43: Humans are Underrated with Geoff Colvin

"Knowledge is becoming less of a differentiator. It remains highly important, but important isn't the same as valuable. We live in an era when it is incredibly easy to get any information you need, and it's getting easier every day."

—Geoff Colvin, Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

What can people do that computers never will? According to Geoff Colvin, that's the wrong question. It is futile to ask what computers will never be able to do, since they are accomplishing new, previously unthinkable feats at an astonishing rate. Instead, we must ask what it is that humans will insist continue to be performed by other humans?

The answer lies in the shift happening as we speak: from knowledge workers to relationship workers. We also talk about his first book, why talent is overrated (and the two qualities you can cultivate instead). I hope you find this conversation as fascinating as I did! 

More About Geoff Colvin

Geoff is an award-winning thinker, author, broadcaster, and speaker on today’s most significant trends in business. As a longtime editor and columnist for FORTUNE, he has become one of America’s sharpest and most respected commentators on leadership, globalization, wealth creation, the infotech revolution, and related issues. Geoff is one of America’s preeminent business broadcasters. He is heard daily on the CBS Radio Network, where he has made over 10,000 broadcasts and reaches seven million listeners each week.

Geoff’s new book is Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will. Amid rising anxiety over the rise of technology and its effects on human workers, the book identifies the skills of human interaction that will be key to success for people, businesses, and nations. His groundbreaking bestseller Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else received the Harold A. Longman Award for Best Business Book of the year.

Topics We Cover

  • Technology is now advancing so fast that its ability to do many things better than people—to take over jobs—is now reaching a point it has never reached before

  • Why "What will people do better than computers?" is the wrong question to be asking.

  • What is it that we, humans, are most driven to do? That we want to do just because it's in our deepest nature, that we are hard-wired to value it no matter what else happens?

  • The skills of deep human interaction

  • Our ability to survive and succeed as a species was based on our ability to move successfully together as groups; to be alone was a recipe for death for our ancestors

  • Even our eyes are different than most other species; we can read a tremendous amount from the eyes alone

  • We are hard-wired to value deeply interpersonal abilities—it is the essence of our humanity

  • Empathy is a skill, not a trait

  • The importance of peer-to-peer teaching

  • We are transitioning from knowledge workers to relationship workers

  • Relationship workers employ the skills of deep human interaction

  • Developing relationships with our machines, social robots: Siri, Alexa, Roomy (my Roomba), Amy.xi

  • WIRED article on machine learning, "The End of Code: Soon We Won't Program Computers, We'll Train Them"

  • Could we train computers to do something like career coaching?

  • Even if yes, the real issue would be: how the client would feel about the advice

  • Talent is Overrated: Why "hard work" and "natural talent" camps are wrong about what leads to success

  • Where great performance really comes from: practicing at the edge of your skill zone

  • Passion develops; keep pursuing what intrinsically motivates you

  • "When you change perspectives and look inward rather than outward you'll find that what you need next has been there all along. It has been there forever. In the deepest possible sense, you have already got what it takes. Make of it what you will."

Podcast: Humans are Underrated with Geoff Colvin

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Resources Mentioned

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