by Carey Nieuwhof: Time flies. And while you’re busy leading, the world is busy changing, again.
While many of us remember 2010 like it was yesterday, it wasn’t yesterday. Things have changed, a lot. And we’re again on the verge of a fresh decade—the 2020s.
In leadership, it’s critical to know what’s changing and why it’s changing so you can keep leading well. Leaders who fail to notice the subtle or even significant shifts that are happening end up become irrelevant. Irrelevance matters in leadership only because relevance gives you permission to speak into the culture.
The culture has a habit of ignoring people it deems irrelevant (if you think about it, so do you). Relevance doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with what you see around you, but it does mean understanding it.
So with that in mind, here are ten things that have changed a lot in the last decade, and then shifts you can make to help you lead well into it.
Understanding these shifts will prepare you to lead better into the next decade.
After all, it’s difficult to impact a world you don’t understand.
It’s difficult to impact a world you don’t understand.Click To Tweet
1. We Seem to Be A Lot Angrier and More Polarized
We seem a lot angrier than we used to be, don’t we?
Back in 2010, Twitter wasn’t the polarizing rant-machine it’s become today. Nope, it was still something you posted your food pictures on and used for thoughtful dialogue.
But as culture a politics has become more tribal, polarized and factional, we’ve also noticed that anger seems to get us noticed. the polarization that’s happened in politics and culture gets us more noticed, but it also gets us more alienated.
Anger, we’re learning, can get you heard, even if you have nothing to say. Sadly, hate generations more clicks than love.
I outlined five reasons that anger is the new epidemic here.
Anger can get you heard, even if you have nothing to say. Sadly, hate generations more clicks than love.Click To Tweet
So what can you do about it? Here’s a radical suggestion: become a healthier leader.
We’re already seeing a big move away from toxic bosses, abusive workplaces and lower tolerance for aberrant behavior. As divided and divisive as many public leaders are now, that allows huge room in the middle for leaders with solid character and reasonable, rational views that actually still resonate with most people.
Our unhealthy culture is hungry for healthy leaders. Be one of them. Lead with dignity, integrity, trust, and humility. You might be surprised at the response you get overtime.
Our unhealthy culture is hungry for healthy leaders. Be one of them. Lead with dignity, integrity, trust, and humility. You might be surprised at the response you get over time. Click To Tweet
2. Content is Everywhere. Meaning Isn’t.
In 2010, we weren’t all celebrities yet.
Instagram didn’t launch until October of that year. Twitter hadn’t become the polarizing rant machine it is today. Facebook was still catching on, having amassed only 500 million users. YouTube was a few years old and SnapChat and TikTok weren’t around.
Fast forward to today, and it seems like everyone’s a content creators and/or brand clamouring for attention.
There are so many opportunities here for leaders this probably deserves its own post.
But let’s offer two:
First, the crisis we’re facing today isn’t a crisis of information, it’s a crisis of meaning. The future belongs to leaders who don’t simply produce content, but who can broker meaning.
The crisis we’re facing today isn’t a crisis of information, it’s a crisis of meaning. The future belongs to leaders who don’t simply produce content, but who can broker meaning. Click To Tweet
Along with that will come another super-power for leaders: curation. You don’t have time to shift through millions of hour of video or browse endless articles. You’re drowning in content.
Here’s the shift: in a world drowning in content, content curation will become a more valuable skillset than content creation. Leaders who can reliably point people to the best content and ideas will likely have as much influence than the leaders who create the best content.
In a world drowning in content, content curation will become a more valuable skillset than content creation. Click To Tweet
3. Long-Form Content Emerged As a Significant Force
So you know that line about humans having the attention span of a goldfish, or that the shorter a message is, the better?
So apparently it’s not true. Or at least not universally true.
As banal and trite as some social media and TV networks can be, raw, unedited, long-form podcasting has risen over the last few years to become a dominant form of content consumption among younger (especially younger male) adults living in the West.
I agree with those who say our assumptions about communication formed during the broadcast era of the last half-century (cable TV, mainstream radio) are wrong.
Attention spans can be long. People have an appetite for nuanced, complex thought and honest dialogue.
Podcasts that range from 1 to 3+ hours are now mainstream media.
What’s most true about attention span moving forward is this: 5 minutes of boring is 5 minutes too long. 60 minutes of fascinating is not nearly enough.
