The future is now…time to catch up

Looking around, it’s not a secret that we’re living in the future. We have access to all of the world’s information in our pocket. Robots deliver packages to our doorstep. Machines synthesize 3D products from a computer program on the kitchen table. And maybe the craziest thing: all of these products have the ability to learn.

Artificial intelligence isn’t just something that is in development or only available to the Googles and Apples of the world. My wife and I have a Nest thermostat that learns when we like to heat or cool the house, and when we’re away, the heating and air doesn’t need to work as hard. So right in our home, a computer is learning how we live and working to serve us better.

If you’ve ever seen any movie about the future, you’re probably thinking that robots will take over the world in no time at all. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s exactly what’s going to happen…unless we change our thinking.

Today’s workplace is filled with 10,000-Hour Experts. Each person on a team has a specific role with one thing to think about and one area of expertise. The problem with that: Artificial Intelligence does the same thing.

A.I. is designed to learn specific areas and tasks and then complete those tasks. A.I. knows everything there is to know about whatever they’re taught. A.I. today can even create something new, as long as it falls in a category they’re an expert in.

You see, we’ve become incredible 10,000-Hour Experts, and we’ve taught everything we know to computers. They know everything we know and are the best 10,000-Hour Experts there are. But they can’t make the connections between subjects like we can.

What makes us “human” nowadays is our ability to think in a multidisciplinary fashion. We’re able to take all that we know across an incredibly wide spectrum and see how they work together. What we’re able to do is think like a 1,000-Hour Pro.

The 1,000-Hour Pro knows enough about each subject that they can see how those subjects work together, and they make those connections. The 1,000-Hour Pro innovates through a creativity borne of broad knowledge. The 1,000-Hour Pro creates something totally new by pulling bits and pieces from all over the spectrum of knowledge. The 1,000-Hour Pro allows A.I. to do what it does best, while remembering that all of that knowledge is artificial.

A.I. will continue to improve and take more and more of the 10,000-Hour Experts out of the game. But the 1,000-Hour Pro will stay safe. Why? Because the Pro isn’t just a worker. The 1,000-Hour Pro is a new way of thinking that is always learning and thinking in a way that A.I. will never be able to keep up with.

Millennials…the 1,000-Hour Pro Generation

I know, I know. Millennials. You saw that in the title and thought, “Great, another article about this generation.” But kudos to you for clicking, anyway. I think your click will be worth it!

Indeed, I am a millennial, and I might even fit some of the stereotypes that come with that. The 1,000-Hour Pro is a millennial idea, after all, and maybe that’s not the worst thing. Let’s have a go.

Millennials are…disinterested.

Disinterested in what exactly is always my question? Disinterested in graduating college with a STEM degree, getting a 9-5 that we stick with for 40 years, retiring and calling it good? Well, I guess I’d agree with that.

We’re a disinterested generation if it comes to sticking to the status quo, living the “American Dream” or just going down the same path as those before us. That doesn’t make us disinterested in the world around us or in making a difference. Au contraire.

Millennials are the 1,000-Hour Pros. The millennial wants more than just their “thing.” That’s why we’re putting “side hustle” on the map. Millennials want their life to make a difference and that means doing a lot of different things. That means working a lot of different jobs to see which one scratches each itch. One of those itches is the desire to make a difference. Millennials are stereotyped as being disinterested and uncaring, but this generation is motivated about social issues and changing the world for the better.

Our entire lives, we millennials have watched as the face of the planet has changed thanks to the Internet, cell phones, Web 2.0, the list goes on and on, and that hasn’t made us feel like we just get to continue to watch. We want in on the action!

We so badly want in on that world change that we’re trying all kinds of different things to find a way to make an impact. We’re learning all kinds of new skills and taking a stab in many different fields. We’re becoming 1,000-Hour Pros because we’re disinterested in the status quo. We’re interested in making a difference no matter what area that may be in.

Millennials are…entitled

Often called the “trophy generation,” critics of millennials say we think we deserve a trophy just for showing up to work and participating. If that’s your view of this generation, I’m sorry because you’re encountering some pretty terrible (and rare) millennials.

The millennials I know and work with feel entitled to more in life. We don’t want to be handed just a simple life of clock-punching and task-mastering. We know there’s more out there for us, and we feel like we deserve to experience that.

