Dr. Tracy Brower, Vice President of Workplace Insights, Steelcase

Dr. Tracy Brower is a PhD sociologist studying happiness, work-life fulfillment and the future of work. She is the author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work and Bring Work to Life. She is the vice president of workplace insights with Steelcase and a senior contributor to Forbes and Fast Company. She is on the advisory board for Kids Food Basket, the Design Museum Everywhere and the Center for Leadership at Hope College. Tracy’s work has been translated into 22 languages and she is an award-winning speaker. You can find her on LinkedIn, at tracybrower.com or any of the usual social channels.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Dr. Brower shared her professional trajectory, insights on the future of work, personal sources of inspiration, her productivity tip, favorite quote, future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Dr. Brower. Please tell us about your background and areas of expertise.

I focus on happiness, work-life fulfillment and the future of work. I research, write and speak about critical topics changing the landscape of work and life. My PhD is in the sociology of work, and my Master of Management is in organizational culture and organizational dynamics.

What do you love the most about your current role?

I love the opportunity to be constantly learning, researching, writing and speaking—gaining insights, testing them and building relationships for mutual discovery.

What are the three major trends do you foresee in your industry in the next 12 months?

The talent shortage and talent revolution will continue to be acute for many years to come. And AI and tech are coming on quickly as well. Global conditions will increase pressure—as the world is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. All of this will reshape the landscape of work (and life) significantly.

Working in a historically male-dominated industry, what has been your journey breaking down barriers and stepping into leadership roles?

I’ve always concentrated on doing the best work I can, building skills constantly and creating trusting relationships with others. I’ve also taken the initiative to embrace new opportunities, even when those represented some (smart) risk-taking. I’ve spoken up, owned my opinion—and my mistakes—and sought to demonstrate both confidence and humility in any situation. These have been critical for my journey in the field.

If you could have a one-hour meeting with someone famous who is alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I can’t choose just one: I would love to spend an hour with Warren Buffett to learn about leadership; Peter Attia, Benjamin Bikman and Robert Lufkin to learn about health; Rebecca Solnit to learn about community; Annie Jacobsen to learn about global issues and threats and Jane McGonigal to learn about future scenarios.

Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

There are so many people who I am grateful for. My first boss was especially empowering and supportive, and he especially inspired my interests in organizational culture as a nexus for community, belonging, humanity and possibility.

How do you keep your mind healthy and stay resilient? And how do you motivate your team?

I am always exploring new thinking and new perspectives through research and reading—this keeps me informed, inspired and curious. And I share my passions with others, learning from them and creating empowering relationships.

What’s a productivity tip you swear by?

I watch very little television/shows. In addition, I listen to books regularly—while I’m driving, doing chores around the house and the like. I also walk regularly which keeps me energized as well.

What is your favorite quote?

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” By Robert Brault

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Continuing my roles with my family, and also continuing to research, write and speak.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out on their career in your industry?

Say yes more than you say no. Raise your hand and take initiative. Be curious, learn all you can, and connect with others.

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