Finding a Voice in the Future of Work

UPDATED: December 8, 2022
PUBLISHED: December 6, 2022
cecilia meis on what empowerment is

I remember it vividly, my first pitch meeting at The Columbia Missourian, the student-run newspaper at the University of Missouri. Beats were assigned based on skill set—something typically determined by a reporter’s existing portfolio. For me, an introverted homeschooled kid without high school paper experience, it meant whatever was left: the health and safety beat. To dig up stories, you relied on a few things: Walking six blocks to check the daily police blotter, talking up strangers to learn about safety issues on campus, or researching national stories and analyzing how they might impact the local community. Let’s just say I didn’t spend a lot of time striking up conversations with strangers or chatting up the police desk.

In the cold twice-daily budget meeting room, our no-nonsense beat editor called on each reporter to boldly lay out their soul—er, story idea—for review. I spent hours crafting angles and imagining how the pieces would come together. But as I waited my turn, reporter notebook clenched between clammy hands, I instead stammered through a few half-cocked ideas about underage drinking and code-violating fire alarms at the VA hospital. Both were quickly shut down with a “why should I care?” After hours of reliving what felt like the greatest humiliation of my life, I came up with the only reasonable solution: Drop out of journalism school and move to a different country.

But I went back, week after week. Then again when I joined the student-run magazine, Vox. Then again when I landed a gig with this very magazine in 2015 as an assistant editor. I’m glad I didn’t quit, but the fear and discomfort of that room never dissipated. And then the world of remote work came along, first as a benefit, then as a safety measure and now as a wholly accepted way to run a business—yes, even one that produces a print magazine. The future of work is a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, it’s inclusion. It’s safety. It’s location independence. It’s being able to focus on what I’m good at without channeling energy into insecurities that are often amplified in face-to-face situations. It’s picking up the phone and calling my new boss to tell her that she’s underutilizing me—something that put my name on her radar for the position I now hold.

Welcome to the first issue of the new year, aptly featuring all the ways the future of work impacts us and how we can take ownership of our futures in ways we may have never thought possible. You’ll read about one of the most inspiring people I’ve met—Naveen Jain, founder and CEO of Viome Life Sciences—and why he thinks that people outside of the health care industry are the best ones to disrupt it. You’ll see how Amanda Archer is paving the way for women in Web3. You’ll learn how one writer grapples with the question of whether AI can be the key to productivity. And you’ll be equipped with the tools to negotiate benefits in this new landscape. Hint: it goes way beyond salary and PTO.

Sure, I’ve read all about the loneliness, botched work-life balance and kitschy virtual team-building that makes us wonder whether remote work is helping or hurting. Maybe it is. But it’s also a blessing to those who feel more comfortable finding their voice in written words and behind screens and through speakers. There’s space for everyone in the future of work, and that feels like anything but harmful.

Thoughts on the new issue or anything you see inside it? Reach me by contacting [email protected].

Correction: In the November/December 2022 issue, Sophia Bush and Nia Batts were incorrectly listed as investors of First Women’s Bank. They are advisers. We regret the error.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine.