Category: Future of Work

Optics: Perception Becomes Reality

The following passage is an excerpt from the soon to be released book, Tomorrow’s Job’s Today, available from John Hunt Publishing in April 2021.

Optics: perception becomes reality

These days everybody wants to be perceived as a “thought leader” and “focused on strategy.” That’s a reasonable and legitimate goal. But strategy must be complemented by subject matter expertise, and too generalized of a strategy is frequently where our most painful productivity issues originate. Sooner or later, somebody has to roll up their sleeves, become the specialist, or take responsibility for coordinating a team’s collective thoughts into a coherent game plan. It’s no surprise that most generalists begin their careers as specialists.

It’s the substantive work that ultimately refines your capabilities and gives you the insight to lead big projects and teams. I’ll leave the specific number of hours required for expertise to Malcolm Gladwell. But the truth remains that the only way you gain experience is by taking on the dirty work and assuming ownership over both success and failure. What matters to management as much as the outcome is how you are perceived while responding to those challenges and how you carry yourself through the ups and downs. How you handle the blows matters more than how you take the bows.

We’re all aware that certain projects, those in which repetitive, mundane, administrative, or technical work is required, are avoided like the plague by line employees and management alike. It’s not as exciting as “What should we do next with this ridiculous budget or patented technology?!” When a project does happen to spark immediate interest and quickly garner executive support, once it moves past the planning stages, it too can begin to feel like nobody on the team wants to be bothered with the specific logistics. It ends up either a shell of itself, on the chopping block, or just the back burner. This is especially true in larger organizations where the majority of stakeholders are not incentivized to profit from the idea or initiative’s success directly.

Surprisingly, what can blossom from these hellish projects are new, bold leaders, since these are also opportunities for individuals willing to board the ship and chart the obstacle course. These are the champions in life and work who drive initiatives forward because they’re more interested in accomplishing something and learning new skills than getting (or stealing) the credit. They are playing a long game, and that’s how they outwit those who would short their own stock. Of course, we all know individuals who have been elevated by less ethical means and have gone on to lead companies, even governments! But there is no long-term professional value for lifetime purveyors of immediate gratification.

Modern knowledge workers expect to graduate into advanced roles and focus increasingly on delegation. Yet a strictly hands-off attitude ultimately results in us easily falling out of touch with basic business operations, over time making us seem unrelatable and aloof to our co-workers and customers. We naively assume technology or corporate bureaucracy will shoulder all the tedious processes we’re tasked with rather than striving to understand its impact on our businesses and identifying room for further efficiency.

Masses of employees, especially those basking in the spend-it-or-lose-it public sector, have grown comfortable with management throwing money at a problem or bringing in consultants to clean up a mess instead of tackling causation. As leaders and executives, we never want to take a step backward and be viewed as unwilling to trust and delegate. Yet there is much to be said for staying familiar with, remaining involved in, and practicing the discipline in which you claim to have expertise.

In this Information Age, we need to stay current with the problems our industry is facing, intimately, so that our ideas remain fresh, so we can retool and modernize the principles that have worked for us. Those principles and optics help get our teams to score on goal posts that always seem to be moving.

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Professing Principles of Digital Ethics and Privacy – CPO Magazine

via Professing Principles of Digital Ethics and Privacy – CPO Magazine

“For me, trust has to be earned. It’s not something that can be demanded or pulled out of a drawer and handed over. And the more government or the business sector shows genuine regard and respect for peoples’ privacy in their actions, as well as in their word and policies, the more that trust will come into being.” Dr. Anita L. Allen

Dr. Anita Allen serves as Vice Provost for Faculty and Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Allen is a renowned expert in the areas of privacy, data protection, ethics, bioethics, and higher education, having authored the first casebook on privacy law and has been awarded numerous accolades and fellowships for her work. She earned her JD from Harvard and both her Ph.D. and master’s in philosophy from the University of Michigan. I had the opportunity to speak with her recently about her illustrious career, the origins of American privacy law and her predictions about the information age.

Q: Dr. Allen, a few years ago you spoke to the Aspen Institute and offered a prediction that “our grandchildren will resurrect privacy from a shallow grave just in time to secure the freedom, fairness, democracy, and dignity we all value… a longing for solitude and independence of mind and confidentiality…” Do you still feel that way, and if so, what will be the motivating factors for reclaiming those sacred principles?

A: Yes, I believe that very hopeful prediction will come true because there’s an increasing sense in the general public of the extent to which we have perhaps unwittingly ceded our privacy controls to the corporate sector, and in addition to that, to the government. I think the Facebook problems that had been so much in the news around Cambridge Analytica have made us sensitive and aware of the fact that we are, by simply doing things we enjoy, like communicating with friends on social media, putting our lives in the hands of strangers.

Before you continue reading, how about a follow on LinkedIn?

And so, these kinds of disclosures, whether they’re going to be on Facebook or some other social media business, are going to drive the next generation to be more cautious. They’ll be circumspect about how they manage their personal information, leading to, I hope, eventually, a redoubled effort to ensure our laws and policies are respectful of personal privacy.

Q: Perhaps the next generation heeds the wisdom of their elders and avoids the career pitfalls and reputational consequences of exposing too much on the internet?

