Learn anything faster by learning how to set achievable learning goals and good learning habits. In each episode we dive into a different aspect of how learning works looking at the brain, motivation, and habit-forming. Based on years of teaching adults technology as well as text on a wide variety of subjects from behavioral economics to psychology.
Product Design with Claire Harr
Nate and Eve recently sat down with Swarm's Product Design Manager Claire Harr on The Cut Your Learning Curve Podcast. Before transitioning into product design and product management, Claire worked in the related realms of visual design, research, marketing, and business development. Throughout her career, she has worked with companies of all sizes — and has worked as a designer in an agency setting, as a freelancer, as a business owner, and in-house. Prior to joining SWARM, Claire led the in-house marketing team at construction management company Turner International in their New York City headquarters — where she provided strategic brand management services to align their marketing and business development objectives globally.
The glamour and reality of freelancing
While the term “freelance” has been in use since the 1800s, it was the development of the Internet that enabled the rapidly growing freelance marketplaces that we have today. Now freelancers are available from around the world; they generally work on a set of tasks for an organization on a short term basis.
As freelancing continues to play a bigger and bigger role in the workforce, what are the ups and downs of this type of work? In this week’s podcast, Nate and I discuss the glamour and reality of freelance work across different industries. We talk about the appeal of being your own boss: both the chance to set your own schedule and the resilience this level of personal responsibility can bring. Freelancing can also broaden your professional network. At the same time, freelancing work has challenges: the unpredictability of the work coming in and the feeling of always hustling for the next gig. Finally, in 2021, Nate and I agreed that the opportunities to be a freelancer are greater than ever.
Companies of the future
In this week’s podcast, Nate and I discuss our thoughts on the new normal. Given the market landscape of 2021, what are the conditions for small companies to grow and thrive? The relentless onward march of technology and globalization continues to impact small business. Companies of all sizes can access a more global pool of talent and potential customers. More industries are open to market disruption by small players. At the same time, with the amount of information on the Internet increasing exponentially by the day, a big challenge for small businesses is connecting with their audiences and being heard through the noise.
How does resilience affect the workforce?
After touching on different areas of worklife throughout this season of podcasts, Nate and Eve today are looking at resilience. In this week’s podcast, they first talk about the idea of resilience as “the ability to recover from difficult experiences (and simply the unknown), to adapt, and sometimes to even experience growth.” Throughout history, people’s ability to respond and recover from hard moments has been hugely influential in their overcoming obstacles and achieving success.
Today clearly the workplace is shifting - from in person to remote. From regional to global. From long term employment to more and more short term opportunities. How then can an employee or a freelancer seize upon opportunity and carve out a way forwards for themselves, and ultimately flourish?
Resilience, on the individual level, comes partially from our own background. Also in the mix is the particular working environment - is there sufficient opportunity and support to help staff grow and rise? Finally, curiosity, an eagerness to learn, flexibility, hustle, and luck all play a role. As technological advances massively accelerate and the workplace itself continues to transform, the ability to foster resilience among staff will be critical for future growth.
Management and Leadership: Are They Different?
As massive change occurs in the workplace, so too have the concepts of “leadership” and “management” continued to evolve to adapt to the modern day. Leadership is commonly understood as the big broad strokes that paint the vision of the organization, while management is responsible for executing this vision in the day-to-day. As my former CEO described to me, the leader announces “there’s the hill we must climb,” and the managers figure out how to get there and ascend to new heights.
All of this has implications in the field of education. A company like Nokia is a cautionary tale of how even successful, entrenched companies are vulnerable due to the accelerating speed of change in technology and consumer preferences. MBA programs focus on developing leadership skills in the fast moving digital world, and how to effectively pivot the small army that is a mid to large size organization in a new direction.
At the same time, effective management has become an interesting dance: of adapting to high team turnover, open offices (some with even shared desks) and continuing shifts in strategy, while at the same time ensuring consistency, accountability, fairness and support to employees to help them, and in turn the organization, succeed. It is a play on an old song, now at a much faster cadence for today’s world.
As an educator and trainer in project management nationwide, what I see is very little curriculum covering the fundamentals of effective management at either the K-12 or post-secondary level. Yet as the remote and freelance economies continue to rise, and as small independent businesses continue to blossom, the need for even a basic understanding of how to manage - how to set expectations and then ensure they are met - will only become more critical as work teams form and re-form with greater fluidity across the globe.
When we hire, what's most important to us as employers? What are we looking for?
In the past year, the spread of Covid-19 has dramatically upended both work and college life. Much of the “knowledge economy” workforce has migrated to 100% remote. We had almost 2 feet of snow fall on New York City in the past week. Instead of delayed commutes and trundling through the slush, our work days were basically unchanged. So too have universities shifted to a mix of remote and in-person classes, with each school and school system designing its own policies for testing and reducing transmission.
As the vaccine rollout continues and tentative plans are being made for the return to the office, what does this mean for hiring, particularly for recent graduates in the past five years? In this week’s podcast, Nate and I discuss our own experiences hiring and working with recent hires for our specialty areas - engineering, design and project management.
The credentials of graduating from an elite university still have considerable value, particularly in terms of prestige and the network of contacts. For many recruiters, a four year degree is the first box to check. Yet at the same time, the needed skills continue to evolve rapidly. A big focus for employers is show us what you have done - your portfolio, your code sample, your work experience. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has written about how we will all need to become lifelong learners to adapt to a radically changing world of work. I believe Covid has only accelerated the changes that we will see in the future.
Nate is easy to listen to with lots of great insights. Definitely a fan!!!
I love it.
Es increible tu podcast Nate, por favor sigue asi.!
Saludos desde Venezuela.