Navigating the future of work with Rachel Taulelei

 The world of work is changing, and the thought of a robot-filled future can be intimidating at best, and downright panic-inducing at worst. Thankfully, a bunch of New Zealand business leaders have shared their tips for surviving and thriving in our fast-paced world. In this extract from Don't Worry About the Robots by Dr Jo Cribb and David Glover, founder and CEO of Yellow Brick Road Rachel Taulelei shares her path into being a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman. 

Rachel is determined and focused on her future, but in a way that acknowledges the dynamic change around her.

‘Our world is so dynamic and so connected and so visible that while it is great to have personal and professional plans or ideas of where you wish to go, I think that to put them too far in the future would be—not unadvisable, because some people do love to do that—but I think there’s sometimes a futility to doing that, because the world is changing too quickly. A couple of years will pass in a blink. Five years seems like quite a solid amount of time to make long-term goals. If you’re ambitious and you wish to get to a certain place, you need to step that out, starting from where you need to get to and asking what it is going to take to ll the steps between here and there.’

She also draws heavily on her culture and family, and focuses on changing mindsets that might be barriers to success.

‘There’s a place for the kūmara not speaking of its own sweetness. Equally, I think this can be an inhibitor for young Māori in particular because I think that you have to know what’s great about you. I talked to a group of Māori kids a couple of weeks ago and asked them, “What’s your superpower? What makes you, you? What makes you a world-beater?” One of the parents said to me, “Oh, maybe they don’t want to say it because that’s not the kind of thing we do.” I said, “This is a safe environment, you guys. If you don’t know what makes you you, it will be really hard for anyone else to determine that. This is not about being boastful—this is just about understanding what your strength is.”’

Looking back, Rachel can see that she has always been driven, but has also been open and agile with her plans.

‘I thought I was going to be a doctor and even enrolled in pre-med. Then I realised that I might lack the gene. So I shuffled left and carried on with a law degree, which was perfect, much more my style. At the end of university, I started gatecrashing a bunch of events my dad was involved with, and I was there so often they offered me a job. That was the next really fantastic chapter, because I’d spent my last five years studying ways to litigate a way around grievances, and then was introduced to business and how you can take your work to a positive space. That was again, I guess, much like shuffling from the pre-med line to the law line.’

‘If they’re sitting on a train and going to work,
I always encourage people to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Do they love it? Are they doing well at it? Can they do better at it? Because not everyone loves their job.’

The critical thing for Rachel is and has always been working on what she thinks is important. She shares this lesson widely with the young people she works with.

‘I think they would have to think about what they love in their life. What’s important to them? What are their priorities in life? And understand what makes them so, because that will tell them a lot about themselves. For most people it will be their family and this and that and the next thing—what are the commonalities between that, so they can start identifying what is important for them in their surroundings.

‘I think that if they’re sitting on a train and going to work, I always, always, always—it’s a bit of a cliché—but I always encourage people to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Do they love it? Are they doing well at it? Can they do better at it? Because not everyone loves their job.

‘I think most people do their job—most people don’t love their job. But in an ideal world you’ve got to attach yourself to something, otherwise it’s very dreary and there’s a lot of drudgery. Until you really feel an attachment to something, it will just be going through the motions.’

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).