David Yakobovitch

You are listening to the HumAIn podcast. HumAIn is your first look at the startups and industry titans that are leading and disrupting artificial intelligence, data science, future of work and developer education. I am your host, David Yakobovitch, and you are listening to HumAIn. If you like this episode, remember to subscribe and leave a review. Now, onto the show

David Yakobovitch

Welcome back to the HumAIn podcast. Today our guest speaker is Lorna Davis¹. Lorna Davis is a global ambassador for B Corp². She’s also a board member for Seventh Generation and does a lot of work in impact in the social space. Lauren and I both met each other back in November, 2019 at the Work Awesome conference in New York city. Lorna, thank you so much for being with us. 

Lorna Davis

Thanks David is lovely to be here.

David Yakobovitch  

I know we’re in a new world today with COVID19 and everyone’s on the top of their mind thinking about work and what does that look like? But I want it to start at a more baseline question about relationships and living and, we think about work, we think about life, but how are you adjusting to COVID19 or what are maybe some of the positive signs of COVID19 that you’ve been taking away to your life? 

Lorna Davis

It’s interesting when people ask me “how I’m doing?” I noticed that the answer is only relevant for this moment, which is true for everything really, for all the time.

But it’s very noticeable this time that they can be moments when I’m just super peaceful and loving it and in fact kind of feel a bit guilty that I’m really liking this. And then other times when I’m overwhelmed, like everybody that’s mostly when I’ve been looking at the news or the times just super emotional.

A lot of the people that I’ve been speaking to have been saying: “I’m snappy”, “I’m tearful”, “I’m kind of lost”. That’s happening to all of us. And one of the things I’m noticing, I’ve been spending a lot of time the last couple of weeks supporting, listening to and talking with people who are in startups or in relatively small businesses. 

And what I notice is that the period of paralysis between sort of denial and then shock, there’s this period where we just can’t move. And for some people, that period seems to be quite long and they’re trying to force themselves to move, but they’re not ready yet. 

And I’m noticing that a little bit of that’s happening to me as well, that I’m trying to kind of jolly myself along in certain areas and I’m thinking that we’re just not ready yet. We’ll be ready maybe in an hour or tomorrow or whatever. So the answer to your question is: I’m variable like everybody else and I’m trying to just take it one moment at a time really. 

David Yakobovitch 

That’s so important, and variability can mean so many things Lornait could mean changeability, adaptability. For example, I was in New York one of the first few people that bought a face mask, actually in mid January, but maybe I was early on there, but I’ve been slower to react in other areas too. And, I don’t know if that’s a mindset shift or that’s a desire to hope things won’t change as much that we can maintain life as it is. 

But like all things in life, I’m always excited about the opportunity to change. And we’ll look back in a year, two years, three years, ultimately humanity will come a lot closer. it will accelerate a lot of our relationships and we’ll also learn how to work better in remote environments and even maybe appreciate in person conferences and events all the more.

Lorna Davis 

You’re right. And what we will also come out of this with is a really good understanding of ourselves, which will be very important for the next phase of the world. What I’m noticing is that some people’s desire for connection is really strong and they’ve struggled with all of this, but then they’re solving for it with virtual happy hours and virtual tea times and they seem to be, Zooming galore. 

I noticed other people are really finding the lack of control very difficult because there is no control and so,for people who like things to be neat and tidy and relatively predictable, this is very painful for them. And so they’re learning how to cope with the sort of needing to let go or yield or whatever. Other people are struggling with the kind of way that they’re processing information. Some people like a lot, some people like a little.

What is interesting is that people are kind of getting onto themselves. And they’re saying: “Oh, so this is what I need to thrive in these times”. 

And I´m thinking that’s going to serve them well in the future, because the reality is that the sort of lack of control and the ambiguity, it’s kind of the way it always was, we just used to pretend that we had it under control. So now it’s like the universe is going: “just in case you were under any illusion”. No it’s all up for grabs. It’s only this moment that we know. And so will be more self aware and hopefully more self aware and more compassionate and more loving leaders in the future.

