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The Future of Work Project

The Future of Work Project

By Derrick Franco
The Future of Work Project is focused on bringing together today's business leaders, researchers, and entrepreneurs who are experimenting with new and unique ways of working.

From remote work and culture, to research into the peak performance of human beings, we learn alongside these experts pushing the boundaries today.
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# 14 WRDSMTH - From Advertising to Street Art, Following your Passions, and the Importance of Taking Chances

The Future of Work Project

#23 Darren Murph - Unlocking the Super Powers of Remote, and its Positive Effects on Families
Today’s guest is Darren Murph, the Head of Remote at Gitlab. Now Darren is a true pioneer in remote work who has helping shape remote teams across multiple organizations and was named an “Oracle of Remote Work” by CNBC. Before this, Darren spent time in multiple editorial roles and while serving as a Senior Editor at Engadget, he was responsible for writing over 20,000 articles earning himself a Guinness World Record as one of the most prolific professional bloggers. After shifting to working remotely, he traveled to all 50 states in the US and wrote his book, Living the "Remote Dream: A Guide To Seeing the World, Setting Records, and Advancing Your Career" along the way. In 2019, Darren and Gitlab pioneered a monumental shift in remote work by creating the "Head of Remote" at Gitlab, where he has focused on defining and improving remote cultures at Gitlab and beyond. Darren is also responsible for creating GitLab’s industry-leading guide to remote work, The Gitlab Remote Playbook, which is a public library of tactical, implementable processes necessary for distributed teams to thrive. During our discussion, Darren and I dive into his initial steps into remote work and how Gitlab’s handbook, which is publicly available to all, is built to help teams all over the world build incredible remote teams and cultures. We also look deeper at the Superpowers going remote unlocks, the phases of remote adaptation, and some tips and guidelines for teams that want to implement more of a hybrid model post covid. And finally, we dive into remote work's positive effects on families, and Darren what he hopes it helps unlock in the future. -------------------- Darren Murph Show Notes: The Gitlab Remote Playbook: Remote Dream: A Guide To Seeing the World, Setting Records, and Advancing Your Career: Gitlab: Twitter: LinkedIn:
May 19, 2021
#22 Sonja Gittens Ottley - Focusing on Diversity & Inclusion to Build High Performing Teams
Today’s guest is Sonja Gittens Ottley, the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Asana. From her beginnings as an attorney at the Ministry of Legal Affairs for the Attorney-General in Trinidad & Tobago to her time at Yahoo, Facebook, and Asana, Sonja has been an advocate for building initiatives to promote privacy, free expression, and a more inclusive workforce. While at Yahoo, Sonja helped create the companies Global Policy Counsel on Business & Human Rights, focusing on initiatives to promote privacy and free expression on the Internet. The counsel also explored the effects that the company products and tools may have on culture, human rights, activists, and more. Recently, Sonja has been key to Asana’s efforts to incorporate diversity and inclusion into all aspects of the business by creating strategies that help build diverse and inclusive environments where every employee can thrive. During our discussion, Sonja and I speak more about the responsibility the tech industry has to think deeper about how its products can impact society. We also take a deep dive into the effects phycological safety has on productivity, and how Asana has worked to create frameworks to help employees succeed through a culture of open conversations and opportunities for discussion. And finally, we take a closer look at the results of Asana’s Anatomy of Work Report, the results of a survey of over 13,000 global workers, and dive into the key findings on burnout, distributed work, tool overload, and more. -------------------- Sonja Gittens Ottley Show Notes: Anatomy of Work Report: Asana: Twitter: LinkedIn:
March 08, 2021
#21 Rishi Mandal - The Future of Fitness, and Accountability as a Tool for Success
Today’s guest is the Co-founder and CEO of Future, serial entrepreneur, Rishi Mandal. Now Rishi is someone who just has such an amazing background that really it reads more like a motivational article. Rishi attended Stanford for undergrad where he majored in Applied Physics and also spent time working at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. After graduating, he joined Slide, a social startup founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin that was acquired by Google in 2010. Post-acquisition he worked as a Senior Product Manager for Google before cofounding Sosh, a Human curation and machine learning platform that was backed by Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Battery Ventures, and more. Sosh was eventually acquired by Postmates in 2015 where Rishi went on to be the Director of Product for the growing Unicorn. He moved back into Entrepreneurship, becoming the Entrepreneur in Residence at Khosla Ventures, before leaving to start his current company, Future. Future is a unique fitness company unlike any other solution on the market. Using a combination of technology, elite personal trainers, and custom content, they empower their members through a personalized training solution with trainers personally texting and talking with their clients daily to help them fit their goals into everyday life. They also use a unique technology to help trainers understand how their client's body is reacting by providing each client with an Apple Watch to monitor vitals and energy levels to help tailor the workouts and nutritional plans. During our discussion, Rishi and I take a look at Future has focused on helping people manage their health outcomes in today's fast-paced, and uncertain society. We also take a look at how he and his team have grown from an early-stage idea to a company that’s raised over $35 million with over 150 employees in less than 4 years. And finally, we take a deep dive into how accountability and feedback loops are the keys to not only building amazing products, but is also to creating a healthy lifestyle, and achieving amazing results. -------------------- Rishi Mandal Show Notes: Future: Twitter: Linkedin:
February 23, 2021
#20 Jeff Wald - The End of Jobs, and How AI and Automation will Change the Workforce
Today’s guest is author and serial Entrepreneur, Jeff Wald. Now Jeff has a wide ranging background that includes time in Private Equity and Venture Capital, to co-founding WorkMarket, which sold to ADP in 2018. Jeff is also the author of 2 books with his most recent publication being "The End of Jobs". The book reviews the history of work to help us understand how companies and workers reacted to the last three industrial revolutions, to help us better predict how the workforce and markets may react to the coming changes of AI and Automation. The book was also contains insights from some of the best thought leaders from around the world on the Future of Work thanks to Jeff’s $10 million Future of Work Competition. The competition focused on bringing together a group of twenty leading global thinkers on the future of work, to use data and their insights to help predict how the workforce may look in 2040. During our discussion, Jeff dives into predictions for the Future of Work based on 3 main bodies of evidence: History, Data, and How companies are currently engaging with their workers. We’ll also take a look at how flexibility and the de-densification of the office will lead to huge productivity advantages for larger companies. And finally, we touch on how the technical revolutions of AI and Automation will effect the workforce, and how retraining efforts need to be brought to the forefront of conversations. -------------------- Jeff Wald Show Notes: The End of Jobs (Book): LinkedIn:
January 14, 2021
#19 Christa Romano - Building a Life and Career as a Digital Nomad
Today’s guest is the traveling Career Coach and Digital Nomad, Christa Romano (also known as ChristaBellaTravels). Christa has been traveling the world for more than 7 years visiting over 59 countries, all while building a career as a marketer and last year, turning her side hustle into a full-time endeavor. Now for those of you who are not familiar with the term digital nomad, essentially this is a person who is completely location independent. They 100% lean in and take advantage of the ability to work remote, traveling the globe working remotely from their Airbnb’s, coffee shops, the beach, or anywhere else with a wifi connection. During our discussion, Christa dives into how she turned a round of burnout from her job in New York, into taking a leap and starting a lifestyle traveling and working abroad. We also take a look at how she has successfully built her career all while getting to travel and work from some amazing locations over the last 7 years. And finally, we’ll dive further into the logistics of her life as a digital nomad, and how she is now focused on helping others take the leap to work from their dream locations today. -------------------- Christa Romano Show Notes: Instagram: Digital Nomad Starter Codes Course: Website:
January 05, 2021
#18 Aaron Dignan - The Principles of Evolutionary Organizations, and Building a Culture of Trust and Autonomy
Today's guest is the Founder and CEO of The Ready, Aaron Dignan. As an entrepreneur and investor, Aaron is an advocate for helping companies transform from slow bureaucratic organizations into fast, efficient machines allowing for further growth and potential. Aaron is also the host of the Brave New Work Podcast, an investor in early-stage startups, and is the author of the book, A Brave New Work. During our Discussion, Aaron dives into how most complexity in organizations is not caused by our people or leaders, but by the fundamental operating system that businesses run on. We also take a look at how companies can reinvent their core principles and practices to help build a culture centered around autonomy, trust, and transparency. And finally, we explore how building constant feedback loops can help remove roadblocks and barriers to allow people to start doing their best work. -------------------- Aaron Dignan Show Notes: Book: The Ready: Brave New Work Podcast: Twitter: LinkedIn:
December 15, 2020
#17 Tim Salau - Building Creative Cultures, Leading with Gratefulness, and Turning your Career into an Asset
Today’s guest is Tim Salau, the CEO of Guide & Mr. Future of Work. From his time at WeWork and Microsoft, to building Guide and the Big Black Tea brand, Tim has been an evangelist for the Future of Work, B2B Learning & Talent Development across multiple platforms. During our discussion, Tim dives into how building remote teams force companies into building cultures that help inspire workers to be their most creative self. We also look at how creating a personal brand not only helps you accelerate your career by turning yourself into an asset, but also helps companies by providing a new stream of evangelism for their culture online. And finally, we look at how Tim and his team are embracing the values of gratefulness as a means to help empower and help those who have struggled through the pandemic. -------------------- Tim Salau Show Notes: Twitter: LinkedIn: Guide: Big Black Tea: Shout out to Janine Sickmeyer for the Introduction:
December 08, 2020
#16 John Healy - The Evolution of the Workforce, Breaking Down Hiring Barriers, and Aligning Values to Create Opportunity
Today’s guest is the Vice President and Managing Director of the Office of the Future of Work at Kelly, John Healy. John has been an evangelist for a more sustainable and agile workforce focusing on improving the ways that people and work connect. During our discussion, John dives into four key dimensions related to how technology and evolving social norms will change how business is done over the next decade. We also take a look at how the rapid shift to remote and flexible work has lead companies to finally work in a flatter and more functional environment. And finally, we dive deeper into some so the research and projects that his team has focused on including Kelly’s new program helping to break down hiring barriers, Equity at Work. -------------------- John Healy Show Notes: LinkedIn: Twitter: Kelly:
December 03, 2020
# 15 Chris Herd - How Remote Work and Asynchronous Teams will Shape our Lives for the Better
"Empowering people to work in their lives, not live at work". - Chris Herd Today’s guest is the remote evangelist and Founder / CEO of Firstbase, Chris Herd. As a huge proponent of remote work, Chris dives into how the future of work has been shaped by remote and how the increase in flexibility will provide workers with a better quality of life. We also learn more about Firstbase’s Remote Report, which was compiled from 6 months of interviews with over 1,000 companies to discover key insights on what the future of remote work will look like. And finally, we learn how teams that continue to invest in asynchronous work environments will have a huge advantage in both attracting and keeping talent in a post covid world.  --------------------  Chris Herd - Firstbase Show Notes: Firstbase: Twitter:
December 01, 2020
# 14 WRDSMTH - From Advertising to Street Art, Following your Passions, and the Importance of Taking Chances
Today I have the honor interviewing Phil Brody, more commonly known as the LA-based street artist WRDSMTH. His work aspires to inspire others on a daily basis and has lead to him growing the WRDSMTH brand into a massive internet sensation with his vintage typewriters found in cities all across the globe. During our discussion, Brody and I look at how he went from his corporate job in advertising to pursue writing and eventually diving headfirst into the world of street art. We also take a look at how taking chances, constantly reinventing yourself, and chasing your passions can lead to multiple opportunities and a more fulfilling life. And finally, we take a look at the different ways we can inspire people to pursue their passions in a world that often seeks to crush creativity. A quick note for context, this interview was done in February of 2020 before the initial Coronavirus lockdown -------------------- WRDSMTH Show Notes: Instagram: Website: Books Mentioned What Makes Sammy Run Fight Club
September 23, 2020
#13 Sargun Kaur - Dismantling Biases and Inequalities in the Technical Interview Process
Sargun is the Co-founder and CEO of Byteboard, a company that has redesigned the technical interview process to evaluate for ability, not access and privilege. Sargun was previously a software engineer at Google before founding Byteboard within Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator, and this year she and her co-founder were honored on Forbes 30 under 30. During our discussion, Sargun and I look at how the current technical interview process fails to accurately assess for core skills, and how she and her team are working on a unique solution to help fix it. We also take a look at how inequity and biases play a major role in the hiring process, and how these issues affect not only who gets an interview, but how far along they get in the process. And finally, we’ll discuss the importance of representation in tech and how founding a startup is truly a test of will and not just intellect.    ________________ Sargun Kaur
September 15, 2020
#12 Steve Schlafman - COVID-19's effect on Venture Capital, the Next Evolution of the Workplace, and the Future of Learning
Steve is a leadership coach, angel investor, and the operator of High Output; a boutique leadership development company based in New York City. He has held a wide variety of investing and operating roles including time at Primary Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, RRE Ventures, The Kraft Group / The New England Patriots, Microsoft, Stickybits /, and Massive. During our discussion, Steve and I look at how COVID has affected the venture space and look deeper at why deals and investments have accelerated over the last few weeks. We also look at the next evolution of the workplace and how cities like New York and LA will emerge and evolve post-crisis. And finally, we take a deeper dive into education, learning in public, and how he and his team have created a unique resource and library to help entrepreneurs during these crazy times. ________________ Steve Schlafman High Output Founders Library: Schoolhouse (Learning Pods): Breather:
August 27, 2020
#11 Chris Thompson - Nootropics, Ketones, and Naturally Increasing Cognitive Performance
