Results and accomplishment environment — Set expectations for team members. Create a contract for what needs to be produced, not how much time needs to be spent. This would be good for a manufacturer to perform their roles and duties. Be clear in your expectations.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Mike Michalowicz.

By his 35th birthday, Mike Michalowicz had founded and sold two multi-million dollar companies…and proceeded to lose his entire fortune. He started all over again, driven to find better ways to grow healthy and strong businesses. Mike has devoted his life to the research and delivery of innovative, impactful entrepreneurial strategies to you.

Mike is the creator of Get Different, the proven method to get your marketing to stand out from a crowd and get noticed in a split second. He is also the creator of Profit First, Clockwork, Fix This Next, The Pumpkin Plan, Surge, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, Get Different, and My Money Bunnies.

Today, Mike leads two new multi-million-dollar ventures, as he tests his latest business research for his books. Mike is a popular main stage keynote speaker on innovative, actionable topics and continues to provide tools to help eradicate entrepreneurial poverty.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

Out of all the experiences that have shaped my entrepreneurial journey, there are two that stand out as the most prominent so far:

1. The piggy bank moment. Once, I had everything. Within hours, it was gone, and I found myself faced with the dreadful task of going home to tell my family at dinner. As the words stumbled out of my mouth, my young daughter ran out of the room. I thought she was upset with me because she wouldn’t be able to take horseback riding lessons anymore. When she returned, she was holding up her piggy bank and said, “I can help, Daddy.” Hands down, this was the defining moment in my entrepreneurial journey, and life, really. Because I lost everything, my family, and my business, are thriving. Now, I get to run my business in a way that helps other entrepreneurs have the same.

2. My mother stored money around the house for different purposes. The one location that stands out to me most is the envelope she kept in her sewing kit, labeled, “fun”. This collection of money was the difference in what she saved from when she used coupons at the grocery store. This ended up being the precipice for Profit First. And you know, my mom is in her 80’s and still keeps this envelope to this day, gifting it to people unexpectedly in tip form to those who may not expect it such as a gas attendant. She’s pretty cool, huh?

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

As much as the workforce has shifted to a more virtual model, I truly believe that we as humans will always require in person interaction. We are starting to play with Oculus and virtual reality, but I don’t think that will replicate true immersion or replace tactile experiences. I believe that even if we move to more virtual formats that we will still become a very hybrid market. Socialization is a skill that really needs to take place in person. But maybe the work activity, collectively and collaboratively, will become more virtualized.

I also think that we’re going to adopt a much more fluid work environment. I cannot imagine a 40 hour work week lasting for another ten years. I think we’re on the cusp of that coming to a counterproductive point and that it’s far more productive time wise. I see this in action for myself in my business. I have very few team members who work over twenty-five, thirty, hours a week, and we are incredibly efficient and productive.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

The key to sustaining your business over time is to get interested in your employee’s future. It’s so obvious yet it’s been so inconsequential. And now look at where we are with The Great Resignation. What did we expect?

Management is so worried about what strategies they need to change in their companies, what’s their rallying cry, what’s their mission. Those things are important, but to me, the most substantial component is knowing what your employees want for the company. And if you can be a significant contributor, their future and your future are now in lockstep. Understand what their visions and dreams are. Align your company to satisfy that. Create a results oriented environment and understand what your employees’ visions and dreams are and align with that and you have a stronger company going forward.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

These gaps are interesting. What employees want is fulfillment of their own vision and dreams. I think the new generation of employees are much more vision based versus being money oriented. Of course everyone wants to sustain their livelihood and financial goals, but at the same time, fulfillment of personal vision and mission has become a major factor. Employees want to have true impact on a large scale, not just collect a paycheck.

I think employers are very myopic and come from a “this is what we need to do for the company and to increase shareholder value” standpoint. This is a huge disconnect. The employer has a goal that really only satisfies the owner and the business, while the employees have their own individual goals.

To close that gap or get clarity on employees’ individual dreams, alignment of intentions and vision is imperative. If you don’t, and other employers do, then those other employers are going to win out.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

“Working from home” used to be the minority served up with a slight side eye. Then, overnight, this model became the majority. Working from home was originally set up for the integrated businesses and then overnight we all had to do it.

Employees’ expectations are changing. I think employees realized that commutes took a lot of time, that they could get more done or drive more results without the distractions of commutes and getting pulled in different directions in the office. At the same time, we felt the loneliness of not being included in a community. So what I think this is bringing about is that a new, hybrid environment will be a thriving one. It isn’t going to be so clear cut. A lot of businesses have gone completely virtual now, but I think the detriment is that they are losing that connection.

