In this fascinating podcast, Sean Pillot de Chenecey interviews Paolo Gallo.

Paolo is the award-winning author of ‘The Compass & The Radar’ who is also Former Chief Learning Officer of The World Bank, and Former Chief HR Officer of the World Economic Forum.

Paolo talks about his expert views on topics ranging from the future of work, to humanism and leadership.

Episode #101

The consideration of cognitive diversity

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:00:01 – 00:00:31

Hi, this is Sean Pillot de Chenecey, and I’m here with Paolo Gallo on behalf of Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau representing a select group of the world’s finest thinkers and thought leaders. Founded in 1999, today Speakers Associates, operator to nine offices across seven countries covering the UK, Europe and the Middle East. So here I am on a beautiful November morning in the May Fair Hotel in London. So Paulo, Hello.

Paolo Gallo

00:00:31 – 00:00:33

Good morning. Pleasure to be with you today, Sean.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:00:33 – 00:00:58

Thank you. When we met earlier on and you were kind enough to give me a copy of your fantastic book The Compass and the Radar. So, perhaps before we go any further and I’m really interested in talking with you about your background as a futurist or a humanist and your specialist subjects around the future of work and leadership 4.0. Perhaps just, first of all, tell me about the book.

Paolo Gallo

00:00:58 – 00:01:54

Thank you. I mean, the book is now available in eight languages and it’s been quite a journey and the reason why it’s called, it’s titled The Compass in the Radar because they’ve been out of human resources for many organisations. Citibank in Milan, the European bank here in London, the World Economic Forum in Geneva. And the World Bank in Washington, D. C. And I observed, let’s say, probably 1000 of people careers in different, different parts of the globe. And so I wondered, as head of human resources why so many people failed in organisation? And this part, maybe some very let’s say, intrusive and accurate recruitment processes. And the second question is, well, you know, what does mean having a successful career? Okay, because the definition can probably differ for different people.

Paolo Gallo

00:01:54 – 00:02:45

So the title, to certain extent, symbolises to tools. In my view, you need to have the radar implies the capacity to understand the big picture, not only the turf for the sector of the industry where you’re operating, which is fundamentally having the capacity to connect the dots. And the second one, the rate, the compass is fundamentally the capacity to remember what you stand for, the values that you have as an individual. So this is something that transcend the material, the job that you’re doing given role in a given profession is fundamentally what makes you a human being, what the thing that you believe. So to me, the capacity of having the big picture and being anchored in your values as an individual are the main characteristic to have a successful career.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:02:45 – 00:03:03

And you’ve been giving talks on this I know for a long, long time. I mean, from the point of view of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Is this a subject that is gaining traction there? Is it talked about more and more of that sort of event, or has it been spoken about for a long time?

Paolo Gallo

00:03:03 – 00:03:55

They said, I don’t know what I do know. And I was working at the Forum at the time the title of the Forum 2000. I believe 16 was a responsive and responsible leadership. And I was very pleased to hear the Professor Klaus Schwab, which is the founder and executive chairman of the forum, has decided to use that title at that time because leader, you need to have responsive so people and leaders are able to find a response to crisis and responsible, which is related to the capacity to do with ethics and let’s say, moral values. So I was quite say, pleased to see that it was a theme that permeates. That was two years ago on the very same thing that I reflect in my book

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:03:55 – 00:04:44

And in terms of the issue of just how seriously businesses around the world are taking this issue of ethics and empathy. And if we look back at the classic 19 fifties American business and the way that American business people, usually businessmen, were taught on their MBA courses, it was all seem to be very aggressive. Very Winner takes all. Profit is everything. Shareholder value is actually what’s driving it. This is CEO of decency and ethics and morality. It’s being spoken about a huge amount. Do you think it’s being really taken on board by businesses around the world?