Chris is the Founder and CEO of TruBrain, a Nootropics company based in Santa Monica that has created a product to help provide direct focus and energy to the body and mind. During our discussion, we dive further into how Chris built the TruBrain brand and how his partnership with neuroscientists at UCLA lead to a unique formula to help increase the body's natural cognitive performance. We also take a look at how their team's neuroscientists studied brainwave states to learn more about our brain's peak mental state, and how Ketones and micro fasting and how can help improve both focus and energy levels naturally. ________________ Chris Thompson - TruBrain Show Notes: Andrew Hill Ph.D. (
August 20, 2020
#10 Salman Ansari - Polymaths, Pursuing Multiple Passions, and Writing as a Tool for Success
Salman is a tech founder who has worn many hats over the years.  From working as an Engineer and building a company that was later acquired by Oracle, to writing, teaching, and even DJ-ing, Salman has a deep focus on embracing his inner Polymath and following his passions. During our discussion, Salman and I dive deeper into his recent article, The Polymath Playbook, and look at why society today pushes specialization vs mastering multiple domains. We also look at how pursuing multiple passions and projects build up mental models that help you adapt and think differently to give you distinct advantages in many areas of your life. And finally, we look at how writing can be used as a tool for discovering new ideas, building relationships, and helping make sense of all the noise in today’s crazy world. ________________ Salman Ansari
August 07, 2020
#9 Danielle Strachman - The Invisible College, Investing in Young Minds, and The Future of Education
Picture this; You're a new high school graduate in August 2020 and the COVID crisis has forced all your college classes online. Your university has announced it is still going to charge you full tuition to attend in the fall. What would you rather do; Pay $50k in tuition for online classes? Or take a $50k investment to skip school in the fall and build a company? Danielle Strachman is a Founder and General Partner of the 1517 fund, a VC firm that invests in makers, hackers, and scientists working outside of traditional institutions. Danielle was also one of the founding members and director of the Thiel Foundation, a program that gave $100k grants to entrepreneurs under 20 years old as an alternative to college, and also co-founded the Innovations Academy, a project based charter school working to help students have more purposeful learning. During our discussion, Danielle and I take a look at the Invisible College program, and how Danielle and her partners are giving students amazing opportunities by investing $50k in ideas and R&D-stage teams that want to work outside of school in the fall. We also dive deeper into how building Innovations Academy and the Theil Foundation helped shaped the 1517 fund’s philosophies of investing in young minds, and how it has already lead to some amazing results. And finally, we take a look at the current educational system in America and how colleges are no longer set up to help students succeed like they were in the past. ________________ The Invisible College: 1517 Fund: Danielle Strachman -
August 05, 2020
#8 Katherine Dumanoir - Passion projects, paying it forward, and building ideas from the ground up
Katherine is a recruiter for Amazon who is truly one of the most genuine people you'll ever meet. Her passion to help others has lead to building a wide variety of amazing projects helping students and new graduates. From networking events to help students connect to employers, to a new bath bomb company ( that hires students and focuses on giving its proceeds to mental health organizations, Katherine is always exploring and building new ways to help others. During our discussion, Katherine and I dive deeper into how her passion to help others originally lead to her creating her networking groups, and how she used her creativity to build the events from the ground up. We'll also look at how her compassion and being genuine helped her amass a large following on LinkedIn and why her post resonated with so many people.  ________________ Katherine Dumanoir - Amazon + UDABATHBOMB LLC
July 22, 2020
#7 Kaitlyn Knopp - HR and Compensation in a Remote and Post COVID World
Kaitlyn is the founder of Pequity, a digital compensation platform that is aiming to combat pay inequality and help de-complicate compensation for HR teams. Her past experience running HR and compensation teams includes time at Google, Cruise Automation, Instacart, and Lockheed Martin to name a few. During our discussion, Kaitlyn and I dive deeper into how companies HR teams are attempting to handle all of the craziness caused by COVID-19 We’ll also take a look at how the sudden shift to remote has caused companies to rethink how they offer and manage salaries as talent flees areas like San Francisco. And finally, Kaitlyn dives into how companies can manage layoffs and help employees that are furloughed through a mindset of humanity and compassion. ________________ Kaitlyn Knopp - Pequity
May 26, 2020
#6 Matt Newberg - COVID-19 effects on restaurants, and how ghost kitchens and delivery are changing the food landscape
Matt is the founder of, a new media platform exploring how technology is shaping the way people eat. HNGRY's FAST(ER) FOOD documentary took a deeper dive into ghost kitchens and the changes that have come about because of them in the last few years. During our discussion, Matt and I dive deeper into how ghost kitchens and delivery are changing the food landscape. We'll also look closer at how COVID-19 is affecting restaurants today and how this crisis will change behavior post quarantine. Matt Newberg
May 05, 2020
#5 Tom Nearing - COVID-19: Advice for job hunting and working remote during a global crisis.
Tom Nearing is a recruiter who is part of the Marius Group, one of the top recruiting groups in Los Angeles. During this special episode focusing on the COVID-19 crisis, Tom dives into recruiting and coaching advice to anyone job hunting during this pandemic and gives insight into how you can use this extra time to your advantage. We also take a closer look at how online communities are coming together to help those affected by the economic downturn. And finally, Tom and I speak about how working remote is much different during a crisis, and how parents like Tom are managing work and family life during this pandemic. Show notes Madeline Mann: Advice Tom uses for his coaching ( Jena Viviano: Advice for female entrepreneurs ( Austin Belcak: Great perspective on coaching ( Tom Nearing:
April 14, 2020
#4 Taylor Dixon - Building authentic brands, addressing burnout, and rebranding as a solopreneur
Taylor is a business and lifestyle coach based out of Austin, Texas who works closely with a wide range of entrepreneurs. Through her programs and retreats, Taylor helps her clients align their business, and themselves, with their true passions to build brands that scale in today’s fast pace world. During our discussion, Taylor and I look at some of the difficulties that entrepreneurs she works with face, and how she helps her clients take their businesses to the next level. We’ll also take a deeper dive into how her experience addressing burnout helped her to pivot and rebrand her own business into one that allows her to help more people. And finally, we’ll look closer at some of the challenges that come along with building an online business through social media. ---------- Taylor Dixon
April 01, 2020
#3 Warren Shaeffer - Evolution of learning, producing value, and building a consumer first company
Warren is the Co-founder and CEO of Knowable, an immersive audio platform with expert-led courses focused on helping people learn new things, and accomplish life goals. During our discussion, Warren and I touch on how learning is evolving today in a society where free time is so short.  We also look at how companies can produce actual value for their consumers in such a noisy world, and how aligning priorities with their users gives teams a big advantage. And finally, we’ll look at how companies like Knowable are experimenting with different ways of working and investing in their people for the long haul. ---------- Warren Shaeffer
March 17, 2020
#2 Amanda Goetz - Empathy, micro flexibility, and producing meaningful content
Amanda is the VP of Marketing of The Knot Worldwide which is one of the largest global wedding companies today. She leads PR, partnerships and product marketing strategies across the company’s international brands and previously was the founder of an availability software in the wedding space. During our discussion, Amanda and I touch on how brands are navigating today's social media landscape and the importance of producing meaningful content vs chasing influence. We’ll also take a deeper look at how companies can build amazing cultures by investing in their people, shifting mindsets towards micro flexibility, and establishing trust from the top down. And finally, we’ll dive deeper into how a  culture of empathy and honesty makes it possible for working parents to handle the challenges of modern life today. ---------- Amanda Goetz
March 17, 2020
#1 Warren Lebovics - Passion, culture, and today's always on mindset
Warren Lebovics is a designer, startup advisor, and entrepreneur based in San Francisco who has worked on a wide variety of projects for companies like Blackberry and Sony, but also has lead design at a startup that was acquired by LinkedIn. During our discussion, Warren and I will look at how curiosity and passion are the catalysts for doing amazing things. We’ll also take a deeper look into culture, and how his past companies like LinkedIn succeeded by investing in their people and their environment. And finally, we’ll dive into how today's workers have been affected by technology and an always-on mindset. ---------- Warren Lebovics
March 17, 2020
March 16, 2020
March 16, 2020