I don’t think millennials are wrong either, in that regard. Over the course of our lifetime, we’ve been exposed to more and more of the world. Starting with the first iterations of the internet to the now interconnectedness of our relationships on social media, knowledge bases in “the cloud” and economies in the global market, millennials have had a first row seat to watch the whole world open up in front of us. Can you blame us for wanting to take hold of that?

We’ve seen the world and all its nooks and crannies at the tips of our fingers, so we’ve wanted to explore more and more of those. The millennial is the 1,000-Hour Pro just by existing in this global market of knowledge. No one can be expected to just want to focus in on one thing when we know there’s so much more out there for us to learn!

The millennial and 1,000-Hour Pro do feel entitled, but that entitlement is for more. That entitlement is feeling the right to chase rabbit trails and discover all that’s out there for us.

• • • • •

Now these are just two of the things I hear about our generation that the 1,000-Hour Pro is combatting. If you have any other thoughts, I’d love to hear them! What are some other stereotypes of millennials that the 1,000-Hour Pro is taking head on?


4 Reasons 1,000-Hour Pros Need to Make Up Every Team

The 1,000-Hour Pro knows about a lot of things and can be helpful in all areas of a team. We know that.

But is that it? The 1,000-Hour Pro is a “master of none” that can be helpful when needed and besides that, they just keep on learning and do whatever it is they do? That’s all?

That’s a question I ask myself quite a bit, actually. If that’s all there is to it, who cares? If I just want to be someone who is helpful all the time, I’m not pushing any boundaries or changing anything for my team. I can be a quick “fix-it,” but that’s all.

Luckily, I don’t think that’s the only reason why the 1,000-Hour Pro will get ahead and become the most valuable member of any team they’re on. Here are 4 ways the 1,000-Hour Pros will change the way we work.

  1. Context

The 1,000-Hour Pro has a perspective unmatched by any other team member because they understand how everything works together. Just because the marketing team thinks it may be a good idea to roll out a new color scheme on the digital media campaign, they may not necessarily take into consideration how that color will look when it’s on a physical product.

The 1,000-Hour Pro knows enough about each area to understand how each decision will affect each team, person or product. Teams of anywhere from three to 12 people sit in rooms and try to make sure “all the bases” are covered, but meetings of this nature are time-consuming, costly when it comes to productivity and frankly, boring. When the workplace is filled with 1,000-Hour Pros, each person can consider the way their decision will affect others. The perspective gained by knowing how each cog in the wheel of your organization fits with another prevents time-consuming mistakes from being made, takes teams out of those unnecessary “check-in” meetings and streamlines performance.

  1. Chaos

Wait. I thought we just decided that the 1,000-Hour Pro makes teams move faster. Chaos sounds slow and messy. You’re right. It is…sometimes.

The mess does slow us down sometimes, but it also forces us to create our best stuff. In the chaos, we learn new ways to do things, we push boundaries we used to think immovable and we accomplish what we never thought possible.

The 1,000-Hour Pro creates a little bit of mess as they go because they aren’t perfect. Mistakes will be made and learning will come of it, but the 1,000-Hour Pro isn’t a toddler to be cleaned up after. That’s not what makes the 1,000-Hour Pro change teams for the better.

The chaos of the 1,000-Hour Pro comes because they believe they can. The 1,000-Hour Pro believes they can do it and if they can’t, they’ll learn. They get themselves in do-or-die situations that bring out the best in themselves and those around them. The 1,000-Hour Pro creates chaos because of a willingness to try something that gets messy.

If sticking to the status quo is more your speed, 1,000-Hour Pros terrify you, and that’s fine. I just hope you’re ok with being beaten by the Pros of the world that will create chaos and then thrive in it.

A couple of great resources about chaos:

and Point #3 specifically of this article by William Vanderbloemen

  1. Creativity

This goes hand in hand with the chaos created. If you take a second to watch Tim Harford’s TED talk, you’ll learn that mess gives us the chance to create something unbelievable. The creativity that comes in the mess is something that every team in the world can benefit from because without it, we’ll get passed up by the next team.

The 1,000-Hour Pro doesn’t just get creative in the chaos, though. Pros are living in a constant state of creativity, and it’s because of their perspective, as well. When new skills are being constantly added to your toolbox, you’re seeing everything in a new light each and every moment. Each new skill, often born out of chaos, peels back one more layer from your eyes and clears up how you see the world. It doesn’t allow you to see just one path, though. As you are able to do more and more, you realize all of the creative ways you can get from point A to point B.

