Future of Work Trends:  Innovation In Sustainability

Future of Work Trends: Innovation In Sustainability

Fifteen years ago, my friend, Steve asked if I’d give up my coveted parking space in a building across the ferry building in San Francisco.  He worked for a car sharing company and they were expanding rapidly and they wanted my space.  What was the incentive?  Doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint.  With the unusual reduction in car travel during the pandemic, it’s shed more light on how we can reduce emissions. Climate change problems won’t be solved overnight but it does provide a window into career opportunities for people who enjoy solving complex problems. We took a look at sustainability and different career opportunities.

Environmental & Green Industry:

Since the U.S. rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris Accords, there’s a renewed focus on environmental issues.  It’s a great start but it isn’t enough.  In fact, a recent study revealed that the world must nearly double its greenhouse gas-cutting goals to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. As a result, more people will be needed in urban planning to design carless sustainable cities. Check out this innovative idea from France where urban designers planted trees over a footbridge in Paris.

Companies know they need to be proactive and make substantial changes to be more sustainable because ultimately, it will help their bottom line.  According to the New York Times, “In all, the world’s largest companies estimated that at least $250 billion of assets may need to be written off or retired early as the planet heats up. Those assets include buildings in high-risk flood zones, or power plants that may have to shut down in response to tighter pollution rules.” As regulations regarding energy standards are implemented, organizations will need to prepare for a potential rise in operational and investment costs. But the companies that are able to innovate by putting climate change at the center of their strategic planning and successfully build a low-carbon, high-resilience supply chain can look forward to reduced costs and increased efficiencies.  Because of this reality, being forward thinking is at the top of the list for many CEOs.   

Green Jobs in Demand:

Environmental Science and Protection Technician - Need Associate's Degree

Job responsibilities for this career include monitoring organizations to ensure they are in compliance with safety regulations, gathering and analyzing water, soil, or air samples, and creating reports based on sample analysis to help improve organizations' environmental compliance. Environmental science and protection technicians are often employed by management, scientific, and technical consulting firms or government agencies and may often travel or work outside. This career usually requires an associate's degree in environmental science or a related field.

Sustainability Specialist - Need Bachelor's Degree

A sustainability specialist assists organizations and they create and streamline green work processes. You will do so by examining an organization's natural resource and energy usage, presenting organizations with recommendations on cost-effective ways to improve their environmental footprint, and designing and implementing public relations material to educate the public on sustainability issues. Sustainability specialists will need a bachelor's degree.

Social Marketer - Need Bachelor’s Degree

Branding social enterprises or social marketing campaigns in order to change public behavior and to be more transparent are also in high demand. If storytelling and account management interest you, look at design firms and agencies working on these kinds of projects such as IDEO and Fenton to spark inspiration.  

Green Terms:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 

There are 17 SDG goals, created by the United Nations Development Program and adopted in 2015 by 193 countries.  They’re meant to be “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” Focusing on sustainable development will ramp up investment in interconnected areas such as green infrastructure, health, education, conservation of land and water, justice and equity. Many nonprofits and the private sector have been encouraged to align at least one aspect of their organization to one of the 17 SDG initiatives. If you’re passionate about any of these global problems, talk about it in an interview if the company clearly states their SDGs on their site.  That could be a memorable interview.

Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) 

As more companies become transparent (because consumers are demanding it) about their commitment to ESG, the more knowledge will be needed about how to monitor companies. Many investment firms need knowledgeable people who know how to monitor companies and about “impact investing” They’re looking for people to conduct research on ESG compliant companies.  It’s also called “SRI” for socially responsible investing. Blackrock is a global investment firm that has a social impact fund and they’re also a company that values hiring older, experienced professionals.  Researchers, writers and marketers are positions they have posted currently.

Even though I opted to keep my car space in San Francisco all those years ago, I’m more aware about the need to have essentials nearby so I can walk instead. With workplace transformation and a lack of offices needed, I wonder what will happen to all those parking lots downtown?


