Monthly Archives: August 2021

CTE is Key for Future Work

Dan Smolen believes that Career and Technical Education or CTE is key for future work.

As students across the U.S. return to the classroom, more school systems are delivering STEAM instruction and career and technical education or CTE.

STEAM and CTE are key for future work. Provided together, they help students to gain access to well-paying jobs that don’t require a 4-year college degree.

This is indeed a positive development. But getting public school educators to engage students with the future of work has never been easy.

Even pre-pandemic, CTE and in-school career exploration plunged far down the list of academic priorities. In the 2000s, public school systems responded to No Child Left Behind directives by teaching to competency tests. As a result, the critical thinking and creativity needed for future work suffered, killing career dreams.

What is more, high schools in wealthiest communities emphasized advanced placement courses and four-year college tracks over CTE.

It’s an economic driver: public schools that graduate the most advance-placed students become the most-desired places to live.

However, our schools had done a terrible disservice by not teeing up and supporting amazing future work options for worthy students.

To enable millions more young people to prepare for career options that don’t require a 4-year college degree, we must respond boldly, to:

  1. Foster career dreaming beyond elementary school.
  2. Drive strong STEAM instruction that begins in Kindergarten.
  3. Establish “early mentorships” with companies in advanced fields.
  4. Build a big educational stakeholder table. It should include school administrators, community colleges, union training academies, workforce experts, elected officials, and members of advanced industries.

CTE is key for future work. It gets people accredited and into great new jobs, faster, than a four-year college degree.

EPISODE DATE: August 27, 2021

Turn Crisis Into Career Opportunity

Dan Smolen believes that times like these are perfect to turn crisis into career opportunity.

It takes a steeled spine to log onto the New York Times‘ website and read so much grim news.

However, it is in times of deep crisis that people can connect with the dream of doing meaningful work.

Right now, we can turn crisis into career opportunity.

Throughout Dan’s life, he has known people who set course on meaningful careers born out of crisis:

Rob Glassman and Dan attended overnight summer camp, together. And it was when their friend and fellow camper, David, contracted childhood leukemia that 14-year-old Rob decided he wanted to be a healer.

Adelle Settle founded Settle the Debt, a nonprofit that pays off student lunch debt so that kids can eat nutritious meals at school. A formidable activist, Adelle has also helped sponsor legislation that ensures that no Virginia school students go hungry. That legislation became Virginia law earlier this year.

Dan turned environmental crisis into career opportunity, as well.

As a high school senior in Montgomery County, Maryland, Dan reached out to his Member of Congress, Newton I. Steers, Jr., to stop a mining company from dumping asbestos-laden rock into the Potomac River. He recognized why that was important: Montgomery County, Maryland sourced all of its potable water from the river.

Many years later, Dan rebranded his executive recruitment firm The Green Suits, to specialize in talent placement for resource sustainability, clean tech, and corporate social responsibility clients.

We have within us the power to turn crisis into career opportunity.

EPISODE DATE: August 20, 2021

Code Red for Humanity’s Future Work

Dan Smolen discusses how the Code Red for Humanity’s future work will deal with existential crisis.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that humans have changed Earth in ways both dire and irreversible. The IPCC calls this a “code red for humanity.”

Without intervention, during the next 20 years, human activity will cause Earth to get 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter. In the United States, that means a 2.7 degree Fahrenheit increase in the average temperature.

We know that if we do nothing to mitigate climate change, heavily populated parts of the Eastern Seaboard will drown.

Already this June, extreme heat on the West Coast of the United States cooked mussels in their shells.

The threat to planet and people is indeed dire. But, the Code Red for Humanity’s future work can help to ensure that Earth is habitable for future generations.

Dan applies his career journey components to the work we do and hope to do, to tackle the dire threat head on:

  1. Dream to visualize work that will make you happy and well purposed. That may take you to great project management opportunities in sustainability, or, capitalize on the specialized skill you already have (such as accounting or finance or market research and analytics) in an assignment at a clean energy or sustainability focused company.
  2. Explore opportunities by Googling. Use wide search parameters to locate companies, such as B Corporations, that are clearly chartered to protect the planet and people. Then narrow the parameters to identify companies that are in close proximity to your geographic location.
  3. Strategize to increase your successful work search outcomes. And do that by intentionally building your LinkedIn network.
  4. Act intentionally to jump at great opportunities that arise quickly. Quick action also benefits people who operate as cleantech entrepreneurs or do side hustles that may turn into full-time opportunities within purpose driven companies.

Through career intentionality, the Code Red for Humanity’s future work can be profound, protect the planet, and empower people. In other words, it can lead us all to meaningful work.

EPISODE DATE: August 13, 2021

Simone Biles’ Future Work Masterclass

Podcaster Dan Smolen is in awe of Gymnast Simone Biles‘ future of work masterclass.

By far, the biggest story to emerge from the Tokyo Olympic Games has been mindfulness of elite athletes. And American Gymnast Simone Biles is the face of mindfulness at these games.

Biles exited team competition when her mind and body fell out of sync. Apparently, there is a name for such disconnection: the twisties.

What is more, Biles confirmed her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. And neither the Japanese government nor the International Olympic Committee allowed her to take the prescribed medication which would have helped her to focus.

Yet, with so much pressure to outperform the hype, in the Olympics but also as a personal brand, Biles took great risks by exiting group competition. And yet that exit helped her teammates to secure the silver medal.

In favoring her team at the expense of herself, Simone Biles taught a future of work masterclass. Here’s why:

  1. Biles recognized that the team’s success and her personal wellness mattered most. The past of work was done by people who disrespected their humanity by working ridiculously long, stressful hours as if work was the entire day. Biles teaches us that the team and personal health matter most.
  2. She adhered tightly to the mission. Instead of hogging the spotlight like a lot of old school managers do, Biles measured success in team-focused terms.
  3. Biles showed us the power of the new personal brand. No longer is value exclusively about winning. On the contrary; in the future of work, our personal brands are about doing profound work that makes the world a better place. Alongside Naomi Osaka and Michael Phelps, Simone Biles became a global proponent for good mental health and wellness.

Work should not make us sick. And that is why Simone Biles’ future of work masterclass is so important to teach.

Main segment starts at 3:10

EPISODE DATE: August 6, 2021