Paolo Gallo

00:04:44 – 00:05:34

I’d like to see that the answer is, we’re not there yet, but it’s getting there. And this year, just, I read with I have to say happiness that this year the number of CEOs that’s being fired has been mainly to do with ethical and behavioural issues than financial issues. So in the past, basically, to make the numbers you’re out, you make the number you stay in that’s pretty easy. So right now there is a huge, let’s say importance of not only what they do and the money that they make but how they do it. And it’s fair to say that Metoo Movement has probably created an awareness on a specific dimension. But there are many others are quite important. One of them, for example, recently, literally two weeks ago, they fired the CEO of

Paolo Gallo

00:05:34 – 00:06:20

McDonald’s, because it was having an affair with somebody working for his own company, and that was against company policy. And that was, to me quite a revealing moment. They say You know what? Even if you make the number and you knew fundamentals grew up with the rules and with the ethics you out. So I feel that we are now getting to a point where it is impossible for CEOs and for organisations to pretend that certain things don’t happen. And I’m very pleased that actually is quite a lot of transparency and the prices to be my view, very convincing and very alert and very strong in raising this issue. When this issue occurs.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:06:20 – 00:07:11

I mean that is about the future of work, which I know you’ve given talks about around the world to in English quite an astonishing array of audiences, from number 10 Downing Street straight to the World Bank, etcetera through to corporations like IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Can I ask, what about the issue of and how important it is the issue of diversity in all of this because diversity seems to be something that is spoken about more and more. And perhaps a decade ago, it just wasn’t, so when we’re looking at the future of work, which I know is absolutely specialist subject of yours one of the things that everywhere from the Economist, the Financial Times, whatever one, a couple of the areas that they will tend to focus on the things like the multi age workforce.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:07:11 – 00:07:22

So Paolo, in terms of the future of work, perhaps has talked to me again in more detail about that and where you see things going and the key drivers behind this incredibly important subject,

Paolo Gallo

00:07:22 – 00:08:25

Let me go back to perhaps Mary Shelley when she wrote Frankenstein in 1818, the first words that Frankenstein pronounced the monster, incidentally, because Frankenstein was the doctor was, you are my creator. But I will become your master because fundamentally, Mary Shelley anticipated the fact that technology would have eventually surpass human capacity decisions. So she was really concerned about that thing on the other side. There were where the optimistic people that constantly Julius Vernon, for example, he wrote this wonderful book, the pretty much in the same period of 40 years later. It was very optimistic about the development of technologies. Okay, so if you think about the humanity has always been a split between the pessimistic, the people that see a darker picture. I mean Blade Runner and the people that have a beautiful, optimistic view e t,

Paolo Gallo

00:08:25 – 00:09:10

In which the future is going to be splendid and to a certain extent, the way I see both of them are right because it is true the technology is creating new jobs. So the future jobs will be probably positive because technology is always creating new jobs and it’s always, let’s say, eliminated jobs that they don’t make any sense anymore. In 1922 there were 57 elevator operators in New York, and while they all lost their job and I don’t think that was particularly sad because it was a particularly exciting job to do. But it’s also true to say that a lot of people that are pessimistic, they have good reason to feel this way. So then the question is, where do we stand? Should we belong to one school of thoughts or the other

Paolo Gallo

00:09:10 – 00:09:48

personally saying that we should ask a different question? So not about being optimistic or pessimistic, but which questions should you ask. Which is what are the effects of this fourth industrial revolution and the facts are pretty clear because it is that the jobs are created. Right now, there are more than seven million jobs available in the United States alone. Okay, but there are also eight million unemployed people in the United States, and these people are not unemployed. They are unemployable because they don’t have set of skills to fill these jobs. So the real question to me is not about being optimistic or pessimistic is to say, how can we train,

Paolo Gallo

00:09:48 – 00:10:03

workers, professionals, organisations, countries to upgrade their skills in order to feel this kind of job? Because if we don’t I think the pessimistic will prevail. And if we do, the optimistic will be right.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:10:03 – 00:10:16

And that issue of optimism and having a positive mindset. Can I just talk about that for a second? How important that is for businesses?

Paolo Gallo

00:10:16 – 00:11:15

From your point of view, I think you’re optimistic is helpful, but it doesn’t really get you too far away. You also to invest in people and resources that are clear indicators from the World Bank from the EOCD from many other organisations. The set of countries that invest the most in education, in university, in vocational training, other countries are going to prevail, and incidentally, countries have the highest number of robot. I also, the countries with the lowest number of unemployed people, like Japan or South Korea or Israel or United States or Sweden or Norway, etcetera. So here, being optimistic is helpful. But again, you also need to be clear about investing resources on helping people to develop skills and knowledge. In order for them to take these roles organisation they do this and society do this will prevail. Organisation that they don’t

Paolo Gallo

00:11:15 – 00:11:30

they were not. And so this is something that policymaker and head of human resource and CEO, should pay attention to because it is crucial for development of people and economists

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:11:30 – 00:12:20

On the exact point when we spoke last week when you were in Geneva and one of the things we mentioned was, so the idea of the diverse workforce. In terms of diversity in workforce is, I think, generally speaking, one can say that a decade ago, diversity essentially meant people from different cultures and different backgrounds being physically in the building and then it was a, in many cases, a box was ticked that equal diversity. Something I think that you mentioned last week is this issue of cognitive diversity in workforce is, is what some recent reports have really highlighted as being really meaningful and effective. I think recently I think McKinsey put out some research talking about

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:12:20 – 00:12:36

the workforce that has cognitive diversity is a more powerful and effective workforce because of just the way they’re thinking, as opposed to the fact that they just may happen to be a different colour from the next person or from a different country. What do you think about?

Paolo Gallo

00:12:36 – 00:13:30

Again, diversity can be, let’s say, framed in a different dimension. Lots of people think only about gender diversity, but there are many others. I mean, let’s say, for example, the 50% of the world population are below 27 years of age and therefore, you wonder if young people have a voice, in the way decisions are taken, that’s one kind of diversity. Another kind of diversity, of course, is what you’re just referring to, the cognitive one. An organisation, for example, are able to recruit a lot of people from different professional backgrounds, that the one they prefer, for example, an hour a lot of investment banks. They recruit more engineers, anthropologists and historians, than actually, business administration graduates because they understand they have different approaches to problem-solving makes a lot of sense.

Paolo Gallo

00:13:30 – 00:14:13

Last again, I like soccer, I mean, what I’m trying to say is, if you set up a soccer team and he said, listen, I’m going to get players born only in Milan. Well then, good luck to you, because you aren’t lucky you’re not going to have a winning team, so you need also to understand the diversity is a strength. Diversity is something that allows you to also to mirror and to understand, let’s say, clients and customer needs. An organisation that’s still struggling with this idea, organisations that are guaranteed to you also struggling on financial returns. So diversity is not something nice that you do because you want to put a nice webpage or nice video on the web pages. Something makes a lot of sense. And there are some

Paolo Gallo

00:14:13 – 00:14:38

Clear correlation, for example, in women representation at the border and profitability of this organisation. So I’m encouraging people to constantly do this and also, quite frankly, to be quite assertive in making sure the some, let’s say results achieved, the ones will remain and just, you know, seminar or workshop or paper and nothing really moves. So, you know, stand up for your rights.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:14:38 – 00:15:08

Excellent. Can ask in the, in your biography on the Speakers Associates side. It talks about yourself being a futurist and a humanist, and I think that’s really, really fascinating and again going back, a decade ago, there were the term futurist was being used endlessly. I think very few people were using the term humanist. And so that angle of the humanist viewpoint is, I think, quite extraordinary.

Paolo Gallo

00:15:08 – 00:15:55

Well, here listen, I put let’s say, three pieces of information and actually yesterday that, let’s say, a conversation with a group of senior leaders from a very important organisation. 3.1 The worker reform, it says that 3000 CEOs to say when you, when you look at the are the skills and the behaviour of the people are going to recruit going forward what you want to see, and if you look at this list, they have a critical thinking, compassion ethic, collaboration. People management is a key criteria, Okay? Then you have all the studies that said, which kind of jobs are going to disappear and the jobs that can disappear are the ones that can be digitalized, automised.

Paolo Gallo

00:15:55 – 00:16:25

It’s what jobs will be a premium. And they say actually, the job will be a premium. Our jobs were you display and you have to demonstrate customer focus, empathy, attention, collaboration, you know, critical think. And then when I give speeches, and our audience says this question and said, Can you think of a word that define the best manager you ever met. So what would you answer to me, Sean, when you think about that person, Which word, when it comes to your mind?