Reviewed & Recommended:

ESG framework by McKinsey

11 eco-friendly brands that put the planet first - 99designs

Six Companies Stepping Up with Investments in Economic and Social Justice

Climate Action Tracker: Home


Showing Up for Setbacks

Showing Up for Setbacks

On our way to Mt. Hood a few weeks ago, I totaled my car.  My teenage daughter yelled, “Watch out!” and the next thing I remember, airbags and dust were filling up my car.  A woman jumped out of the car I’d hit and saw that I was hyperventilating and called 911. Then she comforted my crying daughter by wrapping her in a blanket and told her everything would be alright. Nobody was hurt and the other car didn’t have a scratch.  We were very lucky.  

It made me think about how people respond in a stressful situation. Obviously hyperventilating isn’t ideal but I couldn’t see the other car (airbags will do that) and I was concerned the other person might be hurt - or worse.  I read an article recently called You're Only As Good As Your Worst Day and thought this day qualified as one of those “worst day” moments. In that article Shane Parrish explains that it’s not about being perfect under immense stress or behaving according to plan when everything goes awry. “It’s because what you do on your worst day is impossible to fake.”  He goes on to say that your plans and preparation (or lack thereof) show how much you really care about the people who depend on you. He was referring to leaders and how they respond when employees are fearful in a time of uncertainty but it resonated with me and how I wanted to respond in the presence of my daughter. So we wrote a note to the woman whose car I’d hit, thanking her for her kindness and the warm blanket.

“Everyone makes mistakes, has setbacks and failures. You don't come with a book on how to get it right all the time. You will fail sometimes, not because you planned to, but simply because you're human. Failure is a part of creating a great life. Stand up to it and handle it with grace. Because, you can.” - Les Brown

Setbacks Won’t Rock the Boat (as much)

Author and psychologist, Rick Hanson, University of California, Berkeley said, “. .As you build up this unshakable core inside, when the waves of life come, they don’t rock your boat so much. And they don’t capsize you. And you recover more quickly.”  Resilience is remaining calm under pressure, and in the face of the demands of life, work, or any transition that requires a new way of being in the world, such as a divorce, job loss, changing corporate environment, death, or illness. It isn't that nothing affects us, but rather, that we are able to handle the stress or move in a new direction after a setback or change.”  It's about the ability to adapt. Barbara Bradley Hagarty, a journalist, wrote: “Bad events seem to cluster in midlife. But people with charmed lives — zero traumas — were unhappier and more easily distressed than people who had suffered a few negative events in their lifetime. According to resilience research, some setbacks give you perspective and help you bounce back.”  

Embrace The “Steeling Effect”

“There’s something called the ‘steeling effect’ that makes us stronger,” says Michael Ungar, founder of the Resilience Research Centre in Nova Scotia, Canada. “If we’ve come through adversity, that means we’ve also developed a set of coping capacities. We know how to reach out for help. Or we know that this, too, will pass. Over time, resilient people develop the mental toughness to face what life throws at them. They learn to cope, even live joyfully, with less-than-ideal circumstances.”

In midlife, our collective setbacks create a greater capacity to overcome personal and professional obstacles. Although I’m not quite ready to get behind a steering wheel, I know that this feeling will not last forever and that in the future, I will be the most alert driver EVER.  We never know when stressful situations or even tragedy will strike. We never know when our friends or family members will need us immediately.  We never know when our last day will come but while we’re on this planet, we can choose how to respond in less than ideal situations and be even more prepared for the next setback.

Reviewed & Recommended:

NPR Article: Setbacks: 8 Ways You Can Survive — And Thrive In — Midlife

Book: Being Mortal: What Matters in the End

NYT Article: Sheryl Sandberg - How to Build Resilient Kids After a Loss



Recap: Happy Hour with Adam Day

Recap: Happy Hour with Adam Day

A few weeks ago, we had Adam Day who is a consultant, and leadership coach for The Medici Group on our happy hour podcast.  He’s worked for brands such as Nike and WeWork where he focused on team performance, diversity, equity and inclusion, and how companies can elevate their workplace experiences through the integration of HR, design and technology.  We discussed the future of work and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and what he’s hearing from leadership at different companies. Here are some high-level workplace trends that Adam envisions in 2021 and beyond.

  • College, Careers & Retirement are Transforming:  The beginning and the end of careers are transforming. We are rethinking college education just as we are rethinking retirement. In both, we’re moving from something standardized and binary, to something that is more fluid, customized and hybrid. There are opportunities to explore more, and contribute more, in these key career moments. 
  • Remote Work:  Talent is dispersing and taking the keys. Remote work improves an organization's access to talent and the ability of workers to live in new places. In many sectors and roles, how work gets done is governed more and more by talent rather than management. This is a huge opportunity for lifestyle changes and access to global opportunities from anywhere. 
  • The Hybrid Office:  The death and rebirth of the office. The office has always been a cost center. You hire people and add desks and offices.  Now we realize that the purpose of the office isn’t desks for workers, it is to convene, connect and collaborate--and it is voluntary. Now the office is like any other service offering--it will need to prove its value for your time. 
  • Data & Privacy for Employees:  The promise and perils of workplace analytics. What the organizational data companies have now is incredibly powerful. If it is used too aggressively to monitor and enforce, it can backfire. But it can also empower growth and shine a light on things that were previously unseeable. We’ll need to find ways to share the benefits while preserving adequate privacy. 
  • Diversity Drives Innovation:  Numerous studies have proven this to be true. This is a core mantra of the Medici Group, and we see it play out with clients around the world. The pace of change is accelerating. Almost every company is adapting or transforming its business model. And that process requires the recombination of experiences and ideas--and older employees have a lot to contribute, not just in their domain expertise, but how that informs unrelated challenges. They can solve problems others don’t see. 

Recommendations on what matters in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion space:

  • The leadership team reflects the diversity of the employee base and consumers the company serves, and they consistently affirm the value of diversity and inclusion in the organization. 
  • Executive compensation is directly tied to diversity targets--recruitment, retention and promotion. 
  • The company regularly assesses and adjusts pay equity across all roles and levels. 
  • The head of DE&I controls aspects of HR budgets, and has resources to drive impact (as opposed to an executive position without any real influence). 
  • Company leaders see DE&I as the way to drive performance as well as innovation. They create space for hard conversations, and bring DE&I values to life day-to-day. 
  • There is a culture of inclusion. People can bring their whole selves to work and have that diversity be respected and valued and seen as a benefit to the company. 

Capabilities needed of future leaders and workers:

  • Trust:  Knowing how to trust, manage and motivate remote teams.The pandemic and remote working has exposed a lot of bad management. Micromanagement or hierarchical mindsets don’t work well with distributed teams in environments of rapid change. Companies need managers and leaders that can navigate this environment and unleash the potential of their workforces. This is about mindset and experience and age can be an advantage. The days when managers had to see the whites of your eyes to make sure you’re working are over.
  • Collaboration:  Working at the intersection: being confident and capable of collaborating across cultures and disciplines. With more years of work experience, there can be a tendency to stay in one track. It will be an advantage to be able to leverage your expertise across other domains in useful and innovative ways. The more specialized subfunctions become, the more there are needs for translation across divisions to facilitate making trade-offs and combining insights. 
  • Be Curious & Challenge Assumptions: Embrace the unexpected--inclusively. 

Too many companies have seen teams perfectly execute the wrong plans. Leaders are desperate for employees with the curiosity and drive to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and make it happen as fast as possible--and do that in a way that is inclusive and collegial. No one has time for great ideas that are offset by disrespect or exclusion.  If you’d like to listen to the entire conversation with Adam, you can watch the replay on our Events page.

Below are recommendations of books, companies and future of work and DE&I experts Adam respects.

Relevant books on future of work, diversity, intergenerational workforce:

Companies focused on improving the future of work (that Adam has hired, admires the founders, and/or have worked for):

‘Future of work’ and DEI practitioners worth tracking:


More Age Friendly Companies

More Age Friendly Companies

With 25% of the workforce forecast to be over age 50 by 2024, I’ve been wondering about how demographics will change the workforce and how companies will address it.  Although some  U.S. companies include “age” in their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, it’s often not a priority for companies to focus on an age diverse team.  In fact, according to PwC research, only 8% of companies in the United States include age as a criterion for their DE&I strategy. They include companies such as Adobe, Mercedes, SAP, and Accenture. We talked about the benefits of an age diverse workforce here.   

On our happy hour podcast last week, a few people asked me to send them a list of “age friendly” companies. While I love that companies describe themselves as being “age friendly”, I’m not quite sure what that means. Do they measure the number of people hired over the age of 50?  Are they intentional about hiring older workers because of the business benefits?  When I spoke to an HR expert recently, he said that companies are focusing on (and measuring) a few areas that align with their diversity equity and inclusion initiatives. Typically (not always) this means they are measuring the number of women and people of color they hire. And this is great but it still doesn’t address the age factor. Another expert said that “age friendly” means they won’t eliminate a person’s CV just because of their age. Others said many companies are intentional about hiring older candidates because they know the benefits of having an age diverse team. Now we’re getting somewhere.  

Here’s an expanded list of companies we’ve compiled over the last year that are age friendly.  Once interviewing begins, it will become more transparent how companies address and attract workers of all ages.

Age friendly attributes:
  • Interview people with experience and don’t use phrases such as “over qualified”.
  • Flexibility is encouraged because they value an employee’s autonomy and engagement.
  • Allow time for caretaking responsibilities such as for an elderly parent.
  • Offer continuing education opportunities for all ages within the workplace.


“Returnships” are full time paid positions for adults who have been out of the workforce for at least a couple of years.
They can last three to twelve months. Since there aren’t many companies that offer a leave of absence for caretaking responsibilities, many people need to leave the workforce entirely in order to care for a loved one. Returnships offer a way to get re-hired as a full-time employee after the returnship has ended. These programs are on the rise because companies have consulted with future of work experts and they realize they need to be more deliberate about hiring and retaining older employees. Another big reason: As the nation's population becomes more diverse, companies are looking for new ways to create a more inclusive workforce in terms of gender, age, ethnic and social background, and job experiences. Some of them have amazing reputations and others do not, so research the company and ask previous “returners” about their experience at the company. Here’s a list of Return to Work Programs Around the US.

Fear of dying is human. Fear of aging is cultural.

                                                                                 - Ashton Applewhite

Impending Labor Shortage

Before the pandemic, there was a huge labor shortage. Experts such as Andrew Scott, author and Economics Professor at Oxford University, have predicted that although it’s a tight job market now, there will be another labor shortage in the next 3-5 years. 

It’s the companies that embrace this demographic shift and hire and train older workers that will be more prepared and will have a higher likelihood of outperforming their competition.  

If you know of any “age friendly” lists, please let us know at hello@illumehire.com.



Is is too late?

Is is too late?

I’ve always loved the weekly ritual of reading the Sunday New York Times. The digital version is nice, but to me, reading the actual paper feels like a tradition and therefore more comforting.  However, if a week goes by and I haven’t finished the previous Sunday Times, I fall into my own little hell of newspaper guilt.  Sometimes the piles of my FOMO back issues turn into three issues short of a “Hoarders” episode.  It turns out “newspaper guilt” is actually a thing and it’s called “time anxiety”. When I’m unable to read for a few hours in the morning, I become anxious about how I’m spending my time if I’m not actually learning anything. When this happens, I end up feeling like I’m not being useful and purposeful with my time.  

Ness Labs is an excellent resource for all kinds of cognitive behavior information and the author, Anne-Laure Le Cunff explains it this way, “While death anxiety is the fear of running out of time, time anxiety is the fear of wasting your time. It’s an obsession about spending your time in the most meaningful way possible. And when society tells us—or when we interpret signs from society as saying—that it’s too late to achieve a particular goal, we don’t perceive it as meaningful enough. We need—we demand—that what we do with our lives actually matters.”  

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
                                       ― Jack London

This rings true with most of the midlife professionals I’ve spoken to over the last year or so.  Many feel like they don’t want to waste a minute because they want their lives to mean something.  They also said things like,  “It’s not a feeling of a midlife crisis.  It’s more like a feeling of wanting to grow, learn and start over - the second half is my chance to get it right.” Others talked about wanting to add value in their lives and their fear of wasting time on frivolous things was a top concern.  Below are four suggestions in order to mitigate time anxiety.

  1. Question what you really love to do
  2. Carve out time for that (sounds easy) but with overall anxiety in the air, it’s not
  3. Eliminate distractions: Whether it’s doom scrolling or binge watching “Bridgerton”, prioritize what really matters 
  4. Timebox it:  We all have distractions so setting time limits on them is one way to come back to what you really want to spend time on

For now,  I’ve stopped carrying my Kindle wherever I go and I’m prioritizing my time to make room for more meaningful projects. I know it will be an adjustment but more living in the moment and less time anxiety sounds nice right about now. 

Reviewed & Recommended:

Ness Labs: The psychology of happiness

Psychology Today: Comments on "Time Anxiety"


A New Year & Curated Newsletters

A New Year & Curated Newsletters

It’s been hard to concentrate the last few days and many people I’ve spoken with are feeling the same way. Typically our newsletter goes out on Thursdays but here we are on Friday (again) and that’s OK. Every year, there’s a ritual of setting goals and making a plan but this week doesn’t feel motivating or authentic to tackle a vision board. So instead, I’m focusing on newsletters I’ve found over the last few months that have made me smile, made me a bit smarter and above all have made me explore different topics, ideas, and possibilities.

Newsletter Topic: Purpose 

  • In almost every meeting I’ve had over the last six months, the notion of doing something meaningful or purpose-driven has come up in conversations. John Wood is the author of “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” which recounts how he used his business acumen during his career in technology to develop one of the fastest growing nonprofits in history. He’s also the Founder of Room to Read, an organization that believes world change starts with educated children. Room to Read has brought education to 16.6 million children in 16 countries. His newsletter provides brief updates on book and travel recommendations, philanthropy and inspiring stories of business leaders who are "powered by purpose". John Wood Newsletter - Business leaders who are powered by purpose.

Newsletter Topic: Business

  • Morning Brew provides a quick recap of business topics and trends. The Hustle curates the latest business news and trends as well. I like it because it gives me some perspective on what other people feel is noteworthy.

  • Lin Jin is a Harvard graduate who wants people to know that if they’ve been laid off, they can easily build and grow their own company without the help of a developer. Recently, she launched a Substack newsletter called Side Hustle Stack. It's a gold mine of resources to find platform-based work, ranging from gig work and side hustles to platforms that help you start a small business that can grow.

  • When I talked about a no code course to my tech savvy friend, he told me about the Makerpad: Build & operate businesses without code newsletter which provides advice and tutorials about new technology (specifically no code products to build a business easily).  Since I am interested in Future of Work topics, I search for information about new tech tools and want to learn about companies that have thrived during the pandemic. Packy McCormack’s Not Boring: The Best Is Yet To Come newsletter makes this topic not boring at all.

“When it is all said and done, I believe that historians will look back at the Coronavirus pandemic as the greatest catalyst for progress and creativity in human history.”
                                - Packy McCormack, Not Boring

  • For all the freelancers, out there, check out The Freelancer newsletter for all your questions and resources answered.

Newsletter Topic: Career

  • Emma Gannon is the Author of “The Multi Hyphen Method: Work Less, Create More. How to Make Your Side Hustle Work for You” and is the #1 podcaster on the topic of careers in the UK called “Ctrl Alt Delete”. Her newsletter is a delightful mix of work, wellness and creativity. Join thousands of curious readers & join The Hyphen newsletter.

Newsletter Topic: Wellness & Development

  • Ness Labs is science-based content to answer the question: “How can we make the most of our lives without sacrificing our mental health?” Ness Labs - Make the most of your mind
  • Shane Parrish is the creator of a podcast called Knowledge Project and it’s excellent. He cuts right to the chase with his questions for his guests and has a variety of topics. His newsletter is called “Brain Food” and it comes out every Sunday.  There’s always something new and thoughtful in it. Brain Food fs newsletter

At first I was hesitant to submit my email address thinking I’d be bombarded with unnecessary emails but after reviewing them, I fell in love. I’m convinced these will help with 2021 audacious goals and that giant vision board... eventually.