The Playbook for Leadership That Impacts People AND Profits (with "HR Godfather" Dave Ulrich)

Discover how to lead teams and ourselves in the remote and AI-driven future of work with Dave Ulrich - father of modern HR.
Daan van Rossum
Daan van Rossum
Founder & CEO, FlexOS
I founded FlexOS because I believe in a happier future of work. I write and host "Future Work," I'm a 2024 LinkedIn Top Voice, and was featured in the NYT, HBR, Economist, CNBC, Insider, and FastCo.
November 7, 2023
min read

Thinking about Human Resources and leadership means thinking about Dave Ulrich. Dave is called the “father of modern HR” for designing the HR systems we know today, including the concept of HR Business Partners.

Dave wrote over 30 books on HR, leadership, and modern organizations; has spoken to large audiences in 90 countries; performed workshops for over half of the Fortune 200; and coached many successful business leaders.

This has made Dave one of the most awarded people in the industry, including the #1 management guru by Business Week, Fast Company’s top 10 creative people in business, and a spot in the Thinkers 50 (Hall of Fame), so you can imagine how honored I feel to have him on the podcast.

A Conversation with Dave Ulrich: Key Lessons

In this episode of the Future Work podcast, we’ll discuss how to lead teams and ourselves in the remote and AI-driven future of work, here are some key learnings:

1. First of all, what is leadership?  Leadership is not a title or a position. It’s attributes times results, so do I have the right attributes, and can I deliver results in the right way? I also like Dave’s question to leaders: does someone leave an interaction with you feeling better or worse about themselves?

2. Principles of Leadership. While practices may be different, from the pyramids of Egypt to now, the principles of good leadership remain the same:

  • Strategy 
  • Execution 
  • Personalized Talent Management 
  • Human Capability or Systems Building
  • Personal Proficiency 
  • And throughout all that, being agile and resilient.

3. The Paradox of Leadership. It’s not either people or profits. You need to take care of your people and deliver results. Leaders need to navigate this paradox - going back and forth between the organization and the individual. Like an airplane, you never go in a straight line.

Another area where we need to find balance is in Personalization, toggling between company Principles and individual Practices. As a leader, it's important to understand the needs of each employee and help them achieve their goals while still delivering results as a team and company. However, Dave feels that it’s okay to point out the consequences of personalization, like for example remote work, for team members' opportunities and influence.

4. The second to last insight is that Work is about Value Creation. Dave said that as a leader, he wouldn’t worry about where you work, but about your ability to create value for the customer, no matter when and where that is. And, that he hopes that the organization will support everyone in their flexible needs so that people can take care of themselves, their children, and parents.

5. The last insight is that AI becomes an important part of how work will get done. Dave says that in the future, we’ll start with the requirements of the job, the tasks to be done, and then think, where do I need full-timers, where do I need part-timers, and where can I apply technology? And this is a great future to imagine because AI can take over especially the meaningless work, so that people can do the high-value stuff.

6. And speaking of value, let’s conclude with Dave’s wish for the future. Work is not what I do, it’s what others get from what I do. Like giving a gift, someone else defines the value. It’s the same for leaders, so constantly think about what value you create for others. 

We hope you’ll love this episode and can put these insights to good use. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube for the latest Future Work episodes. 

Listen Now

You can find the full episode and transcript here:


Daan: I heard in another interview that you have a PhD in the science of simplicity. And so I thought a great place to start would be to start with a very simple question: What is leadership?

Dave: It's a complex answer because you Google, it would be fun for someone to Google in whatever language, a Vietnamese or English or Dutch, leader or leadership, and you get billions of responses. 

We put it in a very simple formula, and it's the ability, it's attributes, times, results. So leadership is about delivering results in the right way. That's it! Do I have the attributes and do I deliver results in the right way? 

A more simple way to get it and I've written a little leadership and have done research. My simplest answer is, does somebody leave an interaction with you as a leader feeling better or worse about themselves?

What a simple question! I'm having an interaction with you. I hope at the end of this interaction, you will feel better about yourself. I'll feel better about myself. And we've both done leadership. It's not the title, it's not the position. It's the attributes and the results that allow other people to feel better about themselves. 

Daan: You've spoken and written a lot about leadership, and you are renowned for your expertise on the topic. You've also written a lot, especially in the last two years, about the paradoxes of modern work and about balancing what organizations want and what employees want.

My main question is always: is that possible? Is it possible to get what companies want and to also be employee-centric and get what employees want? And can we do this at a collective level, or is it something that we really have to tailor to the individual employee? Maybe through modern approaches with data?

