“Values-based cultures will drive success”


Values-based cultures will drive success. Employees are looking for workplaces where they can be the best version of themselves. Companies that are great at making that happen will be the ones that win.


There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.

To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.

As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Dave Grow, President and Chief Operating Officer of Lucid Software.

After starting his career as a management consultant at Bain & Company, Dave Grow was given the opportunity to join a small basement startup to help “figure out and grow the business.” Since joining Lucid, he has worn many hats and now acts as the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Since joining the basement startup, he has helped lead Lucid to more than 100M dollars in ARR and >3B dollars valuation.

Aside from his passion for Lucid, Grow serves as an independent Board Member at Bitly. He deeply enjoys working with startup founders and entrepreneurs as an advisor, sounding board, and also as an angel investor.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

After starting my career as a management consultant at Bain & Company, I was given the opportunity to join a small basement startup to help “figure out and grow the business.” Since joining Lucid 10 years ago, I have worn many hats — product management, marketing, sales, customer support, operations — as we built out each of these areas.

Interestingly, when I was about to join Lucid, I was also applying to business school to pursue an MBA. Despite being very prepared for that application process, I was not accepted into either of the two top-tier schools that I was particularly interested in. At the time I felt crushed, especially as I watched so many of my peers be accepted to the schools of their dreams. That said, had I been accepted, I never would have had my Lucid experience, which has really helped define my career. So, I’ve learned to be a bit more patient, roll with the punches, and recognize that when one door closes, another opens.

Having learned a lot in the journey of helping grow Lucid from a fledgling basement startup to the company it is today, I deeply enjoy working with startup founders and entrepreneurs as an advisor, sounding board, and also as an angel investor.

Outside of work, there’s no better way to stay grounded than raising a family. At the end of the day, none of my four kids will care much about my success in business, but they will remember if I was there for their soccer game, their dance recital, family movie night and more. Always striving for the right balance and making sure I prioritize what is truly most important certainly shapes who I am today.

What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?

Over the next 10–15 years, I expect to see prospective employees demand the option for increased flexibility before signing on the dotted line to join a company. But I still think there will be a good amount of people who will thrive in an office setting. So ultimately, I think employers need to really invest in technology that enables teams to work productively, efficiently, and happily no matter where they are located.

The choice as to whether or not a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether or not to go to college?

Some of the career advice that I’ve given to folks earlier in their career is to work to find the trifecta of (1) something you enjoy; (2) something you’re (uniquely) good at; and (3) something the market/company will pay you for.

People with more seasoned careers need to help coach young people through that discovery process. College can be a fantastic place to aid that discovery as it often exposes people to new ideas, new people, and new courses that they may not have experienced up to that point. That said, college doesn’t necessarily have to be the place or time of discovery for everyone. For me personally, I started college as a Chemistry major because my father strongly encouraged me to major in a hard science like my older siblings. While I learned that I was good at it, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. When I took my first Entrepreneurship Lecture Series and heard the tales of entrepreneurs, I was enamored and excited. So, I pivoted my college experience and ultimately my career.

Even still, we also have to help educate young people on the earning potential, the work experience, and other factors of potential career paths. With that knowledge — and with some of the self-discovery — young people will be much better prepared to decide if college or an alternative path is right for them.

I recently read a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which found that only “27 percent of undergraduate degree holders are working in a job that is directly related to their college major.” We can do better to help young people find their interests and more closely match their education to their long-term careers. That said, we should also recognize that the other, less domain-specific skills a college experience teaches can help young adults be adaptable and pivot throughout their future careers.

Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment, but employment that fits their talents and interests?

Over the last decade, I’ve increasingly recognized the importance of networking. Even just a few years ago, this largely meant attending events to meet new people, discuss ideas, and form a relationship. Today, this has increasingly and rapidly shifted online. Personally I’ve been able to develop real, meaningful connections with a lot of people who I’ve never met in-person but with whom I’ve regularly engaged on platforms like LinkedIn. The type of networking that is now available online through social platforms can lack a bit of the human element at times, but allows people to much more quickly engage with a targeted audience on relevant topics. Job seekers should continue to invest in networking and evolve with what that means over the next few years.

The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appears frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?

The AI and automation takeover extends well beyond retail or similar type positions — it’s increasingly extending into the corporate enterprise as robotic process automation is being used to facilitate common and repetitive tasks, data entry, and more.
 
 In spite of this, I don’t believe there’s a need to panic just yet. While AI will continue to improve, there are certain abilities and capabilities that are many years away from being automated: namely critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. My company offers a Lucid for Education product, which connects us with schools to often discuss these four Cs required to become a 21st century learner and how our products enable that learning. We feel strongly that an investment in these soft skills is really important — not only in simply avoiding automation, but in accelerating any career.

Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?

We’ll certainly continue to see technology make it easier and more effective for employees and teams to work remotely, but I also think it’s important to build technology that can help teams work together no matter where they’re located. Millions of employees and many companies have done an admirable job over the last 12–18 months adjusting rapidly. That said, there’s more to do to truly enable the next wave of working. Many companies have realized they won’t be going back to in-person environments every single day ever again. There’s so much that we’ve learned over the last 18 months that should be applied as people return to offices too. We believe virtual collaboration will be a key part in bringing teams together whatever their location make up looks like down the line.
 
