick text message, everybody's overwhelmed with email, just a quick text message to let somebody know that you're thinking about them. I use the rule of three every day, three text messages go out in my network. That's just, uh, maybe it's a quote, maybe as I was thinking about you, hope you're doing well, send out. And when I do that, it's amazing. The prompts that come back, it doesn't even necessarily equate to business. It's just like great to hear from you put a smile on my face. Hope you're doing well, that's it little deposit, three touch points a day. What about for you though, with clients and virtual? Are you getting them on video? What, how are you approaching that?

Brian Lord:

We sort of do a combination. So we, for us, we do email, we track calls. So you want to make sure you're actually talking to somebody on the phone and then I like Vidyard. So like the little video messages to people, maybe similar to the texts, but just something, and then obviously we do Zoom meetings and, uh, you know, Microsoft Teams and, you know, so that's what different companies are. So for us, I like to mix it up, but I don't, it also kind of depends on the age of the person I'm going to like some people, they totally, they don't have a phone number on their email anymore, or they don't have their voicemail hooked up. So it just kind of depends on who you're talking to.

Seth Mattison:

I find that too, of like there's less and less people that like, I have an office, especially an office phone number, because people haven't been in their office, but you're right. It's like, it's not even listed. It's not even an option anymore. It's interesting.

Brian Lord:

Yeah. Yeah. But I think it is. I mean, for that is the big question everybody has is how do you keep up relationships? So one, I think is just reaching out to them, but, but how have you seen your relationship grow and change over this time period?

Seth Mattison:

In some ways that I think they've gotten deeper because, um, we've all navigated some, some challenging times. I mean, for me personally, it was like almost exactly a year ago, watching 50 to 60% of our projected revenue for the year disappear in an instant and, and having to navigate through that in the moment. And you know, for me, it was so intense and for a lot of business owners, it's like there isn't actually even time in the moment to feel the weight of what's happening. You're just, you're in reaction mode because you got to survive. And what I noticed is it wasn't until about maybe July of last year, three or four months past the start of the pandemic. When I actually finally allowed myself to feel the weight of what had happened to feel the loss of the medium, you know, it's like as, as people who speak partially for a living the stage is like this place where we do what we feel like we're on the planet to do, to serve our clients. And when that was taken away, you know, not only was it, was it scary from a financial standpoint, but from an existential standpoint of who am I, if I'm not doing this work, if I'm not that, and even though I've done, I've tried to do a bunch of work on just the inner work of knowing who I am and my values and detaching myself worth from the, "what I do" from the "who I am" until you're in it until you really feeling the weight of it. You don't really know. And so last summer was, you know, I, you talk about mental health being an issue. Deloitte came out with their top human capital trends report, number one, human capital issue right now, mental health. I think we all had moments of that. I certainly felt that in the summer. And the reason I bring that up is because to your point of how has this past year impacted my relationships is I reached out and asked for more help. And I, I had to be willing to authentically share some of the challenges that I was going through and to talk about, you know, what I was struggling with and when you give people, and that's one of the things I think leaders have to do, because, you know, how do you support your, your workforce when mental health is an incredibly important issue? One of the ways you do it is you go first, which is the whole game of leadership. And so listen, does that mean that you show up and you just like dump all of your problems and challenges up? No, absolutely not. But when you can sort of tap into the struggle that you've gone through, and especially if you're also doing the work, like part of the reason I could share what I was going through is because I was simultaneously doing the work, right. I was talking to a therapist, I had a coach, I'm doing the inner work. I'm doing the meditation, I'm doing the mindfulness practices. And so when you're in the work, you can share the lessons that you're learning along the way, heal yourself, then you can help heal others. And so my relationships in many ways got deeper because I was willing to not just talk about the weather and I would encourage everybody that's tuned in. If you think back on the past year, what were the big lessons that you learned? And we're not through all of it yet. We're still going to have the throughout this year, maybe into 2022, you know, people are, are hurting and people are trying to figure out how do I make this work when my kids are maybe able to go back to school or not yet. And they're still at home and my significant other, and, and we're trying to manage personal and professional, give people space to be able to talk about these things. Don't be afraid of it.

Brian Lord:

Well, one of the, I think that ties in well to one of the things you talk about is the difference between skills and attributes. And when those two things come into play, how can you talk about that?

Seth Mattison:

Yeah. This is a really fascinating piece of research to me. So, you know, the idea is, you know, most of the clients we're working with right now, they are thinking about what are the skills we need to be developing for this future environment. And there's good reason for them to be thinking about that. Deloitte came out and said that average new hire today only 16% of new hires possess the skills they need today and of the future. So when you're hiring new people on, you absolutely have to be thinking about what are my learning and development programs, plans, and systems, because the skills they have right now are not going to be able to support the organization in the next three to five years, but it's not just new hires. We also found that 50% of leaders said that between half and all of their workforce will have to be re-skilled in the next three to five years. So skills are top of mind, the challenges, skills serve us when we operate in known environments. So, which makes sense, right? You're like, okay, this is sort of how the world is changing. These are, this is how we have to respond. These are the skills that will respond to that. But when we move into unknown environments or highly ambiguous environments, where we don't actually know exactly what it's going to look like, and a lot of organizations are in that where they're like, we don't exactly know what I'll give you a specific example. The financial services and accounting space. So we work with a couple of the Big Four and I watched is one of the CEOs of the Big Four literally said, "You know, people ask me what the future of the, of the firm is going to look like. I don't actually really know because I don't know exactly what our clients are going to need and how we're going to serve them." So you're talking about total unknown moving forward. Now he said to the room because he wants to establish trust. Rightfully so. He said, even though we don't know, I have total trust and faith, that we will figure it out between here and there, but to get from where you are, to where you're going in, that we default from skills to attributes. Attributes service an unknown environment. So what's an attribute? Attributes are essentially innate characteristics that we all possess and have the potential to develop and grow further. Meaning things like courage and empathy and resiliency and adaptability and agency. And agency is one of my, my most favorite attributes for leaders and organizations to be thinking about. Agency is essentially it's, it's at its core, believing that you are the creator of your reality, that, that there is a story that the world is trying to give you about you in the world. And you don't believe you don't buy into that. You just like, I don't have to take the story of the world is giving me, I write my own story. I create my own destiny. I choose how I respond. There's things outside of my control. Certainly. We've lived in that this past 12 months, but we put stakes in the ground and say, I get to choose how I respond. I will create what I want my experience of the situation to be as a high agency person. And I attract, I recruit for that on my teams is something I'm looking for in this environment. And I think it's super important for everybody that's tuned in right now, both personally and if you're growing teams of like skills attributes. All right, there are some skills I know that we're going to need, but in a highly ambiguous environment, knowing we default to attributes, what are the attributes going to put stakes in the ground on? what matters on our team that fits our culture. And I guess I'd be curious for you, you think about some of those attributes, courage, resiliency, empathy, compassion. Is there a, an attribute that really served or supported you over the past 12 months that got you through something that, that you sort of innately have within you that pulled you in your family?

Brian Lord:

Yeah, I mean, I think for me, I kinda like challenges. So, so I was on a thing with David Horsager. I don't know if you know him. I know he's another Midwest guy, but, um, but just like for me, I was when everything hit, uh, I mean, I was kind of depressed for a couple of days, but then I was excited. Like for me, I kind of get excited about that, but I realized that that's not everybody. So you have to have patience for those, for those that-

Seth Mattison:

Patience is another attribute.

Brian Lord:

And I think just for me, I like, I like challenges. And like, when everything's kind of going bad, I kind of get more excited. Like if things are boring, it's not as interesting, but I think, but we have a lot of people here like that. I mean, Chris and Shawn and Sherry and Jennifer, like we had all these different people that really stepped up when things were really difficult. And like you were talking about just, what can you do right now? There's a whole lot, you can't control, but there's a lot of stuff that you can still, and totally, that's what we did. And we try to follow the steps you're talking about. Invested in our clients and, and gave them things that were free to help them get better to get through. You know, the very first thing we did was we did a courage series. And so we just put out these videos on courage and then we've done 30 Days of Hope when we put out all these podcasts.

Seth Mattison:

So good.

Brian Lord:

Yeah. And so, and just like now, I mean, we're kind of going through that where we're having a tremendous month and helping our clients, book speakers.

