February 23, 2022

10 Years & 10 Predictions

10 years ago...

I embarked on an unconventional experiment: a self-designed Masters.

The Leap Year Project was simple — 12 projects, with 12 individuals/teams, in 12 months — all in 2012. And yet it took everything to pull it off. I left my job, downsized my life to nothing more than a roller bag and a backpack, and funded it through small monthly subscriptions from generous friends and strangers. Many of you even joined in by designing leaps of your own!

By the end, I had a wider community, new skills and mindsets, a few job offers, and a new vision for establishing experience as a credible form of higher ed and lifelong learning.

Now, the next 10 years…

The world has changed more than any of us could have imagined. Unexpected presidencies, natural disasters, a global pandemic, the increasing rate of climate change, etc.

I’m not as wide-eyed and naive as I was 10 years ago, but I haven’t lost a certain sense of hope in humanity or the future. And that’s in large part because of you. Now looking ahead, I’ll do something I don’t usually do, share a few predictions that have me and the team at Ei eager to take on this next 10 years of change.

A few predictions

  1. Higher ed will be less rigid. Universities will take on a new shape as the events of the past two years finally nudge them to abandon old structures. We’ll see that the design of a four-year degree is a relic of the past, and students will exercise more creativity in when and how they enter the university system.

  2. “School” will take on a different meaning. Individuals across age groups will embrace and call for more flexibility in their learning. We will design careers for life stages rather than careers for life. Gap years, sabbaticals, and experiential learning projects will become as common and celebrated as “going to school” or “going back to school.” The universities and companies that adapt to this will see growing interest, retention, and engagement. The ones that don’t will struggle.

  3. No more massive debt for school. The cost of learning, in time and money, will have to adjust to reflect this return horizon. In a similar way that each of us owns our health and wellness, we will also own our learning trajectory. That means there will be less of a one-size fits all approach to personal development and growth. You will be able to “exercise” learning in whatever way you see fit. And where/how you do so will be less important than the strengths, abilities, and mindsets you’ve built along the way.

  4. Career paths & schedules will be increasingly individualized. The way we think about work schedules and career paths will change in every way. It’s not that we will work less or more — we will hold work differently. People will be increasingly ok with alternative schedules throughout their careers. There will be less concern with “gaps” in a resume and more interest in building a healthy career, which will actually include breaks and more willingness to work for yourself for seasons at a time.

  5. Religion will be on the rise. There will be a resurgence of religion, but not in a traditional form. We’ll create more space and rhythm for “non-work” gatherings in our lives. Monthly, quarterly, yearly. We'll realize that wellness and a good life have more to do with relationships and meaning. There will still be a part of the population that’s greedy and overly capitalistic, but they’ll be less glorified than they are today.

  6. The workplace will be more of a “person.” The way you evaluate a job offer will not just be by the numbers, but by the way the company relates to its employees, community, and the environment. Because of that, companies who truly deliver on promises of personal growth, wellness, green initiatives, etc — will retain talent.

  7. Data will dictate more of our lives. Data will fuel the personalization of learning. The idea that large groups of people need to learn the same thing at the same time will be seen as overly simplified. Instead, you’ll have enough data to understand exactly what you need to learn next based on where you are on any given path.

  8. Universal Basic Income will be established in more parts of the world. The rate of automation and advancements in technology will require less and less human touch. And even with the population growing, we will need to find some way to invest in people and communities to have healthy and happy lives (knowing that doing so lifts society in nearly every category). This will unlock a great amount of choice and dignity in the learning and labor markets.

  9. Mega Meta Learning. The metaverse will be more prominent. Learning through VR will be a faster and more cost-effective way to experience some of the most expensive and taxing simulations. This will create more opportunities for a more diverse population to enter into highly technical fields with less overhead.

  10. 2028, Leaps will be mainstream. This one’s for fun. By 2028 (a future Leap Year), anyone from high school students, to college students, to an executive can choose to design a leap into a new project or experience. The term Leap will be mainstream enough for friends, families, workplaces, and society at large to know that you’re entering a season of learning through experience. You’ll have tools and a community to design your path and structure your experience. And completing a Leap will be as celebrated as going to an Ivy League school.

Back to The Present

Of course, nothing is certain. What I do know is that building towards a brighter future together is a beautiful way to spend our days. The friends, teammates, students, clients, and partners of Experience Institute are remarkable. You work hard, care for others, believe the world can make progress. You find ways to bring that progress to life through better leadership, services, and products. Leap Year Project was just the prequel to the longer adventure — supporting your learning, growth, and ambitious endeavors.

Thanks for being in my life. But more importantly, thank you for being part of Ei. The future of this community and the mission of reimagining how we learn & grow is in your hands as much as it’s in ours. Together, we can propagate hope, change, and connection — it’ll just take a few leaps.

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