The 1,000-Hour Pro has the perspective and comfort in chaos to come up with the most creative solutions to the most challenging questions.

  1. Communication

Communication is a non-negotiable for the 1,000-Hour Pro. The 1,000-Hour Pro’s constant drive to learn forces them to communicate questions, as well as what they’ve learned, but they also have the ability to make sure teams are communicating well.

The 1,000-Hour Pro isn’t just one member of the team that makes sure communication is happening. Instead, when an organization is filled with 1,000-Hour Pros, they are making sure communication is a priority and is consistent.

Their perspective allows them to know who needs certain communication. The chaos they cause on a team ensures they’re communicating clearly amidst all of the mess. And the creativity they bring to the table is nothing without being clearly communicated.

The 1,000-Hour Pros convalesce in communication amongst one another. A team of 1,000-Hour Pros will communicate effectively and push your organization forward into the future.

The question now is will you accept that 1,000-Hour Pros are what each team needs and be a part of that forward-thinking organization?


I’m a learner…

I wrote this post a little while ago, and it was shared at However, I really wanted to share it here because it’s the heartbeat of the 1,000-Hour Pro message. Also, be sure to check out 4Sight with my friend Jenni Catron! She’s an incredible leader that I admire, and 4Sight is an amazing way to learn more about how you can grow as a leader!

I’m a learner. I always have been. I guess it all started when I would break out the hammer and screwdriver on an old television, computer, remote or other non-cooperative electronic device. I’d always do my best to take it apart but the boy that I am sometimes took over, hence why the hammer was there. That’s probably why my mom always insisted I put a dish towel under whatever I was destructing: counter protection.

I’d take everything apart just because I was curious. What did a circuit board look like? Was there actually a tube in the television as we asked each other if anyone wanted “to watch some tube?” How many wires actually make this work? That’s all I wanted to know. I just wanted to know the answers. I didn’t much care about what it would take to fix the television that wasn’t working.

We’ve read stories like this before. Some billionaire spent hours as a child tinkering with gadgets to make them the expert they are today. Curiosity would make Bill Gates spend hours writing code on a community machine as a high-schooler. He would write and write and write. Any free time he had, the Microsoft founder would spend learning the ins and outs of the new technology that was a computer.

But that’s not me.

When I would take something apart, I wanted to see it and then I was done. The pieces would stay disassembled. I would whack some stuff with the hammer because I was a ten-year-old boy and liked to break stuff and then throw the pieces in the trash. I tried putting something back together once and after a couple futile attempts threw it in the trash.

And I think of that as the problem. I’ve always been interested enough in something to learn a little about it but never enough to truly master it. In a world of 10,000-hour experts, I’m more of a 100-hour amateur.

I know a lot about design, photography, videography, writing, coding, writing, speaking, history, math, golf, music, technology and the list could continue. But I know a lot about the sum of those things. Those are commas for a reason. They’re not periods because I can’t say, “I know a lot about design. I know a lot about photography.” And I easily begin to feel bad about my skills, talents, passion, dedication and grit to stick with something.

I work with some of the most talented marketers, designers, musicians, videographers, photographers and speakers that I’ve ever known, or even seen for that matter. So I look at my skill set and begin to feel lesser than those people. I can’t do what any of them do, and I’m not confident that I ever will. Not that I’m not capable. Just that I’ve never had the desire to stick with something until I’ve mastered every minute detail of it like these people have.

But I recently came to a realization. They can’t do what I do either.

I’m not less valuable because I only know a little bit about each of their areas. I’m not less talented because I only know a little bit about each thing. I’m not better either. I’m just different.

One of the things that helped me come to this realization was an interview I read recently. An ESPN reporter was talking with Golden State Warriors Head Coach, Steve Kerr. The reporter was talking to Kerr about the comparisons of his current Warriors team to the 1996 Chicago Bulls. The ’96 Bulls are still considered one of, if not the, best NBA team of all-time, winning an unprecedented 72 games. Now Kerr has a unique perspective on both the 2015-16 Warriors and the historic Bulls of the 90’s as he coaches the Warriors and played for the ’96 Bulls.