Seth Mattison:

I'm so excited for you, you and this team. Like I th I think it's a perfect example of like leaning into the unknown investing, being fearless, even though it's scary. And knowing that when it comes back around, you're going to be so well-positioned for that. Uh, it reminds me, there's another one of my, my absolutely favorite Stoic principles and, and statements is called fati. And what amore fati essentially means is love of fate. And it's this idea that the Stoics had of like, to just love, whatever happens, love, whatever comes, no matter how difficult. So it's like you're writing the book and the manuscript gets lost. You know, the computer eats it. You say amor fati. It's like, you love it. And the reason you love it is because, you know, it's going to be better on the backend, right? The, the industry goes, goes bonkers and, and events get canceled. And it's like amor fati. And while I was in it, it's hard in the moment, right? We all this last year gave us so much opportunity to develop these skills and attributes. You know, it was like trying to make the shift from COVID was the worst thing that ever happened in my business to COVID was the greatest thing that ever happened to my business. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me personally and professionally, what it did for my marriage and our relationships, what it did for me, from a teaching perspective in my business, to prepare it, to able to be more resilient, moving forward for me to learn new skills of how to teach, how to connect, how to do, how to use all of these new digital tools that we weren't before, to this extent, amore fati. Lean into it. Love of fate.

Brian Lord:

So kind of wrap things up here, you know, fall and harvest time. What does that look like now? Or what do you think I'm putting this on you? Cause you know, FutureSight Labs, you named your company that, so if you didn't predict COVID, but you know, what, what does that look like to you? And what should that look like for companies?

Seth Mattison:

Yeah. So work in a post COVID world to me is I'm very excited about it. I tell everyone, this is a once in a generation moment, not, you know, obviously it was from the disease standpoint, but from a work perspective and from a leadership perspective, it's a once in a generation moment to take a pause and to redesign, rethink, and reimagine what you want, your organization, how you're going to serve your clients to look and feel in the future. It was a catalyst to that. So number one, don't miss it. Number two, know that there is no one magic blueprint. I've had this amazing blessing and opportunity to work inside a lot of very large, very progressive organizations, not one single leadership team has the answers. Every single one of them is like, this is what we think. And so since there's no blueprint, what you have to have is you have to have two things. One, you have to know who you are. And two, you have to know where you're going. So what does that look like to know who you are, is your values, what you value determines what you do both personally and as an organization. So if we're rooted in knowing who we are, right. Okay, good. Secondarily, we have a clear and compelling vision of the future. We know how we ultimately want to show up in the marketplace in the world and how we want to serve our clients, the experiences we want to create for our employees. If I'm clear about those two things, the in-between the how I can trust that we'll figure it out. I don't stay rigid with this. I'm flexible. We'll adapt, we'll evolve, but I know who I am and I know where I'm going. And so if we can help organizations sink into that, I'm very excited about what the future will look like, because I think we'll, we're gonna re... Just reevaluate, like profit over people and, and, and growth and expansion unchecked. Is that what we really need? And one is that what's good for the world. How do we create better exp experiences for employees? How do we build more humane, heart-centered, holistic organizations that serve and support their communities that create great experiences for employees and deliver exceptional experiences for clients in the marketplace where people and leaders can lead from their heart and feel like they're, they're leaving a legacy. We get to do that, but you've gotta be consciously aware of it right now and be intentional about how you design it. And I'm trying to do it with me and my team. I know you're trying And do it here, and I hope that for our clients, too.


Book Seth Mattison for your next event and learn more about him at https://premierespeakers.com/seth-mattison.

Seth Mattison

Want Seth Mattison for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Seth Mattison - The Future of Work
Seth Mattison
Seth Mattison
April 27, 2021
Transcript Brian Lord: So our guest today here live in [the] studio is Seth Mattison. Seth is a ...
PAST: Seth Mattison | 04/09
Seth Mattison
Seth Mattison
April 01, 2021
The Future of Work: Building Future-Ready Organizations and High-Performing Cultures to Compete and ...
Seth Mattison - The Future of Work
Transcript Brian Lord: So our guest today here live in [the] studio is Seth Mattison. Seth is a renowned author and expert on the future of work and workforce development. He's the founder and CEO of FutureSightLabs. He's been in Fortune magazine, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal. Just about everything. Spoken to everybody from Microsoft...
Read More
PAST: Seth Mattison | 04/09
The Future of Work: Building Future-Ready Organizations and High-Performing Cultures to Compete and Win in The Decade Ahead Seth will talk about making the most of difficult circumstances, how to develop our skills and relationships personally and professionally, and how to set a path forward for success. About After almost twenty years o...
Read More