David Yakobovitch

That makes so much sense. I’m one of those very structured people who likes everything in my calendar, very organized, very planned and everything got phone for a loop. I had my whole schedule planned through the end of April. And then it’s just, book keynotes, canceled events, canceled conferences, gym classes canceled. It’s like life canceled, but really life’s not canceled, life does go on. 

Lorna Davis

Yes, and one of the things that I’m really conscious of is how very privileged we are. And everybody has a huge dose of gratitude right now because. Any of us who live in New York city are privileged really in many ways but, I’m also noticing people whose livelihoods are now really threatened.

I’m noticing them taking a breath and readjusting and getting perspective too. And in fact, I was speaking to somebody this morning. A homeless friend of mine, trying to provide some support to him. Because he used to come to my building and showering and get food here and now the buildings are not very encouraging of people to come in.

And I noticed him sort of snap at me and say: “I’m going to be okay. And I want to work this out by myself”. And so I noticed my sort of misplaced attempt to help. Actually was infantilizing. So I’m also trying to work out how to calibrate, how to be supportive, but now how not to be helpful because being helpful is a pain in the neck nobody wants to be helped. But how can we really provide support for each other at a time when people are still trying to work out what support they want. 

David Yakobovitch 

Right then some support is, as you mentioned, maybe more be a bearing witness, being available, hearing, listening, seeing, being present.

And even beyond that, it’s also knowing what material resources do exist or are available, recently in New York city where we’re at, they share the cross that they’re making a lot of resources available more for businesses. Especially these small businesses that make, which is the advanced manufacturing and advisory industry council, which I sit on with the small business services and NYCEDC, just actually, today. 

And for those listening to the show on playback, and this is from March 25th, the announced a New York city employee retention grants that small businesses who retain their employees for at least two months, New York city will cover 40% of the payroll if you’re less than five employees. If you’re less than a hundred employees and your revenue’s gone down by up to 25% or more, you can get a zero interest loan for up to 30 years for $75,000. And there’s other deferments for evictions, but also for companies that you can also defer now rent. 

So a lot of things that have been on people’s mind in the last few weeks that’ve been very stressful causing people to be snappy. Hopefully they are going to start getting resolved or moving in the right direction. 

Lorna Davis

What I’m also really impressed with is how people have pivoted. So one of the B Corp is a company called Oxford, which is it’s only business was to supply businesses with catering.

And of course, 100% of that business dried up overnight. I’ve been really impressed to see how that team has pivoted   Jesse Gould, by the way, if you’re listening, shout out to you  and they are now delivering home meals. And what’s interesting as well, I noticed in an email blast they sent out last night that they are now tapping into the market of people who are providing food for neighbors and friends and people who are in quarantine and so on. 

And so very interesting to see how businesses are pivoting   and there you go! Look at that!  and I ordered myself yesterday because I thought: “wow, it’s going to be exciting to get one of these deliveries”. And I love the fact that their delivery people are called oxen with much irony. It’s  great.

So there’s some interesting businesses that are thriving and another B Corp inspired capital. I see they had a webinar on Monday with a sort of conversation about how to pivot with purpose. And they had 200 people on that webinar, people who really wanted to connect, people really wanted to understand how to be personally resilient, how to kind of rethink your business.

I’m excited to see how people reinvent themselves in this time and I’m loving the new collaboration. My big subject is collaboration. If, if you’ve watched my Ted talk, that’s kind of what I talk about. And what’s interesting to me is that when we’re afraid often our first instinct is just to hunker down and be like a hedgehog or be like a turtle and actually counterintuitively what we really need after we’ve had a little time to settle.

