Best selling author and award winning speaker, Graham Codrington, has traveled the world telling business leaders how to deal with generational issues within the work place, warning industry not to cow tow to the youth. “Companies are bending over backward too far for the younger generation. A big backlash is going to come if we don’t stop knee jerking and start understanding the values, attitudes and expectations of younger people in the workplace.” MoneywebLIFE caught up with Codrington, author of Mind the Gap and Mind over Money, in between his trips to London, Germany, Dubain, New Zealand the US and Chile. Codrington’s new book Future-proof your child: Parenting the wired generation is expected out in October.
What amazes you?
People. I am incurable people watcher. I once heard a lovely description of a sociologist, which applies to me: When a pretty woman walks into a room, most of the men turn to look at the woman, but a sociologist turns to look at the men and try and work out why they all looked. That’s me. I want to know why people do what they do. And different cultures, different religions, different genders, different personalities, different worldviews all amaze and intrigue me.
What makes you laugh?
I enjoy clever comedy. Subtle British humour, irony and satire always get me laughing. There’s a lot to laugh about in life.
What do you love?
I love my life. This might sound corny, but my wife and my three daughters, my few close friends, my business colleagues and the work that I do make every day both an adventure and a privilege. I love every minute of my life.
What do you fear?
I fear that we are destroying our home, the planet, and that the decisions we as human beings will make in my lifetime – some of the most important we have ever had to made – will be the wrong choices. This is an amazing time to be alive – a pivotal moment in human history – and I fear that we will not make the most of it.
What would you change?
In myself: I am an extreme introvert, making friends is difficult and I battle to work well in teams. I would probably leave the introvert status basically in tact (I like being alone), but would hope to be a better team player and be less drained by interacting with other people. In the world: I believe that it is possible to remove extreme poverty from the world. So, I would change the fact that 1.2 billion people will not eat enough tomorrow, and are likely to die because they are poor. It is our generation’s task to change this!
What books are you reading?
I read about 5-10 books a month (I count this as one of the greatest privileges of doing what I do for a living). I tend to read them simultaneously, too. The books I am currently savouring are: James Martin The Meaning of the 21st Century, Kate Fox Watching the English, James Schluter and John Ashcroft The Jubilee Manifesto, James Hoopes False Prophets, and Cathleen Benko and Anne Weisberg Mass Career Customization.
What do you listen to?
Anything. Really, anything. As long as the production is high quality and the musicians are good. I play the trumpet myself, enjoy singing and am just starting to teach myself bass guitar. I suppose my favourite, easy listening styles are big band and swing, pop classics and Christian worship.
What does business mean to you?
I like what was said of the concert pianist: his work is playing, and his play is work. I am an entrepreneur (having done articles at KPMG, I know the corporate world is not for me). I am a creator, with a passion for the new, for experimentation and for innovation (having been involved in the IT boom, and exited before the crash, I know the value of timing). I really do believe the message that myself and my company present every day: there is another way of doing business. I believe that most businesses today slowly suck the life out of people and are soulless places to work. I believe there is another way, and that in the next 20 – 30 years, we will witness a revolution in the workplace akin to the revolution that took place just over a century ago.
What does money mean to you?
Money is an enabler. It allows you to put your thoughts and dreams into action. But, it is dangerous. It has a power to suck you in, and subvert your priorities. Money must be managed and mastered.
What don’t people know about you?
I was a professional musician for two years, as a lead trumpeter in the Air Force Orchestra. I would do anything to get grey hair.
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Do not seek a platform, rather ensure that you have something significant to say when you get one.
What do you dream about?
A new world. A world reborn and reconciled.
When last where you surprised?
My three daughters constantly surprise me, with their questions about the world, and their insights too.
What’s your philosophy?
Question everything, seek Truth and have faith.
What trends should business know about?
I think the biggest trends are fairly obvious and linked to three key drivers of change in the world right now. The first is that the world itself is changing: technology, globalisation, demography and the institutions of society itself are morphing. This is not just a blip or a period of chaos and then everything “settles down” again. Change itself has changed, and we’re in for a few decades of transition and chaos. The second key driver of change is that the workplace itself has changed. Work is no longer an induction to retirement affair, and people are looking for more from their employers and employment than ever before. Finally, the workforce has changed. People’s values are changing, their expectations and attitudes are different and their priorities dramatically shifted.
How did you get into trend forecasting?
After doing articles at KPMG, I moved into the IT industry where I did training and solutions development. I got interested in strategy and in understanding different people. I really believe that the only real way in which companies can secure a sustained competitive advantage in the future is through their people – and this means attracting and retaining the best and brightest in each industry. To do this requires a longer term view of strategy and business. I got really interested in understanding how to identify the drivers of change, and have developed this ability through studies, reading, research and interactions with business leaders and academics. I have a fantastic team in my company, TomorrowToday, and together we track global trends and help our clients apply these insights.
What do you love about what you do?
The travel is fantastic (not the travelling – there is nothing romantic about airports, airlines and hotels – but visiting different countries and people groups). The ability to interact with other cultures and learn from people around the world is a great privilege. I love that I need to keep learning, and that everything I read and learn gets immediately tested by some of the cleverest businesspeople around the world, and I get instant feedback by helping them implement – or critique – what I present to them.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My marriage of nearly 20 years, and the characters I am seeing emerge in my young daughters. Professionally, I have won a number of awards for research and presenting and have some best selling books.