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:16:25 – 00:16:25

Empathy.

Paolo Gallo

00:16:25 – 00:17:14

Empathy. Okay, So I asked this question. Thousands of times in 1000 of audiences and probably 20,000 people is answer to this question the last six months. Okay. And none of them has ever answered with KPI is cost-profit or whatever. Everybody responds in empathy, compassion, trust, integrity, energy, friendliness, approachability, listening. So put three things together. Okay, one is what do the CEOs wants. And he said I want this. Then the second one is, second question is which kind of jobs are going to be a premium? They said the jobs that have that component and when you ask the people in a very unstructured way, they answer that way. So to me, be a humanistic is pretty normal because that’s what the world needs.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:17:14 – 00:17:58

And yet, I think it’s fascinating that if one looks back to again the classic 1970s big corporate mindset to describe myself as a humanist and to talk about empathy, you have been chucked out of the room properly and people have been disparaging you by saying, That’s a liberal with a small L. What are you talking about? It’s just push, push, push, profit, profit, things fascinating how we spoke again earlier on about this design thinking approach, which is very much centred around, let’s say the world of academia. So when I was last week, I was over at Central Saint Martins University and one of the core tenants, naturally, being an art college

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:17:58 – 00:18:37

is it all starts with the user with the customer or the consumer and you know that is your absolute starting point. When you’re designing a chair or whatever it is, or an item of clothing or whatever it is. And that ethos of it all starts there. And if you aren’t getting that right, if you aren’t understanding the genuine need and desire of the user, then quite frankly, one’s going down the wrong route. Thinks fascinating, how which is very much linked, perhaps into a humanist perspective. And yet how many businesses genuinely do that?

Paolo Gallo

00:18:37 – 00:19:22

This I don’t know what I do know that that actually dropped the people that have challenged me over the years, thinking that I was to work too romantic, too idealistic, too softy. Well, I challenged him back to them by putting some evidence. And that’s probably the beauty working at the World Bank. Or, you know, if you can bring evidence, you better shut up. A very simple example. There was a study done sometimes ago, and the study is reported by some organisation in which they asked 5000 people. They took a list of 5000 people that resigned from 50 organisations. So they went to fifty organisations that given the list of the 100 people that resigned in the last 12 months and they got the list

Paolo Gallo

00:19:22 – 00:19:58

and they talked to in the sector can we also give me the list of the managers of the people who left? So they went to the manager, these 5000 managers to say, What do you think power left? An 88% of the manager said well, power left because he wanted to make more money. So, the tendency, the propensity of managers when somebody leaves to say, is a mercenary. He just wanted to make more money. Okay. Then they went to 5000 people. The one that resigned, he said. Why did you leave? Tell me, Why did you leave? And 88% of them said I left because of my manager, because of the cultural organisation.

Paolo Gallo

00:19:58 – 00:20:30

So what does it mean? The one somebody resigned, the cost for this organisation, usually twice the salary of that individual to replace this individual in terms of getting the person on board, the recruitment, the training, blah, blah, blah, blah. So when people think that being a good manager is a softy things, I push back to say, actually it’s not is a profitable things because if you don’t do it, people leave and incurring a huge cost. So this debate about humanistic is something that is nice, but we can’t afford to do it. It’s quite frank, it’s total bullshit.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:20:30 – 00:20:47

Can I ask this? It’s a fascinating viewpoint that you have and obviously become incredibly successful as a result of this sort of thinking ethos. Is it something you’ve always had, or did you develop this after a few years into your career?