The best organizations will allow for a hybrid working model with a home/office base and work from home set up. That hybrid nature allows for the best of both worlds: the social connection, which is so critical so you have the understanding of each other, and have the flexibility to allow people to produce the way they want.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone? What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

We’re entering a renaissance of creativity and self expression and human connection. With new platforms and technology for automations to complete the mundane, people are allowed to lean into their creativity more. It’s almost like the storm before the sun — we’re going through a dark period — people are overworked using this old model and are now trying to rediscover themselves. At the same time people are learning to really express themselves. I don’t know if a job can be a source of self expression, but in any job, we can find ways to express our individuality and creativity.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

Businesses need to step up and serve mental health and wellbeing. I mean now. I’m not talking about rolling out some half assed initiative that has sign ups for pre recorded webinars or on premise gyms (which to me, reads more like a hostage situation than work/life balance). People are going to be more dedicated and efficient if leadership truly makes wellness a priority, so it’s worth the effort on the company’s part. It’s critical. I cannot believe that in this day and age, mental wellness is so overlooked, when it should be revered.

We’ve started monitoring our teams’ wellness and offering services to assist employees. We started with a simple anonymous survey with pretty deep questions, and are building out what we need to support our team from there. We’ve also created a weekly exercise for our employees. This exercise is cleverly disguised as a mandatory relaxation assignment (no one is forcing anyone). We have a dedicated office space where people go in individually and complete their assignments. From guided meditation, to a massage chair, to journaling, we have built in a few mindset components that allow our team members to truly take a moment and assess how they’re feeling. By integrating this as part of our culture, there is less stigma, and that’s a beautiful thing.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

There is a Big New Need, and leaders need to leverage that. It’s our job to explore what that need is in our businesses. You can do this by simply asking, evaluating, and observing what your company needs to address.

Remember, this isn’t a cultural shift like when you throw another foosball table and snacks out in a common area. You have to ask “Hey, what do you really need, now?” When you get the answers to those questions, you will create the necessary cultural shift.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

1. Multi employment — In response to remote opportunities, people are accepting jobs, sometimes full time positions, at multiple companies. Businesses who embrace that approach will benefit because those employees will be attracted to work for them. It also boils down to if the expectation is to work 8 hours a day, that’s not necessarily going to mean they produce. It’s not about the time, it’s about the productivity.

2. Results and accomplishment environment — Set expectations for team members. Create a contract for what needs to be produced, not how much time needs to be spent. This would be good for a manufacturer to perform their roles and duties. Be clear in your expectations.

3. Time zone diversity — the more allowance for different team members to work in multiple time zones, the more opportunity for productivity twenty four hours a day. If you look at manufacturers, they have multiple shifts for this reason. So diversifying your locations and time zones will make this come about naturally.

4. The rise of kaleidoscope management — When you turn a kaleidoscope, the image comes together and then it comes apart again. What we’re looking for in kaleidoscope management is diverse people from diverse backgrounds with an aligned vision or plan and that they can morph in size. Remember, your team members aren’t there for life, but for the life of impact. This model will increase the rise of contractors, consultants, and temporary work forces, which will expand and contract as necessary to see who can expand their roles, change management, and leaders of projects as needed.

5. More international business — Every business needs to go international. Even the local storefronts. While a pizza shop may not ship pizza around the world, they can still teach. There is an opportunity for international transactions simply by recording a course or training specific to an industry. International transactions bring stability to business. They add diversity and grow sustainability in your business. You can be of service and generate revenue outside of your immediate geography.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

Hands down my favorite quote is, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde. I have this quote hanging in my office so it’s readily visible. The thing is, when we lean into who we naturally are, that’s when we excel. It’s when we try to serve expectations of others opposed to expectations of ourselves that we are compromised. The benefit of fitting in is that you’re liked by everybody except yourself. You cannot be of service to others if you don’t truly like yourself.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Malcolm Gladwell. He is one of the greatest storytellers. He infuses high levels of intellect where someone who may not be able to digest information at a significantly more sophisticated level can consume it. He makes sophisticated concepts digestible so everyone can consume it. I admire that. His storytelling is absolutely captivating so I’d love to spend just ten minutes asking him questions.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Email [email protected] — because I have a human team member who loves to serve our community with tons of free resources, and that human will also put you in touch with me if requested.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.