Issue #50
#50 - The gold in the future of work -- comes from "going back"
January 20, 2023

What’s up, everybody?

Last week, after the break, I had plenty to say and share when I sat down to write the intro to the newsletter. Still, curious as to what the AI-bot-of-the-moment -- chatGPT -- would generate, I fed it the below prompt, and it sent back this response.

Not bad, eh?

It nailed some of the goals of this newsletter: we absolutely want y’all informed and ahead of the curve; well-equipped to navigate change at work. And looking back, a more specific prompt might have generated an even better result.

But alas, the tool hasn’t figured out our tone yet, and doesn’t seem able to share any of the personal -- and human-- moments, context or sentiment that we want to bring to these emails. Indeed, that we want to bring to work itself.

So instead we abandoned AI, tacked hard the other way, and wrote about how incredible it was to reconnect with loved ones over the holiday. ❤️

And with our three Stories this week, we ask what it looks like to tack the other way at work. We guide our questions to a constant theme of these issues: how do we respond to dizzying change?

  • A scholar makes the case that in an AI-dominated future, going back to texts that have stood the test of time is the smart move. 🤓
  • A software engineer at Google highlights the questionable value of predictions in an increasingly unpredictable world -- and suggests a great alternative.
  • We look at a tidy framework for how to navigate organizational change. Spoiler alert: it goes from inside → out, and requires peering back into ourselves, first.

As ever, the Stories suggest that as things get more complex externally, the antidotes are often internal; that as we surge ahead, there is value to be had in slowing ourselves down, and looking back; that it behooves to focus on what we can control. In short, they remind us to lean back into ourselves, and into what is uniquely human.

Thanks for reading with us, thanks for exploring with us. 🙏

Aki + Usman

P.S. The link to our podcast of last week’s Stories is here. We bring to life one company’s move to unilaterally banish all meetings of more than two attendees; another firm’s policy of fining any employee who contacts a vacationing colleague; and the attempt in the U.S. to abolish non-compete agreements, and restore some balance between employees and employers.

Did we mention these episodes won’t go longer than 15 minutes?! Check one out!



Tyler Cowen is an academic who writes and podcasts prolifically, and to much acclaim. In this interview about AI, he talks about the way technology will continue to commoditize and democratize information; but without being able to provide “radically original big-picture thinking”. The inspiration for that, he suggests, will come from classic texts. We think he’s got a point; while also thinking, by the way, that a balance of Western and non-Western classics, written by men and women, might do even more for said thinking. 😉



François is a deep learning software engineer at Google, and he hits us with a banger of a question: how useful is it to try and predict an increasingly unpredictable future, and should we not, instead, rely on our principles to guide us?

Which prompts us, in turn, to want to ask questions like these: “What are the principles that guide me? My family? My organization? Are those clear?”.



Ahhh, awareness. Here you are again.

We chose this article because it gives such a helpful framework for how to think about the sequencing of awareness: awareness of self, first → then awareness of others → then organizational awareness -- and change.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. 🙏🏻

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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