Globe Smart Kids: Skills to Succeed in a Globalized World

When I was growing up, there were two different kinds of smart: “book smart” and “street smart.”  Kids who were book smart were smart in a more traditional sense.  They knew lots of things about many subjects and got A’s in school. (I admit I was one of those.)  Kids who were street smart knew how things worked in the real world and felt comfortable out there, out of the book smart comfort zone.

The world has changed a lot from the one I entered some 35+ years ago, and the smarts needed to keep up with it have as well.  TheOne Globe Kids, stories from around the world, Globe Smart for Future Work Skills 2020 Future Work Trends 2020 report identifies our “globally connected world” as one of six drivers of change that will reshape the future landscape.  Our children need to be ready.

To prepare them for success in this new landscape, we parents and educators have an important role to play.  From the youngest ages, we can encourage and stimulate skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  We can raise “Globe Smart” kids, giving everyone a better hope for the future.

In this post, I’ll discuss the what I call Globe Smart Skills.  Next up will be concrete ideas and tools we can use to foster these skills!

Skill 1: Cross-cultural Competency

In a globally-connected world, it’s not unreasonable to assume that if our children aren’t working internationally in the future, they will at least have colleagues from other countries and cultures.  Employers will be looking for people who are able and willing to communicate across cultures, who have global insights and a global perspective.   Diversity is increasingly recognized as the key driver of innovation.  More important that IQ, it is the combination of different ages, skills, disciplines and working and thinking styles that make a group truly innovative.  Employees who can operate successfully among diverse groups of people will be highly sought and valued.

Skill 2: Social and emotional intelligence

The importance of social and emotional intelligence is difficult to overstate.  It is the ability to assess and understand our own emotions as well as those of people around us and adapt our behavior accordingly.  From constructive participation in a classroom to collaborative teamwork in the office, these skills are key any time we need to build relationships of trust.  In fact, in a world of increasing automation and artificial intelligence, our emotional and social intelligence is a vital human asset that separates us from machines.

Skill 3: Novel and Adaptive Thinking

The ability to think out of the box in a variety of contexts will be a requirement among future employers.  Professor David Autor from MIT calls this skill “situational adaptability,” the ability to respond to unique, unexpected circumstances of the moment.  If we’re already amazed how much technology has changed how we work and prosper in 2013, imagine how fast things will be changing in another 15 years.  Situational adaptability will be a key skill.

Globe Smart

To succeed in our globally-connected world, and to help build a brighter future for everyone, children will need to have all three skills.  They need to be Globe Smart: to be able to apply social and emotional intelligence to think and interact creatively and adaptively in culturally diverse settings.  After all, the world is in their hands.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for raising Globe Smart Kids!  Email me directly:


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