Gen.T Stream: Reimagining Our Shared Future, Taking Control Of The Next Chapter
We are living in challenging times. Five months into the outbreak of Covid-19, we're still unsure what the next chapter will look like. For the first edition of our virtual conference, Gen.T Stream, held on May 15, we chose the theme Reimagining Our Shared Future, Taking Control of the Next Chapter to provide our community with some of the tools they'll need to navigate what lies ahead.
The event featured three speakers, who shed light on the theme from different perspectives. Our first speaker Parag Khanna is an international bestselling author and the managing partner of FutureMap, a data and scenario-based strategic global advisory firm. During his 20-minute keynote, Khanna gave a detailed presentation on why the future is still Asian and the opportunities that will be available for entrepreneurs after the pandemic.
Our next speaker, Matthew Brimer, is the co-founder of General Assembly, a global education platform providing entrepreneurs and professionals with training in high-demand skills in areas such as technology, business and design. He is also a co-founder of "conscious morning experience" Daybreaker. In a fireside chat with our host, Lee Williamson, the editor of Generation T, the New York-based social entrepreneur, community builder and private investor talked about making a real impact in a socially distant world.
As an intermission between the talks, popular Malaysian singer-songwriter Shila Amzah took the virtual stage to perform two songs.
Following Amzah’s performance, we closed with a fireside chat with award-winning Filipino journalist and author, Maria Ressa. Best known for co-founding news platform Rappler, Ressa shared her perspectives on overcoming adversity—an apt topic for a turbulent time like now.
Here are some of the key takeaways from each speaker’s segment.
After Coronavirus, Asia Will Rise Again
“What happens in a crisis is that countries gain a recognition that they need to reform economies to draw in more capital and part of that is privatisation. Many countries across the region have announced major plans to privatise companies. This is an opportunity, in many ways, for Asia to move ahead. So you’re going to see a tremendous influx of private capital, whether it’s from the region or internationally, into Asia in the years ahead. So there’s reason to be optimistic about the region in the medium to long-term.”
Using AI To Boost Productivity
“Labour automation is going to accelerate and more jobs will be lost. However, there’s a huge opportunity to create jobs that deploy technology. There’s still a long way to go to deploy technologies like 5G networks given Asia’s huge population, so I think it’s not yet going to be an either-or between technology and humans. There’s still a lot of work to be done to move people up the value chain, train them and so forth. So I’d like to see us focus on the positive side of the technology transformation as a job creator and productivity booster.”
Connectivity Is This Century’s Most Important Asset Class
“The digital sector is being catapulted forward as a result of the pandemic. Logistics, e-commerce, telecommunications, data storage, mobile financial services and so on are seeing a surge [in demand] on the back of this pandemic as we become more open to remote working arrangements and utilise digital services more and more.”
Human Migration Triggered By The Crisis
“Historically, people tend to move after major pandemics or global disasters. The reason people move is that they are in search of this combination of what I call the right latitude, altitude and attitude. People are looking for food security, circular economy, healthcare, affordability and stable employment, just to name a few. This re-sorting of the global population is a mega-trend that we should be looking out for in the years ahead.”
Lessons For This Generation
“April 2020—the global lockdown; humankind has never coordinated a single act in this way before. And it was not because the United Nations or Washington or Beijing said so. It was consumers who exercised caution and pulled back from going out before some countries even announced their lockdown. This shows us that we, as a species, can do things together in a way we’ve never done before. And this is a staggeringly stunning realisation. So what can we do now to push for more positive change or an ethical way of governance in the world?”
See also: Is Tech Still Forgetting About Women?
A Leader Should Be The Dumbest Person In The Room
“Any good entrepreneur has or should be developing self-awareness about what they’re good at and what they aren’t good at. I always strive to bring in people who are better and more talented than I am. If I’m the best at something, it means I haven’t brought in the right team member yet. If I can do this, it means I can continuously step out of the way and let these better people thrive.”
“True success for me is being able to eventually step off the ship and it continues to sail into the sunrise, powered by its own team and its own momentum. And if that ship can go on to sail and not hit an iceberg or something, then you’ve done your job as an entrepreneur. You’ve created something greater than yourself that has its own life and momentum. When you stay on the ship, there’s always the question of if you get off the ship, will it sink?"
