Perth based, and internationally renowned business futurist Gihan Perera takes us on a trip to the future.
Global business magazine Forbes, rates Gihan as the number 5 social media influencer in the world in his area of expertise – and he is Australia’s number one business futures influencer.
Gihan urges us to listen to and amplify the voices and experiences of young people and shares many of the futuristic insights he talks to when he’s on the global conference stage.
We’ll take a trip back to his own childhood warm table and the ideas which formed him and he’ll also challenge us with the many lessons of our past which we need to unlearn in order to be flexible, and fit for the future in a fast changing world.
Duration: 51 minutes.
Book referred to: Future Shock by Alvin Toffler
Gihan’s podcast: Fit for the Future
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· Thank you to all my generous guests for their time in sharing their expertise and experiences around My Warm Table.
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We're talking about the future today with Perth based and internationally renowned business futurist Gihon Pereira Global Business Magazine, Forbes writes Gihon as the number five social media influencer in the world in his area of expertise, and he is Australia's number one business futures influencer. The handwork has long intrigued and inspired me. And I'm delighted to cross paths again with him and to tap into his extraordinary expertise and generosity. Today, Gihon will urge us to listen to and amplify the voices and experiences of young people. And he'll share many of the insights he talks to when he's on the global conference stage. We'll take a trip back to his childhood warm table, and the ideas which formed him. And he'll also challenge us with the many lessons of our past which we need to unlearn in order to be flexible and fit for the future in a fast changing world. I'm Sonia Nolan, and you are very welcome to join Gihon an eye for a smart conversation with heart around my warm table. Gihon Welcome to my warm table. And thank you so much for your time today. It's so lovely to reconnect. Yeah, excellent. Yeah, I've been really looking forward to this conversation he had, I'd like to start with your business title, because I believe your title is business futurist or futurist. Can you tell me what that means? Right. So I've been doing this for about 10 years on Yeah, as a futurist. And you know what, like, 10 years ago, when I first started doing it, I didn't even call myself a futurist. Because I felt that not enough people knew what that was. I mean, Futurism has been around for a while. But it's only really become mainstream, in what the last three to five years. So initially, when I started doing conference speaking about futurism, I didn't call it that I said, I'm a technology technology consultant. Because of course, people want to know a lot about technology. And being a futurist is a lot more than technology. But at the time, that was something that people could kind of get a handle on. And now I feel now I feel confident that people know what a futurist is, let's just look at some ideas that they think that sometimes that I'm looking at the crystal ball, and I can tell them what lotto numbers are.Gihan Perera:
Even more seriously, they think that I can, I'm predicting the future. And it's not really that is looking at trends, and then making them relevant and meaningful for people. So quite often, what it is, is looking at what's already happening in the future. And that's there's a, there's famous futurist who said, the futures, the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. Oh, that is so true. That is so true. Gihon Exactly. Right. I actually was writing something before we started chatting. And I was thinking, you know, I want to find out from you. What are the future trends? What can we look forward to? And then I thought, You know what, it's actually stuff that's already out there, but perhaps hasn't reached us yet. Yeah, exactly. Right. And it's not only that, it hasn't realised it could be that hasn't reached us, because it's happening in other parts of the world. It might be with a lot of my clients. It's not yet happening in their industry, but it's happening in other industries. So I can say this is what's likely to happen. And a lot of it is that is just looking at trends. And so that's my day job to be looking into the future. Well, it sounds pretty exciting. And there's a lot to look at, isn't there? Yeah, there absolutely is. And over the last few years, Sonia, I've helped a lot of people look at how do they manage in this uncertain future. So it used to be that everyone watched it, but cool gadgets, they want to know what cool technologies are there? What do I need to be aware of? But now they still want to know that. But they also want to know, there's a lot of uncertainty has not been known. And that's going to continue. So how do we how do we manage and lead and navigate through that uncertainty?Sonia Nolan:
It's so true. And there was a great book that was I think it was written in the 70s. Future Shock yourself and coffee, you would know that book? Well, yeah, that's it. And do you think we're there? Do you think we're in future shock at the moment?Gihan Perera:
Well, you know what, like, I think the pandemic has created a lot of shock for a lot of people. And I mean, all the way like every extreme on that spectrum, or every stage of the spectrum. Obviously, it's been tragic for many, many, many people and families. But for even those who haven't had the loss in their family, it has really been the first time that for most of us, that the whole world has been going through a crisis like this. And, you know, Sonia, for the last 10 years, I've worked with a lot of industries that have been going through that sort of crisis and upheaval and disruption, the financial planning industry, aged care every year, there's a new report about how they had needs to be reformed. For the first time, it's happening to everybody and happening at the same time.Sonia Nolan:
So that's something that you've actually noticed quite significantly as your work since the pandemic is working with leaders and that understanding of uncertainty and crisis and rebuilding after a crisis that what sort of pearls of wisdom, can you support them with?Gihan Perera:
Well, one of the things that I always say Sonia is that we can't give people clarity. So we can't make their lives clearer for them. Because we don't know what the future is going to look like. So it would be negligent for us to say, here's what's going to come up in the future. But what we can give people is some confidence. And we can give them a little bit of a path ahead. So we can't say this future. This is what the future is going to look like for sure. But we can say, here's how we can trade through this uncertainty. So it's like, if you're looking at it a view, and you see a fog or mist right in front of you. We don't know exactly what there is ahead of it. But we can know what we need to pack and how we need to trade to take that path. And the best leaders have always done this. So I have a very good friend of mine, who when she was working as a leader in the pharmaceutical industry, and many, many years ago, this was Sonia. Their company was going through quite a lot of upheaval. They were going through an internal reorganisation, as well as there were all these things externally from regulators. And she said to her team, she said exactly the right thing. She said to a team. Folks, I don't know what's coming up in the future. None of us know. But what I can promise you is that as soon as I know, I'll share it with you. And then we can figure out the future together. And that's exactly the right message for us now, that we actually don't know if so as leaders, we're expected to know. And that's an unfair expectation. But we're expected to lead and that's a fair expectation. And it's just that a lot of leaders and are finding that they have to lead in a different way. Yeah, very much I used to hear a lot of the word complexity was, you know, something that was always part of the lexicon of leaders, you know, we're leading in complexity, we're in complex time.Sonia Nolan:
Now, the term seems to be ambiguity, we're leading in ambiguity and uncertainty. So there's been a real change in language that I've I've sensed in my time in the business world, just recently. Yeah, that's, that's a really good insight this on.Gihan Perera:
Yeah, I think I think you're right, that we have got VUCA, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. And I think you're quite right that in pre pandemic, people saw that the best leaders did see a lot of complexity in their future. And there's different ways to solve those complex problems. But now, there's a lot more uncertainty and ambiguity as well. So ambiguities like fuzzy is like a futures, fuzzy uncertainty, you might mean that there's lots of different paths you can go on, and we're not sure which one's going to eventuate as a future. So we don't know which path to take. But you're right, there's a lot more fuzziness in the work now. But there are some things that are not so fuzzy. So can you share with us some of the technologies and the trends that you're actually seeing that are quite clearly going to make an impact for us as we move into the next phases of our work careers, or our education systems? Or our health systems? You know, there's so much that's emerging, what are some of the trends that you will see, so like, if we're talking at that level, so I'm putting you on the spot here, but one of the things I always say is that our world is becoming fast, flat, and free. Okay, and if you think about those three words, what does that mean? Think about the opposite of that, which is slow, bumpy, expensive. So if you're doing anything that slow, bumpy or expensive, then just be careful. You can do it, but do it intentionally. Because otherwise, you're at risk of being overtaken by somebody who's fast track and free. So let's talk about Fast Track and free. So well, it's become faster. You know, technology has made our world faster. It allowed us to like we was laughing, talking to my fiancee, Nikki about this the other day, I said, like, when I look at when I watch YouTube videos on Facebook, I get annoyed when there's a five second ad that interrupted my video. And, you know, I grew up with two minutes of ads three or four times through a half hour TV show. And now, I get annoyed and impatient. When I have to wait for five seconds or 15 seconds is a lifetime. I'll just go for what something elseSonia Nolan:
but is that because those two and a half minutes were productive, because that's when you race to the fridge and got a snack you race to the toilet and you know, you did what you needed to do. So there's two and a half minutes growing up. We're like these really productive two and a half minutes, but 15 seconds.Gihan Perera:
Well, why don't you just pause the TV show those. So that's the first time it has just made a word faster and the expectations higher when it comes to speed. I'm sure Sonia we know lots of young people in our lives who will never answer the phone because they want to do everything by text. And there's no point that company having a really good call centre because they don't want to talk to somebody on the phone, they will talk to real when a real estate agent advertise a property, they will send a text screen, what's the price. And the agent, of course, wants to have a conversation and add them to the database and start this relationship. And they just want to know, what's the price. And so it's very different expectations, so that the fast part of it, and that the flat is related to that as well. So we've flattened hierarchies. Nowadays, we don't have as much faith and trust in those traditional hierarchies, whether it's parents of governments, or big companies, we now have, because we've got so much more access to information, we realise that some of those things, you know, of course, they've served us well. But they don't necessarily believe that they're going to serve us well in the future. And we can connect without having to go through those hierarchies. And the third thing, of course, just finished off is that we expect things to be cheap, or free. I used to buy stuff I used to own stuff I used to have, I still have a collection of CDs, which is gathering dust. But of course, we don't do that now we pay a monthly fee to get access to movies, and music, and everything. So the whole idea of ownership is changing. Even the things that we used to buy the physical like books, you can now buy ebooks for a fraction of the price. So we're expecting things to be free, or at least a lot cheaper than before. This talk about big picture trends, we are becoming fast, flattened free. And so I say anything that we're doing that slow, bumpy, or expensive. If you're doing it intentionally, because you want to provide a different experience. Fantastic. But if you're doing it simply because that's the way you've always done it, then you're in trouble for the future.Sonia Nolan:
Yeah, that's so why is that and so insightful Gihon because you're talking a lot about the experiences of young people. And it's taken me back to one of the original questions I asked you when you and I were first chatting about coming on my programme. And I said to you, have you got any age old wisdom, you know, something that you can share? You know, we should all be doing now. And you're really quick to come back and say, Hey, no, we've got to, we've got to dismantle some of that old hierarchy and dismantle some of those old systems and start talking to young people and engaging them. So I'd love your take on that.Gihan Perera:
Okay, good. So let me let me first start off by saying that I'm old, okay, so I'm a gen X. I'm gonna be like, I'm gonna be 55 this year. And that means that I do have a whole bunch of years of experience behind me. And I really want to start off by saying that the fact that you've got all that experience and insight and wisdom, it doesn't mean that's, that that's all completely useless for the future. Not at all. But the most warning is, it's not automatically relevant for the future. And that's the difference. So as I was recently speaking, at a conference in Bali, Sonia, and the conference organisers very kindly had somebody from the conference committee who came in, pick me up from the airport, took me to the venue looked after me, and this guy was the guy that I got, I was quite lucky as that quite a young guy. He was in his, his early 20s, he got his bachelor's degree was thinking about doing further study was thinking about what he was going to do in the future. And he said, as many young people say, you say, you know, my parents have a particular path that they want me to go, go on? And I'm not sure what that's right or wrong. What advice can you give me? And I said, well, first of all, you should listen to the shows, they listen to their advice. But also keep in mind that they haven't travelled that future that you're going to travel. And that hasn't always been the case. So my dad was an accountant, a very good accountant. He's retired now. And when I was in high school, if I said to him, What do I need to know about being an accountant, if I want to become one, I reckon the advice he would have given me about the life of an accountant would have been reasonably accurate, for at least to the next 10 years. And now, I don't think that's the case, that if you ask your parents what the future going to look like, they're certainly going to speak from the experience and insights and wisdom, and I'm not devaluing any of that. But they don't know what that future is going to look like. And I think we've got to look at different things. And this is why I'm so I love the attitude. I love the mindset of younger people. Because these are futures, that people who love change, they love technology, they get bored, if things aren't changing quickly enough. And yet, I think too often in workplaces and in homes and families, we're trying to mould them into mini maze little versions of ourselves, or at least little versions of based on our past experience instead of learning from them, and making them the leaders and creating a space for them to be leaders.Sonia Nolan:
It's a really valid point. And you're making me think about, I've got friends that we were all at that stage where children have finishing high school going into the next phase, some of them are going to university. And I know I was talking recently with a friend of mine, and she said, I feel like I've let my daughter down, because I was telling her about how son University is going to be and all the clubs you can join and all the people around and, you know, that experience that that we'd had at university, you know, 30 years ago, it's so different. Now University is not the place of, of relationship connection, like it used to be when, when perhaps you and I went Gihon. So these kids are coming back from uni saying, Well, you said it was going to be, you know, all this fun and all these people, but I feel actually quite isolated. And I don't know how to make friends there. And, and it's a very different environment to what we remember.Gihan Perera:
Exactly right. And I think like for me, my family are very grateful to my parents, because they made some big sacrifices. I was born in Sri Lanka. But we left when I was six. And we came to Australia because of our higher education. So for myself, my two little sisters, and my brother and my parents decided to make a huge move, and made some big sacrifices to come here. And as a result, we had, we certainly didn't have a cushy life, but we had, in a lot of ways we could build on the life that our parents gave us. But it was pretty simple at that time, Sania. So I did my parents said, you know, what do you do is you go to school, you get good marks, you go to uni, get good grades and get a good job, save up enough money for a deposit on the house. And then you're set for life. Okay, and just, exactly, it's the formula anymore. In fact, there isn't a formula. There are so many different options. So I mentioned my fiancee, Nikki, so she's already got two kids. But they've now left home. And well, one of them's left home, but they certainly finished school. And so when we're choosing what our life is going to be together, it's going to be very different. And it's up to us, there is nobody else who can tell us. This is the right formula, it's up to us to create, create what we want to do. And that gives us a lot of freedom. But perhaps it also gives us a lot of possible pitfalls and traps. And fortunately, unfortunately, that's what that's what the future is gonna look like, for us and for young people in their lives.Sonia Nolan:
So what sort of things do you believe our generation, the Gen X's of the world and the you know, and those older, what should we be unlearning so that we can actually be helpful to this next generation. And we're not sort of trying to put our experiences and thoughts as as the roadmap for them?Gihan Perera:
I like that term unlearning array like that Sonia. Because I think that's part of what we need to do. Again, it's building on. So we can definitely build on what we learned in the past. But some of the things that we learned, and truly more, they aren't relevant anymore. In fact, if Alvin Toffler you mentioned earlier, with the Future Shock, so he said, the illiterate of the 21st century, and not those who can't read and write, they're the ones who can't learn, relearn and unlearn. And I think it's, it's almost anything, so you can put me on the spot and say, what about this, this is an age old wisdom. And I'll I can bet you I can find an exception to that. And something that will be that proves that wrong. You know, for example, people used to say, treat people as you would like them to treat you. And I don't think that's true anymore.Sonia Nolan:
That was the golden commandment?Gihan Perera:
That's right, the golden rule, okay, the golden rule. But it's not true. What you should do is treat people as they would like to be treated, which is kind of different. So the way that the way that you want to be treated doesn't necessarily mean it's the way that somebody else want to be treated. And yet, couple of generations ago, it was possibly true, it was much more true, because everyone kind of fit that same, that same mould. And then you could say, the way I want to be treated should be a good benchmark for how I should be treating other people. And now it's just not acknowledged, understand how they want to be treated and see, and then treat them that way. So we've got things. So if you're talking about unlearning, think the anything that you think of as a traditional role, is worth unlearning. It might be what is the traditional family? Is it a nuclear family with a man and a woman and two kids are married, and then they have kids together? And that's a nuclear family. Well, it's not true anymore. Doesn't have to be a man and a woman. It doesn't they don't have to be married, that kids could come from blended families. And any of that is something that we should unlearn. So in our family, extended family, my parents have got a friend whose daughter has chosen to have a child by herself. That's a family. If you are a couple who have a dog, or dogs, that's a family, you know, just taking a path and just reevaluating anything that we thought of, in traditional roles, we always thought that marriage was going to be the man and a woman. And now we know that's not the case. And, again, like anything that just says questioning, questioning things that you took for granted, we always thought that you'd own a car. That's not the case anymore. There are young people now, who wouldn't think twice about just all the time just using rideshare. Even thinking about something like rideshare. So idea when you're told, as a child never get into a car with a stranger?Sonia Nolan:
The reason we're doing this is not because we're making we're doing unsafe behaviours, is because there are new models of trust and driver ratings, and so on, and some of the technologies making some of the security things better for us. So just question everything. And also, I think it's really important for us to listen, and I think this applies both in the professional in the workplace, as well as, as well as at home. When I speak at a lot of conferences to a lot of different groups on yet, and you know, what the two most common questions people ask me afterwards, doesn't matter what industry it is, is one sector. The two most common questions I get at this, number one, what should my kids learn, so that they can have a job after school? Number two, how can I get my kids to use technology less?Sonia Nolan:
And that seems to go against everything that's happening in the world?Gihan Perera:
Let's take the second one. So with the second one, how do you get the kids to use technology less, I said, that's the wrong question. And I say Don't, don't shut off, lean in. So use that as an opportunity to find out what your kids are doing with technology, learn with them, learn what they're doing, rather than getting them to stop what they're doing. So I have a bit of a controversial view about things like mobile phones, in schools, law schools banned them now, because they say it gets in the way of learning. But actually, this is the device that they're going to use more than anything else, when they're outside the classroom, we should be teaching, we should be teaching people how to use mobile phones appropriately, when's the right time to use it, when it's not the right time to use it, rather than banning it rather than shutting it off. So wherever you can lean in, because there's an opportunity for learning.Sonia Nolan:
And that goes back to some of the key skills that you know, we're going to need, or we do need now not just into the future, but those things about critical thinking, and that discernment and choice taking, so that you know what all these options are, that are before us that how to how to approach them safely and with clear, critical thinking about whether they're the right path, and the you know, the skill of collaboration, you know, who you're going to work with and how you're going to work with them. Are there other skills that we need to be thinking through?Gihan Perera:
Yeah, and come back to the collaboration. One, I think that's, that's really important, Sonia. And this is why I, I think he as well really embrace the idea and and promote the idea of diversity. So there's a lot of definitely a lot of conversation now, but diversity and inclusion. And some people think that the same thing, they use them interchangeably, but they're not really I think the change of diversity is like like having a whole bunch of colour textures. Inclusion is about using them. And you see a lot of organisations and teams and leaders who take the diversity box, because they think we've got a person of colour, we've got a couple of women in the team. And that means we've got diversity. And look, it might be that you have, but unless you tap into that diversity and use it, you haven't got the inclusion part. And coming back to something you said earlier around complexity. A world is full of complexity, we've got complex problems, we know that a disease that started in a completely different continent has now affected everybody around the world. We know that the war that's happening that Russia has waged in Ukraine is having an impact on what we pay for broccoli in our supermarket. So we've got complex problems, and they're all interconnected. And to solve those problems, we need diverse thinking from people who've got diverse backgrounds. So I think it's not just about the colour of your skin, or your gender or your sexuality. It's what that means. And that means that you've got different lived experiences. I remember watching a presentation from you know, the last couple of years, there's been a lot of online presentation, so watch a lot of them when I was just sitting at home, and I had the chance to watch a presentation. And there was a woman who was a trans woman. And she said, if you're looking for leaders for the future, then you should be thinking about trans people. And that trans Muslim woman she said, he'd be thinking about there's no better leader than a trans Muslim woman because we've had a lot of challenges. And we've had a lot of disruption and we've had a lot of of obstacles that we've had to overcome in life. And it's not necessarily true of straight white males as an example. So we actually need that diversity because that brings different experience, different lived experience, which then has very different background around around solving problems. So, so true.Sonia Nolan:
And you've reminded me of a conversation that we've had on my warm table with someone who's neurodivergent. And she also has a disability. And she says, you know, people talk to us about safety. And, look, there's nothing that we don't know about safety, because we have to navigate our way around and understand our limitations and understand what we can achieve to the nth degree. So we're really good at safety. So you should be asking us about safety. So really fascinating points of view from lived experience, as you've just said,Gihan Perera:
Yeah, that's right. And I really liked that. Now we're using terms like neurodiversity, and even talking about education in schools, like we used to call people who didn't fit the mainstream, we said they had learning difficulties. And again, we've got to be careful of our language, they've got learning differences. It doesn't mean they've got learning disabilities, we've only got we only call that difficulties and disabilities, because we've created and constructed what we call the mainstream, and everybody who falls out there outside that they're the people who are, if you like abnormal in quotation marks, and that's not true. That's not true. And I think it's, it's the idea of looking at the positives and the possibilities of people who think differently, because they bring they bring completely different perspective into the world. So in my work, Sonia, one of the things that I recommend for leaders is a talk about this idea of reverse mentoring, you might have come across it.Sonia Nolan:
Yeah, I remember you telling me about this Gihan. I was I was in one of those workshops. And I loved that idea. Yes, no, tell us about it. Yes, sure.Gihan Perera:
Traditional Mentoring is where the more senior person is the mentor. And as the more senior person, you share your experience, you share your insights, you share your wisdom, because you've got all of those. And I'm not saying you shouldn't do that. But I'm also recommending No, there's still a place. Absolutely, absolutely. And it's not an either or it's an end. So the opposite of that is reverse mentoring, where the most senior person is mentored by the more junior person. And one of the best examples of this is one of my clients, Janet, actually, she's retired now she was the head of the CEO of law firm in Brisbane. And she absolutely embraced this. Every three months, she'd invite somebody more junior than she, to mentor her. And Jr, was one of three things, it could be that he was somebody who was actually literally biological age younger, it could be somebody who was newer in the firm. So it could have been quite a senior appointment, but they recruited him, recruited him or her. Or it could be somebody who was more junior in law. So recent graduate, because she wants to know what universities are teaching students now. And all she would do was just have an informal coffee with them every week or two. And she created the space that gave them the permission to say, share, what do you like, anything you want to share? Share what's going on in your life. And we've talked about young people in technology earlier, Sonia, but it's not only about technology, like technology, the the go to place when many way many adults think, okay, we can ask our kids because they know about this, but it should be it should be other things as well. What about same sex marriage? What about Roe versus Wade? What about ownership? And whether you want a 30 year mortgage and owner property? Or do you want to be not tied to that? What about things like social media influence? What about influencers in general? And all of those things? What about consumption? So there's so many things where we can say, give us your perspective, because it's different and it's valuable, and it's going to be more relevant for the future than necessarily than my experience from the past.Sonia Nolan:
You really inspired me after that master class that I took with you Gihan i i went back to my workplace and as the leader what I did was looked at the younger and newer team members and I asked them all to write just an informal email back to me with just some dot points as to fresh eyes you know, what they've seen that could be improved or any first impressions of the organisation and I continue that on in my leadership journey as to you know, any after three months or so just write everything down because in time to come you won't see it in the same way. So I really want those first impressions and how things could be improved. So that for me was a form of reverse mentoring for me to to get these fresh opinions and ideas back into you know, my thinking that that's okay, this is really good idea.Gihan Perera:
It's a really good idea. I think many organisations when they recruit somebody new regardless of their age, you know, we spend a lot of time onboarding people, which is really good. It's really good for them to understand what's happening within the organisation. But I think there's a, there's a trap that you can go too far. And what you do is you mould people into what you want the organisation to want of them, rather than giving them the basics to get started, so they don't fall over. But then saying, Your share, share your stuff. And share your experiences often tell this story about Nordstrom. So Nordstrom is a big high end department store in the US. And for four decades now, this is way back in the 90s. I remember first hearing this story last century, Sonia, in the 1990s.Sonia Nolan:
Don't say it like they don't position last century.Gihan Perera:
So they have this external reputation as part of their brand for superior customer service. So it's like the customer's always right, whatever you do, do what you can to get the customer happy. And my favourite Nordstrom story is about a customer who brought in a set of car tires, and said, I want my money back. And the customer service rep said no problem. So here's your money. And Nordstrom doesn't sell tires. This is what about customer service, because that person knew that they would be that the brand. And the reputation they had for customer service was worth much more than what they would lose on this little bit of a transaction. And they knew that their boss would back them up. Because what happens with Nordstrom is when they hire somebody, they they put a lot of work into the hiring process. But on the first day, the new employee gets a little card that says, Here are the rules for Nordstrom, it goes something like this. Rule number one, use your best judgement at all times. And then there are no other rules, when they say how liberating back to you. But we want you to use good judgement. And of course, they employ the right people. And they they go through the process to make sure that they get the people who they can trust their judgement. But then they say exactly that, like just do what you then use your best judgement and will back. You know, it's not always easy for us to do that with the people we've already got in our teams. But I think it's a pretty good mantra to think for ourselves. And I often tell leaders, and this can apply to parents as well. Somebody comes to you for help. Just imagine saying in your head, I trust your judgement. Sonya, I trust your judgement, go ahead and do this. Now, that's not always appropriate to say it out loud. Okay, it's not because there are people who perhaps don't have the right skills, they don't have been through this experience before. But at least in those situations, you can help them and then ask yourself, What am I going to do so that next time, if they come to me with the same question, I can say, I trust your judgement. And I think it's better to start with their frame of mind of saying, this is a person who is a competent adult who is going to do the right thing. They've got the right character, but they need to build judgement, and whatever that takes.Sonia Nolan:
So what other skills do you think we're going to need going into the future?Gihan Perera:
And so one of the things is around flexibility. So it's, it's not only unlearning, but also being able to say, You know what, I was wrong,Sonia Nolan:
there's humility, There's humility layered into that one isn't there?Gihan Perera:
But there's two parts to this. And I want to be really clear about the two parts. And one is actually saying, I made a mistake, I was wrong. So there's absolutely that. And leaders need to be able to do that all the time, whether we're leading a family or a community, or a team or business. And the second part of that is that when the world changes around you, that you say the decision that I made in the past was right, but I'm not going to make the same decision now. Because it's wrong. In the right in these new circumstances. And we've seen this over the pandemic, we've seen this that, like early independence pandemic, I was saying, absolutely need to have lock downs, and we need to stay away from each other as much as possible. But of course, when vaccines come along, and new variants, which are perhaps milder or, or not, but when we've now now we've got a ladder for your highly vaccinated, we're actually different brands of human. So this decisions we made in March 2020. And the rules that we had aren't necessarily the same rules now. And I think as, as leaders, we tend to rely too much on past experience. And we say, we made that decision. So therefore, in the past, so therefore, it's the right decision for the future as well. And again, I'm not saying that it's wrong. And I'm not even saying that. It might not even be wrong now. But we should be willing to evaluate that decision based on like, completely objectively, and that's difficult for us to do. Because as humans we're used to, we're used to building patterns. So it's very easy for us to just fall back on the patterns that we know. It's just that something times those patterns, yes, in the wrong movies in the wrong directions, we get into the trap of making wrong decisions because they're based on old data, old evidence. So that idea of being flexible without without thinking and that decision making is, I think one of the most useful skills that you can have.Sonia Nolan:
I really like the way you phrase that in the sense that the decision I made was right at the time, but now I've got new information. And I've learned something different and the world has changed. So we've got a different environment in which a decision needs to be, you know, redirected, we're actually continually looking for evidence and scanning the environment to where the ships going at this moment in time. It's such an important skill, the flexibility.Gihan Perera:
Exactly, exactly. And one of the things that gets in the way of that Sonia is just that. And again, as we get older, what happens is that we have this people say, you know, you get set in your ways. And that's kind of true is kind of true. But we also have things like we accumulate things that we don't want to let go. So if you have a house, then you might be less likely to move, and go and spend a couple of years living somewhere else. If you have a car, then you might be less likely to explore other options like public transport, or cycling or walking because there's conveniences. If you've always shopped at Coles or woollies, then you might want to continue shopping there because you know, exactly what's in which aisle anytime you go in. So all of those sorts of things. They kind of conspire against us. And in some ways, we've got to intentionally and consciously be willing to break those patterns. And this is again, where young people or younger people have an advantage because they haven't necessarily cumulated all those things from the past, which are baggage, which are holding them back from the future. And I remember my my stepdaughter, Abby, she's about 23 now. And when she was a few years younger, like we used to go to breakfast, just she and I, every month or so just to have a catch up. And I remember once, so this time, the Snapchat was really big in there. Of course, like we scarred for brekkie the meal would arrive, what's the first thing that she did? Took out her phone? And to give her credit? She put the phone away? Yeah. And we just have like an engaging conversation. But I knew she was using Snapchat, and there I have a future sitting across from me. So I remember she did this once. And I said abs? What are you doing that Snapchat are the new filters is a new feature on there? And she said to me, she said, Oh, no, no, no, we don't use Snapchat anymore. All our friends have moved to Instagram. Because Instagram has got this news stories feature. And it's much better than I thought when was the last time I did something like that. Sales using this and found PC users that switch to a Mac, if Android user will switch to an iPhone or vice versa. And for me, it was just second nature. Here's a bit of feature as a new piece of software, with some better features, we'll switch to that. Also the thing about stories, so they post stories, which last online for 24 hours, and then they disappear. Whereas for me, I'm just used to posting stuff. And then I want to save it and see the memories three years later. And in the professional viewpoint, I want to post a story and then blog it and post on LinkedIn and then turn it into a podcast and some webinar. Story, my presentation, repurpose, valuable. But it's also valuable to have that idea that I want to show my friends what's happening in the next 24 hours. And then after that it goes. And we have a new experience. Yeah, and I wonder if Gihan whether there's a different definition of start, but it doesn't mean I'm right. And I'm happy to be tested.Sonia Nolan:
Gihan, one of the things that I've heard you say is that the future is not going to wait for you. You say it a lot more eloquently. But the future is now it's not going to wait for you to get on board.Gihan Perera:
You know what, Sonia Yeah, like nowadays, I still say that. So what I say is start before you're ready, don't wait for the ducks lined up in a row. Don't wait for there to be time when in your to find space to do it and time to do it. I've been saying that for the last 10 years for the last two years. I think it's had less impact when I've said it. BecauseSonia Nolan:
because people are doing it already.Gihan Perera:
That you can't wait with just in this disrupted world. We're in this world that we don't know what the future brings. So pre pandemic, it was a little bit I wouldn't say complacent. But people were a little bit more comfortable with saying I'll do this when I've got time. I'll do this when things settle down. I'll do this in school holidays. And now we just realise that that's not possible. We've got to get on with our lives. And we've got to work towards the future. Even though we don't know what their future is. I still think it's absolutely relevant to say start before you're ready. It's one thing to talk about the future and to plan for it. But until you get into it, you actually don't know how it's going to turn out.Sonia Nolan:
Gihan thank you so much for your time and your expertise and your, you know, very warm wisdom you've shared with us today. I've really enjoyed reconnecting with you. And you always made me think and you always leave me in a much more optimistic place of the challenges that we've got ahead of us are actually going to be something that we can all work with together and really tap into the wisdom and the flexibility and the wonderful thinking of our young people. So thank you so much for sharing that around my warm table today.Gihan Perera:
It's been a real pleasure. Thanks so much.Sonia Nolan:
You've been listening to my warm table with Sonia Nolan, in Italian a tavola calda is a warm and welcoming table where you can share big ideas, friendship, laughter and life. So much happens around the kitchen table, and I wanted to amplify it here in this podcast. My aim is to feed your mind and soul through smart conversations with heart. No topic is off limits, but good table manners rule. I hope you'll join us each week as we set the table for my extraordinary guests who will let you feast on their deep knowledge, life experiences and wise insights. Let's keep the conversation flowing. Please subscribe to the my warm table podcast and share it with your friends and networks. Perhaps if they're new to podcasting, take a moment to show them how to download and subscribe so they don't miss an episode either. I'd also love you to join our community on Facebook. You'll find the group at my warm table podcast. Your support is very much appreciated. So that together we can eat, think and be merry