Jacob Morgan is an author, speaker and futurist living in Los Angeles, California. He has distinguished himself through his work and his main goal: to create better leaders. How has he accomplished this goal? By inspiring with his experiences through his voice and books. His next book “Leading With Vulnerability” will be released in October. It will help leaders to lead by combining two important pieces in the puzzle: leadership and vulnerability.
First, we would like to get to know you Jacob, tell us about your story.
My family came from the Republic of Georgia, they did not speak any English and do not have any money or possessions in the States, so they had to build a life for themselves and take care of my brother and me. I was always a bad student at school, I did not do well in middle school and high school… but I finally did well in college where I did a double major in Economics and Psychology; my first job was working for a technological company and I was promised that I will be doing all these wonderful and amazing things… but a couple of months after, I was stocked doing data entry and cold calling, PowerPoint presentations and bring cups of coffee to the executive, so that was one of the last full-time jobs that I had for working to somebody else. So, for the last fifteen years, I have been trying to create organizations where employees want to show up, and engage the employees, create great managers and the future of organizations has been my goal ever since, so having those bad jobs working for other people is really what prepared me on the current path that I am now.
What sparked your passion for exploring the future of work and inspiring organizations?
I enjoy meeting a lot of leaders and talking to them and employees, helping them to figure out how business and leadership is changing. I never had a place where employees wanted to show up and my wife had a similar experience, I know that lots of people had the same experience… So, I mentioned that I have two little kids and I would like to imagine a world whereby the time my kids grow up they will be able to have jobs or work for companies they genuinely want to be.
What disruptive technologies do you believe will have the most significant impact on the future of work?
I think AI, especially ChatGPT and all these newest versions that are coming out now focuses on specialized areas. In addition, machine learning, I think it will also have the greatest impact.
Do you think it will impact all industries?
Oh yeah! I cannot imagine an industry that is not impacted by ChatGPT and AI, I mean, if you are working in manufacturing perhaps is not going to immediately impact on the manufacturing floor but there are also leaders, managers and supervisors, people who are working in offices that run the manufacturing companies and facilities in plants.
In the spirit of innovation and disruption, what unconventional or surprising industry do you think will play a significant role in shaping the future of work?
I do not think any industry shapes the future of work, what shapes the future of work is the sort of society, culture, and business trends. So, industries can help to shape the future of their industry. For example, banking companies can help to shape the future of banking, communications companies can help shape the future of communication so in essence all the industries play a role in shaping the future of work collectively, but everyone has a little piece in the puzzle on the role they play in and shaping the future.
“Leading With Vulnerability” sounds like an intriguing concept. Can you give us a sneak peek into what readers can expect from your upcoming book?
Sure, vulnerability is showing up and saying “Hey, I made a mistake” and that is a very vulnerable thing to do, especially inside of an organization, but the challenge is because there is no leadership, there is no action that we are taking. So “Leading with Vulnerability” means you show up and share the mistake you made but also what you learned from the mistake, you also talk about what you are going to do to make sure the mistake will not happen again. So, it combines two pieces, leadership, which is being good at your job, and vulnerability, which is about connecting with people. Often, inside organizations we are constantly taught to be vulnerable and be vulnerable means keep connecting with people, which is good, but if you do not have the leadership piece, if you are not good at your job then the connection element does not really do as much as it should be… So what I have found after interviewing a 100 of CEOS and certain fourteen thousand employees, is that ultimately what the most successful CEO’S do is they lead with vulnerability and bring together these two important pieces of the equation, you have to be good at your job and also have to connect with your people; If you just do one and not the other, it does not work out well.
Can you please give us an example of it?
For example, if I am good at connecting with people and always vulnerable, I show up to the world talking about my emotions, feelings, mistakes, failures, and challenges but if I am not good at my job then people are going to show up and say “Jacob is a really good person, I love spending time with him, we have this great connection, but I am not sure he is good at his job or if he should be leading this company”. Similarly, if I am only good at my job somebody would say “Wow! Jacob is good at his job, he is killing it every time, but I do not really know Jacob, I have a hard time creating a relationship with Jacob, there is no chemistry or engagement there.” So, on the one hand, you can be viewed as incompetent, or on the other hand you can be viewed as being a robot, so “leading with vulnerability” brings together both of those pieces in the puzzle: leadership and competence.
What inspired you to explore the theme of vulnerability in leadership?
A few things, so number one is I grew up not being very vulnerable, as I mentioned, my family came from the Republic of Georgia so growing up my dad was always telling me not to show emotions or feelings, he told me “Nobody cares about your problems” so I spend most of my adult life being just like that, and a few years ago I had a panic attack, my heart started beating very quickly, my vision got blurry and I was feeling like I was about to have a heart attack. The reason I was having these panic attacks was that I was writing this book, all these things happen a few weeks after I signed the contract to write this book, and after seeing a couple of therapists it became clear that the fact I was writing a book about vulnerability is something that makes me feel so uncomfortable and awkward, the fact that I committed to spending the next months of my life diving in deep into this topic gave me serious panic attacks. It was because it is not something that my body or my mind wanted to do, and is not something I am good at, so, I knew then that a lot of people struggle with it, especially leaders, so when I was writing my last book I talked to a lot of executives which makes me think about this topic, so I was thinking “Why not explore how to be a competent and vulnerable leader and bring both elements together?” so it was a motivating factor to write and combine with the fact that I do not think it has ever been done before.
What do you hope readers will take away from “Leading With Vulnerability”? What impact do you aspire to make with this book?
Number one, I hope to give them the tools and the resources they need to be able to deal with vulnerability. Number two, I hope it will help make them more effective leaders and let them excel and grow in their careers, and number three, I hope it will help them to improve their teams inside their organizations, so that is my goal: How do we create better leaders? And I believe that the concepts in this book are the most essential elements to be able to do that and be somebody who can inspire others, unlock the potential of others, and unleash the superpower that we all have, it is being able to lead with vulnerability.
Who is Jacob?
Full Name: Jacob Morgan
Occupation: Author, Speaker, and futurist.
Where do you live? Los Angeles, United States
Do you have kids? I do, I have two Kids.
Do you have pets? Two yorkie rescue dogs
Favorite Food: Desserts.
Hobbies: Play Chess and Raquetball
Favorite place in the world: Where all my family is.
How would you describe yourself in one word? Ambitious.
Favorite movie or TV Show: It is hard to choose a favorite one, but I am watching now “The Bear” and “Better Call Saul”
Favorite Book: The foundation
If you could turn into an animal, what would it be? A Dog.
Favorite music band or gender: House Music.
Your grounding activity is… Exercise.
What are 2 things that can’t be missing from your backpack? My phone, Water bottle
Do you like sports? Are you a fan of a sport team? I do not necessarily watch sports, but I like to play Raquetball and different sports.
What contribution do you feel you make to a better world?
Creating better leaders. It is part of what I do with my work.
One piece of advice that you were given and would give: Be a leader not a follower.