Being A Better Entrepreneur
“If I could share one advice with people on how to be a better entrepreneur, it would be to think about how you can make the biggest and most positive impact on people and the planet. I think if this is the pursuit, then in some ways, you can’t go wrong. One of the things I’ve learned in my career is that success tends to flow more naturally and people want to help you because they love your mission and value—that's leading with your values. To believe that you can change the world in ways you care about and believe in, and using your company as the engine to power the realisation of those values, is key.”
Success In The Next Decade
“I do not have the perfect answer to what success looks like for me in the next 10 years, and if anyone tells you they do, they are most likely lying. But I can say that on the professional front, I’m on the pursuit to empower and help as many people as possible. Life should not be lived with just your own happiness and intentions in mind. Daybreaker really drove home that concept; that pursuing your own happiness and fulfilment is so much less fulfilling than creating, fostering and enabling other people to find their own fulfilment. On the personal front, I’m focused on fostering meaningful relationships, because this is where I think true happiness lies.”
The Future Of Education
“I have a couple of ideas on how the future of education should look. Firstly, it’s teaching people how to think for themselves. We live in an increasingly noisy world where sources of knowledge and media can be mediated without us knowing. Knowing the pursuit of facts will continue, but so many things will evolve, from social norms to what skills are relevant today. [We need to] empower people with critical thinking skills so they can avoid fallacies and traps that are coming to them through all of our digital means and mediums.”
“Another thing is synchronising education with your career. This is because the world is constantly changing and what you might want to pursue when you’re 25 may be different from when you’re 35, 45 or 55. So as you go through your career path, your education is like the yin to that yang. After all, people should never stop learning.”
See also: These 5 Apps Can Make You Smarter
Seeing The Positive In Adversity
“The quote by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger', is what I live by. [It informs everything that I do], whether it's going to the gym, dealing with press freedom issues or running a business. When you run into problems, you have to tackle them in a way that is constructive. It is like going to the gym—you break some muscles, tissues and ligaments in order to create something stronger on top of them. This is how you deal with adversity. Without adversity, you cannot grow.”
Defining Your Values
“It is very easy to say I live by my values. I'm in my late 50s and I do know my values, but how did I get there? You start first by asking yourself why you do what you do. Slowly, you will begin to build your values. And when they are tested, your identity will be defined by how you protect these values and the compromises you are willing to make.”
The Role Of Social Media Platforms Today
“During this pandemic, we’re seeing social media platforms taking down content where they’ve never done before. For the first time, they are taking down posts by leaders of a country because, in this day and age, lies kill. So what we need to do moving forward—and what I hope social media platforms will do as well—is take these same principles and apply them where front-liners like journalists, human rights activists, truth-tellers, and people in general, are under attack by political disinformation.”
Holding Tech Companies Accountable
“The data we put in pulled by machine learning, by artificial intelligence, allows companies to know us far better than we know ourselves. And as we said, this information is sold to the highest bidder. The problem is, even as this is happening, we’re acting like the world is still the same. We’ve acted that this is just the form of how we get news distributed or how we get information. But that’s far from [the reality]. For me, right now is one of those times where the world needs to come together to say, 'hey tech, what are your values?'”
Your Greatest Strength Is Your Greatest Weakness
“For me, I love finding out what makes leaders work. And what I always get when I come out of my interviews with leaders is that your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness, and you need to protect yourself against this. In general, every club, company or country reflects a leader’s weaknesses. If the leader is very good, he or she would put in place people that will protect the organisation from his or her weaknesses.”
Overcoming A Crisis As An Entrepreneur
“Whatever you are doing, you need to always look for the worst-case scenario and prepare for that. And I can tell you that this is the reason why [Rappler] is in a good place during this pandemic. When we faced all the cases that our government filed against us in 2018, our advertising dropped by 50 percent. What do you do when this happens? For us, we looked at everything that we had been doing and began a B2B model using technology and data. This part of the diversification of our revenue stream grew 1,200 percent in the last 12 months. Now we’re only 23 percent dependent on advertising. We’re ready for the future, we’re ready for a pandemic!”
See also: 7 Inspiring Biographies To Read From Brave Women Across The Globe
A Special Performance By Shila Amzah
As an intermission to the talks, Malaysian singer-songwriter Shila Amzah took to the virtual stage to perform two songs—one of which was in Mandarin. The Gen.T honouree is the first hijab-wearing performer to break into the Mainland China market, has millions of fans worldwide and can sing in a remarkable ten languages.
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