Skip to main content

Bernard Salt joins Human Cogs to unpack where we’ve been, where we’re going and how we’ll work in the bold new Australia.

By March 27, 2021October 22nd, 2021No Comments



Bernard Salt spends a lot of time staring at Australians. Not scary stalking.

But academically analysing ordinary people like you and I, who make up modern societal populations, demographics and sociographics.

It’s what makes him tick.

What he’s looking for are demographic patterns, social trends and shifts, the hidden stories in statistics plus those critical human small data points that enable him to predict the future of Australia.

But while his whole world revolves around people, he absolutely hates parties. (Find out why here).

Having said that, Bernard is actually pretty out and about.

A national newspaper columnist and commentator, business advisor and author of six best-selling books, he’s won an Order of Australia, has a top-rated podcast series called What Happens Next and spends his time surrounded by crowds of people as one of the most in-demand speakers on the Australian corporate speaking circuit.

But what he’s probably best known for is famously globally popularising acronyms and pithy national lexicon such as ‘Smashed Avocado’ (which sums up an entire generation of Millennials and their spending habits) and ‘VESPA’’s (Virus Escapees Seeking Provincial Australia) – societal pattern changes which are currently radically reshaping Australia’s culture, economy, workforce and society.

So it would be fair to say, given all of that, that Bernard has his finger squarely on the pulse of Australia – past, present and future. And right now, Bernard thinks we’re all living through a Ctrl+Alt+Delete moment. Why?

Because in a post pandemic world, Bernard thinks it will not be just a matter of rebooting Australia to kickstart the calcified status quo of what came before, but of completely reimagining and reengineering a much better version of Australia by boldly redesigning how, why and where we work, what we teach and what we learn, where we’ve been – and just where we’re headed next.

Given our mission at Future Amp is to tackle where we’re headed next by equipping today’s students with skills and knowledge for the workforce and industries of tomorrow, it was great to sit down recently on the Human Cogs podcast and chew the fat with Bernard about the dispersed patterns and cadence of the workforce of the future; how the work-from-home movement is transforming the narrative of urban life delivering the 20-minute city; and how we can best equip the next Gen with the human and transferable skills they need to successfully gain employability in the new world of work.

In our conversation, Sabina Read and I also turn the mirror back on Bernard to travel back to where his life began, as a working class kid in a Housing Commission home in Terang in country Victoria, and how the gateway of formal education and his Masters supervisor eventually freed him from the patterns of his own Australian town, and what his future could hold.

It is perhaps this remarkable journey from then to now that has shaped Bernard’s refreshingly optimistic faith in the future of Australia, despite the shackles of our dark colonial past and the current complex economic, geopolitical and social challenges presented by the ongoing effects of the COVID pandemic.

While Bernard acknowledges that the rise of Asia, adaptation to and adoption of technology, workforce skills gap, accelerating climate change, and declining trust in institutions and governments have bubbled to the top of the COVID world soup, he also believes the pandemic has catalysed a return to core values and that, ultimately, prosperity lies ahead for us. That is, if only we can assure our commitment to a re-energised and reimagined Australia, and can shore up our geopolitical security in a dangerously destabilised region – and world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Bernard’s big ideas in our Human Cogs conversation, and how we can collectively wake up to where we’re at and where we’re going, to rethink the future of innovation and education in Australia – for ourselves and for future generations.

Human Cogs is a weekly podcast going deep with extraordinary humans across the planet. Stories to shake your status quo. Conversations we need to have.
#smalltalkfree LISTEN HERE.