The 1% Podcast

Ade McCormack

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    Ade McCormack

    Boosting personal and organisational performance in the digital age Lincoln Recruitment Specialists

My guest today is Ade McCormack. 

Ade McCormack is a former technologist who today is focused on helping individuals, organisations and societies thrive in the digital age. He has written a number of books on digital age matters and has lectured at MIT Sloan School of Management on digital leadership. Ade similarly had columns in the Financial Times and CIO magazine on this theme. He has worked in about 40 countries with many of the world’s most recognisable brands. He also works with the University of Cambridge in respect of executive education.

In this session, we explore the importance of attention in respect of individual performance and the challenges faced in these increasingly distracting times. We also explore the implications of this on organisational performance. Spoiler alert: We are now thankfully entering an era where it is good to be a human in respect of work, but it will require many of us to raise our game.




Show summary



01:15 Early life and career

  • Ade’s education in physics and astrophysics
  • Early career in software development and at the European Space Agency
  • Consultation and training
  • Penning a column in the financial times
  • Demystifying technology for business people
  • Strategizing for big companies and government



03:04 Adaptation to technology

  • Need is a great driver of technology
  • Consumer goods are about convenience and accelerated productivity
  • A concern for gravitation toward comfort as the primary driver of technology
  • Authoring the e-Skills Manifesto



7:30 Background in sport

  • Ade’s career as sprinter and performance in the Irish Championship
  • Experimentation with various martial arts
  • The shift to training in parkour
  • The benefits of exposing yourself to your weaknesses



11:18 Attention Dynamics

  • Humans are still wired to be hunter gatherers
  • Inattention can have disastrous effects
  • Focus vs. attention
  • We are in a kind of dopamine pandemic



16:08 Work-life integration

  • We should accept that work ebbs and flows throughout the day
  • The healthy blending of work and life
  • The need for trust between employer and employee



17:55 Attention in the digital age

  • Attention as currency
  • Emotion architecture and the building of an emotional experience in platforms
  • Customer loyalty vs. customer addiction
  • The current trend of splitting our attention
  • Shallowness might be the new wiring of our brains
  • Like a whale swallows water for a little plankton, we now consume a lot to get a little value
  • The need to maintain deep thinking
  • The mind as a mental worktop
  • Negative emotions we retain are eating away at our cognitive capacity



24:34 Performance enhancements

  • Perhaps we do extreme things to help bolster our identities, instead of for intrinsic love
  • We should create a step of progressions to reach our goals
  • It is easier to build upon foundations
  • Anything can be achieved if you set the right path



27:27 Leadership

  • Leaders vs. influencers
  • The days of a few guys in a room making all of the decisions are over
  • The need for ubiquitous leadership, where everyone in an organization is a leader of sorts



29:03 A minimalistic approach to life

  • We often burn cognitive capacity to prop up the ego
  • Dissolving ego is job number one
  • The benefits of exploring a minimalistic approach to life
  • Everything you own is a source of cognitive distraction
  • The essence of great design is simplicity
  • Changing your intention affects your attention.



33:00 Willpower and the habitualization of life

  • Willpower is a precious resource
  • You have to minimize the decisions you have to make
  • The ultimate trick is to habitualize a large part of your life
  • How one might unconditional bad habits
  • How one might stack beneficial habits atop one another
  • Habits literally determine the quality of your life
  • You have to be crystal clear on your why, and that “why” has to be kind of profound
  • Habitualization is not all about rigidity



43:15 Humanity in the digital age

  • Humanity’s downfall began when we stopped being hunter gatherers, and increased when we moved into factories
  • The pitfalls of separation between work and life
  • The digital age is a return to our true nature
  • There may be a possible reset on capitalism
  • We are entering into the human age
  • How to cope in the new digital landscape by managing expectations



49:24 The future of automation

  • Automation already is, and will continue to, eliminate careers and bring about economic irrelevancy
  • A possible embellishment of AI destroying human society
  • Imagining the future of a post-career society
  • The need to drop the current notion of a career
  • We need to develop personal traits of resilience and learnability to seize opportunity
  • The beneficial shift toward life-long learning



56:45 Super resilience and leadership

  • Future organization should aim for super resiliency
  • Turn your factory into a living, situationally aware organization
  • The need of a new type of leader
  • Companies should avoid putting all of their proverbial eggs in one basket



01:01:35 University and super-hubs

  • Universities need an update to better prepare students for the digital age
  • Currently, universities only guarantee debt, not jobs
  • It is currently impossible for universities to stay up to date
  • Universities have to give the needed education when students need it
  • The best talent gravitates toward places where they can exercise talent with other talented people
  • The value of innovation based on frugality and people who think on their feet
  • Currently, the best education is found at places that allow you to fail, experiment, and get your hands dirty



01:10:00 The coach-athlete relationship in work

  • The need for leaders to engender trust in their employees and vice versa
  • The relationship between staff and management should become more like coach and athlete
  • Creating an interest in an improved employer performance that also benefits the organization



01:13:30 Ade’s current attentions

  • Analyzing the global socio-economic and political trends at both large and small scales