Dave: It's almost impossible not to. Is it possible to do it? You have to. I love to see slides where people say, and I've done the slides, and I'm sure your speakers have done slides from and to, from A to B, and whenever I see that, I go, “No, we still need A.” It's also that I've got to be operational, and I've got to be strategic as a leader.

I've got to care about my people. I've got to have compassion and empathy, and I've got to compete in the marketplace. And so the paradox you just laid out is so powerful. I've got to care about people, and I've got to build a good organization. If I build a good organization and don't care about people, I've got a great system, but nobody's going to play if I have great people, and if they don't work well as a team, we don't succeed.

And so the challenge is: how do you end the word we pick? A lot of people quickly say, “What's the verb for paradox?" You manage paradoxes. You do away with it. Our word is navigate. I don't know if you sail or have seen sailing, but it's not a hard metaphor.

You always tack back and forth. Or, for an easy example, an airline flies from Saigon to Singapore, and if you were to put a string between those two cities, it's only on that string 5% or 10% of the time. It's above, below, or sideways. It's always navigating.

I think the art of leadership is learning how to navigate. When do I focus on organizations? When do I focus on the individual, and how do I navigate that inherent tension?

Daan: How do you do that when you're leading a large company and, again, you speak and coach a lot of people in senior leadership positions in really large companies? Do you look at that as like, what do I need to do for all my employees, or is it also on a sort of individual level, maybe through middle management?

Dave: I think it's both. So a large company may say, here's the principle we have: the organization exists on meritocracy. We reward performance. We focus on customers. Here is the practice that's tailored to you and your personal job: What will you do to deliver performance and serve customers?

And what you, Person A, might do is different than what Person B might do. But we have the same principle. So we're constantly tacking, going back and forth between the principles that are shared and the practices that are unique. I think one of the issues that came out of COVID for us—many of us are still alive, and some of us forgot it even exists—is personalization.

A very simple example we talked earlier. I have three children that have been born. They're clearly born. They're adults. They each have children, and they each dealt with COVID very, very differently. For one of them, it was a very traditional family. Our son went to work. The wife stayed home with their kids. For another one, our daughter quit her job. She was doing some incredible work. She quit to stay home and homeschool her kids, and the other daughter and husband split the work 50:50.

They personalize the relationship with the agenda being shared. How do we serve our kids? How do we serve our family? And they each did it in a different way. I'm not naive about it. I'm not sure how to do that in great big companies all the time.

We have flexible benefits and flexible policies, but how do you really personalize them? And I think the companies that do that well will make sure that they attract and retain the best people and get the most out of them.

For example, there's somebody I know as a 3-year-old, and somebody may say to this great father or mother of a 3-year-old, “You know, why don't you work at home a day or two a week so that you can spend time with your son?”

But then, when your son is out of school or not in school and you have flexibility, we're going to expect different things. Just so that we have the ability to personalize work and still standardize the principal.

Daan: So, it sounds like there is definitely room for agency and autonomy, but also that everyone then has to fill in for themselves what that means and how to apply it.

Dave: We've got to deliver value. I mean, I've seen some people say I'm entitled to do whatever I want. I can live in state A and work for company B. You can, and the price you're going to pay is probably not going to get you promoted. You're not going to be part of the unity of the team, and that's okay. That's your choice, as long as you produce.

That’s the inherent personalization that I think we're going to see good companies begin to figure out. How do you scale that for many employees?

If I'm an emerging leader, what does that mean to me? Look at my employees. I've got four or five employees reporting to me or ten. What does each of them need individually? How do I help them get what they need by doing what we need as a company? And I can build contracts that are somewhat different for each of those employees. That's the application at a more personal leadership level.

Daan: The newest debate is about when to work, but one of those debates is about where to work. Do we work in an office or from home all the time? Is it somewhere in between?

Even our latest research, which we just did two months ago, shows that there's still unhappiness about the schedule, about the hybrid schedule. Some people want to come into the office more, and some people want to come into the office less. Employees look at it differently than managers. Managers look at it differently than companies. What do you see and hear in the marketplace?

Dave: I'm laughing because I think hybrid work is a topic, and I think it depends so much. I mean, I happen to do a job, which means writing and then doing presentations and doing research. Welcome to my office, for those who are looking. I live and work in my office in the United States, which is a long way from the University of Michigan. It's a 3-hour flight. I can do that because it's my job. You may be working at home right now, doing this session. Other people—health care people, doctors, physicians, nurses, manufacturing people, high-tech people—have to be at work.

And so I think hybrid work depends so much on the individual. Where do we find hybrid work? My sense is that we're going to come to some form appropriateness for the situation in the person. For me, it's appropriate to work remotely. That works for you. It may or may not be. And it's not new.

The first book I wrote a long time ago was dedicated to a Toshiba laptop computer. That shows how old it was because we had a Toshiba laptop. Many people don't even know that existed. And here's why: We wrote the book on airplanes. I mean, the book was written while we traveled, and we couldn't have done that book unless we were doing it while we were traveling. And back then, that was kind of unique. I think we're going to see hybrid work now.

For me, the real question, if I'm a leader, is not where you work. The old mindset is that when you get up in the morning, you go to work on a bus, on a train, or in a car. You return from work. I don't think that's the boundary of work. I think the boundary of work today in a hybrid world is not the place. It's our ability to create value for a customer.

You're working at home. Hopefully, you're creating value for your listeners. I'm working in my office with you. We're thousands of miles apart, connected through technology, and if our discussion today will create value for somebody listening who creates value for their customer, we've been at work. And sometimes we can go to the office and not create any value. We're not at work. We're just filling the desk.

I think the definition of a work boundary is not where it is. It is not even when. It's what value you created for a customer who uses your product or service.

Daan: As long as there is some alignment between the kind of value that the company wants to create and the role of the individual within that, we can design the rest around it.

Dave: Absolutely! We can design the rest around it, and it's going to depend on the individual. I mean, I tend to be more of an introvert. I'd love to never have to teach another class in person. Well, the dean of the business school says, “You know, we actually run classes in person. You need to show up. Okay, we'll negotiate that.”

I think we'll see that as a negotiation. I think hybrid work over time is going to dissipate. I mean, it's going to happen, but it's now going to be a part of what we do, not a separate agenda. It's just work. 

Daan: And I get why the dean wants you there, because I'm sure that's a lot more attractive for two people investing their money in that year.

Dave: It may or may not be. 

Daan: But as a fellow introvert, I totally get it. I wish I could do everything from home.

I want to ask specifically about women. There is a report that came out from McKinsey, the lean organization, about women in the workplace and the very positive role that flexibility plays in them being able to channel their ambition and get what they want.

They said that flexibility means that women can now design their workdays. So it fits their priorities. So it sounds a little bit like what you just shared about your daughter, and they should also make the career that they want.

I think one of the myths that was in the report was that a lot of people think that women are now less ambitious. That's not true at all. The data is now showing it.

There were some other things that came out of that report as real benefits for women in having more flexibility, for example, facing fewer micro-aggressions, having higher levels of psychological safety, and having less pressure to manage their personal style or appearance. Therefore, for women now, flexibility has become really important. Is that something that you've seen and heard as well?

Dave: Great idea. I think McKinsey does exceptional research, and I haven't seen that study, but I love the idea. Again, go back to the principle, and it's not just women; it's men as well.

Personalizing work. What works for me? I mean, again, I'll make this very personal; there's a lot of research. We have two daughters. They're both PhDs, and they've both approached work in a very different way because of what works for them in their family.

One daughter quit her job and is homeschooling. She did that during COVID; they now do not. The other daughter and her husband are working, each splitting jobs. They're 50% each, so they're co-chairing child work.

I think one of the beauties of the world we live in is that we can tailor a job around a person's needs and interests as long as they produce. Let me just be clear! That's the paradox. You can't just say pay me and I'm going to stay home and watch television or cook food, or for me, I'd eat the food. But you've got to produce.

As long as you're creating value, we'll find a way to make this work for you and be realistic. I think they talked ten years ago about the mommy track, which is fair. I mean, my wife also has a Ph.D., and we managed to be very unique in the way that we did things that others did differently.

But when you take time off, our daughter, who quit her job, can't go back to that job and be immediately promoted to senior executive. It just isn't going to happen as if she were there.

We ought to be realistic about that. I live in Utah, in the United States. I teach in Michigan. I travel back and forth. I'm not going to have the same degree of influence at the school as somebody who lives there every day.

That's the choice in the tradeoffs that I hope as a leader, if you're listening to this, helps your employees recognize the choices that work for them, and choices have consequences. Help them see the consequences and say, “Wow, that's what.”

And then I hope organizations have the ability to let people make choices that change. Right now, when we have kids and an interesting story, I'll be honest. When I started my career at the University of Michigan, my wife started her Ph.D., and we had two and a half children. She was pregnant. And you know what? We decided we didn't want to outsource our children. We wanted to really be parents. I couldn't do the same level of intensity as I could have if she'd been home full time, nor could she.

I backed off my career for a few years. One of the agreements we made was that I would never be gone on weekends. And so, you know, living in Asia, it's hard to get from North America to Asia without being gone on a weekend. So for ten years I didn't travel to Asia, and a lot of that was simply because we made an agreement. That's how it worked.

When our youngest child left home, she looked at me and said, “You know, you could be gone more.” Which was kind of a clever statement. But I just think and I hope the companies that we work with will have the ability to allow that flexibility. That is to say, I've got an elderly mother, I've got a young child, I've got a sick parent, whatever it is, we're going to allow you to make that work for you.

You still got to produce. But when you're ready to come back full time, we welcome you, and we'll help you succeed.

Daan: It seems like a very fair balance and fair approach to say, I want to be mindful of you and your own personal life, but at the same time, you work here to produce an outcome.

Dave: I hope companies are getting better. What it means for me, and I'm sorry I'm doing a bit of an aside more personal than I should be, is that I hope we're able to have those conversations without remorse. And when our daughter turned 21, and this is a hit when your son turns 21, I didn't know what to get her for her birthday. I mean, I'm going to buy you a cake and get to buy your blouse. That doesn't make sense.

So I gave her three days. I said, we're going to do three days wherever you want to go within the United States. So, it was bound. She thought about it, and she said, I want to go to New York City and go on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I want to go to a place. I want to go see Broadway. We set it up.

Now, a lot of us talk about all the great work we do with CEOs and boards. Well, one of my clients in Europe had a board meeting on that Friday where they were deciding what the next agenda would be for our contract as a consulting firm. Very important meeting.

I'm proud of myself, and I'm not proud of myself.

I told the CEO that I couldn't make the meeting. And he said, Why not? And I said, I have another commitment. So I didn't make the meeting. I'm proud of myself.

I'm not proud of myself. I wish I could have said, I'm going to spend three days with my daughter in New York. I didn't have the courage to say it. That was a number of years ago. I hope companies today have the courage to say I can't make that meeting. I've made a commitment to my 21-year-old daughter. This is her gift. I'm going to work hard. I mean, that's never been an issue. I'm going to be dedicated, but I can't do that.

I hope companies have the ability to have those conversations, and I didn't do it well a number of years ago. Well, I'm getting better at that, and companies are not all the way there yet. They're not all the way there yet because someone would say, Well, tell me your priority, and you don't want to push me to that because my priority is both. That's the paradox.

I want to help you succeed as a company. I want to help my daughter have a good experience. How do we help people manage that? And I hope it comes from better dialog. So that's an example where I was both proud of myself and made a mistake. I don't know if it was a mistake. It's just that's the reality we live with.

Daan: That sounds like a really important role for a leader to have that dialog, to have those conversations.

One thing I want to ask you about is that in a lot of the interviews that I've done, we talk obviously a lot about these new trends: remote work and hybrid work. Maybe we'll talk to you about AI and the 4-day workweek.

But a lot of what I'm hearing back is that, “Yes, there are a lot of things that have changed, but the fundamentals are still the same.” And actually, everything you've just spoken about is still fundamentally about having a relationship with your team members, having discussions, getting to know them, and finding that sort of win-win situation.

In some of your books, you've also talked about the basics of leadership. What do we do today in terms of leadership? What is still true from maybe many years ago, maybe even decades ago, versus what is really new to this day and age?

Dave: Let me try to answer that. And I could go along. I had a panel discussion on Peter Drucker, the father of management. And so I hadn't read a lot of his books. This is my confession today. I'm going to get some kind of gratitude from you for confessing.

So I decided to spend many hours looking at his quotes. Here's what I discovered. He was brilliant. A lot of what we teach today, he taught. I remember sitting in a session he did once because I am old, and he said:

“The best leadership in the history of the world was the pyramids. Here is a group of people organized to put rocks together in a geographic geometry structure without any technology, machines, or equipment, and they've withstood thousands of years.”

So I think the principles of leadership are much the same, and I think the practices are different when we've done our research.

And you started by saying, I love simplicity. My Ph.D. is actually the science of simplicity called taxonomy, which is a science of simple. We've identified five basic principles of good leadership.

