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What on Earth is Going on? is a podcast for the curious, where small talk is banned and tangents are prized. Strap yourself in for genuine dialogues with people who think deeply and are ready to tackle the big questions, such as broadcaster Terry O'Reilly, economist Miles Corak and journalist Jessica Vomiero.

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Jun 21, 2019

Thomas Friedman has been explaining the modern predicament as an author and New York Times columnist for decades. With Thank You For Being Late, he turns his sights to the unprecedented rate of change today. His main focus here is on the three M's: Markets, Moore's Law and Mother Nature, and the book's scale is grand as it tries to answer our eternal question, what on earth is going on?

Joining Ben to tackle the book is Mark Sollis, strategist, writer and engagement specialist in higher education.

About the Book

A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observers.

We all sense it―something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at once―and it is dizzying.
In Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.

Friedman begins by taking us into his own way of looking at the world―how he writes a column. After a quick tutorial, he proceeds to write what could only be called a giant column about the twenty-first century. His thesis: to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces―Moore’s law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)―are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.

Why is this happening? As Friedman shows, the exponential increase in computing power defined by Moore’s law has a lot to do with it. The year 2007 was a major inflection point: the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, created a new technology platform. Friedman calls this platform “the supernova”―for it is an extraordinary release of energy that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships. It is creating vast new opportunities for individuals and small groups to save the world―or to destroy it.

Thank You for Being Late is a work of contemporary history that serves as a field manual for how to write and think about this era of accelerations. It’s also an argument for “being late”―for pausing to appreciate this amazing historical epoch we’re passing through and to reflect on its possibilities and dangers. To amplify this point, Friedman revisits his Minnesota hometown in his moving concluding chapters; there, he explores how communities can create a “topsoil of trust” to anchor their increasingly diverse and digital populations.

With his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations―if we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community. Thank You for Being Late is Friedman’s most ambitious book―and an essential guide to the present and the future.

About the Guest

Mark Sollis is a strategist and creative with D3 Advancement Strategies & Communications.

Noted for his disruptive thinking and willingness to challenge the status quo, Mark served for almost five years as the first Associate Vice-President, Alumni at the University of Calgary. Building on leadership roles in planning within various institutions, he led the creation of, and delivered on, the institution's much-lauded first Alumni Strategy, which set the university as one of the most forward-thinking and performance-driven operations in the field of alumni engagement.

Previously, at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Mark served for three years as the project manager for Canada’s leading alumni facility, the $20 million UBC Alumni Centre, while working as the Senior Director, Operations and Planning; and Interim Associate Vice-President Alumni and Executive Director, Alumni Association, for UBC Alumni.

Noted for his considered approach, and his ability to execute with focus, agility, and collegially, his post-secondary experiences also cover media relations; student leadership; finance; major project management; as well as serving as strategic counsel to higher education executives. Mark served on the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations from 2013-16 and the CASE District VIII Board from 2014-16. A frequent presenter in North America and internationally, with significant experience with CASE and the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE), he has also worked closely with institutions and colleagues across Canada, the US, Australia and the UK in the areas of performance management, planning and organisational development. Other leadership roles include successes in two major Canadian political campaigns and serving as a caucus chief of staff, and as a VP Advancement in Scotland.

A proud graduate of Mount Royal (Calgary) with a Bachelor of Applied Communications (Journalism), Mark has recently launched his own consultancy to focus on performance management, strategy development, and business planning in advancement.

The Quote of the Week

"When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings, they start. You start to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible and, most importantly, you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to re-imagine a better path."
- Dov Siedman, CEO of LRN, as quoted by Thomas Friedman in Thank You For Being Late