I’ll let you in on a little secret.
I was woefully underprepared for the world of work.
Not because I didn’t have the knowledge—I had a degree, after all—but because my industry hadn’t even been invented yet.
I wish I’d known back then someone like Karena de Souza.
Karena is a futurist who offers workshops and talks on the future of work.
As a parent herself, she knows how tough it is to offer advice to kids when all you have is your own experience.
You don’t know what the future will hold for them. You don’t know what jobs will disappear and which fields will be in demand.
How can you make sure they’ll have the skills to succeed no matter where they go in life?
That’s what Karena and I discuss in this week’s YBTV interview.
You’re learn why you shouldn’t ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, why screentime is not all bad, why EQ matters more than IQ, and why we can’t expect schools to prepare our kids to enter the workforce.
Get prepared for the future! And don’t miss the opportunity to check out Karena’s book, hot off the presses, on how to help kids make good decisions.
What You’ll Learn
Karena de Souza is a strategist who used to talk about the future of money.
She watched as technologies such as algorithms were being embraced by what she thought was a very secure industry, the financial industry.
At the same time, she had her kids at home, who were debating what they were going to do for the rest of their lives.
As a parent, it was her responsibility to prepare her kids to succeed in the workplace of the future, but what would that even look like?
FinTech, or financial technology, provided a clue.
Karena realized that “these industries were at the cutting edge of something that was going to dramatically change the way we consider work.”
Today, she helps parents prepare their kids for an unknown future.
We may not know what the future holds, but we know where it’s heading…
And that inside knowledge can mean the difference between having the right skillset and being completely unprepared for the future of work.
Isn’t That The School’s Job?
As parents, we teach what we know.
We can prepare our children for the experiences we’ve been through. We can teach them about the world as we understand it.
But how can we prepare our kids for a future that looks nothing like the past?
For many of us, the solution is to rely on schools to give our children what they need to succeed.
Yet schools operate under so much weight, from standardized testing to budgeting, that they can’t pivot easily.
Yes, schools will have to reinvent themselves if they’re going to prepare kids to enter a technology-based workforce, but the transformation in the world of work is “going to branch out a little bit bigger than just the education system,” Karena says.
Besides, she adds, “we can’t rely on an education system to deliver everything we want for our kids.”
It’s up to us to prepare our kids for the future.
And that’s something we can do even if our schools can’t adapt.
“As parents, we are uniquely positioned to really engage with our kids,” she says.
When Karena considers what she wants for her family, and what she wants for herself, she realizes that “I am happier when I know that my kids are looked after.”
She can increase the odds that her kids will be able to take care of themselves by making sure she picks the right education for them, or by giving them tools and skills they can use to position themselves as times change.
If we cannot totally predict and craft for them [the] exact steps that they’re going to be taking going forward, if we cannot guarantee that, then we have to do the second best thing. And the second best thing, to me, is prepare them to be able to step into a situation and take advantage of it.”
How Will the World of Work Change?
Our education system was designed to produce the kinds of workers needed by the industrial era.
Workers who could sit at a desk and focus, follow instructions, and adhere to a timetable.
The world of work may not look like that in the future.
“A good way to describe this might be to cast your mind back—which we can’t possibly do, because we’re not that old—to the transition between the agricultural era and the industrial era,” Karena says.
That’s the scale of the shift we’re going through now.
“The way we rely on technology, the way we embrace technology, the way we work with technology, is going to impact the way we go to work,” she says.
“We’re moving from something that we know, that we’re comfortable with—the industrial era … the factory system—into a new age of intelligence.”
What skills will the era of intelligence require?
One thing’s for sure. EQ skills will be more highly valued than ever.
EQ stands for emotional quotient. It’s the soft skills, the emotional intelligence, that help you network, communicate, plan projects, and run meetings.
Those skills aren’t taught at school as much as they’re taught in the playground and at home. They’re passed down through generations, through family culture, through family stories, and through example.
Karena focuses her work on the generation born after the dawn of the internet, who never knew a life without devices. Any question they have, they can find the answers online. The information they can access is unlimited.
“So the question becomes, ‘Do you know the question to ask?'” Karena says.
“That is EQ; that is not IQ. And that is where we have to teach them.”
The Role of Parents
It’s up to parents to teach kids how to take this huge body of knowledge available to them and sort it into information that matters and information that doesn’t, information that’s credible and information that isn’t.
Yet it can be frightening for us to move so far away from the way we were taught.
In my day, kids were sent outside to play, or told to look things up in a book. We weren’t allowed to sit in front of the TV all day. So shouldn’t we let kids be kids, and encourage them to shut down their devices, and get outside and play?
Of course too much screentime is bad for children.
“But there’s another part to it,” Karena says. “We can’t go backwards in time. Screens are going to be a component of their lives going forward.”
It’s up to us to teach our kids how to live productively with screens.
That involves teaching them to take breaks, set limits, and find a balance between human connection and digital connection.
Helping Your Child Decide on a Profession
One of the very first questions we ask children is what they want to be when they grow up.
But that begs the question…
Will their chosen profession still be viable in 10, 20, 30 years?
Karena recommends asking a different question.
Instead of asking a child what they want to be when they grow up, ask:
What interests you?”
Find out what their passions are.
If they don’t have an answer, you can also ask, “What upsets you? What annoys you?”
What bothers them enough that they’ll invest time and energy in learning more?
Then ask follow-up questions. Get them to be curious and investigate further.
“Over time, what you want to encourage is gathering a body of knowledge that they can rely on,” Karena says.
“That body of knowledge will never walk away from them. The job function itself may change, but no one can take away … all this information that [they’ve] developed around this research.”
Karena recommends having a conversation around the UN Sustainability Goals, which are a list of 17 goals that will hopefully be solved by 2030.
Make Better Decisions
Karena tells stories about her experiences raising resilient, adaptable kids in her book Contours of Courageous Parenting, which just came out this March.
The title came to Karena last year, when COVID hit and her three adult children were scattered far and wide.
She wanted her children to be safe, but at the same time her kids were at an age where it was up to them to decide what they would do.
“I have to be courageous as a parent and trust that I have given them the right tools,” she says.
One of those tools is the ability to make good decisions, and that’s what her book is about: how we can practice decision-making for ourselves and model it for our children.
As she writes in her book:
The biggest decision facing us today isn’t:
‘Have I made a good decision for my child?’ but
‘Have I given my children the tools to make better decisions for themselves?'”
Get your copy of Contours of Courageous Parenting.
Karena de Souza
Karena de Souza is a strategist, speaker, and coach who ensures that young adults have access to the information, mindset, frameworks, skills and tools to make an effective transition to an Intelligence Era, where the very nature and structure of work will change. Find out how you can work with Karena.