Intrro FM: Scaling Stories

Stela Lupushor
Chief-Reframer
Reframe.Work Inc.

Stela Lupushor, Chief-Reframer at Reframe.Work Inc.

In the latest Scaling Stories we were pleased to catch up with Stela Lupushor, a renowned HR leader and author whose books include Humans at Work and Humanazing Human Capital.

Our discussion centered on what it means to work in HR in 2023. So much has changed since BC, or “Before Covid”, as Stela puts it. Whether it’s the adoption of remote working, the emergence of new technologies, or questions about how diversity and inclusion programs are deployed, running an HR team has not exactly been straightforward lately.

Some changes have been profound. Remote working has caused a rupture in how HR interacts with staff, and in fact changed the make-up of a typical workforce.

Meanwhile, salary expectations have rocketed in the past couple of years, albeit there are now signs that wage growth is slowing.

And as the chair of the US Federal Reserve noted, one reason the labour market remains tight is because many workers sadly passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But while this rapid pace of change can take some getting used to, Stela offers some invaluable insights on how to forge a successful HR function in unpredictable times.

Rather than just mindlessly adopting technology and tools, Stela advocates “human-centric design”, or in other words, to understand “what it’s like to be a worker and how we might reimagine that journey and use technology to transform that experience so people can be productive – they can enjoy and be delighted by their experience”.

Stela suggests that HR leaders should proactively work to improve the workplace experience before a “contagion” effect takes hold. 

“I think the reward structure is what shapes behaviour,” Stela says. “And we as humans are gonna react to the context…So HR really has an opportunity to think or rethink what that reward structure looks like and how certain behaviours can be rewarded – not only for the purposes of maximising the shareholder value, but also rethinking the entire stakeholder system and designing it for all the stakeholders in mind”.

Stela’s words are echoed in a recent Fast Company article by Lars Schmidt, who writes: “The shift toward pay transparency requires HR to think more broadly about compensation, equity, and how we define total rewards”. Lars also predicts a “shift towards skill-based hiring” rather than “role-based hiring”.

In our chat, Stela touched on a range of fascinating topics: the nature of value creation; the erosion of trust in institutions; and the importance of autonomy in the workplace. Stela was even kind enough to share with us three podcast recommendations:

It was great catching up with Stela, and once you’ve had a listen, hop on over to our Scaling Stories hub and check out our latest interviews with HR’s finest.

Transcript

Stela Lupushor 

It's a matter of survival at the moment, right? If you, Previously thought that, you know, workers are just an input into your value chain and they're just another widget that needs to be managed and cost controlled. I think during the pandemic we realized how important people are in this whole creation because if you don't have people, you're not gonna be able to make that, that coffee Cup so, , I, I think organizations are starting to grapple, with the importance of having good employment experience because that will then not only retain the current workers, but also the prospective workers as well as the customers.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Hello and welcome to our series of Scaling Stories, a discussion with HR leaders about their lessons building teams at some of the world's fastest growing companies. I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Stella Lupushor, a HR leader and co-author of Humans at Work and humanizing human capital. Stella, a huge welcome and thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background

Stela Lupushor

 Nassar thrilled to be here and so grateful for the opportunity to, be part of your lineup. a little bit about myself. I come from a corporate background. I. Played, half of my career roles in technology, solutions, in, HR organizations, always doing transformational work, and imagining what the organization might look like and how practices need to adapt in order to support that transformation the rest of my, career. The second half is focused on, Driving the change from outside. I think I had a inflection point in my career where I realized a lot of my, advice and recommendations are a little bit ahead of its time. I try to, see what's coming around the corner and, be curious about different technologies that are coming to, disrupt how organizations work to look at different changes and preferences and social norms. So to me, having. Being part of that organization that you're trying to change is always a lot more difficult because you have a vested interest and as a system you have to preserve the, the, the, the system, and its operations. So going externally was, an opportunity for me to have a bigger impact. And I made my mission to humanize the workplace, and I do it through, Consulting. So I do work with large organizations to help them rethink workplace experience. I advise smaller startups and venture funds. I also, educate the next generation of HR leader at nyu. So thrilled to be here and share anything and everything I've, learned along the journey.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Thank you for that succinct summary. I'm, excited to get into this with. perhaps to start, what are the major challenges that you see in the workforce landscape? What are you seeing companies facing? 

Stela Lupushor 

I would look at the trajectory of change in terms of several phases, right? We had a world before pandemic, so I, let's call it BC before Covid, , where we were experiencing a lot of. transformations in how people and organizations work, but there was a significant resistance to some of those changes by the sheer fact of how companies structure their reward system, how technology is being adopted, how diversity and inclusion programs are being deployed. Pandemic. So the, the DC during Covid timeframe really allowed and created the space for us to reimagine and change habits overnight and dispel certain myths about what productivity looks like and what it means to come to an office, what it means to be a worker, and who is really essential to the operations of the organization. So I think we're in a era of, After Covid AC , where we really are seeing this last wave of resistance of organizations because there's a lot of demand for going back to whatever that normal used to be, when in fact, the, the. Workers have realized that they can be as productive regardless of which physical space they occupy. People have realized that there are things that are more important in their life than the paycheck, and they reassess what it really matters to them as individuals and how they want to allocate their time, their talents, and which organizations specifically they. Partner with to realize that talent. There is also a significant adoption of technology in, unprecedented ways. right. Things that took years to deploy have been adopted over a couple of weeks and they're gonna be here. I think the challenge though is how can we reimagine what work looks like, not just by trying to take the. As we knew and just automated, but really imagine with the human at the center of it. A lot of times we, we just think, well, we'll put another tool in place and things are gonna get faster, when in fact it becomes yet another barrier in the process of us being effective, efficient, proactive. So the human-centric design that has transformed consumer experience. It's time to bring it back into the workplace and think what is like to be a worker and how might we reimagine that journey and use technology and use anything without power to transform that experience so people can be productive, they can enjoy and be delighted by their experience. They can feel they contribute to the, organizational outcomes as well as to their own personal growth. So I feel that relationship and the balance of power. organizations and individuals is shifting and it's, it's being a little bit more balanced than, previously. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

And a shift in in favor of the employee, 

Stela Lupushor

 correct. ah, can I say something? Can I expand the definition? So moving from employee to worker, I feel that the word worker, it's more inclusive and it is encompassing, not just those who already have the privilege of having a. Contractual agreement and have the stability of a job that may come with, you know, benefits and other perks and considered the full spectrum of the workforce that participates and enables organization to deliver its value.And that expands also into the design thinking, right? How can we. , all the types of workers that we engage in our value creation and design the experience for all of them, not just for those who are privileged to have employment. 

Nasser Oudjidane

Yeah, I, I find that fascinating. Do, do you think that the balance is, shifting roughly equally across all industries? Or is this, perhaps focused within tech, which I think most people can agree that because the skills are in, demand, then therefore they can have more, more power and vote with their feet if they want to stay at home, for example. Or do you find that this pa, this balance is actually shifting across industries in retail, in manufacturing, in, you know, in, in other areas as well?

Stela Lupushor

If we look at the, employee or worker organizing, activities we see impacting all the industries, right? We have Starbucks last week on their Red Cup Day, the employees across 100 stores that have, stock and, to, to demonstrate or demand their, better working conditions, better pay, et cetera. Employees of Netflix, employees of Apple, Amazon. There are unions of, doctors. We see all the industries being impacted and rebelling against, Working conditions, mental health impact or ignoring the mental health conditions of, of workers of, understaffed and overworked of people who have been exposed to unsafe working conditions. So all of these are accumulated, and people are no longer willing to tolerate. And I think this type of wave of, work of. It's contagious. People can see that they can have a voice and they will express it, and likely we'll also have, a regulation that enables that. So I feel there is an interesting time for any leader to take a step back and saying, is this just a contagion factor or is this an opportunity that we. Make a change and influence the conditions of people, especially people lowering the organization that are on the ground, delivering that customer service or, you know, making that cup of espresso. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

what, what have you seen, as some of the most resistant traditional HR practices that actually prevent this future forward strategy to optimize human capital?

Stela Lupushor 

At the core, I think the reward structures is what shapes behavior. When we think about organizational context, right, the, the place where we work, it's not just physical environment or digital tools that are enabling us, it is. Decision making is the strategy is performance goals, is the rewards and punishment, , so to speak, that will then reinforce the expected behavior. And we as humans are gonna react to the context. We're not, you know? Yes, we'll see that value statement on the wall and get inspired by whatever the, latest message of the leadership is. But at the end of the day, what we're gonna do is what we're either punished or rewarded for basic, it's our. logical reaction to the context in which we work. So HR really has a opportunity to think or rethink what that reward structure looks like and how can. , certain behaviors be rewarded, and not only for the purposes of maximizing the shareholder value, but also rethinking the entire stakeholder system and designing for all the stakeholders in mind, right? It's not just how do you maximize the bottom line, but the. How do you ensure you're not damaging, wellbeing of your employees or you're not damaging the environment around you, or not creating more pollution? So it's a little bit more systemic thinking that is required, where HR typically is saying, all right, how can we reduce the risk for the organization to, make sure it doesn't end up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?That's really at the core. Traditional HR practices are. So it's shifting from the risk management to more of a growth, mindset to grow the capabilities of the organization, the talent, the culture, the the talent that creates products and satisfies the customer or delights the, the shareholders or whatever the value that the company creates.

Nasser Oudjidane

And you've, I think, alluded to this, in, in the incentive structures and it's, it's clear after having a discussion with you that you're fascinated with, with the Web three community. Yes. What is it that is getting you so excited? 

Stela Lupushor

So let's first define a little bit more Web three, because many of us, I think, have heard.

The word, but may not necessarily put it in the context of the evolution of technology. Right? So if we start with web one, this is where you have the beginning of the internet and you had, A 2D way of distributing the resources, information, or authority. Right. It's a, it's a way to connect one nod on the internet with another and share the content. Right. It's a one way really, um. Information sharing. Web two is where we saw the flat webpages getting into more of a reach multidimensional experiences. And the source of volume became platforms, networks, and devices. So we saw the emergence of Twitter to become the public square. we saw Airbnb connect people and. Places, with the, the travelers we saw self-driving technology that moved individuals from point A to point B. So the value, the shape of value. Changed and not only is derived from the content that is being shared, but from the engagement of participants and creating that value. Web three is at the moment considered kind of a collection of, technologies and more likely than not as criticized a speculation, gambling cause of cards full of shady characters. However, I think when we look at the trajectory of change, it's really about eliminating the intermediaries that have been. Shaping the, the centralized ways of, of working, centralized way of creating value. And in the process, taking some part of that value for themselves. I think we are missing a lot of the. Fundamental changes that this Web three is, or the principles that drives the web three world when we think about value, right? The, let's take one example of this construct of, of Web three family, right? DAOs. So this is, Decentralized autonomous organizations, they really constitute a collection of individuals with a passion for solving a specific problem who come together to solve it.There is no legal entity in traditional sense. There is a web server, or discord server they call it, which is a messaging platform. There is usually some way. , defining the project and then some way of solving the, the problem defined by the project and rewarding the participants. Additionally, every participant engage has a vote, a token through which they democratically make decisions about the. Solutions that are gonna be used to solve that original problem or ways to pay people. So in essence, anyone can come and, say, I'm passionate about this specific project. I wanna participate. Here is a piece of solution that I wanna contribute. Here's how I'm gonna solve the problem, and here's how much I wanna go. I wanna be paid. And then the whole community votes and every project that gets voted, The person has the green light to proceed and, and get rewarded and paid. When we think about value creation in this world, right, in this, dial structure, what is value? Because you no longer need, per se, the monitor system, you have different kinds of monetary, Tokens that allow to govern as well as create a lot more transparency because everything is transparent. Anyone can go and look at the, blockchain transactions and see who voted and what, how the money was allocated, where the money comes from. So there is less of a ego driven power distribution and more of a, transparency driven performance , which in turn builds trust, right? You. Have a, a very, distributed and decentralized ways of authority to drive decision making and reinforce the collective, collective. Autonomy or collective identity of the community that participates. Right. What's interesting that it's fascinating to me is the notion of reputation in this world, right? Even though it's a SEL identity, so nobody's, Defined by the name, they only have a handle. That reputation is really driving the behavior in a way that no performance management system will drive because everything is transparent. People care about their status and their perception in the network, and this means you have to behave civilly. You have to, respect each other. You have to, perform and deliver on what you are committed to. So all of this is really, Shifting the traditional organizational processes that have been put in place by HR to drive certain behaviors. transparency, I think solved for a lot of that. I think that also the access and control, the fact that you have a very low barrier of entry. You are no longer forced to apply for a job and have a, a resume that probably was written by somebody else, to, to make you look good, that gets calmed and, eliminated by algorithms. It's really about building initially the human connection. Coming with your strength and leaning into that knowledge and skills and passion and humility that you have. So it's a very different culture as well that gets created. And who's to say that current organizations cannot benefit from some of that?

Nasser Oudjidane

Well, that there's so much to unpack there. What, what do you think organizations can learn from these communities if we take this as like a, perhaps an an incremental or step change? What, what can we learn from perhaps some of the items that you've just said or perhaps other examples on how we can. How we can work together in the future. 

Stela Lupushor 

Yeah. There is something to be said about autonomy, right? This is kind of the cornerstone. if you give people autonomy to make decisions for their day-to-day activities and the problems to be solved, you would be surprised on how creative people can be. The other part is transparency. I think that transparency creates accountability and creates also a sense of fairness. The distributed nature. It's also fascinating because it gives the agility all these organizations are craving. When we think about centralized and hierar hierarchical decision making, you assume that people on the ground don't have necessary knowledge, so you have to run up the question of the. Ladder, and by the time it comes back, it is too late. The circumstances change. The client is dissatisfied. So the lower center of gravity can enable organizations to be more agile and address problems on the ground where it happens, as opposed to having a centralized, orchestration and, and bureaucracy in place. I think that. The, the Democratic voting. It was fascinating to me because when I think about the, the way people decide who gets to be paid what, right? Think about how much time and effort and energy and upset happens when the company's decisions on how you reward your employees are made and who gets what and how much, right? , you have a bucket of money and you allow the team to make that decision that may make a very different, sense of empowerment and sense of autonomy over the work and rewarding the, the top performers. And, to me that's, that's another fascinating space where HR can definitely learn a little bit of, creativity or get a little bit of a creativity from that world. 

Nasser Oudjidane

Yeah, I, I, I hear you. And some of it resonates because studies show that autonomy, and, and people feeling that, you know, they have a clear, understanding of how their work, impacts the business leads to higher engagement.And there's certainly trends with that. The, the question that I have with regards to decision making is can businesses run? As perhaps political institutions like democracies. and perhaps the caveat that I'll kind of answer myself is usually they can't because there isn't transparency in information that under your model perhaps. I mean, do you think that that's why it's different?

 Stela Lupushor 

I a venture to guess that, yes, on a flip side, when there are too much transparency, obviously it can unsettle the, the current ways of, of world operating, right? So the, the problem is not that this model is better or worse, but it's more the transition path to the best parts of it. I'm sure there are a lot of. DAOs that may not really have a, a big, you know, aspiring purpose and they may also have Ponzi schemes and everything. The collapse in the crypto world over the past couple of weeks is a demonstration of that. So there are good players and bad players everywhere, but I think getting to full transparency is gonna be a difficult transition for us as humans, just in general, because we'll always. Want to, hide certain things that we perceive as negative and, and or not to our advantage, as well as, you know, have some sort of privacy. So for us, is really giving the power into the hands of. Users and owners of the data to decide what's right and what's wrong, as opposed to having a centralized way of deciding what's right or what's wrong and, you know, coming up with what's just, it's always a difficult problem, right? It's more about engaging in that conversation. So I think the model of DAOs models, is really providing. Active engagement and wrestling through the issues and talking through it and figuring out what's right in public as opposed to behind closed doors and making decisions that benefit one group versus the other.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Yeah. Oh, I think this is precisely the right time to talk about it, especially when there are so many detractors because of recent crashes, you know, with FTX or whatever. I think this is one of the most perfect opportunities to speak about it rather than when it's at is peak and hype cycle. 

Stela Lupushor 

Exactly. 

Nasser Oudjidane

 And, and there's certainly, systemic trends as to the reasons as to why people feel this appealing, particularly younger generations. , they are looking for alternatives. What, what do you think are the primary reasons for that?

Stela Lupushor

 I think there is a erosion of trust. There has been a long time erosion of trust in religious institution, in political institutions, and for a long period of time, individuals were turning to corporations with the hope that there will be. Power that will drive systemic changes. And they are happening slowly, but they're happening. I think this younger generation coming into the labor force are entering an environment where they no longer even trust those organizations. They're seeing the corruption, they're seeing some of the, you know, manipulating the system to benefit one group versus the other. So I think for them it's trying to reimagine the new world. In a way that represents their ideal work environment and that ideal work environment is working on problems that are meaningful to, to them working in autonomous way, using technology in a, in a way that allows, The next generation to be better than the past . And I know we all have been young and we all went through the idealistic stage. So I feel like that generation is an idealistic state at the moment, but I. The shifts that we've been seeing since the first, you know, Bitcoin paper was published, it's incredible because the cycles are getting more and more mature and what stays is, the concepts that have lasting power. Right? So a lot of the fluff or the Ponzi scheme or ways of manipulating the system, are starting to. Be exposed and removed from the next iteration. So to me, the hope is that with each collapse or crisis, something better emerges. A the result of it. 

Nasser Oudjidane

Yeah. But what do you think it actually means to work in a set, a decentralized environment? What, what, what do you think, is one of the methods for value being determined, for example, 

Stela Lupushor 

So what is value? Right? Value is in the eye of the beholder. This is the capacity of a product, of a service, of offering to provide. Something that the receiver perceives as such, right? So there's value in use. think of water. We cannot leave without water for more than three days, but then there is also value in perception, such as gold or diamonds, where people are gonna pay because of the scarcity or whatever their strategy is. So, When I think about distributed ways of creating value, it is really about reimagining what matters to me as an individual and what I'm willing to trade my time, talent, capacities in exchange, right? So when I come to work, many organizations will think about value as, you know, money, your compensation, your perks, your benefits, whatever working conditions you get your laptop. Maybe investments in your development. And it's a one size fits all type of approach. And if you like it to have children, you may have parental leave or parental benefits, or childcare, subsidies. But at the core it's, it's very standard and very, consistent across multiple organizations. When in fact me, when I am 25, would value more the development and exposure to individuals who are, gonna teach me leadership skills, who are gonna give me, confidence and become my role models.Whereas when I'm. 35. When I have small children, I'll value the flexibility to work from home or work from anywhere, so I can spend more time with the, with the family. When I'm 45 and the kids are living home, I'm just extrapolating some of these ages. I will value more engagement and reskilling just because I feel my, my, my skill or I may want to pivot in a more intense career.Whereas when I'm 55, I may want to start planning for. a retirement or if retirement will even exist. By that time, maybe I plan for giving back. Instead of being in the leadership roles, I wanna become more of a coach and develop the next generation. So what matters to me at different life stages is different, different circumstances at home, different health conditions matter, in different ways. So for me, the value is, . It's changing and it's very evolving, and what I'm willing to work for today will be different than what I'm working for tomorrow. And look at my example. At the moment, I am a solopreneur. I'm an independent consultant, and I have a network of people who I really trust and respect, and depending on the type of project I'm going after. Plug and I'll invite and I'll involve those individuals who help me maximize the value I can deliver to the organization. When we look at different models that are emerging, there is a, a company called a team, so a period team. Think of them as a talent, as a service. You have a problem as an organization. You go to them and they help you structure the problem, structure the project, and build together the team to solve that problem. So it's in a way you don't need to hire, you can bring the whole team to solve the problem, to, build the product, build. App that you're trying. These are predominantly for product development at the moment, but that model can scale to other industries as well. So it's a different way of redefining what work is and the type of workers that can help solve you. And then what matters to those workers, so in this case of a team, is the independence, the choice, of projects they commit to and the people they work with.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Yeah. But how is that related to Web three though? Isn't that perhaps just a, a web 2.1? 

Stela Lupushor 

That one is a web two. Yes, exactly. But it. An example of the evolution in, in that, in that direction. Because these are individuals who have loved their highly paid, highly in, you know, sought after jobs at, big major technology brands because they no longer want to work in that environment.

They won't have the choice. So autonomy. So it's the same principles that are driving web three individuals

Nasser Oudjidane 

absolutely. Yeah. And, and, but what about the, the perception. and the value of, sorry, the way that value is determined for organizations, do you find that that's changing as well? 

Stela Lupushor

Absolutely. It's a matter of survival at the moment, right? If you, Previously thought that, you know, workers are just an input into your value chain and they're just another widget that needs to be managed and cost controlled. I think during the pandemic we realized how important people are in this whole creation because if you don't have people, you're not gonna be able to make that, that coffee Cup so, , I, I think organizations are starting to grapple, with the importance of having good employment experience because that will then not only retain the current workers, but also the prospective workers as well as the customers. We are also seeing. Customers demanding more of the brands they engage with in terms of the working conditions for the employees, but also investor communities driving significant changes from, and demanding from organizations to not only pay attention to their balance sheet, but also to their. Workforce, measurements and metrics. So this is where a lot of the disclosure requirements are coming into place where, institutional investors, as well as the regulatory bodies are demanding to see a lot more detailed, description of the workforce metrics as well as the investments that the organizations are making in the, in the workforce, experience. So, When we think about the, the type of exchange, right? It's not only, Driving people to demand more, and it's forcing companies to assess. But the external influencing, bodies such as the, secs of the world, such as the investors are demanding more value as well. And there has been tons of, research proving that the, the investments in the, work workplace experience, especially targeted interventions, have. Considerable impact, on the profitability, on the market capitalization. And now there's another series of, resource that I've seen coming out that proves also the diversity of the workforce has, correlate. Has been correlated to the, profitability of the organization as well. So we have evidence, we have data that demonstrates the importance of making smart investments in your workforce that then translates into benefits for your company, be that through profit or better customer satisfaction, or membership growth or whatever it is that you are, you're going after.

Nasser Oudjidane

Okay. Then pulling the all of that together then what is hrs role in web three? , 

Stela Lupushor

let's, let's brainstorm together because I think , I don't have the, the, the magic wand to declare it. So if my guess is as good as yours, so let me try something on, and then you push back and, and maybe together will come up with something that potential will happen. So let's assume the reputation becomes a bigger, more important. Construct in the future because that drives how you perceive that drives your status. The ability to get more, lucrative or more interesting projects on people care about the reputation and how it's shaped. Maybe a HR's role is to be your brand representative and help you build yourself into more skilled or better represented on the public sphere, or, more tolerant leader or, you know, whatever it is that will make you into that sought after individual in this new realm of work.

How does that sound to you? 

Nasser Oudjidane 

My initial reaction to that is what makes you assume that reputation will become more valued in the future than, than it has been in the past? What gives you that assumption? 

Stela Lupushor

So let's think about the influencer world, right? A lot of brands have finally caught up with the importance of engaging. People who have broad networks or have some sort of a credibility in a specific domain to use them as your brand, advocates, right? So yes, it's q yes, it has its flowed, but it's, it's, it's happening. And a lot more, more, individuals trust the. People that look like them and not the brands directly, and they will more likely engage or consume or purchase that. When we look at the hiring practices, more likely than not when you have somebody recommend that or referred by. An existing employee or a friend of an existing employee, the likelihood of that individual not only being hired but also being better equipped to perform is higher because they will know who to go to talk to. They have a, a friend inside that will help them navigate that system. Right. So that's again, that human relationship that is being tapped. and the core reputation is that it's your social status with a network of people that represents you in a positive way to whoever wants to engage you. So in the new world of work, you possibly can build that reputation for having a specific skill or being really nice and knowing how to bring the team together or being very articulate to communicate something on behalf of the team or the project or the problem. Do you think that's kind of going into that direction.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Yeah. I mean it's, it, it certainly is, and I, I, I, I take on board and agree with, with most of what you've said, my question was actually whether it's changing or not, I think it's always been something that's been incredibly important and it will remain incredibly important. Where my pushback is, is precisely about hrs role within this structure, because I would've thought that this would've been on the block. you would actually have this, which is publicly available for people to read about that person's character, their traits, their skillsets, and for that to be reviewed rather than necessarily needing somebody as a conduit to, promote that person. I don't see it as, I don't see the reasons why you'd need HR to, promote, promote that. 

Stela Lupushor 

Excellent point. So it's not about really promotion, it's about helping you build it out, right? So becoming your personal representative to help you grow and build yourself out into whatever it is that you want to be. So it's more of a coaching and guidance and, a pr for, for the individual. Let me give an example. Maybe this will be a kind of a. Similar analogous situation. So few years ago, I run across a company called Fantech. I don't know if they exist anymore or if they operate in the same capacity, but their model was working with celebrities. at that time it was sports, celebrities and taking their brand public, so going IPO with their brands. So what they were doing is effectively not only. Making and monetizing the brand. And that was endorsements. Product, appearances, you know, every, everything. It's not just their money that they get based on the contracts, but everything, how their brand performs, merchandising, et cetera. And then being the representative on behalf of that individual and helping them think better about. How the brand can perform, how, what other niches and markets they can get into to get more exposure so they can maximize their presence. Of course, that's taking it to extreme, but think how today you invest in companies and you have stock and you believe in the future and the promise of that company. why can't we do the same for people and invest in the future? We see potential in you as a incredible podcaster. Maybe we'll invest in your equipment. Maybe we'll invest in your, I don't know, audio and, and processing tools and that therefore you'll have a better quality and therefore will help you then get exposure to new audiences. So that kind of thinking. , help the workers of the future be their best self and maximize the value not only for themselves, but for those they engage with. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

Yeah, I, I'm quite cynical. So I'm looking at the, the, why would somebody working for a company help somebody else if the resources aren't directly contributing to, the company and only the company. if, if you also believe that this person can be working on other side projects, and building themselves, into perhaps more of a business, rather than working as a full-time employee, which is something that we've, we've discussed in terms of, of trends. Then yeah, there's, there's certainly a, a lot of interesting, a lot of interesting developments there. Yeah. What type of products and services. , do you think, I mean, being in, an advisor to startups and venture capital funds, do, do you, have a hypothesis on type the types of products and services that are necessary to keep up with these changes? or have you found startups that you are excited about in this space?

Stela Lupushor 

I'll give couple of examples and, I think. From a chat perspective, they may not be a hundred percent directly in HR space, but I think the model can have a big impact on influence. So let me take one, which is, it's called parcel. Parcel is a company that allows to invest in. Block futures in. And, and the, the blockchain enables you to, invest in, in New orc in the specific real estate, blocks in their futures. So in order to build that type of infrastructure, they had to map all the, data landscape right from every single block. What type of, You know, walkability, score, what type of, entertainment access they have, what type of, population lives in those blocks and the income level. And all of this is public data available through, you know, also for public sources. So they've integrated all of this real estate data with population data. And now from a HR perspective, we can think. What type of opportunity that creates? Can we choose very differently where we establish our offices or where we go to hire, or where we want to, create better presence? Just because there will be a better distribution network for us, or our employees will be able to walk to office as opposed to trying to, to get on a commute, a long commute, time. So a lot of the. Web three companies. They are really early on and from HR perspective, it's, we are far from embracing a lot of this, but I think the infrastructure they're building can enable us to make better decisions for the current workforce. Another example is, juice Box. So Juice Box is, a, a dowel that is used to fund different projects. it's a treasury, it's a cash management. It's a way crowdfund funds. So it's a, it's a. Classic Dow that provides services to other DAOs to enable them to run their project and fund their projects. I think from experimentation perspective, it's a perfect target to go as an HR professional and say, let's experiment to solve some problems. Maybe we, we give exposure to, and we make a, a challenge, let the employees. Figure out what the problem is, that they want to solve to make better conditions for themselves, and then use this platform to democratically, make decisions and maybe crowdfund certain projects. It's, it's the ability to play with it and understand how it works. That will probably trigger new ideas on how to innovate in the current reality. that will be very beneficial. So it's not necessarily becoming web three, but embracing the web three principles and bringing them into the present work to learn from it. Because through that, we'll be able to then think about the possible use cases to change how we work today.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Yeah, there's, I think there's certainly a lot of, wisdom in what you said with experimentation and actually testing things out because that's a way to get closer ultimately to the future. Yeah. I think in many examples, being slow in traditional adoption of software, only means that you're behind the pack and you don't have the necessary skills to actually compete in the modern world.

Stela Lupushor 

Exactly. Exactly. And I think a lot of the web three is really. Doing, not reading, you're not gonna be able to, to, to read your way into knowledge. You really have to start practicing and applying and, and experimenting. And there's a lot of, generosity. People want to share. People want to help each other. So, I think it's the good time to kind of get into them and look, what people are doing to, to learn from it. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

Th this is off topic, but what do you think? Will happen just considering the federal reserve, the macroeconomic environment to people's, I mean, at a high level risk appetite, to experiment with these things, invest in these things, and actually, develop it as fast as it was going last year, or at least appeared to, to be.

Stela Lupushor 

Again, , it's difficult to predict. we've seen it go up and down and we've seen some of the, centralized, Organizations experimenting with it and building their own digital, coins and, ways of trading and experimenting. I think there's acknowledgement that there is value in these new models, and I don't think it's gonna go away.It will probably have to evolve. , I don't know if, a reserve, the, the Federal Reserve is gonna guaranteed anytime soon. But obviously there are conversations about looking into, especially in the aftermath, aftermath of the, recent, public crisis and, and, Implosions of some of the exchanges, that probably will draw scrutiny and there may be some regulation and legislation, but it's unfortunate just because, some of these bad players have, have really gone awry, without oversight and adult provision, unfortunately. And, some of the markets have to go through that evolution.

Nasser Oudjidane 

Yeah. I mean, the unfortunate, yeah. The unfortunate thing is that if the authorities don't face this head on and, and actually have, a realistic and long-term view of this technology, then the same problems will repeat itself and only get worse. These, these things will happening offshore. Yeah. from the us So those that are regulated do not go through these problems. 

Stela Lupushor

But look, I think it's not, A function of web three companies, right? It's a function of human nature. It happens to traditional organizations and, you know, Theranos and, and runs of the world are, are, are here to, to prove the point. So, absolutely. 

Nasser Oudjidane

So moving on to the closing questions. What's one piece of advice you wish you had when you started? And I'll, I'll make it specific before you fell into this rabbit hole of Web three . 

Stela Lupushor

don't overthink it. . I think that's, my first advice.

Just be curious and don't overthink and don't try to say, well, how is that translating into what we know today and how we can retro feed the world to prepare it for the future? I think there are a lot of new concepts as well as, Concepts that should have been in the first place in the world of work. and a lot it's just about leaning into it and, and saying, oh, does it make sense? Does it, is there something behind that that we can use in today's world? So don't try to criticize or justify. It's more about, let's, let's get to the nuggets, the answers of what is driving this type of behavior, and then figure out how to bring it into. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

Okay, great. Is there anything that you are listening to or that you've read or watched, that you think our audience will find valuable or inspiring?

Stela Lupushor

I'd love, to listen to podcasts and to me, what's recently in my, in my listening, cue is, the Asra Kline Show. That's a very, grounding from. Just political trends and macroeconomic trends and social, social, evolution. I also love the Exponential view by Zi Mazar, and that's where you'll learn a lot about the evolving nature of technology and how that is impacting how we work, how we make decisions, how political, structures are shifting. And then, the, the. there there's a variety of, doo related, or web pre related, podcasts. One that I listen to mostly is, it's called Quorum. and of course, I'll, I'll share the links so you can include them in the show notes for, for the participants to partake. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

Absolutely. And what is one thought valuable phrase that you live?

Stela Lupushor

There's nothing permanent and I'll, I'll explain. I remember my son was 16 and he was trying to make a decision on, which college to go, what path in life to pursue, and he was really, really struggling and debating with himself. He was really passionate about music. . He wanted to play jazz trumpet and he wanted to go pursue a music career. But obviously the common wisdom is you need to go get a job, get a good education that will allow you to have an income and put you on a different trajectory. And he was just torn. And you know, I had to have a conversation and saying, look, I grew up in a country that doesn't exist anymore. I grew up in the Soviet Union, no longer a country. I spoke a language that doesn't exist anymore. It was moldovan language, which used to be actually a Ro Romanian language that got converted to a new alphabet and new grammar rules were invented and everything that was taught in school. , obviously Moldova, my country of region, went back to Romanian language was the Roman alphabet. It was a made up language that was spoken for 70 years. To me, a lot of things we live in are human made constructs, and they are designed and built by agreement. So to me, the web three is an incarnation of how you can have a conversation and come to an agreement. As a pool of people, not just by the whims or desire of one particular segment of the population. So to me, I think the power of people is gonna, has the, the opportunity and has the, the chance of shaping the society in a very different way because nothing is permanent. 

Nasser Oudjidane 

Stella , this has been absolutely incredible. Thank you. 

Stela Lupushor 

Thank you.

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