As Kerr talked about defensive match ups for an impossible, hypothetical game between these two squads, he focused in on one aspect of the ’96 Bulls that stuck a chord with me: The Bulls often had four guys on the floor that could play any of the positions on the floor and sometimes all five could be interchangeable. Kerr was both comparing the flexibility in the Warriors lineup to this Bulls team as well as lamenting the potential matchup difficulties for the Warriors because people like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen could play anything from point guard to small forward. They were diverse. They could dribble, shoot or pass. They could play inside with the guys who were 6’10” or they could shoot from outside the arc. They knew each position well enough to play it if that’s what most helped the team.

Now, I am by no means putting myself in the same realm as one of the greatest basketball lineups of all-time. But I think there’s a valuable lesson in what Steve Kerr pointed out. Diversity causes problems for the opposition. Diversity makes a team better. Diversity creates success. And without saying it, Kerr noticed that diversity kept players on the floor.

I’m not an amazing designer. I don’t have the best voice or most musical talent. But I can do a little bit of each of those things. I can tweak a design when a designer’s busy. I can lead worship when no one else is in town on Christmas Eve. And with the skill set and attitude to say “I can…”, I make my team better, and I ensure that I always stay in the game.


Combat complacency

Let’s face it. We’re a world focused on failure. There’s a headline when a celebrity couple has a nasty divorce. When the top-seeded college basketball team loses, the headline reads “Great team shocked by lesser team.” The onus is put on the team that lost, not the team who overcame to succeed. And those negative headlines are what we choose and what we read. For whatever reason, that’s where we are drawn. The psychology of that is a different discussion that I am ill-equipped to dive into, but today, I want to explore the successes.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to celebrate successes. Even if I have a great triumph, my mind always goes to what I could have done better. What wasn’t quite there? Why did only 95% of people like it? What about the other 5%?

And that’s a double-edged sword. I know that I need to give myself some credit and celebrate the wins. I need to accept a victory as a victory. Otherwise, I’ll exhaust myself with worry, stress and never feeling like I’m doing well enough.

But I also don’t think I’m wrong in constantly asked the questions I mentioned above. It’s not wrong to always try to improve. I’m terrified of falling into the trap of success that Tom Connellan talks about in his study on Walt Disney World, Inside the Magic Kingdom:

“The two most common by-products of phenomenal success are arrogance and complacency.”

Arrogance and complacency even sound like nasty words. They feel like they always need to be said with a little bit of a snarl. Try to say “arrogance and complacency” with a big smile on your face. I can’t do it. The idea of becoming arrogant and complacent makes my skin crawl.

You see, when we become arrogant, we think we know it all. As a millennial, I’m already accused of this enough. As much as I would love for it to be true, I don’t know it all. I don’t even come close! I don’t know it all about one subject, let alone the infinite others that exist. But we can’t continue success if we think we have nothing left to learn. If we just sit with our one success and think we’ve conquered the world, someone who’s learning and hungry is going to pass us up.

Complacency might be a less nasty sounding word, but it’s worse for us to find after success. Because while arrogance means we think we know it all, complacency doesn’t care if we know it all or not. Complacency leaves us in a place of apathy. We might not know it all, but who cares because we have success. We say, “I’m good with the success I’ve had, and I’m going to just call it a day.” But what about the next 20 successes we’re going to miss out on because of our complacency with this idea? We’re not going to reach our full potential if we’re sitting back and letting our one success be good enough. That success will fade, and we’ll find ourselves stuck and behind the times.

The key to managing success is living as a constant learner. Find success? Learn what it was that made you successful and hang on to that. But I would bet that everything about that success wasn’t perfect. So learn what can be improved next time. Even better, look at other people who have had success. What can you learn from them? What are they doing that you aren’t?

Finding success doesn’t give you lasting power. Finding one thing doesn’t make you a Titan of Industry. Hitting gold in one spot doesn’t guarantee a deep, ever-lasting mine below. If you just find one nugget, you might enjoy a nice dinner or two from that little piece of gold. But keep searching and learning, you’ll find bigger and bigger chunks. Your ideas will get better and better and gain more and more traction. You want to have a successful career that’s lasting? Step one is accepting that you’ll never know it all.

If you want to read more about pushing through to your next idea after success, check out this article by Stephen Brewster: