NEW YORK—Bob Safian took the stage as the Summit’s closing keynote speaker. Host of the podcast “Masters of Scale: Rapid Response,” former editor in chief of Fast Company and founder of advisory group The Flux Group, Safian has dedicated his career to understanding our ever-changing world—and figuring out how businesses can thrive inside it.

Business expert Bob Safian closed out the Summit program with six important lessons for managing Generation Flux.

Safian explained, “Generation Flux is this term I use to describe two things. An era: the era we’re living in now a time of rapid, high velocity change that shows little signs of slowing down. It also refers to a group of people: to the kinds of people who are best positioned to thrive in an environment that’s changing this fast… It’s not defined by chronological age; you can be young or old and be Gen Flux.

“The key attribute is your mindset. It’s a willingness and ability to adapt to the changes going on around us. And what that means is that anybody can be part of generation flux, and we should all be trying to be.”

Over the course of his talk, Safian laid out six important lessons for managing Generation Flux, displayed through the conversations he’s had over the years with executives, leaders and politicians from around the world.

The first lesson Safian laid out: Chaos Will Rule. Illustrated by his conversation with DJ Patil, who is behind groundbreaking research on chaos theory at the University of Maryland, Safian explained, “the key insight in chaos theory is recognizing when things are chaotic and when they’re not, and acting accordingly.”

In Generation Flux, things are constantly changing—and changing quickly. Safian said, “Chaos can seem scary, but it also opens up a lot of opportunity if we’re willing to see it as opportunity. Jeff Bezos uses this phrase at Amazon called ‘day one’… Every day is day one, we want to start fresh.”

Secondly, Safian explained, Speed Matters—especially in an environment of chaos. He displayed this through conversations with Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, and Mary Barra, CEO of GM, as well as others. In discussing Verizon’s pivot to remote work during the early days of the pandemic and GM’s life-saving move to begin making ventilators when they were in short supply, Safian underscored the importance of working quickly in times of flux: “We can all move faster than we think we can if we make it a priority.”

Safian’s third lesson is: Create Your Own Trajectory. Through a conversation with Ellen Kullman, CEO of manufacturing company Carbon, Safian explained, “Don’t play the hand you’ve been dealt, play the hand you want. This is what creating your own trajectory is about. You’re doing this with speed in order to succeed and thrive and scale in an environment of chaotic change.”

He also cited Chewy’s CEO Sumit Singh, who created a new trajectory for the pet supplies company when he led the company’s creation of telehealth visits for pets.

Fourth, Safian underscored how important it is for company leaders to Listen and Learn. He again cited Verizon’s Hans Vestberg, who implemented a daily one-hour open meeting with all Verizon employees during the height of the pandemic. In these meetings, he could communicate clearly with his team in times of crisis, as well as allow them to ask frank and face to face questions.

About times of crisis, Safian said, “Let’s look at it. Let’s be honest about it. Let’s address it. And let’s release all of us to be the best versions of ourselves. And that’s what we need to be doing: listening and learning from each other.”

Fifth, Safian discussed the importance of Accepting Moments of Chaos with the right attitude. With Terri Kelly, former CEO of W.L. Gore & Associates, Safian explained that chaos and confusion can help us create better products and workplaces if we lean in. He said, “We’re going to be in over our heads a lot. And that’s good, that’s what we need. That’s what helps us to grow.”

For his sixth and final lesson, Safian explained: Stand for Something. Leaders need to ask themselves why their business exists, and remember to let that roadmap guide them forward. He said, “I sometimes ask business leaders: why does your business exist? Why is it there? And we often forget, because we’re so focused on hitting some numbers or making some metrics or whatever, that we forget why we’re in business.

“The industry that you guys are in, you have a very clear purpose and mission. You are trying to help people live better lives. You are directly impacting their health… and this, this creates a roadmap for you through the difficult choices that come when there’s chaotic change going on…. If you have clarity on your purpose and your principals… it creates a roadmap for how to act and whether to act when things are changing in a chaotic way.”

In closing, Safian reminded Summit attendees, “In a world of chaos that we’re in, we have to accept that there’s instability and ambiguity, and it’s not going to go away. No matter how much data we have, nothing’s going to give us the direct answer. But if we have a vision of the future that we want to create, and we’re moving forward creatively, that can allow us to build a future that we’re proud of. That’s what generation flux is about.”