Briefing Notes: The Great Reset

Published: May 10, 2020

“We have the power to become agents of change.” — Tiffany Vora


We’re not on pause. We’re in a great reset.

And it behooves us to get this distinction right. Right now.

Why is this important:
A pause implies we have simply stopped normal temporarily and we’ll get back to what we’ve always done soon enough. Sort of like how the majority of the people who lost their jobs in the last 2 months believe they’ll get it back. And they’ll return to their pre-March life just as soon as the “economy re-opens”.

But a pause is not what we’re having right now. Instead, Gary Bolles (Chair for the Future of Work at Singularity University) explains it as a great reset.

In a reset, structural changes happen. The way things work morphs. Expectations shift. Demands ask for something different.

We’ve known for some time what we needed to do. We’ve talked about Digital Transformation, Agile Organizations, and Lifelong Learning until they’ve become cliches, more observed in aspiration than in practice in too many organizations. Then along came a virus.

We are experiencing a tectonic shift in the business world. And when this is all over, things will most likely look and feel different from when we left them back in February 2020.

On the road to “when this is all over”, the business world – and by extension, all of us working folks – will go through a series of adjustments and changes.

Automation will accelerate (it already has). Distributed work will become real, not simply a temporary stop-gap. Business models will get reimagined, as companies try to reinvent themselves to survive. Cost-cutting measures will roll out further organizational changes.

All of these will impact you and me. No matter our role. No matter which industry we happen to be a part of today.

But when I say impact, I don’t necessarily mean in a bad way. For with any kind of change comes opportunities.

We have the opportunity to reposition ourselves within the organizations we work in and the communities we serve. To upskill and reskill. To reimagine how we can use our expertise in a changing economy. To be more relevant than we’ve ever been!

And for those of us in a position to influence the direction of our organizations and businesses, the great reset is an opportunity to usher the future we want. Two that I want to highlight from Bolles’ list:

Automate to enhance not replace. Help workers develop superpowers, reducing the amount of mundane work and increasing their ability to solve tomorrow’s problems.

Get inclusive. The least prepared are the most vulnerable. Stop hiring your traditional profile, and prize the transferable skills of your non-traditional candidates. Psychological diversity wins.

Bottom line:
Bolles says we are in Phase 1 of a three-phased slump. And in this phase, we need to get busy. We don’t want to simply sit on the sidelines and see what happens. Or we’re not gonna like the kind of future we get later.


That phrase “now more than ever” is sooo overused these days that merely seeing it can spontaneously induce the gag reflex. So, let’s just say upskilling and reskilling are really important now more… oops.

Skillshare offers thousands of short classes. You can prepare for what’s coming next and secure your career without requiring huge blocks of time and energy. And, you can try Skillshare with the first two months free.*

  • In case you’ve been dragging your heels on this, time to get serious about upskilling and reskilling. History shows all economic downturns increase automation. This one will bring in structural change in terms of what kinds of skills will be on-demand going forward.
  • On the one hand, you may be feeling an increased urge to do something new after this crisis has subsided. On the other hand, eeek! Is this even really the time to be thinking about this?! Here’s how to reinvent your career during this crazy period.
  • Video: How to Remain Eternally Youthful | The final part of the series where science writer David Robson finds a promising new theory of longevity that suggests new ways to achieving eternal youth.
  • Audio: It’s Good That Things Have Been Bad | The Daily Stoic. Save this episode to listen over and over when life’s been tough and things haven’t turned out the way you want them to be.

We’re all looking for ways to embrace change right now, but it can feel hard to do alone. Zoha Abbas of The Ownership Method has designed her Pivot Sessions specifically for small business owners looking to rise up to meet change head-on and create a plan so they can pivot and keep showing up for their communities in a big-hearted way. Thank you for your support!


“The potential scale of this event isn’t just going to bring an end to the plentiful supply of jobs we’ve had. It’s also going to bring — because of this automation link — a new round of structural change, in both what the demand for skills is and what the labor market looks like.” — Mark Muro


The immediate future that we’re having to manage is filled with uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen as the economy re-opens. We don’t know how the industries that were already severely affected will fare. We don’t know what the “new normal” will look like. We don’t even really know when things will start feeling normal – no matter what that might look like. There’s a near-term future and a longer-term future here that we need to live through. Singularity Hub wrote about how we can better tune our expectations, using three possible futures from the lens of moderate, high, and low optimism.

Heads Up: This article talks about the coronavirus because we can’t divorce the health strategies from economic strategies. If you decide not to read this — because “another coronavirus article … aaarggh!” — I get it. Just think about these three mindset shifts:

(1) This is a marathon, not a sprint. We shouldn’t expect life to look like 2019 for the next year or two – if ever.
(2) We have important things to do for at least a year.
(3) We are all in this together. There is no “us” and “them”.

We must all be alert, responsive, generous, and strong throughout 2020 and 2021—and willing to throw away our assumptions when scientific evidence invalidates them.


1980: “Don’t ever get into a stranger’s car.”
2000: “Don’t ever meet people from the internet alone.”
2020: “Order a stranger from the internet on Uber. Get into their car alone.”
Times have definitely changed.


As we continue our season on Resilience and Career Continuity, we’ve started to shift our attention to the “What now?” question. Last week, we explored how the imposter complex may be showing up just as you’re thinking of your next steps. #ugh

This week, we get curious about one potential career option to consider — life coaching. This field of work has exploded in the last decade. And if you’re thinking of a new career direction, this may be one for you to explore. I’m joined by Lee Chaix McDonough, creator of the Coach With Clarity framework, and we dive into the 411 of life coaching. Have a listen on your mobile device or check out the episode highlights here.


Second Breaks is researched, written, and edited by me alone. Each issue takes hours to develop and requires paid subscriptions to numerous journals, magazines, and books to get the widest and best source of information. If you find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!

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Saw an Instagram poll the other day that indicated 22% of the respondents were ready to return to watching movies on THE big screen. I’m with the 78% happy to sit with my microwave popcorn catching reruns on my big screen TV.

So the world may be re-starting in some form or other. But this newsletter has never stopped. And I’m still not leaving the house. 😂

Here’s to a safe, sane, and productive week. Send over any comments, surveillance evasion moves, fountain of youth secrets, and great ideas you came up with while in the shower.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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