5 minutes of boring is 5 minutes too long. 60 minutes of fascinating is not nearly enough. Click To Tweet
4. Video Didn’t Kill Audio. Instead, Audio Exploded.
As short as a decade ago, most of us were still driving to the store to rent DVDs and watching cable TV. During the 2010s, video content creation, and consumption accelerated at exponential rates.
But surprisingly, video didn’t kill audio. Audio also exploded.
Two popular expressions of the profusion of audio are podcast and audiobooks.
Let’s start with audiobooks.
A decade ago, the conversation was whether digital books would kill physical books. Not only did that not happen, but audio-books emerged as a growing phenomenon. My latest book is typical of the book market these days. 66% of all sales to date have been hardcover. For the remaining third, audiobook sales are eclipsing Kindle sales.
Podcasting has seen an even bigger boom. Although podcasting had been around for years, the 2010s saw it emerge as a powerful force.
There are now estimated to be 750,000 podcasts out there. While the average podcast gets something like 141 downloads in the first 30 days (see Point 2, above), the real promise of podcasting is being able to gain traction for your ideas or content with limited investment.
My leadership podcast (subscribe for free on Apple and Spotify), which just passed 10 million downloads, would have required a huge staff and millions in infrastructure to produce a generation ago. I started it five years ago for a total investment of less than $1000. While I now have a team and small infrastructure and increasingly fly to interviews to do them live, I essentially still run the show out of my house (literally my basement).
The point: podcasting has created a much flatter world for content creators. And according to most reports, these are still early days for podcasting. We’re nowhere near past-peak.
One of the reasons I think audio content has increased so rapidly is because listening allows you multitask in a way reading or watching doesn’t. You can commute, workout, cook, do yard work, go for a walk or go for a bike ride and listen to an audiobook or podcast. Which is exactly why so many people do.
The opportunity: podcasting and audio listening is still exploding. If you have a message worth sharing and you haven’t tried podcasting yet, don’t wait much longer. A decent microphone (here’s the $69 mic I use for remote interviews) and Garage Band on your laptop can get you started.
Surprise! Video didn’t kill audio. Audio exploded instead.Click To Tweet
5. You No Longer Go to Work. Work Goes To You.
For those of us who do office work, the decade could hardly have been more radical…with huge implications of emotional and mental health, as well as for endless opporunity.
You used to go to the office. That’s how almost all work happened.
Around 2012, all of that changed.
First, high-speed internet combined with widespread access to wifi became normal.
Second, by 2012 cell phone companies made LTE and 4G networks standard. So wherever you went you had access to data quite reliably.
Third, cloud-based computing emerged out of its experimental stage and became robust, secure and normal. Everything from VPNs to Google Docs to Microsoft Office became cloud-based, not desktop based.
Finally, mobile-first computing emerged as the new standard. What you used to need a desktop for you could now access on your phone, tablet or laptop effortlessly.
As a result, if you’re a knowledge worker, there’s a very good chance you’re holding almost everything you need to do your job in your hand.
Which means that thanks to technology, you no longer go to work, work goes to you.
As a leader, the ability to create a world-class team just got easier because location is no longer an issue. You can have a virtual workforce that includes in-person and remote team members.
It also means a lot of us live a grey-zone: because work follows you everywhere, you’re never really on and never really off.
In the next decade, you’ll see both workers and employers get much better at enforcing stricter personal/work boundaries so we don’t all lose our minds. Employers who lead the way on this will gain a distinct advantage.
If you want more on how to navigate this shift, I have a lot more gaining a competitive advantage in the changing workplace here.
Thanks to technology, you no longer go to work, work goes to you.Click To Tweet
7. People Stay Home A Lot More
In the same way that you used to go to work, you used to have to go to everything.
Increasingly, everything now comes to you. You could argue that the rise of Amazon is not just because of what it sells, but because of what it delivers.
In the same way that you used to go to work, you used to have to go to everything. Increasingly, everything now comes to you. Click To Tweet
UberEats and other food delivery services bring you dinner. So does almost everything else you can imagine. You never have to leave your home.
So many people don’t. Or at least not as much.
We’ve seen attendance at church, pro-sports games, conferences and live events struggle more than usual.
What being at home is going to both the environment and our souls is up for debate, but the trend is clear.
If you’re waiting for people to line up for you in the future, you could be waiting for a long time.
If you’re waiting for people to line up for you in the future, you could be waiting for a long time. Click To Tweet
8. Tech has Become Your Best Friend and Worst Enemy
In 2010, most of us still had a fascination with tech that bordered on a love affair. Tech was seen as an unstoppable force that created good in the world.
