If it ever
seems like your daily routine is anything but
routine, and topsy-turvy work schedule have got your head spinning, rest
assured you’re not alone. We live in a world of constant change and disruption,
according to professional speaker and futurist Scott
Steinberg, author of critically-acclaimed
Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways
to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty. So much for the status quo, he argues: In a
world of constant change, finding the courage to embrace change and take
chances is the only way to succeed – and that means learning to take more
risks. (Not the first piece of professional advice that may naturally come to
mind today, let alone if you’re a successful business or executive.) Curious to
learn more about the theory, we spoke with Scott to get his take on what it
takes to compete and stay ahead of the curve today – and what new success
skills leaders need to thrive in today’s fast-paced, highly-unpredictable
Q: Change is constant – how can working
professionals and organizations succeed in such unpredictable environments?
To succeed in unpredictable environments, you’ve got to find the
courage to take chances. In uncertain times, everyone wants to be risk-free.
Instead, to get ahead and/or create competitive advantage, you should be risk-averse—i.e. recognize that change
is coming, and make smart, calculated, and cost-affordable bets that can help
you gain the insights, talents or capabilities today that will be in-demand
tomorrow. Whatever your goal is, pick a portfolio of promising growth
opportunities to pursue—launch a new product line or re-launch an existing one;
attend night school or take online computer programming courses—and start
pursuing them immediately. Just don’t sit still while times, trends and
competitors are also evolving. Staying ahead of the curve is easier than it
sounds, as long as you’re staying in constant motion.
Q: We live in a
fast-moving and highly disruptive world today. What can people do future-proof
Be courageous. Rather than wait for opportunities to find you,
seek them out. Instead of exercising the same skills every day at work, specifically
seek out the education, training and experience today that you’ll need to
succeed in the future. Speak up, volunteer, and take action – constantly push
your creative thinking abilities and comfort zone. Encourage yourself to learn,
grow and take on more leadership and responsibility. Look for opportunities to pounce
on, problems to fix, and promising projects to volunteer for. Think about what
you need to do right here, right now today to get to where you’d like to be
tomorrow. Then do it. The more promising new options and avenues you pursue,
the more chances you’ll create to put yourself in fortune’s sights.
Q: What would it surprise most people and businesses to learn
about what it takes to get ahead in life and business?
The fact that we’re all capable of successfully innovating our way
to the top – and all it takes is one simple shift in mindset to do so. Research
shows the leading barrier to ongoing business success isn’t time, money, or
resources: It’s resistance to change, and lack of risk tolerance. As
fast-moving and unpredictable as today’s world is though, we’re all forced to
adapt on a daily basis. Haven’t taken a good look at your shifting schedule or
priorities lately? Surprise – chances are, you’re successfully changing and
innovating every day already. If everyone is capable of innovating, the only
thing stopping you from getting ahead consistently is your own sense of
perspective. As we discovered, fear comes in seven flavors. Learn to conquer
them, and you’ll soon find out – the possibilities are endless.
Q: What different
types of fear did you discover – and how do they affect us?
When we’re frightened to make mistakes, step out of our comfort
zone, and take chances, it directly affects our on-the-job performance. So fear
can exert a powerful force over the
decisions that we make and risks that we are willing to take. The seven types
of fear I found that we face include:
The possibility of being unable to successfully achieve a goal or complete
a task set by yourself or others.
The shame and self-consciousness felt when one feels humiliated, unable to live
up to expectations, or socially conform.
- Underperformance. Performing at a level that you or others believe
to be less than adequate, or not reflective of your full potential.
- Rejection. When you, your company, or
the products or services you represent are refused, turned away, or avoided by
- Change and Uncertainty.
The process of acting or reacting differently—and the discomfort that
accompanies these shifts or surrounding risks and uncertainties.
- Confrontation. Having a negative or
event hostile personal or professional interaction with others.
- Isolation. The feeling of being alone
or left to operate solo without others’ support.
Q: You argue that
the ability to find courage is among the most important new success skills
today – why so?
The research is staggering: Organizations like Amazon and Google
create competitive advantage by consistently experimenting with and learning
from new ideas. Individuals are proven to succeed more frequently by thinking
fast on their feet and resiliently forging ahead despite setbacks, not
possessing greater IQ or inborn talent. Constant, ongoing change and evolution
seem to be crucial ingredients for both personal and professional success, and
with a little strategic thinking and forethought, anyone can make them work in
their favor. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you’re persistent and
Q: What’s one
simple, practical piece of advice you hope people take away from Make Change Work for You?
Innovation isn’t rocket science. I
spoke with dozens of experts and authorities for book including leading
executives, entrepreneurs, pop culture icons, and more: The most common pieces
of advice for success in life and business they give are “don’t be afraid
to fail,” “think positive,” “take action,” “learn
and improve from your efforts.” You don’t need legions of case studies,
journals, whitepapers, etc. to transform a business, transform a life, or
transform a career – you just need to change your mindset. Study after study
shows that attributes that anyone can learn and possess like improvisation,
communications, strategy and resilience are key to success – nothing more,
nothing less. In other words, anything is possible when you put your mind to
Q: How many
people are aware of this, and are we doing enough to educate people about what
it takes to succeed in the modern world?
We live in a world that celebrates entrepreneurs and risk-takers
like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. But very few schools seem to be training
future generations to practice the qualifies they posses, or providing
education in vital modern life skills like dynamic decision making,
entrepreneurship, and problem-solving. And this is happening even as the
traditional system for professional advancement is crumbling and competitive
environment getting tougher. Businesses, schools, and even parent’s opinions
don’t seem to have adapted to match the new reality. I hope that Make Change Work for You gives students
a deeper look into what they need to succeed: In many ways, this isn’t a book –
it’s a system for taking back control of your future, and giving yourself a
speaker Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and
innovation, and the author of Make Change Work
for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed
Despite Uncertainty. Among today’s leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops and seminars for Fortune 500 firms, his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.