What we need is support from others, and we need to connect and collaborate. And you mentioned the Seventh Generation. I was talking with them yesterday and one of their local, obviously Seventh Generation businesses is going extremely well because people want all the products that they’ve got. And so of course, they’ve got challenges with supply chain and all sorts of issues around factory workers at social distancing.

But what I was really inspired by is that one of the local distilleries has worked out how to make sanitizer, but they can only deliver it in this huge kind of gallon VAT or this huge multi gallon VAT. And so the seven generation folks are helping them by providing actual containers with lids so that they’re usable.

And so these new collaborations are springing up all over the place. As people are trying to pivot. The yoga studio that I go to down the road has now obviously moved all to Zoom. But the tailor next door has now started making masks. And so the yoga studio has sent out advertising for the tailor next door: “go and buy your masks at the tailor next door”, because we need to support them because they’re our neighbors and of course they were an important source of traffic. We were an important source of traffic.  I’m loving the innovation that’s coming out of this and I’m also loving the new relationships, new collaboration, new interdependence that’s coming from this.

David Yakobovitch

And these are the collaborations that should have been always happening all along and in some communities they have happened. I’m originally from South Florida and when I was in Miami doing yoga in the Gables, the businesses did support each other next door and cross promotion and events. We’ve seen that in the yoga community like Lulu lemon and yoga studio, but now we’re seeing it across all different industries. As you mentioned, a tailor who traditionally could help with dry cleaning and hemming clothes is now making custom design face masks to send messages of hope and inspiration. 

Lorna Davis

We’re going to see things that we never have seen before. And we’re also going to see a complete reshaping of traditional blocks of time. One of the last events that I went to before the shutdown was a fantastic event called Engage, which featured a woman called Laura Carstensen, who is the professor of longevity at Stanford university. And she was talking about the impact of aging. And she was talking about the changes to our lives. She was talking specifically as well about women because women are living longer and they are under resourced in so many ways. 

But she raised the point that old fashioned thinking had education when you’re young. Then working or productivity or making money or whatever it is when you were middle aged and then retirement or leisure time and in a world now where people, I don’t know how old you are, David, but you’re probably going to live between a hundred and 120 years.

Almost everybody on this call or everybody who’s listening to this, who’s got a child. Those children will live to 120 with a little bit of luck, but not too much effort. And so the disruption of these three segments is obvious as people start to kind of rearrange their lives.

And as people start to educate themselves differently, what I’m at is to educate themselves differently and have leisure time differently. And people are going to be working a lot longer than the traditional 60, which my dad retired at  and perhaps many people who are listening  parents retired at. So what’s interesting now is people are mixing those things up in a day.

On any one day, I guess we are doing a bit of leisure, a bit of work, a bit of education. I noticed many people enthusiastically choosing to learn to play the trombone or learning to speak Spanish or something, which is good for them. But other people are just doing educational podcasts and so on.

And there’s a slight disorientation in this because some people are used to getting up in the morning, dropping the kids at daycare and then getting in the car on the subway and going into work and then coming home at six o’clock and, having dinner and so on. So this sort of neat disruption of the day is challenging for some people.

And it is challenging to have, as I just had a kind of a traffic jam in my kitchen while we were all trying to make tea in between university and work and so on. But the upside is that these sort of fixed boundaries between these periods of our lives have dissolved perhaps forever. And so we’ll be easily able to segue away from laying on the couch, reading a book to getting up, to do a yoga class, to doing an hour of work, to going to learn the tuba. There’ll be fun. 

David Yakobovitch

It will be fun and I know for depending on who you are, if you’re an introvert and extrovert and ambivert, it may be more or less fun in the beginning, but ultimately it will create a lot of efficiency and not just around automation. One of the themes we talk a lot about on HumAIn, but also better human productivity inspired by creativity.

I like to think about these topics, you just mentioned Lorna, like learning the trombone or taking time to practice yoga between work could be, let’s call them the COVID resolutions. Now’s the right time. We have whatever the timeframe is going to be anywhere from two weeks to a few more than that, to a great time to set these new resolutions on something new to learn.

