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Rhiannon Rosalind is president and CEO of the Economic Club of Canada. She is CEO and co-founder of the Global Institute for Conscious Economics. Jeffrey Overall is an associate professor at Ontario Tech University, where he is an expert in mindfulness, entrepreneurship and strategy. He is president and co-founder of the Global Institute for Conscious Economics.

Good entrepreneurs know how to solve problems extremely well. Solving problems is their very nature. Business, mass media, government and educational institutions want the masses to embody the skills of successful entrepreneurs. Countless dollars, resources and efforts have been put toward training society to build these skills. You’ve been to the seminars, read the books and dreamed of starting your own businesses. The truth is: You all have these skills. Without knowing it, you are all trained up and ready to go. Now, we need your help to solve a problem. The time has come to put these skills to use.

The face of leadership is changing. The systems that were once valued have been disrupted. The economic uncertainty of changing demographics, environmental challenges and automation have left corporate executives, university administrators and policy makers bantering about how to address the evolving needs of the labour force. However, the future of work is non-linear. It is multidimensional, multigenerational and non-partisan. The future of work and the new economy are about the creative collaboration of generations and the sharing of experiences, not conformity. They are linked intrinsically with the future of life on this planet, which involves people working in harmony with one another and taking care of the planet. The new economy is conscious, evolved and compassionate. It is still very much about profit, but it is about profit for good.

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A problem of this magnitude needs a multigenerational solution. The status quo socioeconomic model where only a select few are invited to lead and participate, namely those from certain demographic backgrounds and income levels, no longer works. This model was never designed with the voices of youth in mind. It cannot accommodate the needs of the future labour force and, therefore, is obsolete and needs to be revolutionized. The youth of the world – from Hong Kong to New York, London, Paris and even here in Canada- who represent the future labour force are already out in the streets, rising up and demanding something different. They have been pushing for a new model, where, regardless of demographics, everyone has a voice on important issues. If we don’t wake up, listen and learn how to communicate cross-generationally, while everyone is still collegial, it will be too late – we could miss the biggest opportunity we have ever seen.

To create lasting change, we must equalize the opportunity for participation and involve all voices in the most important conversations. We need to value our differences and unique intersection of experiences, and harvest these for the lessons that can lead us to unite, redefine our system and move toward creating multigenerational solutions. To move in this direction, the Global Institute for Conscious Economics, in partnership with the Economic Club of Canada, is hosting its first event on the Future of Work, with former U.S. president Barack Obama. The audience will be democratized through a 1:1 ratio. Every ticket purchased provides an opportunity for a young leader to be present. Everyone has a role to play in this conversation. Everyone is welcome – from corporate executives to students, young to old, local to global. All communities – rural, urban, Indigenous, east, west, north and south – will be involved.

As we work together toward a solution, your task is to help by participating in the dialogue, and continuing to have the most important and challenging conversations within yourself, first, and openly and freely with others. By doing this work and facing these challenges, we can all live in peace and abundance – that place that drifts, in and out of our minds, where we think, hope and say in quiet awe: “Maybe someday, I’ll get there.” Well, that day is here. That dream is within your grasp. To get there, the first step is to wake up.

Future Skills: A Conversation with Barack Obama, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Jan. 23.

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