My daughter is entering her teenage years and all the thoughts that come with it. Some thoughts are trickier to answer than others. Like, what’s life about? Am I spending my youth in school just to be able to sit in an office for the rest of my life? Why? Big questions for sure, although many answers will propagate themselves over time as one grows, learns and experiences all that life is.
One memorable aha experience for me, was when attending a seminar a few years back. The presenter told us what people generally do in the various stages of their career. First, at age 20-30 it’s all about understanding who you are, maybe trying out plenty of different paths for your adult life, working jobs in totally different fields and getting an education in the general direction you believe is right for you. All this trying out, traveling, learning, experiencing and contributing wherever you can, is a lot of fun!
Entering into the 30’s you are on your way in a field that you are continuously becoming more and more proficient in. The coming decade is spent building your platform of competency and finding a feeling of confirmation, like ”Yes, I actually know a great deal about something now!” Not to forget, now that adult responsibility like housing and raising kids, takes a big chunk of your time.
Sometime around 40, when things have calmed down a bit at home, you start thinking of how to develop yourself in your role - finding the next level to contribute on. In your 50’s you're shifting some of your time trying to help others with what you learned, perhaps mentoring or just being generally interested in your colleagues' or customers' development.
Finally at 60, it’s time to conclude and preserve a legacy from your 45 years of contribution. Yikes! You would by now have had roughly around 20,000 meetings, 500 paychecks, 40 annual kickoffs, 15 computers, 10 bosses, and countless wins and disappointments. As predetermined life can seem from this perspective, here is also the thought worth bearing in mind during these 45 years. In addition to the healthy reflection of “Am I having fun?”, also “Am I contributing to the things I want to contribute to?” Most might not have such a plan, but I think that at the end of the career, most can trace back some kind of theme. What do you want your theme to be?
Well, there’s lots to choose from. On top of many’s lists are the various aspects of the current mega trend Sustainability. Achieving a sustainable world will be a challenge for decades to come. Throughout history, new technology has been a huge driver for change, and now it’s time again for it to help humanity take the next leap. And here is your chance to contribute! Of all technology solutions discussed nowadays I believe one has gotten surprisingly low attention, considering its huge potential. Let me explain:
Having worked in the computer reuse industry for many years, I had the chance to impact how discarded computers, screens and phones could live longer. Mostly by convincing companies, scientists, environmentalists, politicians and the public, that the obvious choice was to put the unwanted devices in hands of a computer refurbisher, thus saving both money and environmental impact. Nowadays, this seems like a no-brainer, but was once a convincing act by telling the story of how much environmental impact goes into the manufacturing of IT products. Manufacturing a computer takes 240 kgs of fossil fuel, 22 kg of chemicals and 1500 liters of water, while emitting some 280 kg of CO2. And then, explaining how many computers were scrapped before its time, and how others with other needs could make use of them instead.
The norm is now shifting fast to the obvious choice of reuse, but lacks solutions on par with the smooth experience of buying newly produced stuff we have gotten used to. This is a golden opportunity. Why wait to save money and the environment until “end-of-pipe”? Not caring about the stuff until it has become waste, that is.
Many meetings, discussions and thinking later, I have realised that what really is needed to optimise the use, value and embedded environmental impact of IT products is to actually know where they are, at all times! The moment the owner has no more need for a product, it can be passed to the next user, leaving everyone with only stuff valuable to them. Many headlines have been printed regarding the millions upon millions of trashed IT products in the world and how to deal with them, and rightly so. But there are also millions upon millions devices still in use, that also need attention. And with enormous value…
Let’s build tech solutions to get control of these, and tap their value before end-of-pipe! The untapped value of our planet's unused stuff could be your theme. It has been mine and is what urged me to join Velory a few months back. This, my daughter, is why I went to school.