You Can Be Your Own Futurist

October 7, 2022

By HR West 2019 Keynote Speaker, Sally Thornton, Founder + CEO, Forshay
Originally posted on, February 2018.

Here’s the fantastic thing about being a futurist :  Who knows if you’re wrong until much later? As much as I enjoy researching and exploring the future of work, the reality is I am looking to the future to help me be clear about what is important to do now.

While no one can 100% predict what the future of work looks like, there are still things you can do, here and now, to prepare yourself. Cultivating the mindset and developing the habits of a lifelong learner is just one of them.

Yes, artificial intelligence and robots will take away jobs. The thing is, they will also create jobs. But what kinds of jobs will be created? And how do we now know what will be important to learn in the coming years?

According to visionaries at places like Institute For the Future, uncertainty is a key element in the VUCA world. Uncertainty isn’t a feeling most of us want to feel, but it isn’t all bad. What calms me about uncertainty is that it’s the fuel for each of us to really explore our curiosity as our “day job.” It means we all get to lift our heads up from our desks — so we aren’t surprised one day at just how much has changed when we were so focused and “heads down” (my least favorite phrase). And this doesn’t mean just keeping up with on-the-job training — after all, some jobs will disappear altogether. It means reading with an eye to what is shifting about work, global economies, and emerging technologies. It means reading a lot… daily insights plus deeper books that explore the patterns that are emerging. It means learning new skills and exploring potential pathways possibly outside of our regular work (like design thinking, lean start-up skills, and storytelling at WorkLab!). Most importantly, it means paying attention to shifting patterns and what they mean for your life and work.

What are you learning?  

Sally Thornton, Founder + CEO, Forshay will present her HR West 2019 Keynote, Future of Work: What Will Remain True & Important, on Tuesday 3/12, 9:00 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. in the West Hall (of Oakland Convention Center).  #HRWest19 #HR

Join Sally as she reveals new frameworks in considering how to not just adapt, but thrive in the future of work. She will draw on the science behind work (both neuroscience and social psychology) to tease out what will remain true and important to do our best work.

We will learn strategies and tactics for how to manage overwork to protect your creativity. We will experiment with one action for how you will navigate the fluid workforce, where projects will emerge as more prevalent than “jobs,” as well as experiment with one action item to keep your learning alive in 2019.

Together, we will take a look at:
— The science of creativity/clear thinking
— Redesigning work for fluid teams, diversity & inclusion
— Harnessing the multi-generational workforce
— Adapting continuously – explicit learning required


About Sally Thornton

An instigator on how to thrive in the future of work, Sally founded Forshay in 2011 to connect the Bay Area’s most innovative companies with exceptional talent through executive recruiting, project-based work, and improving the system of work through increased diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

Forshay was awarded #290 on the Inc. 5000 “Fastest-Growing Private Companies” list for 2015. Prior to founding Forshay, Sally co-founded and was CEO of Flexperience. Under her leadership, Flexperience grew into a nationally acclaimed firm, and was awarded “Top 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies” in 2010 by the San Francisco Business Times.

A recent speaker in two TEDx talks, Sally is a frequent keynote speaker on the future of work, women in leadership, the science of work/life blend, applying design thinking to make work better, harnessing the value of a multi-generational workforce, and talent recruitment and engagement strategies. Sally has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, BBC, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, Huffington Post, KQED radio, NBC11 News, ABC7 News, among numerous other media publications.

Sally co-founded WorkLab in 2015, a design thinking community of action committed to making work better, based on her work with Stanford’s “Redesigning and Redefining Work” project. She is committed to prototyping new workplace strategies and systems that align with the lives of today’s workforce so companies can better harness talent for mutual success. Sally lectures regularly at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business as well as UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She serves on the Advisory Council of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

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