A: I do think that’s it as well. Your original question was about my prediction that the future would see a restoration of concern about privacy. I believe that, yes, as experience shows the younger generation just what the consequences are of living your life in the public view and there will be a turnaround to some extent. To get people to focus on what they have to lose. It’s not just that you could lose job opportunities. You could lose school admissions. You could lose relationship opportunities and the ability to find the right partner because your reputation is so horrible on social media.

All of those consequences are causing people to be a little more reserved. It may lead to a big turnaround when people finally get enough control over their understanding of those consequences that they activate their political and governmental institutions to do better by them.

Q: While our right to privacy isn’t explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution, it’s reasonably inferred from the language in the amendments. Yet today, “the right to be forgotten” is an uphill battle. Some bad actors brazenly disregard a “right to be left alone,” as defined by Justice Brandeis in 1890. Is legislation insufficient to protect privacy in the Information Age, or is the fault on the part of law enforcement and the courts?

A: I’ve had the distinct pleasure to follow developments in privacy law pretty carefully for the last 20 years, now approaching 30, and am the author or co-author of numerous textbooks on the right to privacy in the law, and so I’m familiar with the legal landscape. I can say from that familiarity that the measures we have in place right now are not adequate. It’s because the vast majority of our privacy laws were written literally before the internet, and in some cases in the late 1980s or early 1990s or early 2000s as the world was vastly evolving. So yes, we do need to go back and refresh our electronic communications and children’s internet privacy laws. We need to rethink our health privacy laws constantly. And all of our privacy laws need to be updated to reflect existing practices and technologies.

The right to be forgotten, which is a right described today as a new right created by the power of Google, is an old right that goes back to the beginning of privacy law. Even in the early 20th century, people were concerned about whether or not dated, but true information about people could be republished. So, it’s not a new question, but it has a new shape. It would be wonderful if our laws and our common law could be rewritten so that the contemporary versions of old problems, and completely new issues brought on by global technologies, could be rethought in light of current realities.

Read more at Professing Principles of Digital Ethics and Privacy – CPO Magazine


Secrets of the Scrap Metal King of Albuquerque

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book “Tomorrow’s Jobs Today: Wisdom and Career Advice from Thought Leaders in AI, Big Data, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Privacy, and More” available soon from John Hunt Publishing.

The convergence of technology and the rule of law is expected to intensify over the coming years. It’s a paradigm shift that will force organizations of all sizes, private and public, across all verticals, to balance a world ripe with innovation with an evolving universe of risk and regulatory pressure. Employers and their workforces will be inclined to adapt to this dynamic new digital landscape in their personal and professional lives. Like every era before it, the individuals who lead the way will separate themselves from the pack by identifying, engaging in, and fostering the right opportunities wherever they reveal themselves. They understand that identifying gaps is one key to seizing those opportunities.

One of the most amusing success stories exemplifying this point comes from the first part of the twentieth century. It involves a weary soldier returning from World War I. As the story goes, the GI was tired but also thrilled to be alive after countless friends had been killed, and so much of the world he knew destroyed. He was discharged in California and put on a Pullman train packed with other vets traveling from San Francisco to the East Coast. Like his fellow soldiers, the young man enjoyed his share of spirits in the bar car, and by the time they crossed over into New Mexico, most of the train’s passengers were quite drunk. Naturally, overconsumption can lead to brawling, and that’s what occurred by early noon. He held his own for a while, but eventually, he was thrown from the caboose about 15 miles outside of Albuquerque. In those days, that was the middle of nowhere.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he only had enough money to buy himself a bus ticket to finish the last leg of the trip and maybe half a sandwich. Slightly drunk and out of luck, he began walking down the road parallel to the railroad towards town. As he sobered up along the path, he started noticing a lot of broken-down sedans, pickup trucks, and roadsters abandoned along the highway, likely having run out of gas. Remember, this was 1918, before GPS and call boxes, let alone gas stations… in the desert! Well, this young man thought a lot about those beat-up clunkers, and in between each one, as he made his way to civilization, he began thinking about what the vehicles represented. By the time he finally made it to town, he had come up with one hell of an idea.

Despite being parched and stinking to high heaven, he abandoned his plans to purchase a bus ticket and used what was left in his pocket to put a payment down on a tow truck. The next day he filled up the tank and set back along that road he’d traversed the afternoon before. Well, wouldn’t you know it? He picked up every darn one of those lonely jalopies and dragged them back to a lot he’d rented from the same lessor who extended him credit for the tow truck.

Less than a decade later that GI was the third-largest scrap metal salesman in the Southwest United States. By the time he died, about the richest man in Albuquerque. He never quite made it home to Boston, but he did learn first-hand about how your journey is often more enjoyable, and profitable than arriving at your destination.

So, what are your broken-down jalopies? What are the business processes, products, or teams you see broken down and in need of repair or improvement around your organization or community? How can you, like that GI, turn a real crap situation into one that benefits not just you, but ultimately the world around you? Can you identify the gaps in between the stops along the way to your goals? Are you ready to seize the day? Are you thrilled to be alive like that weary soldier the day he was thrown from the train?

Rafael Moscatel, CIPM, CRM, IGP, is the Managing Director of Compliance and Privacy Partners. He has developed large-scale information management, privacy and digital transformation programs for Fortune 500 companies such as Paramount Pictures and Farmers Insurance. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @rafael_moscatel.