Simon Mainwaring is the bestselling author of We First and Lead With We: The Business Revolution That Will Save Our Future, which comes out in November. He is the founder & CEO of We First, Inc. and he was a finalist for Global Australian of the Year in 2015.
Simon’s first book came about after the global economic meltdown when he heard a speech from Bill Gates from the World Economic Forum. Bill Gates talked about how the private sector needed to play a bigger role in social change and that really hit home with Simon. He wrote his first book, We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World, to help companies rethink their strategies and practice capitalism in a way that produces profit but also benefits the planet and communities around the world.
What is the future of work
As Simon shares, prior to covid we had defined separation between work and life, but since the pandemic that line has dissolved. Work has infused our life and life has infused our work. We are now seeing people bring more of their whole selves to work. We have Zoom calls and we see people’s children, pets, and house decor.
Simon believes that as we go forward we will see even more blending between work and personal life so they are more seamless. Even though work-life balance has been a phrase used in the past, Simon believes there is no work-life balance, the balance has to be within yourself. You have to know what works for you and what gives you balance. Do you work better at night or in the morning? Do you work better in a coffee shop or in an office setting?
“I think, you know, that balance is something that we all need to strive for in a sort of the inner state level. And once you do that, I think, you can show up meaningfully, when you’re just hanging out and being social, and also you can really contribute on the work front. So I think the focus of the balance has to be within you, rather than sort of this false separation between work and life.”
Simon has also learned from working in countries around the world. He says he has learned to work more lightly and not suspend his happiness until he reaches a certain level.
“I used to be so anxious, and you’re striving to get ahead and you think you can’t be happy or successful until you’ve done X, Y, and Z. And I think it’s a much smarter strategy just to realize that you’re gonna put that effort in, but not suspend your happiness until you get there to just travel more lightly, take things a little less seriously. And, you know, have a little bit more fun on the way because I can’t even remember things that I was worried about three or four years ago.”
Trends Simon is paying attention to
The world of work is changing a lot and there are a few trends that Simon is watching and paying attention to. The first one is the heightened and growing awareness of all of the challenges we are facing these days. You can’t look at your phone, or your social media, or a newspaper without seeing what’s happening around the world–floods, fires, species lost, political unrest, etc….
“I think we’re all going through really tough times– anxiety, stress, pressure, family, professional, whatever. And I think one of the challenges of COVID is I don’t think any of us had carved out the time or the pressure hasn’t stopped for us to actually process what’s happening. And so we’re carrying it forward into our work lives.”
People are exhausted, burned out, anxious. One of the best ways that Simon has found to deal with this is to get out into nature. Go for a walk or a swim. Connect with something outside of a screen. Take time away from the news or do a full digital detox.
Another trend that he is paying attention to is a positive one. We have seen stakeholders showing up for change more than in the past. Suppliers, CEOs, employees, and customers are all calling for a different way of doing business in a way that makes the world a better place. Everyone has a place at the table, which is different from what it was before.
And the third trend he is watching is the connection between companies who make a great impact on the world around them and the profits they make. “These new market forces where, you know, the more a CEO or a company or its culture or its products, or its impact does good, the more people are buying its products, the more investors are putting money behind that company, the more they’re getting listed on the stock exchange. And the nature of business itself is changing. And I’m actually very optimistic about that.”
Three ways in which leadership is changing
Leadership is changing in a massive way and Simon says there are three main ways that he is seeing it change.
- Leaders are allowed to be more human now–Over this past year and a half we have all gone through tough times, we are all just doing the best we can, including leaders. Leaders are now able to be completely human–open, honest, and real.
- We have much more inclusive cultures–The traditional hierarchy is disappearing and we are moving away from command and control. We also have more focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Leadership is much more collaborative–Leaders and companies are working together to tackle the big problems of the world. Our problems are bigger than one leader or one company can solve on their own.
Why Simon is doing a digital detox and the impact it’s had on his life
This past year and a half has been difficult for everyone. Not only have we had to be worried about the pandemic but we’ve been separated from loved ones, we haven’t had holidays or celebrations, we haven’t been able to have a social life. And so going through these tough times is hard enough without having to read the news and scroll through negative social media posts.
Simon found that stepping away from news and social media, spending more time outside, spending more time with family, and focusing on his health made a positive impact on his mood and his outlook on life.
“I think the digital detox is all really about protecting yourself against the assault of all the negative things out there, reminding yourself what’s really important and good for your health and well being. And then committing to a course of action that will allow you not just to feel okay today, but sustain it over the long term because we’re 18 months into this now, and who knows how long this is going to go on for. So it’s been what’s been working.”
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