Lorna Davis

I tell you the only resolution that I decided I really had to be serious about it was that after a week in sweatpants and leggings, and I decided I need to actually get properly dressed every day. Cause otherwise 10 kilos are going to just slide on without me noticing. So there’s advantages to some sort of discipline in our day, which we’re all discovering for ourselves.

But you make another important point about technology and relationships. One of the things that is a fantastic benefit of Zoom or any of those video software systems  I particularly like Zoom because I’ve pretty much tried them and I liked that one but there are a couple of things that actually enhance intimacy. 

One of the things that is the inclusion of people who are shyer than others. And you made the point of introvert extrovert. I’ve never heard the term ambivert, but I guess that’s people who can do either. Is that with that sort of hand raising function, people who would otherwise struggle to fight their way into a conversation can put their hand up.

And know that the facilitator has seen their hand and they will get their chance to speak. And that’s much less courageous, smooth to quietly hover your mouse over the raise hand button and press it than it is to go. I want to speak, but the other thing that’s interesting is that once you’ve raised your hand, you’re actually free to go back and listen to the person who’s speaking.

One of the big disadvantages of face-to-face meetings is: David´s speaking, he’s absolutely fascinating, but half way through I think to myself: “I really want to speak!”, “I really want to speak!”. So, I want to know when I can get my speaking moment and that means that I’m here half listening to David now because I’m waiting for my chance to speak. Whereas, if I put up my little digital hand, I can chill, listen to David, know that when he’s finished, my turn will come. 

And so actually it builds intimacy in a way that’s really powerful. And the other thing that’s amazing about Zoom is you and I are speaking to each other. You can see that I’ve got some colorful painting behind me and that I’m in my apartment and I’m looking reasonably civilized from the neck up, but you don’t know anything else about this room. 

You don’t know that I’ve actually got a blanket over my knees, cause I’m a bit cold then my dogs over here and I’ve got my tea over here. And so actually I’m super comfortable.

I don’t know what’s around you. I can see you got some books behind you, but we can be super comfortable and really connected. So we’re not all dressed up and uncomfortable and sitting at some boardroom table. These are all things that will enhance intimacy and connection that I hope we hold on to when we go back to more in person meetings.

David Yakobovitch

You’re completely right, Lorna. That it’s that using these digital tools, we can break down the digital divide of different levels of hierarchy or feel uncomfortable asking a question. Zoom has so many tools and we’ve talked about some of them like raising hands or even going faster or going slower.

And this of course is one of the many tools.

But my hope always is someone who I consider myself an extrovert. I’m always that person in the room who asked the question when no one else asks the question but  when we go back to that workforce and we’re around the board table or we’re in the meeting, can other people have that confidence to do that?

And if not immediately like physically raising my hand. I even wonder if in person engagements in the future are going to have a lot more digital tools. What if we have future meetings where we have Zoom type clickers and in the keynote. I can move by telling you to go faster, go slower or raise your hand, and then you’re getting this live dynamic feedback.

Lorna Davis

Yeah, that’s true. And interestingly, also the other thing that I find fascinating  and slightly annoying  that I can’t mute the chat function. So, if there’s a bunch of us listening to one person and then there’s a sort of stream of chat. Well curated, actually that stream of chat can mean a couple of things going on at the same time.

And in fact, I know there are many times I’ve been in a meeting  as I’m sure you have as well  where there’s been another meeting going on under the table with all of us on WhatsApp or whatever, like discussing:you say it first and then I’ll back you up or whatever. That sort of stuff does happen, but it’d be interesting to see if it gets formalized. I’m intrigued to see that I’m also very intrigued to see how much face-to-face comes back.

Having been in a virtual world for a long time, I love video conferencing. You lose very little you and I’ve never met you and we already have a strong relationship.