Strategy, a good leader. If you're an emerging leader, check yourself. Where are we going? Well, today, you've got to manage uncertainty more than you've ever seen it before. But I got to know where I'm going.

Execution. You've got to get stuff done today. You've got to get stuff done with agility with speed. The pace is huge, but strategy: where am I going? Execution, how do I get there?

You've got to manage your talent. Today, I think we're seeing issues around talent, around mental health, around the emotion of wellbeing, and around employee primacy that are really strong as we see them.

Strategy: Where am I going? Execution: How do I get things done? talent and mental health. Human capability: How do I build an organization? How do I build a system? And today we're seeing some evolution in the system. It's no longer hierarchy, structure, or roles. It's ecosystems, and then in the middle of that strategy, execution, talent, and human capability is personal proficiency. That one maybe hasn't changed as much. Credibility, relationships, trust—that's kind of the center, if you will, of those things.

If I am a leader, am I good at setting direction where I'm going, dealing with uncertainty today? Am I good at execution and moving quickly? Am I good at managing my people's wellbeing and personal style and personalizing? Am I good at building human capability, culture, and systems, and am I good at connecting with others? Not because I am an extrovert, an introvert, tall or short, that doesn't matter. Verbal, nonverbal. Am I trustworthy? Am I able to connect with people? That's the kind of five things that we've seen.

Daan: Then what would you learn on top of that? Let's say that those are the fundamentals that we all need to learn. If there is an emerging leader out there who is aspiring to get promoted, climb the ladder, become better, and maybe eventually become CEO, what is something that they would have to learn now today?

Dave: We've locked in a lot of career stages: learner, independent contributor, or manager. One of the things that gets you through those stages is having ideas that will help others succeed. So, as an individual contributor, I can do the work.

As a manager, I can lead a team to do the work. But as I move up the organization, that’s the work that gets done when I'm not physically present.

In other words, can I build a system to do the work? And so we've seen those three stages. You have to be able to do the work at some level. You've got to be able to do the work of organizing an interview and doing advertising, Ogilvy. You have to lead a team so that the team works better than the individual.

And then somewhere, as you move up in the organization, you've got to make sure the work gets done when I'm not here. I built a system, I built a culture, and I built a process. So that's the kind of direction I'd encourage people to move in, and I'd also encourage people to take the risk of trying those things. Try those things! Try what it means to set a direction. Try what it means to execute.

And if you fail, that's phenomenal. One of the big tests of leadership we've seen is agility. Can you learn? Can you try and fail and try and fail? If you have a 3-year-old, I'm sure before that 3-year-old son walked, he fell a few times, and that's okay. I mean, the idea of experimentation and resilience is such a key factor.

Daan: Yeah, there's a lot of parallels there, for sure. Yesterday, he fell off his bike, and there were a couple of good lessons in there for both of us. And think again, like about managers that are climbing up now and growing themselves, one of the key things that is changing, obviously, is that we're now in this world of A.I., but not just A.I., also fractional work, talent marketplace.

I have someone on my team who, I just cannot imagine that this would have happened even just a couple of years ago, is basically managing bots, agents, and A.I. agents while managing a kind of contract with freelancers that we know and maybe even have met in person and people from all over the world through talent marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork. That's also management, now.

Dave: It's a great idea. I mean, you had three or four things that were so important. You don't have to be in an organization to be aligned with the organization. A consultant, a freelancer, or a contractor can connect with an organization, and it doesn't have to be in person. That's the bot! That's the AI! I think we're going to see AI. Now, I get worried about AI because right now there's the Gaga about how everybody gets hot until the topic.

As a quick anecdote, I have daughters and a son who teach at a university, and in January this year, eight months ago, they said, Dad, how am I going to teach? No students are going to write a paper because they're going to do AI, and they're going to turn in the paper. And I thought, Wow, I need to think about that. So I went in January or February and said, Do a 200-word essay on ChatGPT about the future of HR. 20 seconds later, boom! There it was.

And I read it, and I thought, this is really good. This is really good, and then I read it again, and I thought, well, that's what Pat Wright said. That's what Ed Lawler said. And that's what I have said. And I thought it's really good because it's what others have already said. Well, that's what AI can do. It can synthesize previous data in a brilliant way. When I did my Ph.D., I had to do literature reviews. I don't think we'll have to do as many literature reviews. I think AI is going to manage the processes of that heritage, but it can't predict the future. So, I wrote my essay of 200 words about what the future is—that AI in a year is going to now access it. But I think there's still that human creativity.

