Adding to the long line of guests much smarter than the podcast hosts, The Chad & Cheese welcome author, entrepreneur, filmmaker, tech philosopher, and Death Metal singer Somi Arian to the show.
Did someone say Death Metal?
Somi is plugging her new book, "Career Fear (And How To Beat It), which talks about how A.I. is changing the world and how savvy professionals - talking to you, recruiters - can prepare to thrive in this fast-evolving world.
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Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.
In the long line of interviews where we talk to people much smarter than us.
Welcome Somi Arian, to the show, everybody.
There we go.
She is ready for this, Chad. Yes. She is a tech philosopher, filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, speaker, and a quote "transition architect." And she's the author of a new book, entitled Career Fear (and how to beat it): Get the Perspective, Mindset and Skills You Need to Futureproof your Work Life. That's a mouthful. So me, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. What did I miss in the bio? What else should we know about you before getting into the Q and A.
Somi (1m 3s):
I guess the main thing that's, I'm working on these days that maybe the people haven't gotten the memo yet because it's only three or four months is I have a Think Tank for women in business and technology that's been taking all of my time. You know, that's started as a side hustle, but it's becoming my main hustle now. So that's probably the main thing, the think tank for women in business and technology.
Joel (1m 27s):
So, so talk about that. Our listeners might not know.
Somi (1m 30s):
So, I use the term think tank quite loosely. This is a big platform that I'm building, where women will be able to find new opportunities and the main, the main kind of thrust of it, is the fact that it there's the fact that women have been held back in business and technology for for many years. And when you look at you go back to the past few hundred years, you know, since the start of the industrial revolution, when we've actually had entrepreneurial endeavors, women have been in the shadows. And same thing is in science and in STEM fields.
Somi (2m 14s):
So the whole point of this is to bring them in back into, or bring them into not back, but bring them into maybe even for the first time into these fields and trying to get women to think about what young girls especially think about changing that mindset of, you know, girls play with dolls and boys, you know, our engineers and changing that mindset and getting girls to actually think about building businesses and learning how to use technology. And the bottom line is I want to change this scenario where, but you look at the top 10% or top, you know, even 1% of people who are in business and technology, the leaders, they're all men.
Somi (2m 55s):
You know, you look at the top 10 companies that run the world, right? Top 10 companies around the world, five in the US Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. And then in China, we have Jami, Walway, Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent all run by men. There's not one woman in that picture. I want to change that.
Chad (3m 14s):
So today you're Founder, Managing Director at Smart Cookie. You're an opinion columnist at CEO World Magazine, obviously author this new book. But before that you were a visa officer in the Netherlands are, I'm sorry,
Somi (3m 30s):
In the Netherlands embassy.
Chad (3m 32s):
The Netherlands embassy, you're a program officer for the International Organization for Migration and a program officer for the UN. Yeah. So what, what brought you to talking about careers, robots, millennials, marketing, what actually brought you here? Why do this?
Somi (3m 50s):
Well, you know, I have a very diverse background. I suppose my biggest passion in life is philosophy. You know, the thing that interests me more than anything else is on the standing life, understanding what is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is this all going? Where is this all going? And what's this all about? And since I was a child, I was always asking that and I was terrible at math and I wasn't very good at, I wasn't generally a good student. And they told me that I wouldn't amount to anything.
Chad (4m 20s):
Somi (4m 20s):
And my father said, so what are you going to do? And I said, Oh, that I want to get paid to think like, I want it, I want to make a living to think, and my dad said, like, that's not normally he gets paid to think. And I was like, yeah, there are philosophers, like, you know, Aristotle and Nietzsche. And he was like, well, first of all, you know, nobody will pay you to think. And secondly, those were men and women can'tNietzsche become philosophers. And, you know, like nature didn't exactly have the best of the endings. And I was like, no, I'm going to become a philosopher.
Chad (4m 56s):
It sounds like to me. And I have, I have two daughters and Joel has a daughter. It sounds like you actually put your foot down and said to the world, fuck you. I'm going to be who I want to be.
