#68 How work can be a force for good with David Baker

David Baker returns on The Unconventionalists podcast for a second time to share with us how work can be used as a force for good.

A true fan favourite, David's previous episode (#57), "What you need to know about the future of work" is one of the most downloaded episodes of all time.

David's worked for 12 years for the Financial Times, was the launch managing editor of Wired magazine in the UK and is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 4. He's also a faculty member at The School of Life and regularly travels to Brazil for work.

If you enjoy today's episode please share it with a friend!

In today’s episode you will learn:

  • Who the original hipsters were

  • Whether David is afraid of the future

  • How we could develop a startup sector for government

  • What David has learnt from communities in Brazil

  • Why we might feel awkward about giving

  • How we know whether to trust someone

What do you think?

I was really struck by how easy it could be to give something back and use our ability to give as a force for good, even in the smallest way possible. What stood out for you about David’s interview? Comment below and let me know!


Don’t have time to listen? Stand Our Snippets


On why people are so excited about the topic of the future of work

“Work is something we hang so much on. When we look at our future, one of the things we are looking for is a certain sense of stability and predictability. We like adventure, we like creativity. We like having a roam through life and seeing what crops up. But to do that we need a base and we need a secure base to explore on and we usually rely on work to do that. We hope work will sustain us through that and lead us to a pension… When the future of work seems to be threatened in some way, we feel nervous.” [6:21]

“Probably some of the most exciting things to think about in life are also the scariest things.” [7:21]

“We’re given the idea that there’s a particular route we need to take in life and as long as we stick to that route everything will be fine… We’re sort of told if you do that and you work hard at it then work will reward you probably with the security and...status, identity, a sense of purpose in the world, a sense of making a difference in the world maybe. And the truth is, for a long time work hasn’t delivered those things and certainly won’t in the future.” [7:41]


On the changing face of work

“It’s the second time it’s changed in such a rapid way…(after the industrial revolution) workers were committed to a bigger project than the product of their own work - and that was the project of the factory.” [10:57]

“This revolution we’re going through - the digital revolution what that’s given us is another seismic shift in the way the world works but one that’s happened much more rapidly than the industrial revolution.” [13:49]

"Society is based on the idea of boundaries, that certain things are allowed and other things are not aloud...and those tend to be the markers of society. Today we live in the world where recreational drug use are not allowed...but technology has often enabled things to happen that previously society didn't really want to happen." [15:57]

“We need to be ready for what might be... We do need to be able to look inside ourselves and say: What skills do I have to deal with new situations when they arise... What is my ability to adapt, to respond when things happen.” [20:21]


On the distribution of wealth

“What will happen when we have too many people after too few jobs? What will happen to the distribution of wealth in our societies?” [22:30]

“I really try to catch my sense of privilege sometimes. It’s really easy for me, for us, people like us not to understand how privileged we are… That’s the kind of future I’m worried about. It’s about the distribution of wealth.” [38:30]

(Through volunteering) "I got to know more people who had been homeless and discovered they’re exactly like you and me… I suspect the awkwardness (of being asked for money) came from a feeling of guilty privilege.” [44:40]

“When you put the chart up, everyone at The School Of Life workshops is around 8 or 9” (on where we sit on the distribution of wealth in the UK). [1:10:17]

“We’ve made a decision that inequality is not how it should work, that redistribution is how it should work. But what we need to do next is get beyond the political decision and work out the psychological decision we have to take to get there…”  [48:30]


On what we can do to make an impact

"I decided to give away 10% of everything I earn." (after reading Peter Singer’s book.) [49:51]

“With the internet, we’ve developed a new way of aid. Very easily We can loan pretty much directly to an individual in Ghana or Ethiopia.” [51:30]

“I believe that all of us, even the poorest families in this country, can afford to live on a little bit less. But then we need to look into our own minds and say how do I make a decision about who I can help.” [1:04:19]

“I think we’ve got an opportunity to assist, or intervene or change the world in tiny ways and we should just seek out those opportunities and fulfil them.” [1:11:53]

“I want to suggest two things: let’s stop paying for things with our cards and phones partly because that reconnects us with money and what it can do, and secondly because in places like Pret a Manger you can put your change in a little box for charity immediately when they hand it back to you.”  [1:13:42]


On why we feel awkward about giving

“Right now we can see kids in trouble of losing their lives in Sub Saharan Africa, for example, and actually we could save their lives for less than a pair of shoes. Why aren’t we doing this… What our excuses give us are an opportunity not to engage with inequality...” [47:08]

(Through Kiva “I’m sure I’ve saved a life and I think I can’t describe the pride I have and the awesomeness I have in being able to say that… This is not the sort of thing you generally say in conversations...Why are you not meant to say something amazing that you’ve just done.” [53.54]

“What stops us even donating $98 a year to anything. And it’s not usually that we can’t afford $98. Most of us in the last few months have probably had one blow out weekend.” [57:27]

“The really important thing for me is to actually think about the psychological barriers to making change rather than the political ones.” [58:00]

“It’s very important the human capacity to turn our eyes away from someone.. It’s a coping mechanism. Let’s face it, there’s plenty going on in the world at the moment which disturbing and we as individuals can’t make  all of those situations better. So already we’re asking ourselves which ones do I focus on...  I think we have more autonomy over that decision than we imagine.” [1:01:04]





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