The second danger of AI and there's others is values, ethics, and a whole bunch of stuff. When I looked at what it reported, it reported two studies, and I'm sure you've seen these. You go on LinkedIn and say, Will my friends fill out this survey? And so you get 30 friends filling out a survey. We like big data. I mean, I'm trained as a taxonomist, a scientist. We've done a study with 28,000 people. AI looks at your 30 friends and my 28,000 people and calls them equal. They're not! At least for now. And it's going to get better, but it's not easy to be discerning.

We did some work, which we call a “work task.” People like to talk about workforce management. What are the people that have to do it? Are they full-time? Are they part-time? Are they fractionally remote? I think we're going to see an addition to that full-time, part-time contract. A lot of the work can be done through AI bots.

And so what do you then start with to say, what are the requirements of this job? And here they are: do I need a full-time job for part-time work in technology? Do it, and a lot of the work in our field, I think, will be done through technology?

Daan: Hopefully, that should be a net positive for all of us because all of this stuff that's repeatable and automatable, we don't have to do it anymore. 

Dave: Absolutely. I mean, and we're seeing that already. I don't know where you live in Vietnam, but when we go to a grocery store, you now do self-checkout. You don't need to have a checker run your Diet Coke over the scanning machine. I can do that myself.

And so this kind of no offense but meaningless job where you're just... that can be done through AI. Then what we do is get people to say, How do we do stocking better? How do we do customer service better? And we'll still use people to be more creative and to use the gifts that they come with.

Daan: I think we've covered a great range of topics, and we're getting to the end of the time.

One final question is: any final thoughts on the future of work? Any wishes that you have for what the future of work looks like?

Dave: I've got to talk briefly about it, and I know we prep for it.

Work is not what I do. It's what others get from what I do. I have a wife. She put her picture on my shelf with other people I admire, my father, and icons. When I give her a gift, she defines the value of the gift.

Well, I think in leadership, it's not about what you do. It's about what others get because of what you do. So, constantly think about the value we're creating, and the same is true for a company. A lot of people talk lately about culture. It's our internal values. I love to think about culture as the value of our values for our best customers.

If your values are not helping a customer have a better experience, you've got the wrong ones. So when I work with companies on culture, I say, What's your value statement? And a lot of companies say we value innovation, collaboration, and service. Go to your customers. Are these things you value? Yes!

Number two: customer. Customer, tell me what innovation means to you, what collaboration means, what service means, and what integrity means.

Number three, when we do that, will you buy more from us? Now, when I work with business leaders, they're kind of half-asleep because here comes the human resource culture. And they say, that third question again. Will our values cause you to buy more from us? Well, that means a lot to me.

That means our advertising and our values are creating value for the customer. That's something I hope leaders think about. So, the measurement of value is that we increase customer share with the ten customers we talk to. I mean, we've done that with a lot of companies. Are these the values you want us to have? Yes!

So what does that mean to you? What's the behavior you would see in the next 90 days? When we do that behavior, will you buy more? And that's our measure of culture. And a lot of people say, Well, that's the brand. Yeah, culture is the identity of the firm in the marketplace made real to the employees in the workplace, and that's the kind of work that I get excited about because I think it leads us to a better future.

What do you get excited about? I got to listen to you for a minute before we leave this. You talked to a lot of people, and you obviously have great gifts for interviewing. I've seen it. What do you see as something out there that excites you, so I can learn from you?

Daan: I'm just excited about the fact that I think there is this kind of false perception that work has to be something we endure. And the more I talk about people, especially people later in their careers, you really get that sense that work can be something that we enjoy, and we can actually get a lot out of it, which makes us better humans. And that's what I'm very excited about.

Dave: I love it. It's not a job; it's a calling. Now, we still get paid. We're not opposed to this because we're creating value. But I love that, and if a company can create a setting where people thrive wherever they are, whoever they are, when, where, and how you work, when you're doing work, that you wake up in the morning and go, that's fine. That's not going to be every day. That's not realistic.

But boy, I love that idea. Thank you for sharing it, Daan. That's a great takeaway!

Daan: Great. Thanks so much for being here, Dave, and it's time to go. Enjoy your dinner now. 

Dave: I feel better about myself.

For more conversations about AI, managing remote teams, and the future of work, subscribe to new weekly Future Work episodes and newsletters.

You Might Also Like …

All articles about

Future Work

A weekly column and podcast on the remote, hybrid, and AI-driven future of work. By FlexOS founder Daan van Rossum.