Now, I’m not so sure.
In some ways tech is your best friend. You can do more today and stay more connected than anyone imaged three decades ago.
But because tech so ubiquitous—in everything from speakers in your bedroom to your car to your fridge to an endless stream of devices that have you constantly connect, it’s also your biggest threat.
Constant distraction is the enemy of intimacy and the cause of deep exhaustion. It’s the enemy of deep work and clear, uninterrupted thinking.
I share more on why I’m changing my mind about technology in this post.
In the next decade, if we’re to stay sane, the ethics of tech (everything from privacy to how we use our devices and the limits we place on ourselves) need to advance more quickly than tech itself.
We’re quickly approaching the point as a culture where we don’t own our devices; our devices own us. And when technology runs you, it can ruin you.
We’re quickly approaching the point as a culture where we don’t own our devices; our devices own us. And when technology runs you, it can ruin you. Click To Tweet
9. Millennials Are No Longer Kids
In 2010, the oldest Millennial was 29. And for the most part, Millennial became synonymous ‘young person’ or even ‘kid.”
In 2020, the oldest Millennials will turn 39 and the youngest will turn 24. They’re hardly kids. You might even argue the oldest Millennials are entering mid-life.
If that’s true, why do so many Gen X and Boomer leaders still refer to Millennials as kids or ‘young people’?
While certain generational characteristics continue to travel with every generation through every decade (Gen Xers still feel ignored and a bit cynical, and Boomers are still a bit self-focused), some of the characteristics of Millennials will morph with age and stage. Having a mortgage and family and being 15 years into your working life does present different issues than being 25 and living at home with ample disposable income.
The focus in leadership will be increasingly on what Gen Z will be like as they emerge from college and enter the workforce.
While Millennials have been founders and CEOs in tech companies and startups now for a decade or more, in the next ten years more and more senior leaders in all kinds of organizations will be Millennials.
In the next ten years more and more senior leaders in all kinds of organizations will be Millennials.Click To Tweet
10. The Unique Experiences We Keep Seeking Feel Less and Less Unique
One of the big trends of the last decade is to move from wanting things to craving experiences. Younger adults are skipping bigger houses and nicer cars for trendy dining, travel, and experiences that make them unique.
With the increasingly rapid emergence of post-Christian culture in America, people of all ages are looking to fill their souls with something.
And so we strive for unique experiences, personal challenges and adventures that make us stand out.
Instagram makes all of this easier and harder than ever.
One of the things we’re discovering about ourselves is the more unique we try to be, the more we realize how many out there are just like us and how soul-numbing that feels.
All of which has led us as a culture to moments like we saw in May 2019, where the traffic jam to reach the summit on Mount Everest not only turned deadly (as almost a dozen climbers died), but shocking as literally hundreds of climbers were stalled out trying to reach the summit.
If you want to hike Mt. Everest, get in line. This picture captured the moment.
What’s the point? Well, for starters, it’s far deeper than this blog post can cover.
What’s the opportunity? Deep, robust theology that talks to the soul crisis that’s emerging in our culture and how to address it.
I think John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers are doing a very decent job at it. If you only have 24 minutes to listen to a podcast this week and want to understand what’ I’m driving at here more deeply, make it this one.
One of the things we’re discovering about ourselves is the more unique we try to be, the more we realize how many out there are just like us and how soul-numbing that is. Click To Tweet
To A Better 2020 (And Decade)
There’s no doubt more and more things are vying for you attention. How do you keep first things first?
Like your sanity? Your family? Your priorities?
How do you stop life from hijacking your dreams?
If you’re trying to find the time for what matters most in life, my High Impact Leader course, is my online, on-demand course designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.
Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day. That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.
Here are what some alumni are saying about The High Impact Leader Course”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing the course again. It has absolutely made an impact in my life and family already that I can’t even describe.” – Joel Rowland, Clayton County, North Carolina
“Just wow. Thank you, thank you.” Dave Campbell, Sioux Falls South Dakota
“A game changer.” Pam Perkins, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?
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What Do You See?
It’s hard to encapsulate a decade in a 2000 word post, and this list is partial at best.
What have you seen?
What’s changing us deeply and what’s changed deeply over the last decade?
Scroll down and leave a comment!
The post 10 Ways the World Dramatically Changed in the 2010s appeared first on CareyNieuwhof.com.