Joel (5m 7s):
Somi (5m 8s):
Exactly. Actually, there's a, there's a Persian poet. Now I'm actually going to get a Kelly Grafton and put it on my, because I come from a very traditional, my parents had no money growing up and they made, they forced me to marry my first cousin, which is quite common in Iran, when I was 17. And I was like, no, I don't want to do that. And, and, you know, went through a, it, it caused a whole breakdown of family relationships. Ad I was like, I don't care that it's going to break all the family relationships. So everybody thinks that, you know, I'm quite selfish, but I was like, you know, no, it's my life.. And I'm not going to let that happen. And there's this Persian poem that says, basically says, like, I'm not the one that would let the world fuck with me.
Somi (5m 56s):
Like if the world fucks with me, I'm going to fuck it up. And you can, you can beep that.
Chad (6m 4s):
Well, that let's go ahead and parlay that into the, into the next topic. The world is fucking with us. It's called Covid in many companies are focusing on, or at least they're talking about safety per se. And they're bringing in more robots. I mean, we see Microsoft robots for replacing news producers, Tyson robots are replacing butchers, gas, the Gap robots and Walmart and Amazon for warehousing. I mean, the list goes on. So I mean, this to me, and we were talking before, before the interview, this seems like a fairly simple math equation. Humans should be talking about universal, basic income, not about their next job.
Chad (6m 48s):
Can you give us some insights on what you found?
Somi (6m 51s):
Well, I actually, I wrote an article it's on my LinkedIn. I hope that your listeners will check it out. It's four and a half thousand words so prepare for it. It's going to take a while to read. And it took me a week to write it. And it's been probably my most engaged article today on LinkedIn and, and it's, it's called COVID-19 and the Future of Business, Economy and Democracy. COVID-19 whether, you know, however, it came upon us COVID-19 is it has accelerated that trend. It's definitely making it easier. I guess it's making it more acceptable people would for people to accept the adoption of robots.
Somi (7m 33s):
Right. And so when I wrote my book, I talked about all of these things in it. And my book, I finished it at the end of 2019, and then it was going to go to publication. It was supposed to come out in July, which it did come out a little bit, like I think about two, three weeks later than it was supposed to because of COVID. But essentially what my point is that when I was writing that COVID hadn't happened, I was predicting a five to 15 year transition. All I can say is that instead of five to 15, now think about one to five years.
Joel (8m 6s):
Yeah, summarize the book for us real quick career fair and how to beat it. Like if you're, if you're describing the book to someone in our listeners, what would it be about?
Somi (8m 15s):
So at the bottom line, is it all comes down to my philosophy of "transition architecture." You know, what ""transition architecture is about is understanding that we should not think about necessarily transformation, like digital transformation. We need to think about constant transition. The bottom line is if you go with the idea of singularity, basically they're saying if people like Reiki as well, that in the next 20 - 25 years, we're going to come to a point where AI is going to supersede human level intelligence, and there will be pretty much nothing to do for 90% of society.
Somi (8m 56s):
Well, that's already happening. You know, I don't see like anybody who says that's not true. It's just simple math. Computers are becoming smarter in an accelerated fashion. You know, it almost exponentially humans aren't we have a skull and we, our brain is limited to what we have in that skull. And it's like, it's not going to expand any further. You're not going to be able to learn any faster if you're not going to be able to, to compress data any faster, you know, even if you were connected, you know, like companies like Neuralink, right. They're now creating Elon Musk's Neuralink. Normally, you know, even if there was a way that I could connect myself to say my phone directly so that I could have access to all the information in Wikipedia, it doesn't necessarily mean that I would be able to process that information with the same speed.
Somi (9m 49s):
Right. So, so if I can, so what is data processing? You know, what is understanding, what is knowledge? You know, it's essentially being able to compress that data that you take from the world and, you know, to be able to summarize it and understand it, right? So if we can't speed that up anymore than what it is now, maybe to some degree, you know, you can improve your nutrition or whatever, but, but we can't really process it any faster. And there is the possibility of brain machine interface, but we don't yet know how that could work and whether it would be accessible to everybody. So it's math, machines are superseding in every way.
Joel (10m 28s):
We both have children. Chad's are a little bit older than mine. I have, I have as young as a three-year-old, what skills should they be learning to sort of survive in this future? And you talk about like, how quickly change is going to happen. I'm ready. What'd you get in terms of, you know, how fast is change happening, what skills will be in demand and what, what should essentially younger people or people for sure be prepared for and doing the work. Cause I'm guessing that schools are, are ill prepared with the changes that are happening and how fast they happening.
Somi (10m 57s):
Basically you must have a technical skill or several technical skills, preferably. So I talk about this quite a lot in the book in the sense that you need to be multi-skilled, that's very important. And, you know, you'd think about like, I used to be in a death metal band, you know, like I know that that's not exactly it has had an impact. You know, it's definitely had an impact. I assume you're in a band. I, you know, did a lot of fitness modeling when I was younger. I have a background in politics and philosophy, you know, filmmaking, you know, now I'm teaching myself Python, so it's constantly learning. So you need to have technical skills.
Somi (11m 38s):
You've got to have that, but in addition to that, you need to have four human skills. And that's what, there are four chapters in the book that are about that. Those four human skills are emotional intelligence, contextual creativity, critical thinking and mindfulness. And when I talk about mindfulness, I'm not talking about sitting there 20 minutes a day. And meditating, I'm talking about full participation with the world, with what's happening. Like, for example, since exactly since the beginning of last year, October, I haven't even watched a single Netflix series or film or movie or nothing, because I think that when you spend a lot of time watching, you know, doing entertainment stuff, because you need to be in full participation instead on Saturdays, all of my day, like I wake up in the morning sometimes, you know, I sit there with my pajama and this is my, like absolutely my relaxation to practice coding and math, like seriously.
Chad (12m 34s):
So you don't want Netflix and chill. You don't Netflix and chill. You math and chill.
Somi (12m 40s):
Yeah. Algebra and math and algebra and chill. Yeah. Or Python and chill. Yeah. Why am I doing that? Not, I don't want to become a coder. I don't need to do that. I'm teaching myself that because I'm hiring people who are going to need to have those skills. It's kind of like, if you want to be a producer director, it's so much better. If you can also film and edit, not because you need to do it, but because you know how to speak to your, to a crew, to your editors. So it's really, I think, important that people learn lots of different technical skills, you know, and get really good at a few things and have an intermediate understanding of a few others and some basic understanding of some of the others.
Somi (13m 25s):
And, and in addition to that have those four skills.
Chad (13m 28s):
So for the bulk of it, for the bulk of the human population, we're mostly all stupid. Okay. We're not doing algebra on the couch, we're watching Netflix. I guess the question is how do we start to provide premium types of content that push our brains in that direction? Because instead of watching all of this, a reality TV, bullshit, that's out there, there are a ton of great documentaries or what have you to actually watch and consume. How do you do that? And how do you do that? As again, as a two things, not just as a parent, but also as a boss that, the millennial disruption that you talk about is definitely, I think it's here.
Chad (14m 15s):
I don't know that it's coming. I think that it's here. How do you, how do you, as a mentor, as a boss, try to help those individuals steer toward that versus, you know, reality TV.
Somi (14m 29s):
I think you do it by leading, you lead by example, you know, like I have a team and we are, they are you. I think, I wish I think they would be better people to talk to tell you how I do it with them. I pushed them. I really pushed them. You know, there's no easy moment. There's no day that's like yesterday, in our office, you know, it now our team, as some of them work from here, some of them work remotely, but no two days are the same. And it's a constant battle of, you know, them pushing themselves. And I, everybody has read the book and, you know, I give them examples of like, when things go wrong and I'm like, this is an example of critical thinking that I was talking to you about.
Somi (15m 14s):
This is your lack of critical thinking, or this is your lack of contextual creativity. This is what I want from you. You need to just think, I want you to bring something new to the table. Something unique, something that's not, I can't that I can't get from AI. And I show them examples of like how a lot of the stuff that they are now doing could be very easily. You know, it's just that somebody hasn't yet created an application for it, but they can all be automated 80% of it. So, so you do it by leading by example. If I sit here and watch Netflix and you know, like they come in and we talk about some reality show last night. No, there's no conversation with that.
Chad (15m 51s):
How do you shut that down though? So me, I mean, how do you shut that down? It's like, no, we're not talking about that stupid shit. That's dumb. You stop talking about that. I mean, how do you shut that down? Do you just kind of like, do you pivot, do you pivot into something more intelligent?
Somi (16m 6s):
I think that, like, I don't, I guess I'm quite a dominant character. Yeah. If I'm in the room, nobody dares. Okay. I come from Iran, right? Dictatorship. No, I'm joking, I'm joking.
Chad (16m 22s):
Is there a ducks hat they have to put on? I mean, it's almost like this public shaming that.
Somi (16m 29s):
No, no, no. I'm joking. No, no, no. Seriously. Like, no, no, everybody looks, we have, we have written our, our values on is on the wall and you know, our values, our speed, right? Number one is speed. And honesty and curiosity, if you don't have these things, you don't work for my company. We need to, we need to develop curiosity in ourselves and we need to help our young. And you know, like the girls who work with me, you know, they're like my children. I try to instigate that sense of curiosity in them. And if we are say with a client and somebody looks at their phone or something, and they're not fully engaged, like that person is probably not gonna last long.
Somi (17m 12s):
I need full engagement. I don't take anything less than that because we are like, that's what the company is called, Smart Cookie Media. I said, I'm only hire smart cookies.
Chad (17m 22s):
Okay. We get it. You're a tiger mom. Okay.
Joel (17m 27s):
We talked a lot about recruiting on the show. It's sort of the main theme of what we do and recruiting and automation and AI, it's sort of a scary environment, right? Cause it's, two-sided not only are there going to be less recruiters theoretically, because a lot of things like scheduling interviews, sourcing candidates, a lot of that's going to be AI and smart. And on the other side, there are fewer people to recruit. So you're almost getting a double whammy. And I'm curious, you, you say in one of the videos that I watched about you, you talk about outsourcing our brain. And the equivalent of that you talk about is, you know, when we cooked our food, we outsourced our digestion. I want you to talk about outsourcing your brain and how recruiters and professionals in general will have to be in will have to be able to live in this world and what that world looks like.
Joel (18m 16s):
Can you talk about that?
Somi (18m 17s):
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So as humans, we have three main capacities. Those are physical, emotional, so physical, cognitive, and emotional in that, in that order, I believe. So the first thing that we did, you know, that's what really put us on the top of the food chain historically, was that we outsourced a lot of our physical tasks, right? So a lot of our physical capacities, when we outsource something, it enables us to increase our capacity, that we can do more of that. So it outsources and it enhances right. And we did that with our physical abilities and the industrial revolution.
Somi (18m 59s):
The first industrial revolution was the biggest, the most prominent example of that, where we were able to produce a lot more stuff. And we were able to have for the first time mechanization in factories. And then the next thing is that we are outsourcing or we have outsourced since the start of the digital revolution. And actually, I would say since the beginning of the time when we created the first computers, so we started to outsource our brain, right? So our cognitive abilities. So when you use a calculator, you're outsourcing you know, your brain, your cognitive abilities.
Somi (19m 44s):
So the next thing, the last thing, the only other thing that's left for us is our emotional capabilities. And once that is also outsourced, because we are already doing that, you know, where there are people that are maybe talking or using, interacting with their machines more than they are interacting with humans, and this will be increasing over time. So increasingly actually I mentioned Ray Kurzweil in the beginning, Ray Kurzweil wrote a book in the 1990s, it was called Age of the Spiritual Machine. And in it, he says that eventually we will be in a position where a majority of communication on earth is happening between between computers, between machines like two machines.
Somi (20m 31s):
And then it will be between human and machines and the least amount of communication will be between human and human. So that's like we are increasingly outsourcing all of these things. Like I gave the example of, if you're using, if you're, you know, cooking food, you're outsourcing your digestion to fire. So likewise, when we use these technologies that we are surrounded by, we are outsourcing. So recruiting, when it comes to recruiting, there's going to be two kinds of roles that we are going to be recruiting for. There are roles that are going to be replaced, you know, pretty soon. So like, so there's this interim you're we talk about this transition, you know, period, there, there will be, we will reach a level of plateau.
Somi (21m 19s):
We will be, we will get to a point where it will be quite clear what tasks we need humans for and what tasks we are gonna need. You know, that we can, we can outsource to machines. Very soon in the next, I would say, five years or so, we will get to a plateau level. And, and I think we will be left with about 10% of, yeah, roughly about 10% of tasks that we are going to need humans for. And those are going to be so complex that you, you really don't want to be really using machines. You know, I think that's the level where you do want to, you know, find the right people for those, because those people need to have those four human skills or, you know, and to give you an example, even if a new car, when it comes to things like creativity, you know, like in the past, you used to be able to hire, you would think like designers, right.
Somi (22m 13s):
You would bring in somebody and say, you know, I want you to design something for me. And, and you, you know, you marveled in their creativity, but actually now all of that can be generated by AI. And in many ways it can be done more, interestingly, much better because the AI can pull from so many different sources. Whereas one human is bringing from only one human's intuition and sources. So for example, we used to think of music as a creative task, but actually there in the book, I talk about contextual creativity as opposed to normal creativity. So normal creativity is like, you know, or artistic creativity or narrow creativity is like things like music and design and painting and things like that.
Somi (22m 55s):
All of those can be done by machines. And there are already examples where, you know, for example, the machine has created music that sounds better than, you know, Bach and Bach lovers have thought that was Bach, you know, so there's, so increasingly those tasks are going to go. So the kind of creativity that I'm talking about, let's think about, I always give this example of iPod. You know, when Steve Jobs came up with the idea of iPod, that's contextual creativity, and that's the kind of people that we need, you know, like, like the creme de LA creme, you know, that the top 10% of engineers and people who are going to be really present and engaged in their work.
Somi (23m 38s):
And then there's a top 1% of people who are like the driving force and the thinkers. I think over the next five years, we're going to see that, yes, we will be using algorithms to choose people. You know what those, but most of those jobs that algorithms can, we can use algorithms to choose they are going to be jobs that have a shelf life of about five years.
Joel (24m 5s):
I'm going to push back for a second. Do you really think a machine can make, you know, Bohemian Rhapsody or Smells Like Teen Spirit or the Mona Lisa?
Somi (24m 14s):
But that's where you go into contextual creativity, because that's like, you know, Bohemian Rhapsody is like about understanding the feeling of, you know, that like the, it really absorbing. Then I talk about concepts of contextual creativity. It's like, you need to absorb the essence of the society at that time. Right. And you, but when you, I think like something like Bach is a lot more mathematical, to be honest. I mean, I remember Bohemian Rhapsody has got a band, right? It's a lot more complex, complex. It's not one person's music. You know, it's a, it's a band they have put it together.
Somi (24m 54s):
So maybe it conceivable that you could have a group of, you know, you could have AI developed in a way that does, if AI could break down the role of each of those people, you may be surprised by how good something could come out of it and it may not be Bohemian Rhapsody, but it may sound very pleasant to the ear. And, and ultimately, you know, I think you can break it down to it's. It's a mathematics of colors is a mathematics of, of music and tone. And one of our biggest clients is Steinway pianos. And Steinway is like the Rolls Royce of pianos.
Somi (25m 35s):
I've been working with them for the past four or five years. And I actually just filmed an entrepreneur in Germany who is an amazing musician, but he chose to go into IT because he thought that he would never make enough money from if you went into music. So he went into IT and I interviewed him for my podcast. And actually he said that he's absolutely, you know, perceivable, that AI can create better music.
Chad (26m 1s):
Well, you heard at first here, kids get off Tik Tok, get off Netflix, do your math. The book is Career Fear. The author is Somi Arian. Thanks so much for joining us Somi. We really appreciate it.
Somi (26m 18s):
Joel (26m 18s):
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. Somi, if somebody wants to learn more about you, where would you send them?
Somi (26m 25s):
You know what, these days you just Google the person, you know, Somi Arian and then all of my social media links come up. Somi Arian, Google me.
Joel (26m 35s):
I love it.
Chad (26m 35s):
She knows search engine optimization. I love that.
Joel (26m 39s):
Chad, another podcast in the books. We out.
Chad (26m 42s):
OUTRO (26m 43s):
Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode.
OUTRO (27m 27s):
And while you're at it, visit www.chadcheese.com just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.