Paolo Gallo

00:20:47 – 00:21:27

Now I think you also developed by observing what works and what doesn’t. Now you see, the effect I’ve been out of human resources for 20 years, and I’m working at two different countries. So I had a huge amount of, of a life experience, some of them reflected in my book, and you see what working with doesn’t work. And, if something I’ve learned by working in 80 countries, that, of course, there are difference and diversity and otherwise. But actually, if you think about when I asked this question doesn’t matter if I’m in Zimbabwe, Thailand, Brazil, Russia, Italy or UK, people responded in the same way they all want. You follow manager because you trust this individual

Paolo Gallo

00:21:27 – 00:21:49

because you may disagree with some of the policies, some of the things that he has said or she has said. But fundamentally, you have an element of trust that gets too close to this individual. When the trust is not there, this is total, say, marketing, embellishment and communication. But there is no substance, and eventually, people realised that it’s not,

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:21:49 – 00:22:16

And in the last sort of few questions, and it’s been fascinating. Thank you. Does this message translate equally around the world? So when you’re talking with your audiences, I know you’ve spoken literally in countries around the world. Does it go down as well with each type of audience? No matter if you are in Seoul or Melbourne or San Francisco or whatever, Helsinki or Paris?

Paolo Gallo

00:22:16 – 00:22:59

Not really. I think there are perhaps a couple of points. The first one is fair to say without generalising too much. It speaking with a group of, as it happened recently in people in Brazil or South Korea is not necessarily the same, the same debate. I mean, the audience is different, the way they react is different, but also the capacity to discuss about, I’m using big words. I mean freedom. Liberty of certain decision asking and demanding accountability for leaders in certain positions in some countries is normal. I think UK is one of them in some countries it’s not that normal.

Paolo Gallo

00:22:59 – 00:23:41

And, without quoting the country, for example, a publisher wanted to publish my book in another country and basically ripped off completely my book. And he removed every word related to individual freedom, etcetera, etcetera. And so I decided not to publish my book because it would be funny to publish a book it talks about freedom and remove every element about freedom in the book is like, you know, singing a song about rock and said, No, you cannot play a little guitar and drums. So I forget Danny’s Classical music. So, to me, you have to be also true to yourself. This is the main point of my book. True to yourself means remember what you’re standing for with the values that makes you human, that’s to me is crucial.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:23:41 – 00:24:05

Like it’s the last point, and that’s this. So you know, we’re nearly at the end of 2019 now. So looking towards 2020 are there any particular things that you are going to be happening to you on the horizon that you’re looking forward to? Or any issues you see in the society that you think are going to be really key points in 2020 that excites you that you’re going to be talking about?

Paolo Gallo

00:24:05 – 00:24:53

Perhaps the question is very interesting to two points on a personal basis. What motivates me is the capacity or the hope that through my speaking, writing, speeches and coaching, I can have at least one person in making meaningful choice about their life and their careers. And, at the end of the book, you know, I asked a very simple question to think that my book has been able to help you out in your choices. And I got more than 4000 emails and messages from readers in the last two years to say thank you so much. And, some people actually send me the pictures in which they brought the book to the weddings or to their divorce or whatever. So that’s something that motivates me. And they will continue to motivate me.

Paolo Gallo

00:24:53 – 00:25:44

The second one. You know, my family is from Venice, and earlier in the day, I was looking at these terrible pictures of Aqua Alta the high tides in Venice, which is the effect of the climate change, Okay. So while I’m of course, I’m very sorry and sadden to see a place that I immensely love. I was there two weeks ago. Devastated by water. Climate change is not just the obsession of a little Swedish girl, going around the planet with the flag is something that if we continue to ignore, we will stop to exist. So to me, something that is crucial for humanity, people seems to be more preoccupied about Brexit and Donald Trump. They will disappear. They are the ticket on the season ticket for the wrong side of history. Eventually, they will disappear.

Paolo Gallo

00:25:44 – 00:25:57

What is not disappearing is this, this awful climate change is disrupting, changing, violating and raping in our society. So if we don’t pay attention to this, we won’t be here in the fewest time to discuss anything.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

00:25:57 – 00:26:13

Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately. Paolo, thank you. It’s been absolutely fascinating. Much appreciated for spending and give me some of your valuable time and, all the best under your back off to believe Switzerland this evening. So enjoy the journey. Great.

Paolo Gallo

00:26:13 – 00:26:19

Thanks so much.

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Podcast host

Sean Pillot de Chenecey speaker

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

Foresight strategist, author and podcast host Sean Pillot de Chenecey is an inspirational speaker, who’s also consulted for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Sean has a very deep level of knowledge regarding the genuine issues impacting brands from a cultural, social and business perspective.

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