Historically, a tall, good-looking extrovert has had a better chance of success in their career than a short, stocky introvert. But post Covid-19, that’s all going to change.
In a world where more interactions are via video, rather than in-person, past successful character traits will be less impactful. The paradigm will shift. Your internet connection speed and camera quality will matter more than your physical attributes.
Here are some historical success-contributing traits that won’t matter nearly as much post-COVID as they did before:
1. Height won’t matter so much.
In today’s world, being tall is a competitive advantage. It’s well-known that tall people make more money than their shorter counterparts. An additional inch of height is worth about $1,000 annually. Many studies have shown that tall people have an advantage in the dating world, too, and U.S. Presidents tend to be much taller than average.
Take Tony Robbins, for example. He is 6′ 7″. There’s no question that his tall stature has contributed to his mega-success as a motivational speaker and life coach. He towers over his guests at his conferences, and his deep, booming voice commands respect and admiration.
But in a world dominated by video calls and digital conferences, your height will matter much less than it has in the past. No one can tell how tall you are on a video call. Everyone is sitting down and generally at the eye-level of their computer’s camera. Height will no longer translate.
This change matters, especially when it comes to job interviews. Your average company’s interview process is not perfect—height and physicality matter in an in-person interview just as much a candidate’s experience and qualifications. But height won’t translate as well during a video call. The competitive advantage of being tall will disappear.
Imagine seeing Tony Robbins for the first time via video. His physical stature would not be nearly as impressive as it is in person.
In the future, tall people will have less of an advantage than they did in the past. One of the big winners will be women (since women, on average, are shorter than men).
2. Being good looking will matter much less.
As with being tall, good looking people seem to have an advantage in life. Research shows that they are more confident (which leads to higher wages), more likely to get voted into public office, and get called back for a second job interview more often than their less attractive counterparts.
But with the transition to video calls, camera filters will guarantee you always look your best. Forget bad hair days and skin blemishes – you’ll look like your profile picture day in and day out (or at least 90% of your best). Everyone will look better, which will diminish the impact of someone’s natural good looks.
“Beautifying” camera filters already exist on social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat. Using the Zoom “Touch up my appearance” feature makes a big difference to one’s looks. It’s just a matter of time before these filters enter the professional world. And once they do, everyone will use one. In the meantime, people that know how to apply make-up for the camera (which is very different than for in-person interactions) will have an advantage.
In the future, good looks won’t matter as much. It will be your camera filter, camera quality, and internet speed that will beat out your physical traits.
3. The sound of your voice won’t matter as much.
Tony Robbins’ height isn’t his only advantage – he’s got a deep, unique reverberating voice that commands your attention. A “radio voice.”
Now imagine a world where you can transform your voice with a voice modulator software in any way you like. You could make your voice deeper, or smoother, or stronger. Or give it a perfect radio quality on every call.
In a post-COVID world, you’ll have this option. All it takes is one viral video showcasing such software to get other employees on-board (look at Zoom backgrounds and how they spread). And once one person on the video call has a perfect radio voice, the rest of the participants will soon follow.
This will be an advantage to older people that have less range in their vocal cords.
Your real voice quality will matter much less in a world where you can control it with a slide of your finger.
4. Being an extrovert will decline in importance.
Everyone knows the extroverted, relationship-oriented sales rep. They are the life of the party – gregarious, outgoing, and always ready to talk your ear off.
And generally, this extroversion has been a massive asset. This kind of sales rep has been able to close the deal through sheer “likability.”
But soon, being extroverted will be much less valued. Relationships will be built over video calls and through email.
The pendulum will swing over in favor of the introverts. They’re not the life of the party. When the cocktail hour comes, they actually go to their hotel room and shoot off 50 emails. In a world of virtual conferences, introverts are no longer at a disadvantage.
This introvert is the kind of person who will thrive (and who you want on your team) when most interactions are digital. The quiet, calculated worker could add more value than the extroverted one in the post-COVID world. Of course, you need both on your team, but extroverts will not be nearly as valued as they once were.
These four character traits – height, looks, voice quality, and extroversion – will matter far less in a post-COVID world than in the past.
But, some key personality traits will always be important. Those are the traits that make up a 10xer. These are people who:
- Spot opportunities.
- Have a bias for action
- Choose positivity over negativity.
- Make your team better
- Do everything they say they are going to do.
- Have great judgment (even more critical in a work-from-home world and very hard to interview for).
If you have these traits, it doesn’t matter where or how you work – any company will be happy to have you AND fight to keep you. (And if you happen to be a 10xer, I’d love to meet you — please reach out).
Special thanks to Thomas Waschenfelder for his help and edits.
While some image filters are available (notably on Zoom), the audio enhancements don’t seem to be out. Since my voice got worse after my operation years ago, I’m maybe more aware of it. My experience in online conferences is that better voices and diction are really advantageous. I also notice that some camera setups and framing efforts are much superior.
Much of this assumes that a “post-COVID world” is one of Zoom calls and remote working. I think that’s a very flawed assumption — you’re describing a COVID world, not a *post*-COVID world. And yes, we’re in a COVID world now, but pandemics end; the Pentagon, eerily enough, war-gamed a coronavirus pandemic last year, and the pandemic in that wargame ended about two years after it started. I think it’s exceedingly unlikely that this world of working from home will endure after the pandemic. We see loads of evidence that students don’t absorb as much when learning remotely; that is surely true of people working at companies, too. We see loads of evidence that companies are adapting to remote work, muddling though; that’s not the same as thriving.