Trend # 1 is without a doubt artificial intelligence. Approximately 30% of the CEOs we chat with on a daily basis are in the AI space. There’s a ton of these companies, most will not make it out, but the revolution is undoubtedly upon us.
There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.
To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.
As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Nima Olumi.
Nima Olumi is an economist and marketing executive from Boston, Massachusetts. He serves as CEO of Lightyear Strategies: a marketing firm that consults for leading artificial intelligence companies. Lightyear Strategies creates educational content, writes creative copy, and handles reputation management for its clients.
Nima’s research focuses on “Marketing Yourself in a Post Covid Economy” “Updates to your Tech Stack” and “The Need for Genuine Personalization to Win New Business.” He consults for leading financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley and Northwestern Mutual; as well as medical enterprises like Partners Healthcare, Boston Children’s, and Newton Wellesley Hospital.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
My name is Nima Olumi, and I am the CEO of Lightyear Strategies. We are a marketing firm based out of Boston, MA. A memorable moment in time was my junior year in undergrad where I had developed a tenacious appetite for entrepreneurship. Bates was very much an academic institution, and my desire to engage in business was hardly met with any level of enthusiasm. One like-minded student and I were able to bond through this experience and keep each other afloat.
What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?
If you were blown away by advancements from 2010–2020 then I can guarantee that you will be even more impressed with what’s coming from 2020–2030. Growth does not occur linearly, and whatever can be automated will be automated. America was not founded on the basis of hindering innovation to protect the labor force. Many fear artificial intelligence simply because they don’t understand it. The single greatest thing employers can do in 2021 is to bridge the gap by educating their team members. Courses offered on Udemy, Coursera, and YouTube vastly undercut traditional schooling. Fundamental skills like being able to use an editor and speaking the language of ‘code’ are important in order to remain competitive in the job market.
The choice as to whether or not a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether or not to go to college?
Universities have adopted a corporate business model that’s more concerned with the money they bring in rather than the education provided to their students. Attending a traditional college or university, however, is a great privilege and if you have the means, or have been given substantial scholarships you should most definitely attend. To those wondering whether or not they should go, I say give yourself a real honest look in the mirror.
Before paying for college, have a plan of exactly who you want to be and what you want to do with your life. Too many students go to university and spend their first two years deciding what they want to do. Calculate cost of loans, interest rates, and think about where you’d want to live moving forward. Debt can become an overbearing crutch that ruins your life and I have seen many examples of bright individuals that have been able to educate themselves in cost-effective ways. A 24-hour python class costs as little as 23.99 dollars https://www.udemy.com/course/complete-python-bootcamp/
Countless textbooks have also been made available for free on the web.
I would also say not to look at the millionaires and billionaires as references; they are outliers. Set realistic goals i.e. a six-figure salary, and understand that you can only obtain this kind of money if you’re bringing equal or greater value to your employer.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment but employment that fits their talents and interests?
People will have to invest in talents that fit the new job market. I.e. Zillow came to life and people thought that there wouldn’t be a need for realtors anymore, but that’s far from true. You’ll just have to adjust your role in that job. Change is inevitable and resistance is expected. There will be a balance as both the labor force and the employer rely on one another for long term success.
The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs appear frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?
Working the cash register at Walmart or delivering pizzas for Dominos is unskilled labor. These will be some of the first jobs to go. People should improve their skills and aim for a better life; easier said than done. We are not entitled to our jobs, and laziness doesn’t pay.
Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?
Absolutely, most people demand some sort of hybrid environment when they’re applying for jobs. The covid era has shown us that we don’t always need to be present in the office. That being said, many employers prefer to be in the office, and employees who refuse to come in could have some FOMO in terms of worker-worker interaction, promotions, etc. I only see this though when people actually like their co-workers. If people don’t have a sense of community at the workplace then they may prefer to stay at home. I know for me personally that I need to come into the office to be my best self, but I recognize that may differ for some people and I respect their wishes appropriately.
What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support the fundamental changes to work?
We need to encourage education and make access to it more widespread. Many who are in school have this “me vs them” competitive mindset when it comes to their classmates. Some competition is good, but school should be about building each other up. I also think that the level of education that people really need access to is higher learning and that many people just refuse to pursue the education that is required to be truly competitive in the new market. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employers to accept? What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employees to accept?
It’s hard to imagine what these changes will be until they’re being implemented at scale. Employers however will need to figure out how to have these difficult discussions and reallocate existing labor. No one wants to fire and rehire; it’s a lot of training you have to put someone through. So there’s a mutual interest in ‘working it out.’ Employees simply may not want to change, especially if they have been used to having a specialized role. They, however, may have to and it’s in everyone’s mutual interest to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight the inadequate social safety net that many workers at all pay levels have. Is this something that you think should be addressed? In your opinion how should this be addressed?
Tough question. Safety nets are a necessity during such unprecedented times. At what point however do people start taking advantage of them to the point where they may be doing more harm than good. Hard to say as many are using them in an ethical manner while a large portion is doubling down, collecting from the government, and working under the table in addition. There needs to be a true cap and a path to helping people get back on their feet. Again, easier said than done but we’re going to see the ramifications of all the money we’ve printed for generations to come.
Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
It will all work out. I don’t think there’s any reason to stress. Just focus on yourself and adjust to the market as new innovations are adopted.
Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?
Invest in educating people while they are unemployed. I.e. further incentives could be given with unemployment checks. I.e. If you complete x amount of course y this week we will give you z more dollars on your weekly check. This would address a lot of issues.
Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Trend # 1 is without a doubt artificial intelligence. Approximately 30% of the CEOs we chat with on a daily basis are in the AI space. There’s a ton of these companies, most will not make it out, but the revolution is undoubtedly upon us.
- The cloud: data storage, parsing through unstructured data, these are big topics.
- Advancements in education: how will universities adjust tuition. Will it get so excessive to the point that reasonable people will attend online classes or via zoom in order to avoid these crazy costs?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?
My grandfather was a world-famous architect and avid gardener in Tehran. He ran a very successful business and always said he loved gardening because of the way it was able to bring people together. People search for meaning behind the work they do, and if you’re able to provide that for others you’ll be highly successful.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
This might be a controversial opinion to many, but it would have to be Tom Brady. What he’s doing day in and day out at 43 years of age is just incredible. He’s also such a team player, puts his ego aside, and has been wreaking havoc upon the NFL for over two decades.
Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?
Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nima-olumi-738a92ab/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.