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The Workplace of the Future Demands These Soft Skills

Jennifer Viemont
Founder & Chief College Advisor
October 29, 2022

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This week’s episode certainly aligns with a common theme this season addressed by many of our guests, and that is the critical importance of cultivating “soft skills” in the up-and-coming workforce. These skills, like assertiveness, resilience, self-direction, empathy, cooperation, diversity awareness, and adaptability are simply not versed (even discouraged) in traditional education in the US. In the current US college admissions game alone, it appears there is no room (or reflected value) for failure. 

“Though I don’t believe college in Europe is the route for everyone, I do truly believe that it’s an incredible way to ensure our kids are developing these crucial skills while having these life-changing experiences.” –Jenn 

Our guest this week, Colleen Bordeaux, a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in LA, joins us in discussion on this hot topic, speaking from an employer’s point of view. You’ll hear her pressing for today’s youth and graduates to see the value in getting out of comfort zones, of taking and seeing the advantage of experiences and failures, since these are some of the opportunities where important human skills can begin to take shape; these are the skills that matter more-than-ever for professional success.

  

Up to 40% of the jobs that we know have the potential to be automated and done by technology. And there are millions of new jobs that are being created that people have never done before. And so it is calling on us to really think differently about what are the skills and capabilities we've got as humans that can endure and help us adapt in the fast-changing workplace." –Colleen Bordeaux

Full transcription of the podcast.

Intro: You're listening to the Beyond the States podcast with Jenn Viemont. Did you know that you can go to Europe and get your entire degree taught in English for less than one year of tuition at many American schools? Jenn will take you on a deep dive into the many benefits and options around English-taught higher education in Europe, helping to make the possibility less foreign.

Jenn Viemont: So today a little bit later on the episode, we're going to talk to Coleen Bordeaux. She's a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in Los Angeles. We did this recording a while back and I hadn't aired it yet, because there were some audio issues that we had to deal with actually, funny. We edited this part out but right in the middle of our interview, Colleen husband's cooking set off the fire alarm in the kitchen, she rolled with it like a pro, and she called me back from outside until he got it under control. 

Anyhow, because the interview was a while back, I listened to it again. And here's what struck me. There's such a common message from almost all of the experts we've heard from this season. Along with Colleen, they're all saying that there are certain qualities, capabilities, skills, whatever you want to call them, that are needed for success and they aren't being cultivated by traditional education in the US. In fact, in some cases, the education system in the US actively discourages the cultivation of the qualities. All of these experts have talked about the important qualities that develop through experiencing failure, for instance, this is something that is unheard of through high school. In order to play the US admissions game, students were led to believe that there can be no failure. And as we learned in the episode with William Dershowitz, this mindset carries over into college as well. We've also learned that students need to get out of their comfort zone.

Colleen puts it well, she talks about putting yourself in situations where you don't have the answers and where there isn't a rulebook. And we've talked about the need for students to be able to demonstrate that they're able to effectively communicate and work with people from all different backgrounds and perspectives. I really don't know how employers are teaching these skills. I mean, I'm sure there's some really well researched and thought out, you know, curriculum and such. But how do you teach empathy to young adults? How do you teach them to get out of their comfort zone? I can think of a couple of ways that might help for a few of these. I mean, Colleen talks about how her job as a waitperson helped with a lot of these skills. Having waitressed myself at college, I completely agree with her on this one. We've had other guests talk about how jobs like this job my son had at a grocery store, also great for many of these skills. Jobs, where you're working alongside and also serving people who have different backgrounds, different goals, different education than you do. 

We have a masterclass. That includes a lesson about learning what skills you need to develop, that are going to help you when you're living abroad. Now, I grew up in Chicago in the city, where I was taking the number six Jeffrey express bus with friends, even in elementary school. I understand, of course, that things are a little different now and that many of our students don't live in a place that's conducive to public transportation. So one suggestion I sometimes make, is for the students and the parents, if needed, to take a trip to a nearby city, and have the students figure out on their own how they're going to get from point A to point B on public transportation, and the parents aren't able to make any suggestions or help. So what does this teach? It teaches navigating, literally and figuratively, unfamiliar circumstances. It also often teaches failure. I mean, when we travel, my husband still makes the mistake of getting on the platform that's going on the wrong way, often, and if they do fail, it teaches them that it's not the end of the world. They simply get off the train when they realize they made a mistake and figure out how to rectify. 

If they fully go through this exercise, the lessons can really be applied to other areas of life. However, more often than not the parents don't let them fail to that point. Well meaning suggestions to you know, check the sign to determine what platform they want to be on. And other again, well meaning suggestions interfere with the failure experience. I've been guilty of this in my own life, as you all know. But now that seems in Europe, there are a number of failures that I couldn't prevent him from experiencing if I tried. But now in year three, I see the incredible growth he's made and the lessons he's learned. It was certainly painful, as a parent, to watch him learn those lessons, and stressful, but I've never seen him in a better place than he is now. Though I know College in Europe is not the route for everyone, I do truly believe that it's an incredible way to ensure that our kids develop these crucial skills while having these life changing experiences. Let's take a quick break and see what Colleen has to tell us.

Testimonial: I'm Tati. I'm from Atlanta, and I'm in my third year of study at Hans University in the Netherlands, and I found my university through my Beyond the State's membership. I'd been interested in studying in Europe before I joined Beyond the States, but the research my mom and I did on our own often resulted in misinformation or information that didn't apply to me as a native English speaker from an American High School. Nobody at my high school knew how to advise me either. With the help of the BTS database and membership resources, I was able to explore my different options and get advice from Jen about admission strategies. Membership includes more these days than when I was a member. The private member Facebook group includes students and families at all stages of the process. When students go to Europe, we and our parents can stay in the group. Not only does this mean we can answer questions from members who are exploring, but we can get information and resources during our study. My mom is still in the group and has found it helpful, especially connecting with other parents during the height of COVID. If you're interested in studying in Europe, I suggest that you join beyond the States for at least a month, I don't think you'll regret it at all. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.

Jenn Viemont: Today, I'm talking to Colleen Bordeaux, she's a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting in Los Angeles, where she helps organizations cultivate positive human experiences in the context of their workforce and customer engagement. She speaks and writes on the subject of human potential in the workplace, employability, the value of soft skills, and the future of work. She's also the founder and co-leader of a startup called Growth Incorporated, that advocates for and supports professional women as leaders in their fields. Wow, that's a lot. Thanks so much for being here today Colleen.

Colleen Bordeaux: Thank you for having me.

Jenn Viemont: So I was reading a Deloitte paper that you contributed to, and I thought it was just fascinating. It was the Closing the Employability Skills Gap paper. And there's some terms that are used around this topic in general, that I think a lot of us who like myself or older Gen X, or like young boomers, don't really understand. So I'm finally wrapping my brain around a number of them, but came across a term I was less familiar with. So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what the fourth industrial revolution means and how it impacts college age students.

Colleen Bordeaux: That absolutely, so the fourth industrial revolution is a term that researchers and economists have given to the rapidly accelerating pace of change to technology, and how it's impacting the way we work, and the way that we live, and the way that we interact as human beings, and to bring that to life for you. In all of human history, we have been accustomed to linear change, which means that we make an advancement, we learn from that advancement, apply what we learn, and then come up with something new. And it's a slower pace of change than what we are in right now. Which is called exponential change, which means that we are on an exponential growth curve. And if you feel like the world is changing faster than ever before, that's because it actually is. And the analogy that I heard is that you are kind of taking linear steps, if you take kind of linear steps across a football field, you know, like that will get you take you, you know, maybe an hour takes, I think it was like three linear steps, 30 Linear steps. And if you take 30 exponential steps, you'll like go around the world, like multiple times. So it's this idea that, you know, the world is changing around us faster and faster than it ever had. But our human nature is staying the same. But I think we're all feeling that sense of overwhelm with how quickly our world is changing, and trying to kind of bring it back to us as individuals. And what do we do with all of this? And how do we set ourselves up to survive and thrive as we move forward?

Jenn Viemont: Interesting, because I think that the workforce wasn't that different from my parents from when I went to college. But I do think it's so different for my kids than when I was in college, there was a great David Sedaris, quote, I wish I had in front of me, it's hysterical, where he talks about how we used to eavesdrop on people, and like, he'd know what they were talking about. And now when they're talking about their professions, he just has no idea what he's even eavesdropping on. And that's what I feel like too, like, there's just so much difference, and I'm not addled. So it was good to know that that's not my imagination.

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, definitely not. And that's the change in jobs. I know. It's something that you were emailing, kind of really thinking about, I think one of the biggest impacts on work when it relates to this rapid pace of change to technology, is that technology is taking on cognitive capabilities that we are accustomed to paying a human to do in the workplace. And it's estimated that up to 40% of the jobs that we know and work today, have the potential to be automated and done by technology. And there's millions of new jobs that are being created that people have never done before. And so it's calling on us to really think differently about what is the value we bring as human beings and what are the skills and capabilities we've got as humans that we can endure and help us to adapt and continue to add value in the workplace, in the workforce, even as technology kind of accelerates its ability to help us get work done.

Jenn Viemont: Interesting. So in a very simplistic term, because that's how I think about technology. That's the only way I can deal with technology. I guess what I'm thinking about are like bots, you know, when a customer service bot as opposed to a person. So what could a person do that this bot couldn't is sort of what we're talking about. Very basic level?