That said, I think there will also be a recalibration. Having increased flexibility and ability to work remotely at times will certainly be a mainstay — but I also believe that there can still be unique connections formed, culture can be more deeply infused, and creativity can be more efficient through in-person interactions. So, while some predict a complete dissolution of the office environment, I still believe that there is a core and fundamental place for in-person and office environments (with enhanced flexibility).

What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support the fundamental changes to work?

In order to support the fundamental changes to work, organizations must consider the different demographics that work for them and the related benefits that these demographics need in order to be part of the workforce. This includes more support around childcare-related issues and accommodating a flexible work schedule to welcoming different skills and groups of people into the workforce.

Companies must also consider infrastructure changes around connectivity (i.e. 5G and broadband). For instance, if an employee’s remote place of work has poor connectivity, how will organizations support them? Likely, they need to financially support the purchase of a better router if they have remote work policies in place. Factoring in situations like this as people make changes to their workforces will be necessary to support employees.

What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employers to accept? What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employees to accept?

Employers are likely having trouble accepting the cost of underutilized real estate. There’s a risk that they decide to set their work environment flexibility based on how efficient it is cost-wise. For example, if employers want to allow people to work from home a couple days per week, it may be most efficient to alternate days of when certain groups are in the office (Mondays and Wednesdays are the A group; Tuesdays and Thursdays are the B group; etc). While this may sound ideal, the situation would result in having half a company in the office on one day and half the company in it another day — meaning that a lot of cross-functional work will be done with some people in-person and some people remote, creating a challenging hybrid dynamic. It would likely be more effective to have the entire company in the office on Tuesday and Thursdays (so some interactions can be entirely in-person and some entirely virtual), but that would ultimately result in underutilized real estate. Whatever path companies take, they shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog by letting real estate decisions drive how employee work should be structured.
 
Employees may struggle to accept the balance of newfound flexibility with the need and opportunity to still be in-person at times, but the right employers will help them through this. Culture matters more than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight the inadequate social safety net that many workers at all pay levels have. Is this something that you think should be addressed? In your opinion how should this be addressed?

There are many ways to address this question, but in terms of the workplace, it’s important that companies prioritize cognitive and social diversity. Workplaces should invest in learning and development centered around understanding and recognizing employees’ unique perspectives and learning styles to help managers better support employees to work and be their best selves in the workplace.
 
One way to address this is giving every worker a voice to contribute in a way that makes them most comfortable. The right tools are key to this. It’s important to make sure the tools your organization utilizes for collaboration go beyond one style of communication. Even if an employee isn’t totally comfortable with remote work, these tools make it easier to adapt, allowing them to be more engaged, productive, creative and efficient than in traditional in-person settings. Well-facilitated remote collaboration levels the playing field, allowing everyone the same opportunities to contribute ideas and be heard, which in turn allows your teams to more effectively and efficiently work together.

Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

It might be cliché, but I truly believe children are our future. I have four kids and work regularly with youth in my community. Undoubtedly, the last 18 months have been particularly hard on our youth. That said, I’m impressed by their resilience, their optimism and their drive. These kids are having to adapt to new technologies, new environments, and new challenges constantly. The way they are learning to adapt and tackle these changes should give us all optimism for the future.

Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between the job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?

To reduce the length of job loss gaps, the industry should make retraining programs more readily available. In the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of technology bootcamps that often last a few months to teach people the fundamentals of computer programming or other technical skills. While this industry is still nascent and there is a lot of learning to do to make it most effective, these kinds of camps are an example of what could be done at a broader scale to help retrain workers who may be currently affected or affected in the next few years by disruptions.

Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Hybrid work is here to stay. Companies must adapt to being able to be productive and innovative no matter where employees are.

2. Because of hybrid work, collaboration will turn to virtual spaces that we can access whether we are all together, all apart, or anywhere in between.

3. Teamwork will make a huge comeback. Younger generations are much more inclined to work together as groups rather than individuals. Teamwork, including fluid teams that aren’t driven by departmental boundaries, will become the norm.

4. The future of work is about being able to adapt quickly. Every company will need to be able to shift like a startup, focusing on driving what matters most, rather than just the things that are easiest to keep going.

5. Values-based cultures will drive success. Employees are looking for workplaces where they can be the best version of themselves. Companies that are great at making that happen will be the ones that win.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?

“Give others the benefit of the doubt.” As humans, we often have the tendency to read into statements or situations; sometimes this may be warranted but often our assumptions are wrong. And I think the risk of this happening only goes up when teams are working together less in person and communicating more via email or messaging, making tone even harder to interpret. At the end of the day, if we’ve chosen the right company with people with similar values, we should take a step back from assumptions and instead seek to understand first before jumping to conclusions. I know that I have needed the benefit of the doubt many, many times from the people I work with, and so I strive to give it whenever possible as well.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney, is someone I’d love to have a private lunch or breakfast with. I just finished reading his book, and was so impressed by how he’s been able to help lead and transform one of the most iconic companies in America over the last 20 years.

Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?

LinkedIn.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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