The 100 Year Life

I’m live blogging from the 2018 ChangeBoard future talent conference. Emma Birchall spoke about the 100 year life. I found this session fascinating.

Emma’s Nana is 1 of 14 kids, there are 74 grandkids – that’s Nana’s secret to a long and happy life.

Education/ Workforce / Retirement. A 3 stage life. Organisations could plan and understand around this. Similar cohorts, lock step with peers.

As life expectancy increases – those extra years are added to the retirement phase of life. Someone starting work at 20 working to 60, living to 100 is balancing work and retirement 1 to 1

When Germany introduced a pension for 70 – average age expectancy was 48.

The 3 stage life model is breaking, the stages will blur and blend.

We manage tangible assets like homes, savings, Emma suggests we apply same rigour to intangible assets – productivity, vitality, change/transformation.

Productivity – skills/professions change – how can we anticipate what will be needed? Emma highlighted an absence of development after school, unless you’re senior management, you might get some investment in you then. What signals do we send to each other around learning and development? Look at your own diary, have you made any time for learning? Peer review – support. [During another subsequent talk the UK was referred to as one of the countries in the EU with the lowest investment in personal development per head].

Vitality – more than ‘have I done my mindfulness app this evening?’ Coping with burnout. Rest and recuperation – should we take more sabbaticals? Rethink the sequencing and pacing of working life. Peer network – friends and family. Younger people in particular leave because friendships are hard to maintain. Unpredictable long hours also affect this.

Transformation – historically we move into work and out again – broadly with people our own age. This is changing a lot, we need to get better at dealing with this change, can we reinvent ourselves? Know thyself, what drives you? As someone in his 50s moving more intentionally into the arts, this challenge resonates with me, and excites me too. A diverse network helps, your peers and friends less likely to assist here, they’re too similar to you.

Lenny Henry

Just before lunch, Lenny Henry spoke at the ChangeBoard future talent event. He brought the house down with a mixture of humour and passion, the like of which I’ve rarely seen and heard at a conference. Here are just a few snippets, notes I captured in between the laughter and the tears…

Lenny’s family came to the UK expecting streets paved with gold. What they got was factories, soot, and racial abuse. Lenny recalls his Mum being followed down the street while someone asked where her tail was.

During school, Lenny got into a daily fight with another kid named David Price. Eventually Lenny made a joke of it – something about instead of rolling around on the floor maybe we should just go out on a date – get married..? People laughed, the situation diffused, the fights stopped. There were several times in the talk where the power of humour was highlighted.

Lenny failed his 11+ exams. When he left school, took a factory job – driven to practice and rehearse his comedy to avoid the boredom repetition and smell and whine of machinery.

A winning appearance on New Faces brought Lenny to wider public attention, and he spoke about subsequently going go the BBC and seeing almost no other black faces.

Whilst on tour with Cannon and Ball, Lenny returned to further education, revising for O levels, studying world war poetry. Lenny found further education transformational. He felt fortunate that he could afford it, and now despairs for kids and the debts they incur to learn.

Can I do it? Play Othello? Yes – said the director, you can. Hard work produced a great performance and Lenny won the Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer acting award….at the age of 50. The power of a yes.

Lenny called out the lack of racial diversity in the room. He told us of recent times in the media, where figures show that for every BAME person who lost their job, two white people were employed. This is partly why Lenny Henry continues his campaigning in the media for greater diversity, inclusion, and representation.

Diversity in the boardrooms – that’s where change starts.

If you think you can’t change it yourself? Apply pressure to those who can.

It’s easy to spot the places and people taking diversity, inclusion, and representation more seriously. They put real jobs, and money behind it!

ChangeBoard Conference : Mental Health, Inclusion and Good Work.

I’m spending the day at the ChangeBoard Future Talent event. The key themes for today are, the fourth industrial revolution (I confess I didn’t even know that was a thing), inclusion and mental health.

A few points which have resonated with me so far.

Mental Health

Sue Baker from Time to Change (TTC) talked about how mental health conversations are now much more commonplace at work. The Time to Change movement is big, and growing, currently 750 organisations are signed up. Sue spoke about how we need to think of mental and physical health as parts of the same whole, I like that. Here is a stark display of how far we’ve yet to go. Sue asked us, by way of a show of hands, how many people in the audience would discuss their mental health with extended family. Many many hands were raised. We were then asked would we discuss our mental health at a job interview. I didn’t see a single hand raised.


Deborah Frances-White spoke about inclusion. Her talk was very well delivered, very funny, and I’m conscious I was perhaps too busy laughing to make useful notes. Here are a few snippets I caught:

Children assume inclusion – we seem to lose that during our school/teenage years. Why?

In organisations we rarely discuss and contribute to change because we’re often only peripherally included. There’s a high risk our idea may go ‘wrong’ and we’ll get the blame for that, so we wait, stay silent or agree with others.

Women apply for jobs when they believe they can meet 100% of the stated requirements, men will settle for 50%. How about we all aim for around 80%? Leave room for growth, and discourage men from over including themselves?

When the door won’t open :  there are three typical responses to routine exclusion. We self exclude – this is the easiest choice. We get angry. We get persuasive, try to charm our way in.

Inclusion is about helping others feel better about themselves.

What Does Good Work Look Like?

Matthew Taylor suggests key things which will make work better. Social contract, wellbeing, productivity (being held back in part by poor quality of management), active citizenship – and this cannot stop at the office/shop/warehouse/factory door. Tech – being positioned as an overwhelming force – get with it or get out of the way. We need to consider tech as an enabler of better things, stop positioning it as a threat.

Self employment v employed. Rights (and taxes). Precarious self employed and privileged self employed – the older white man as a freelancer is a growing workforce. Chancellor is onto this and busy picking apart the tax benefits, this will further take the shine off self employment. Another reason offered for a plateauing of self employment is simply that we like to work in organisations. We are motivated by authority, belonging, and ambition, and organisations can provide those things. The tricky bit is aligning them – MT suggests this action should be the core business of an organisation. A good workplace is a ‘creative community with a cause’. Sadly – many people who leave organisations say ‘they’re simply sick of it’.

More to follow…