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. That’s a hundred percent right. And I think, oh sorry, one more thing to that when it comes to like AI technology and robotic process engineering and a lot of the like next gen technologies that are already available, and already kind of doing work that we're used to paying humans to do. A lot of the conversation around what technology can do, what is repetitive and role based work that is easy to program, versus work that requires you to connect dots across functions and read nuance and context that technology is less able to do. So you know, fields like finance are really well primed for it to be automated, because it's repetitive and role based, versus some of the other kinds of avenues that require us to input behavior and think how people think are less likely to be, you know, impacted by technology.

Jenn Viemont: So that kind of ties into one of the things that the paper also said, which was that many organizations are reevaluating their talent profile. So can you tell me a little bit about what they're looking for now that’s different than what they used to be looking for?

Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. So there's always going to be those kind of hard skills that you need to get the job done. And as you mentioned, that there's lots of new jobs coming that we aren't accustomed to doing and a big example of kind of a hard skill that many of our clients and organizations are looking at, is this concept of digital fluency and data fluency. And data fluency is a great example. Because I think we think about data as the ability to get data and to create reports, but how do you actually derive insight from multiple different data sets and do it in a way that allows organizations to take more meaningful action? And digital fluency is, you know, the ability to use digital tools and platforms as new tools come on the scene. How do we use that to get that work done better and more effectively, more efficiently? And also operate in digital virtual environments in ways that get work done in really effective ways. And then there's a second kind of bucket of skills that have been less of a focus in learning and development programs and in organizational kind of learning programs. But they're what we traditionally call social and emotional skills. And I mentioned that there's a lot of technology trends driving the future of work. But there's other trends happening, kind of in conjunction with technology. And one example is the rise of diversity in the workplace. And this is both driven by generational diversity, we now have more than four generations in the workforce at the same time with wildly different preferences, norms, behaviors and ways of working. 

We also, because of technology, have the ability to work across border, across culture. And this need for engaging with people who don't look, or act, or sound like you is becoming table stakes to getting work done. And then, I think there's a couple of additional trends too, that are really focused on kind of this, move away from the three-part life series where you've got education, career, and retirement to the 100 year life and the lifelong learning that requires you to sustain yourself over the course of your lifetime. And so the skills that are needed in that environment are really things like empathy, creativity, problem solving, cultural fluency, and they're skilled that in many ways, kind of our innate human capabilities, we just have to think about developing and incentivizing them in different ways that we've had to think about before in the workforce.

Jenn Viemont: Interesting, I want to go to that kind of cross cultural communication piece that you were talking about, because I think a lot of people might think that that is something that they could do and maybe it's not. I mean, I lived in Portugal for a couple of years, and I would have considered myself very good at cross cultural communication. And there were absolutely times, there was a meeting I had with somebody in Estonia, where I was sure that she just thought I was an idiot, but it was more just you know, and I later found out, you know, we enjoyed each other a lot and we were friendly and it was more just me not knowing culturally, you know, the communication norms. Can you give me an example about how that might look in the workforce? How it might look to need that cross cultural communication skills or how it might be kind of messed up by somebody who's lacking those skills?

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think the first piece to this is like, we have so many organizations that are standing up functions that, you know, get work done in a different country, like in Poland or in India, and recognizing that, if you're leading a team that is based in multiple different geographies and multiple different countries, lacking cultural fluency would be to come in with the expectation that the way work will get done, the way that you manage meetings, the way that you manage a team is going to be consistent with the way that you've always done it. And so in that instance, that would be, you know, potentially leading to really negative experiences of members of your team who feel potentially excluded from the conversation because you're not making space to listen and understand where they're coming from, or potentially not creating flexibility to accommodate different time zones or different holidays and personal needs. And that would obviously drive people out the door of your company, and create kind of negative work outcomes, versus coming in and recognizing that I have a really diverse makeup tonight team. And rather than diving in with assumptions and an old way of doing things, creating that space, to really meet with the team and individual members of the team to get to know them, really listen and understand expectations and preferences, and then own the only issue that we have a lot of different factors to consider here to make this a really positive experience for everyone. And how do we create more opportunities to connect on human levels so that we're able to listen and empathize and learn from one another, and build our culture to get work done and build trust that we can get worked on in really effective ways. That's a really high level example. But that's kind of the, I think, the ultimate to what’s behind it.

Jenn Viemont: No, I think it's a really good concrete example too. It's understandable. Excellent. So the other thing I was reading is, the people were saying that data indicates continued massive deficit of social and emotional capabilities in today's workforce. And I was wondering if you have any thoughts on why that is?

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. So at a higher level, I think, we haven't really needed to focus as much on social and emotional capabilities. Because the way that work got done, what workplaces and workforces looked like was much different. And an organization’s, in many ways, operated with what, what I like to call a logic bias, meaning we're focused really explicitly on bottom line impacts and work outcome, at the expense of really understanding some of the kind of emotional data and emotional realities of the experience our human stakeholders are having as they interact with our organization. And organizations had to get smart on that from a customer experience perspective decades ago, right? So if you did not consider the emotional impact of the interactions a customer was having with your organization, you would fail to build trust in that customer and failed to build feelings of loyalty in that customer that would translate into repeat purchases. 

So really going deep on how does this customer feel? What's driving that feeling? How do we influence that to be more positive? The core skill to doing that was empathy, right? Putting the customer, that human at the center, and really using a lot of those skills to deeply understand that emotional sentiment data, and then combining it with some of the more traditional datasets around like, how do we reimagine this customer journey and some of these interactions that build that customer trust and loyalty and translates into repeated purchases and, and do it in a way that also kind of works for our operating model and our strategy. So this is not a new concept. But the world has changed so much that it's calling on us to do that now for workers. And it's both driven by kind of all of those trends we talked about earlier, but also this subtle shift in power between workers and our organizations where the experience a worker has can make it on an open source platform that anybody can back and workers have arguably just as much if not more powered, and packed organizational brand and market performance as their customers. 

And so bringing this set of kind of social and emotional capabilities front and center is table stakes to doing kind of applying that same logic, to creating more positive worker experiences, improving human connection and culture, and making organizations places that workers not only want to work, but are willing to tell their friends, and their families, and our social feeds about their experiences and recommend those places to work. So at the highest level, I think that that's kind of the shift. And, you know, it's becoming an increasing focus in this great resignation world, so many of our organizations are struggling with.

Jenn Viemont: So it sounds like companies are putting a lot of money and resources into training their employees around this. So are they also looking for candidates who already have a number of these skills?

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, I'm sure you've heard the term kind of leader at every level. And I think some of the core leadership capability focus, which looks, I think, more formal definitions of leaders, emphasizes social and emotional capabilities, almost above everything else.And so it's translating kind of what's worked in the leadership development states kind of across the board. And I think, in the hiring process, I would say every organization is already screaming for these skills. And better understanding your ability to work with others, to influence others to communicate, to solve problems, to be able to innovate and adapt as your role changes around you. And I think the ability to get those types of skills and apply them and speak to them so that you are positioning yourself better in an interview is super important.

And then also, once you are kind of on the job, I think so much of organizational learning and development programs are kind of shifting and pivoting towards that leading at all levels, and how do you build and develop those social and emotional capabilities at much earlier stages in your career, because you frankly do have to work in situations where you might be required to lead across and above you. And you need the same exact set of skills that you know, a more traditional leader in your organization might have.

Jenn Viemont: Our listeners hear me talk ad nauseam about how living outside of your home country can really lead to a lot of these social and emotional capabilities. We're talking about the soft skill development, you know, learning how to navigate unfamiliar circumstances, being adaptable working in groups of people with completely different perspectives and backgrounds. Are there other life experiences or situations you can think of that can lead to this soft skill development before you enter? Well, I mean, many of them are in the workforce in some way, shape, or form. But until you kind of enter your career life.

Colleen Bordeaux: 100% Yes. I think that traditional education really focuses on being perfect, right? What are the specific steps? The box I plan? And how do I get an A, and advance to the next level? And so I think what traditional education misses is getting you out of your comfort zone, getting you to a place where you're having to take risks and leaps of faith and try things and fail, and have to learn when you do fail. How do you adjust and use that as data to get you where you're going instead of looking at it as something that is a signal to stop or, or slow down? And I think figuring out how do I continue to make myself uncomfortable, put myself in situations where I don't have all of the answers. There's not necessarily a rulebook or a path to follow. And I have to rely on a different way of thinking and operating in order to move forward, and to kind of learn and get where I'm going. And that could be as simple as, you know, starting a side hustle, and really developing kind of a different orientation towards what success looks like. I have to deeply understand kind of my customer and what their needs are. If they run into issues, I have to learn how to address them. It could be taking a job that looks a lot different than a really structured internship and gets you in an environment where you're working with people that you maybe don't necessarily get to interact with day to day in your community and puts you in a position where you have to check some of your own assumptions and biases. So I think that like the biggest thing is just getting out of your box and putting yourself in situations that stretch you and make you uncomfortable, is probably one of the best ways to grow this set of capabilities.

Jenn Viemont: You were talking about that, and I was thinking I recently was talking to an author. He wrote about the American admissions process, and how kids are really, basically told through high school here is the exact path you take, here are all the boxes we need to check, and you really can't make any mistakes, because you have to be the best in all these different areas. And when they get to college, they're sort of programmed that way, to avoid risks, because you can't make mistakes. So I liked the idea you were talking about. Well, what I like is the idea of going to Europe, so you can bypass all of that. But I liked the idea you were talking about of a side hustle, you know, you can do a risk that doesn't have to do with your academics, if you're frightened by doing that. You know, you can take these risks and other areas of your life to gain those skills as well. Yeah, I was also thinking my son, because he wasn't doing the US system. Through high school, he worked at a grocery store. And I think a lot of that, you know, it was, you know, again, it helped him. He was working, crushed generationally, or with different people with different backgrounds and reporting to people with different backgrounds. And yeah, I think it just was such a learning experience. Having that kind of experience as well.

Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. I would say one of the most foundational learning experience I had was being a waiter in college and recognizing human nature and how people treat somebody who they feel is beneath them, and how you kind of develop a totally different way of thinking and empathizing with people when you've kind of seen some of that firsthand from working alongside people who, maybe you don't normally get to interact with. So 100% agree with that.

Jenn Viemont: Completely agree, I think that I've had a lot of jobs throughout my career. And I think that waitressing was not only the hardest, but also one that I learned so much about myself and about the world through.

Colleen Bordeaux: Absolutely. And you also learn that you never want to have to clean out that greed pit again, if you can avoid it.

Jenn Viemont: Hopefully you get the job of smearing the ketchup instead of that.

Colleen Bordeaux: Exactly. And also, that's about the value of hard work and this idea that like you're not above or below anybody else. That like, learning how to work hard and how to, you know, get good at your job and add value to your customer, whoever that person might be. The same set of skills and really requires you to listen, and empathize, and problem solve. And, you know, learning how to do that in a service oriented industry, I think is really great education.

Jenn Viemont: I totally agree. Totally agree. So I see, you know, I visit a lot of schools in Europe, and I visit business schools as well. And I, you know, they always have like the plaques of who their big recruiters are. And I see Deloitte as an active recruiter at many of these business schools in Europe. And I'd like to talk about this a little bit, because so many people falsely believed that studying outside of one's home country was going to put them at a disadvantage when they're interviewing or looking for a job. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Colleen Bordeaux: So, I do. I mean, I think that there's a lot of different ways to think about how you position yourself for a job, there are certainly companies, and Deloitte is one, right, that have lists of target schools that they recruit from. Which is one avenue to get a job at a company, that you kind of work or are educated at that school, and you navigate through that schools recruiting relationship with an organization. But that's one of many possible ways to build your career and get employment opportunities. And I think, when you consider all of the choices and options you've got, and how to best position yourself for success, I think it has to come back to like, what matters to me, what do I really value? And how do I lead with that in the choices I make now and how I educate myself and get a well rounded exposure to this world. So that when I'm ready to start making choices, interviewing for jobs that I have a lot of great life experience to draw on, and I'm really well positioning myself for what organizations are looking for. And I think that's the most important part. And I think, you know, from the kind of recruiting that I've been involved in, yeah, a lot of the entry level jobs at Deloitte that are coming through, you know, university relationships. The initial contact might come with the relationship, but the bigger kind of deciding factor is the, frankly, like character experiences, you know, courage and core skills that student brings to the table. And I think also with the rate of change to jobs. I think the average tenure on a job is 18 months and shrinking. That most companies, the majority of people that are coming into their ranks are, they've got experience elsewhere. They're not coming through university. They're coming from wide varieties of different fields and experiences. And that's viewed as such a value. Because when you're thinking about innovating, you've got to be able to break out of your silos and look at things differently, think differently, and have people who work for you that have different lenses and experiences that help kind of shake up the status quo.

Jenn Viemont: Interesting. Interesting. So would internships count? Like, would you guys be looking at internships, even if it were in a different sort of area than where you traditionally recruit from? For employers and 

Colleen Bordeaux: You know, I can't speak to Deloitte’s recruiting policies, because that's not the function that I work in. But I think, what I can speak, is like that, you know, colleagues and network that I have, those internships and experiences are kind of cut across the board, especially when you're younger in your career. I have a multitude of colleagues and peers who came through Teach For America who did Fulbright Scholarships, who left school and took a year off and worked in kind of different capacities in areas of interest and passion, that helped them kind of come back with a clear set of like values for where they wanted to focus their career, and also a much better story around their ability to kind of operate independently and navigate uncertain circumstances and build something on their own. So there's not really like a hard and fast answer. But I think the biggest thing is that there's no longer a prescription or a specific pathway to do this. And it's becoming increasingly important to really get back to what develops me as like a good human being and helps me better understand, like, what are my strengths? What, what matters to me, what do I really value? How do I invest in that, and lead with that, and then use that as a way to market myself to employers who share that similar set of values? 

Jenn Viemont: Yeah, so having the insight into your own values, your own interests, and then not looking for a job with just anybody but looking for a job that's aligned with that, so that you're not trying to kind of, I'm sure there's some analogy about selling something to somebody who doesn't need it that I could use if I knew it, but you know, so you're not trying to fit yourself in a square peg or whatever that is, that you're really able to make that connection.

Colleen Bordeaux: Yep, absolutely. Another thing I will say, too, and this is going to be very pragmatic. But I would be remiss without saying that, I think that if you are coming into the workforce, as a 22 year old. Any organization is looking at, does this person have the ability to work? Are they eager to learn? Are they coachable? Are they smart? Are they passionate? Are they a good person that can build solid relationships that others want to work with, like, just kind of thinking about the first level of inquiry that a recruiter would have on a 22 year old is really important. 

And I think that it certainly helps to be able to demonstrate how you've been able to really apply what you've learned in your life to date to add value to another entity or another organization. And also think about how do I get my foot in the door at an organization that maybe is aspirational for me, and I really want to figure out how to build my network there and get involved and position myself for employment. I think getting creative on like, what are those organizations already investing in, in their corporate social responsibility? And how do I start to think about, you know, building network and connection by volunteering and adding value through some of those channels or positioning myself for internships and figuring out a way to demonstrate your ability to work, your eagerness to learn and build some of those connections, where wherever you are at in your kind of education journey.

Jenn Viemont: Interesting. And all of those you were talking about, you know, many of the words you were using, were to me what I think of as sort of human skills, you know, again, you know, this insight and this values, and all of these different words that have to do with that process are all very human in nature and can't be replaced by technology.

Colleen Bordeaux: That's exactly right.

Jenn Viemont: So I was also wondering, this is a little bit off topic, but I'm really interested in it. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about Growth Incorporated.

Colleen Bordeaux: Yes, I am happy to do that. And by the way, I successfully made it back into my office. Thank you for bearing with me. Yes. So, Growth Inc, I started at the end of a six month sabbatical that I took with Deloitte. And the high level story is that, you know, I had such a great experience at Deloitte. But I always felt like I had this enormous amount of pressure to fit a mold, and be a serious consultant in an Ann Taylor suit, who used words like leverage, and felt like that wasn't a sustainable way to grow my career, because so much of what made me me - all the best parts of myself, my creativity, and my humor, I felt like didn't have a place at my organization. And I felt this, and studying all of the Future of Work topics I mentioned, and feeling like I was a hypocrite, because I was talking at conferences and advising clients about the importance of creativity, and authenticity, and vulnerability, and all of these skills that we talked about. And meanwhile, feeling like I was hiding a big piece of who I was in order to be successful.

 

So I took this six months sabbatical, I thought that was a me thing, a me problem. And I was going to, you know, really kind of give myself the space to think about what was next for me, and also study where our organizations kind of more meaningfully tapping to these sort of social and emotional skills, and how might we, you know, learn from that. And I started sabbatical in January 2020, came back six months later, and the world had changed and had created this appetite, I think, at Deloitte to think a little bit differently about it. And so I came back and, you know, share my story, like, here's how I felt. And if I feel this is a super privileged, white woman who'd been very well supported in my career, we've got a much bigger problem to solve for. 

And so I'm in tandem with having that conversation, which I thought would get me fired, but instead, it like, totally transformed my career at Deloitte. I decided what can I do about this at the individual level, and really honed in on the need for the experience that I had as a woman, and recognizing that it wasn't if I had told that story, I had an overwhelming response from other women who resonated with it and felt the same way. 

And I did a bunch of research and learned a few things about the experience of women in professional environments that are more traditionally male dominated. And one of the things I learned was that women, on average, reach peak competence in life at age nine, ya know, they represent the majority of college graduates. They lose some of that ambition to reach the highest levels of leadership within the first couple of years on the job, and that something was happening to women's confidence that was palpable, and I think was, you know, working in a broader environment where there's certainly systemic changes that need to take place. How do I improve the agency of women to change their lives and change their outcome? And I decided to really go deep on confidence and then launched Growth Inc, as a way to help professional women rebuild the mental habits of confidence around. There's actually six habits, it's specific mental habits that most women do not have, because we're socially conditioned to think differently, and rebuild those habits so that they can be leaders of their lives and their careers and kind of change the outcomes around them, instead of changing, and sort of waiting for the world to change around us.

Jenn Viemont: That's so cool. And so you really, I mean, everything we're just talking about up to this point. That's how you've been living your life for the last two years. You've been looking at your own values and how things are aligned with that, and how you can align your life with your values professionally, and otherwise. Okay, just out of curiosity, can you tick off the six habits?

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. So, the first habit is the habit of self awareness. And that actually, we'll be talking about values, like, who am I? And what do I value? What gives me energy? What drains my energy? It’s really, really important. 

And then there's the habit of self acceptance, which is like understanding kind of the nuances of who you are, and like accepting that, and accepting your words, and allowing yourself to be enough and instead of kind of comparing and looking elsewhere. 

And then there's the habit of self assertiveness, which is really the ability to articulate what matters to you, what your boundaries are, how do you push back and say no in the right circumstances and situations.

I'm gonna have to pull up my like, I'm going out of order, but the habits actually have a really specific name that is based on the research of Nathaniel Branden. I'm not sure if you've, you've heard of him, but he studied the mental habits of achievers and highly competent people. And recognize that like, we think about competence as this kind of innate set of kind of personality traits, but in reality, it is like they're mental processes that we just, you know, aren't necessarily taught and are kind of counterintuitive in our society. 

So I mentioned like the first three, but the habit of living consciously is a fourth one, that is all about focusing on the reality of the moment and releasing fear. And when you think about, we spend so much time ruminating on the past or dwelling in the future, which creates fear because we don't have control. So how do you start to live more in the moment and practice mindfulness?

And then the habit of living purposefully, which is really that idea of having intentionality to the way that you show up to orient around, kind of the set of values that you've got, and orient around kind of the purpose of what you're doing, day in and day out, and having that sense of purpose. 

And then the last one, which totally resonates with my story is the habit of living with integrity, which is that who I am on the inside is reflected in the version of myself that I show to the world and like operating with integrity, of like who you are, and what you value and what's important to you. And not feeling like you have to apologize for, kind of your identity, your background, your experiences, but using that as really a way to like show up in life as like an integrated person.

Jenn Viemont: So cool. I've saw you, as a woman, as a mother of a teenage daughter, as a former psychotherapist, I love all of what you said so much. And I really, I hope, if there's like a website or anything that you could send that to us, or we could put it on our show notes. I'm sure other people would be interested in that as well.

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah, of course, I'll give my art Instagram handle. It’s @growthincubator and it has tons of free content if you're interested in those topic areas. And I’ll send the website as well.

Jenn Viemont: Awesome. What is the prize? A little nugget at the end of this conversation! Very cool. Very cool. I really appreciate you talking to us today about all of this, it's great to have a better understanding of, kind of what the world looks like now in terms of employability. And how students can look for organizations that are really aligned with their values, with their personality, with their goals, and not have to try to be something that they're not.

Colleen Bordeaux: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Well, so appreciate the opportunity to chat. And, of course, if there's questions or you know, people want more information, feel free to reach back out.

Jenn Viemont: Thanks so much, Colleen. 

Good news, we have put our next two sessions of the On Your Mark masterclass on the calendar. And this month's special offers 75% off. This class is one of our most popular offerings. It's a six week class for the students themselves, where through video lessons, assignments and live group calls, they're guided through the process of finding the schools and programs in Europe that best fit their interests, their goals, their preferences, their qualifications, their budget, all of that. It’s especially powerful, because they are the ones taking the reins of the process, as opposed to the parents. And they become the experts. 

The other cool thing is that they're taking this class with a group of students from around the country who are also exploring these outside of the box options. And since they probably don't know anyone from their score community, looking outside of the US, having this community is really incredible. In fact, two of our members who took this class a few years ago, are now sharing an apartment in Europe. We have a summer session in June and a Fall session on October and we'll put the full information, the link for the full information dates, times, and other logistics, in our show notes or you can go to beyond the states.com/monthlyspecial

Jennifer Viemont
Founder & Chief College Advisor

5 Reasons Why You Should Study in Europe

If packing up your whole life and moving sounds more exciting than terrifying, then you'll love what colleges in Europe have to offer you. These are 5 reasons why going to college in Europe will be the best decision you'll ever make:

1. Tuition is much more affordable than the US.

In continental Europe, the average cost of all the English-taught bachelor’s programs is just $7,390 per year. Since 1985, US college costs have surged by about 1000 percent, and tuition and fees continue to rise. Even when you factor in the cost of travel, going to college in Europe if often cheaper than one year of tuition at a state college in the US.

2. There are thousands of English-taught degrees.

Choice is another key issue. When cost is a chief consideration, you may be limited to only in-state schools, where tuition is lower. What if your in-state schools aren’t a good option for your chosen field of study? In Europe there are thousands of programs to choose from across 212 areas of study, and they are all taught 100% in English, so there's no need to worry about learning a new language.

3. International exposure is essential and highly valued.

Students who studied abroad stand out from the crowd when seeking jobs after college. The very act of leaving their comfort zone to make a fresh start in a new place builds skills and confidence that will be carried throughout a student’s life. Silicon Valley billionaire investor, Chris Sacca, describes international study experience as a critical differentiating characteristic among candidates. According to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, “The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of [General Electric] will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, in Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires.”

4. You'll avoid the US admissions rat race.

The college admissions process in the US has become a race to the bottom as students compete with their peers for a single spot in a liberal arts college, convinced by parents and guidance counselors that their survival rests on playing a musical instrument or varsity sport.Many smart kids don’t do well on standardized tests. This doesn’t limit them as much when looking outside of the US, as many colleges in Europe do not require standardized tests. Many countries see entry into universities as a right, rather than a privilege, so admission standards are not as stringent.

5. Spend your weekends & breaks exploring the world.

Travel opportunities abound when attending college in Europe. For example, Lille, a city in northern France with multiple universities, is close to major cities such as Brussels, London, and Paris via high-speed rail. Air travel, especially with the rise of affordable airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Transavia, can be comparable in price to rail travel, so many more destinations open up for short-term travel.

How to Get Into the World's Top Universities

When you also factor in the many problems with US higher education, it is imprudent not to consider other possibilities. It is true there are many excellent schools in the United States—I don’t think anyone would argue that. There are some that have managed to look at applicants as people, and not just a checklist of achievements. Some even have reasonable tuition rates, and/or professors that actively teach and have highly engaged students. Despite this, I have yet to find a school in the United States that addresses all of these issues: allows students to opt out of the rat race the admissions process has become, have reasonable tuition, AND have positive results around the educational experience and post-graduation outcomes. Not every school in Europe provides all this either, but the schools listed in our database do.

How to Find Degrees in Europe That Are Taught in English

Finding these programs is burdensome, difficult, and confusing, especially with institutional websites in foreign languages... We know that making the decision to study abroad can be difficult, so we want to make it easy for you. We scoured the continent for vetted programs and made them available to thousands of families looking to leave the US and find a better life in Europe. We found over 11,200 degrees, 870 universities, 550 cities, and 32 European countries to choose from. Europe offers an impressive range of educational opportunities!

We have gathered all of the information you need to know about studying in Europe – from the different types of schools available to how to get housing and everything in between. Our database helps you find these programs quickly and easily, helping you contextualize the many benefits and options around higher education in Europe.

You will be able to find programs and courses that suit your interests and needs, taught in English by experienced professors in state-of-the-art facilities. Purchase a membership and search our database of English-taught European bachelor's and master's programs to get started on your journey to Europe today.

Get a Free Insider's Guide

We created free guides that give you the skinny on 5 bachelor’s or 10 master's degree programs in Europe that are taught in English, uber affordable, easy to get into, are great for opportunities, and give you life-changing experiences.

Guide

To explore more countries, cities, and all of the universities, get access to the full database and search through over 11,200 programs taught entirely in English. You're bound to find your ideal program.

Beyond the States matches you with your ideal English-taught college in Europe.

Beyond the States provides access to 11,400+ European bachelor's and master's programs across 870 universities, 550 cities, and 212 areas of study, plus all the resources you need to get there. No sponsorships. No bias.
3400+
English-taught bachelor's programs in our database.
8000+
English-taught master's programs in our database.
550
Beautiful European cities to choose from.
870
Top-tier universities accepting international students.
€293,558
Typical savings against a private university in the US.
€55,098
Typical savings against in-state tuition in the US.
All inclusive of tuition, living, food, books, health insurance, travel expenses, as well as hidden fees. Compiled with data from students and the official websites from KU Leuven, UNC, and Duke.

Listen to the College Insights™ Podcast

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What Transparent Admissions Requirements Really Mean

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
It’s that time of year again… College admissions are on the minds of many students who have attempted to get into their choice schools across the US; it can be a deeply confusing and stressful time for many.
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Master's Degrees in Europe for International Students

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
Her conversation partner this week is Sean Dempsey, a past BTS member and recent graduate of the highly-ranked KU Leuven, in Belgium.
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Will a European Degree Work for Me in the US?

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
Is a degree from Europe valuable enough in the US? Does it allow students to get into grad school and get a good job? Who gives accreditation to universities in the States?
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How to Get a Master's Degree in Europe

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
In today’s episode, Jenn has an interesting discussion with Tiffany, a parent of one of our members, Ethan. She became so interested in the Beyond the States process herself so that she’s amid planning admission for herself and her husband – for a Master degree program in the EU!
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Avoid the Pitfalls of College Rankings

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
How useful are college rankings actually? What do they measure? Can you find great colleges in Europe without relying on rankings?
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The Myth of American Exceptionalism

Featuring Jennifer Viemont
We're going to be talking about the differences in the educational experience, meaning the academic side of things that students have in Europe versus in the US. So I'm always taken aback when people assume that universities in the US are the best globally.

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