That we’ve just built from this and maybe you and I will never meet. And that’s that’s okay. And it was unthinkable before that you and I might build this kind of relationship and never meet. And people have old fashioned ideas about how people need to be face-to-face to really build a relationship. I don’t think that that’s true, I really don’t. 

And that’ll obviously be great for the carbon footprint of the planet later.  And people will fight for a lot of the hard one, they will have learned so many lessons around being home and wanting to be with their families and so on. I was speaking to somebody this morning who said: “Oh my goodness! I haven’t spent three hours with my three children. Like I did last night for a long time”, because that’s not how it was. And it’s a bit of a shock right now. It’s like, woo?! But in a month, she’s going to be saying: “I don’t want to give that up and I don’t want to give that up”. And therefore a half of my life is going to go virtual or all of it or whatever, it’s going to be just super fun to see how it all unfolds for us. 

David Yakobovitch

It’s amazing to see the unfolding with our technology only being audio and video today. Of course, we’re going to see in the future, more augmented reality, virtual reality, all these other technologies too, which can continue to bridge that gap. I talk with a lot of my students when I teach Galvanize and I say: imagine the future, we’re all holograms. I’m from home. I’m just in my pajamas teaching you, you see a hologram of me and my suit. 

You’re all holograms learning in your living rooms, but we look like we’re in this beautiful classroom and that’s blending. Both the digital world and the physical world it’s important. And as we’ve seen in history has told us, sometimes we need a tough push to make us go over that cliff to then see there’s a way back up, but maybe there’s a better way than we formerly knew. So a lot of what you’ve shared, both in your Ted talk and in the Work Awesome conference is around environmental shifts and how we could be more socially conscious.

You’ve mentioned this with B Corp Seventh Generation, a lot of organizations, and we’re looking now in COVID-19 and we’ve started seeing some early results. Some of it’s been fake news. Some of it’s been real, but we’ve even seen in China with Wuhan, for example, that, during the shutdown, a lot of the pollution levels almost magically went away.

When we looked at satellite imaging to show that look at this, humans are causing so much carbon and we have such a big carbon footprint. Could we, by just creating better practices, start to reverse the trends? What are some of the things you’ve seen through industry and now around carbon footprints?

Lorna Davis

One of the memes that were circulating in the last couple of days was: “climate change needs the same publicist as the coronavirus or COVID19”. And  if you look at the level of action that people have taken as a result of this virus, you can see what is possible if people really get it.

And that’s maybe the most exciting news of all for me with reference to the environment. All of us were sort of hanging in the environmental and social space. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m a big supporter of B Corp and why I’m an ambassador. 

And for those of you on this call, who don’t know what a B Corp is, these are organizations that have been certified to have the highest level of social and environmental performance. There are about 4,000 of them in the world and it’s kind of like fair trade for business. 

The reason that I like it is that it balances environmental and social. Because it’s really important that human rights animal rights are also taken into account and this conversation. But all of us have been really inspired and impressed by the companies that have been leading the way.

And people like Patagonia, people like Ben and Jerry, people like the company that I used to work for, all of them working hard to reinvent business, but it was becoming increasingly apparent  that it’s very difficult to do that without everybody working together.

And without a combination of public and private action, legislative support for these kinds of changes are going to be critical in the future because otherwise you can have one group of people doing what they like and looking like heroes, but affecting other people. And in one group of people trying to do the right thing and looking like heroes and others doing whatever they like and canceling that out.

We’re also going to have to be working together across borders because so many of the arguments about climate have been well: “my country is not the problem. Your country’s the problem”. One of the things that I have been hoping to see, and I’m not seeing it yet, but it’s fair to say that I’m trying not to look at the news right now so maybe you’re seeing it. I’m not really seeing countries collaborating.

David Yakobovitch

When I look at the data science and software engineering world, when we look at the engineers, We’re starting to see collaboration there. In the past year we saw a shutdown of course, with the trade Wars where a lot of that collaboration was going away.

But now because of the rapid spread of Coronavirus, we have data scientists in Sweden and Mexico and China and the US all collaborating, sharing data sets, big companies, sharing the data, working with small businesses on the data and engineering side. Google has come out with a website to help people understand if they have COVID and how they can get tested and whether the symptoms. So from a technology standpoint, in this new tech economy, we’re starting to see some of that bridge. 

I’m one of the members in the New York city task force, to fight against COVID19. And we have now over 500 technologists in New York city, helping bridge that gap to make information available, to remove disinformation, to make sure everyone knows how to access resources, but that’s on the technology side. 

That’s not necessarily on the climate side or the supply side and so I wonder what that will look like. Especially locally in places like New York, but then as we go more macro to the United States, or even the U S with Canada and Mexico, Or even the cross borders.

Lorna Davis

The big question is if you really want to solve the climate challenge, countries need to work together and they need to have a line of legislation on carbon reduction. They obviously need to sign up to agreements like comp and they need to have a shared view that the world has a problem.

That the world has to solve together. And I know this is early and I’m kind of still in shock about it, but I was getting a bit downhearted about that. I have to say I was kind of cheering myself up by saying that in my little world I was doing the best I could, but I was frustrated and saddened to see a group of people, both in the financial markets and in government basically saying: “It’s not my problem. These are the existing rules. Forget the rest of you and others”. No matter how loud others spoke and those ones have much of the power, but having seen how shaken people all by this.

I’m hoping that some of that sort of self involvement, both self, individual, and self boarded. I’m trying, I really do  have you noticed that  I’m trying really hard to be neutral and I’m not naming anybody and I’m not naming any countries, but the reality is: your passport and your bank balance don’t save you from this problem. You can kind of hide yourself away, I guess and apparently there’s some people who are hired security guards to keep people away from them so that they don’t get it.

And I guess you can pretend that this is not your problem. But there are going to be a huge percentage of people in the world who will understand that this is all of our problem and that we do have a shared humanity and that will be a wake up call for them.

I’m hoping that a lot of those stories, you heard the one about Wuhan. I heard the one, I don’t know if this is true, about dolphins and the canal and Venice. Is that true?

David Yakobovitch

So the dolphins in the canal in Venice are half true and half fake news. What it is is there’s always been dolphins in Italy and they sometimes come to the canals through the waterways, but because dolphins are generally afraid of humans and like to be in their own surroundings because there’s no humans there now. They are coming back to the canals on their natural migrations and their natural movement

The fake news part is, as some stories were saying that: “Oh, look! Humans are gone. Pollution it’s over. Dolphins are back in the waterways they’re clean”. Okay, not so fast! It’s more like the sheltering from humans part.

Lorna Davis

I’m sure that just like many of these kinds of stories that all of us instinctively know that there would be. There will be some kinds of stories that as human activity slows down, natural activity will rectify itself or come back to life. And hopefully we will fall back in love with the world, fall back in love with nature, fall back in love with the universe really. And that’ll give us a new sensibility. 

And what we’ll do about it? I’m not sure, but I sure as hell know that it is a better more grounded place to act from when you are in love with other humans and in love with nature than when you’re frightened, angry, defensive, and think that your money is going to save you, which is kind of what, has been predominant in parts of the world recently.

So, coming back to your question, I just don’t know what the world’s going to be like after this, with reference to climate. And I was talking to the beef, be called folks this earlier this week, nobody’s sure whether there’s going to be a new move in the direction of being this kind of company or whether people will say: “let’s just go back to the way the old”, the old way things were, or let’s not be a sort of special group of early movers.

Let’s try and change the entire system. 

So, it is too early and I don’t think we should leap to conclusions or to what’s the word? I don’t know what that word is when you make up stuff, when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

David Yakobovitch

In David’s science, we call it: predictions! We make these days inference predictions without any data.

Lorna Davis

I call it making up stuff, but there you go. 

David Yakobovitch

But what you’re saying that it’s so amazing, Lauren and we were talking about this offline, that. How great is it today that no one knows what to do about COVID19 and we can admit it. 

Lorna Davis

I know it’s lovely! It reminds me I lived in China for six years and it’s fair to say that in six years (and I was running a big business in China).

It’s fair to say that in the six years. I knew what to do. Maybe three days of that, I had no clue what was going on most of the time (China) is a chaotic environment. It was moving super fast. I didn’t speak the language well, I didn’t read the language and it felt like my entire six years there felt like the Rapids. Have you been white water rafting, David? 

David Yakobovitch

Only once. And I’ll tell you, it was quite turbulent for me. 

Lorna Davis

Did you fall out? 

David Yakobovitch

I went on one of the easier Rapids. So I saved myself from falling out in that one. 

Lorna Davis

Well, when you go whitewater rafting and I’m sure many people listening to this have been whitewater rafting. The first rule they tell you is, “do not try to find the ground”, “keep your feet up” because if you try and find the ground and the water is moving too fast there’s a chance your foot will get caught and you will drown. So again, counterintuitive though it may seem, keep your feet up, trust the water. It will deliver you to gentler water downstream and that’s terrific advice for right now.

It’s turbulent. Don’t try and find the ground right now. It will deliver us to quiet water when we will be able to find the ground. And what I experienced in China was there were periods of just full on Rapids turbulence, and I had no clue what was going on, but I knew enough to know that I shouldn’t try and find the ground.

And then the water would calm a little and I’d be able to get my feet, be able to get a bit of data. I’d be able to get a bit of analysis of what I’d just been through, reorganize the business a little, and then another set of Rapids and off we’d go again. And this feels a little bit like that. And I noticed that as we desperately try to grab one of the reasons why people do this obsessive news business is that they’re trying to get enough facts that they can find solid ground.

And the reality is that all of the news pundits have no clue either they’re just  what did you say? Making inferences? I say making stuff up , and so they’re providing fake stability. 

So just let it be, keep your feet up. The water will deliver us into common ground, or intercommon waters, and then we’ll be able to find our ground.

And so there’s a part of me that just really likes that everybody knows that it’s chaotic. Like nobody can pretend that it isn’t. So it is so that’s let that be.

David Yakobovitch

Even with the data scientists in the community, a lot of data scientists have been trying to predict the outbreaks and the movement of networks and relationships. And we’ve seen an outpouring of epidemiologists from the medical community saying: “I’ve been spending 30 years tracking infectious disease. You’ve been doing data science for 12 months. You think you’re going to predict this better?”. So, a lot of them are making up stuff, but what we can do regardless when we make up stuff or try to move to prediction, you are also sharing an offline net smiling?

It’s not infectious. 

Lorna Davis

This is one of the things that really, I was listening to one of your earlier guests, Daniel? And he was talking about the fact that New York city is such a dense city and that that’s an advantage in some times, and it’s a disadvantage in others. And obviously this is a time when it’s a disadvantage, but I’ve lived in the city in two bursts for three years, each, so cumulatively six years.

And, one of the things that I love about the city is people are indomitable, and everybody’s got such great spirit. I’m noticing nobody smiling right now with all without masks. And the reality is that even with a mask. I can see whether you’re smiling or not.

And so let’s just smile! We’re all doing our best. And even if I bridge the two, meet a gap, and I’m just like, I’m a little bit closer than you want me to be like, just a little bit closer than you want me to be, or if my dog decides to sniff your dog. And of course our dogs don’t know about social distancing, let’s just smile at each other. It’s going to be okay. I guess I need a mask that says: “Smiling is (Slash) Isn’t infectious”. I don’t know.

