We’ve all been feeling it, our lives are moving at an accelerated rate and we are constantly trying to keep up. In Thomas Friedman’s latest book, “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times columnist takes a look at the three largest forces that are accelerating all at once―Moore’s law (technology), the Market (digital globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)—and how they are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.
Friedman recently appeared on Charlie Rose’s PBS show to discuss the book and what solutions he thinks we need to focus on to thrive now and in the future.
Full Interview: Thomas Friedman on Charlie Rose
In the interview, Friedman explains how the greatest technological boom in our history in 2007, and the worst recession since 1929 in 2008, created the perfect storm for the economic climate we’re in right now. What added to the problem was that at the same time our physical technologies leapt ahead and we saw a loss in working class jobs to machines and globalization, our politics froze our social technologies that needed to adapt with it—new learning, new regulating, new social adaptations, new managerial systems—causing a lot of people to feel dislocated.
And while globalization is a part of the problem when it comes to lost jobs, Friedman says it’s technology that has been taking away a lot more jobs and it’s not something that is going to go away. It’s here where Friedman argues that in order for the workforce to be successful we need to be open to adapt and we need to get more educated.
As he explains the “social contract of the future” between companies and employees is “you can be a life-long employee, but only if you’re a life-long learner.” People are going to have to accept the fact that they will need new skills to adapt to the changing needs of their employers, and they are going to need those skills more often. And to create a symbiotic relationship, employers will need to relay the skills needed and provide the training necessary for employees to evolve with the changing demands.
Solutions like this, Friedman says, are there, they just need to be scaled. In the 21st century, these problems can’t be solved on a national level, but will come from “healthy communities,” communities like those he’s seen in Seattle, Raleigh, Austin and Minneapolis that are politically bipartisan where people from diverse backgrounds are living and working together to solve their problems of education and the workplace at the local level.
He concludes with a verse from a Brandi Carlile folk song, The Eye:
“I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye”
“I think the healthy community is the eye. Trump and others are selling a wall to the hurricane,” Friedman says. “You have to build an eye that moves with these winds, draws energy from them, but creates a platform of dynamic stability within them, and that’s the healthy community.”
New York Times Review: The Message of Thomas Friedman’s New Book: It’s Going to Be O.K.