What does the future hold?
At the end of June I was invited to give a Masterclass for interns on the Speaker’s Scheme in Parliament. Here are the notes I wrote for the talk.
My name is Felix Velarde
I’ve had an interesting career, and I’ve been asked to share the highlights with you
First some context
We are moving to a Gig Economy
Uber showed that part time work could be controlled by our availability, and facilitated by technology
In the big picture
The world is changing fundamentally
The old order was an expression of integration
Of integrating everything that has been true until now economically
Of trying to perfect the old ways of traditional trade and politics
But we’re on the brink of a chasm
It’s not just a political one
It’s about the future of work
And the fact that technology has changed everything in the last few years
And these changes are just starting to sweep through the world
So perhaps we’re in for a major re-setting of the way we do things in a new economy
Today I’m involved in the future of work movement, with Innovation For Jobs (I4J) chaired by Vint Cerf and David Nordfors in Silicon Valley
So how did I get here?
In my twenties I was unemployable
Blue hair, rebellious streak
I discovered the web when it was in the process of being rolled out, in 1994
I started a company to sell shovels to gold miners – one of the first web design agencies
I had some ups and downs, but my agency became famous
I sold it to my partner
I started another one, and that became the world’s most awarded digital agency
I co-created an open, collaborative web gallery, which Forbes later described as the precursor to YouTube
I had fun. I did what I wanted.
I tried lots of new ideas out: interactive TV, online PR, the UK’s first SEO consultancy.
I sold my agency to a global group and started a strategy company.
It became the best in the world at what it did.
I’ve sold agencies, I’ve started an agency group, and two years ago I decided to stop.
I now help small companies grow fast.
I’m an agency chairman, non-executive director, and M&A consultant.
I’m also part of a project called the People Centered Internet initiative, also chaired by Vint Cerf.
And as I said I’m involved in I4J… in fact the first meeting I went to was here in Parliament, at the House of Lords
So what does the future look like?
We’re in a world where already people are panicking that AI will destroy most jobs
But they’ve been saying that since the spinning jenny was invented.
What technology enables is the judicious use of data
What AI could enable is the perfect matching of a worker’s skills and aptitudes with available work
A bit like Uber, but without the exploitation
AI doesn’t need paying, it just needs funding
If people – if you – can get work that matters to you then you’ll be happy and productive
And that productivity means better economies
And that will require a new design
New business models.
So what’s my advice to you, as interns at the start of your careers?
Pursue your passions.
Look for work that challenges you, and that you love.
Don’t be fixed on the idea of a single career with a full-time job that sweats you until you give up
Be fixed on doing what motivates you and what you are passionate about
That means think laterally. Think about working two days in one job and two in another, and volunteering
Train yourselves to be flexible, because your education didn’t prepare you for this
Train yourselves to find problems to solve.
I’ve had a long career as an entrepreneur, finding innovative solutions to interesting challenges.
Do the same.
We’re on the brink of a new world now. Solve local and global problems.
Find ways to build bridges, to collaborate, to come up with ideas to beat the problems that will beset farmers, the environment, or social order
There is a future in work that is not only revolutionary and problem-solving, but fulfilling
Don’t get sucked into a single path which may simply disappear in a year or three or ten.
Follow your instincts, and your passions, and try to make humanity, and this world, better.
Go out there and change the world. It’s ripe for it.