David Yakobovitch

It’s funny that, with the dogs, I’m like: “Oh, we might as well make dog masks”, but then who proved that dogs can get Coronavirus? I was joking with a friend the other day when I was doing yoga. My dog was just coming over and kissing me and I said, “Oh, I’m going to have to put her in the other room” or I could just put the mask on when I do yoga. 

Lorna Davis

I don’t know what’s going on about that, but coming back to the subject of prediction and your epidemiology story, do you say epidemiology? I guess the only question that I ask myself every day is: has anybody got a piece of information that’s going to change what I’m actually doing?

I don’t know what the hell is going to happen, but I’m washing my hands. We all know their thing. I’m doing the social distancing and going out as little as possible. I have chosen to stay here. I’ve chosen my people to stay with until somebody says something that changes that whole scenario, then there’s nothing really to discuss anymore.

No matter what the predictions are they actually don’t touch what most of us are practically doing every day. Unless there’s a piece of information that says “I need to leave my home”, or “I need to…”, that’s the screen that I’m using.  

David Yakobovitch

And looking at practical predictions as a final topic for today.

I know we’re just wrapping up international women’s month, all about empowerment and change, especially about women in tech and women in business, being in this turbulent time. And us speaking about all these topics, what calls to action, or what messages would you like to share with women leaders who might be listening to our podcasts?

Lorna Davis

I’ve been saying for a long time now that women’s ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity and interconnectedness is better than men. I know that I’m not politically correct, perhaps when I said the veteran didn’t really care. I’m seeing that women about 85% of the time of the people that I speak to in the movement of Purpose who are passionate about leading in a new way, women and many of them, young women, 35 to 45, roughly women. And this is their time. This time of ambiguity, complexity, multitasking is the time for them to really step up. 

One of the things that I’m really hoping is that this homeschooling business,

is influencing or is impacting men’s parents as well as women’s parents.

Too many of the conversations that I’ve had last week have been with women who were saying:”my kids are home from school and I’m the one doing the homeschooling”. I’m not hearing that many of the men saying: “I’m the one doing the homeschooling”.

So I’m really hoping like how there’s a bit of a rebalancing going on here, or a bit of a balancing going on here in this time of no daycare and no school where whoever of the other parents are needing to balance the management of their children and I’m hoping that it’s evenly balanced.

But I’m also seeing an increasing frustration and anger from women who have been patiently kind of managing within the confines of the existing paradigm. And I tell the story often about the elephant and the mouse, and that if you have an elephant and a mouse in the same space, the mouse is paying much more attention to the elephant because the mouse’s life depends on it.

And so women have spent a lot of their time or actually everybody in the nondominant group, which is basically everybody who’s not a white man have spent a lot of their time trying to work out how men work, how white men operate and then trying to find a way to work within it. And the problem with that is not only does that mean that people who are in minority groups tend to throw each other under the bus, if it comes to that, because they’re all trying to defend themselves from the dominant paradigm.

Nobody’s challenging the paradigm. And people are getting increasingly frustrated with that. And that things like the climate crisis and things like COVID19 will cause women to say: “It’s enough now the old system didn’t work and I will actively participate in the creation of a new system”.

When the dust settles or when the rapid settles, my call to action really is that women say: How can I really shift this paradigm rather than win within it? 

David Yakobovitch

Well, it’s never too early to shift the paradigm. It’s never too early to smile without infection. And for us to all remember that as humanity we’re in this together, Lorna Davis, B Corp. Thank you so much for being with us on HumAIn. 

Lorna Davis

Thanks a lot, David. It’s been a joy.

David Yakobovitch

Thank you for listening to this episode of the HumAIn podcast. What do you think? Did the show measure up to your thoughts on artificial intelligence, data science, future of work and developer education? 

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You can reach me directly by email at david@HumAInpodcast.com. Remember to share this episode with a friend, subscribe and leave a review on your preferred podcasting app and tune into more episodes of HumAIn.

Works Cited

¹Lorna Davis

Companies Cited

²BCorp Movement