613: The Future of Work, with Sean McCabe


Really interesting episode. Got a lot of interesting ideas from this one and Sean was an excellent guest.


Does somebody recall the Google docs shortcut he mentioned in the beginning?

My favorite episode of MPU so far. So many great ideas from Sean!

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option+/ searches the help menu

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I really enjoyed this episode a lot!

Sean’s bit about Loom was cool. I LOVE Loom. There’s another app that I think is also really helpful called Volley. It’s video messaging like Marco Polo, but it also has a lot of the professional features that apps like Slack have. The other thing you can do is share your screen, which I’ve found really helpful when I need to send a quick explanation to people about something, or provide training of some kind.

I hope to hear Sean on the podcast again soon!

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I’m 47 minutes in (which isn’t even halfway!), and it’s another of those episodes that makes me wonder, “Am I really a Mac Power User?”

I’m lucky if I can remember a third of the BetterTouchTool gestures shared at the beginning of the episode. Seriously, how do y’all do all this? I like to think of myself as kinda smart (which is probably part of my problem), but I am way behind in the dust on this stuff.


I enjoyed that episode so much my brain hurt afterwards. Already checking out Sean’s other websites. Hope to ‘see’ him back on soon.

I had to jump in here to concur that this is an instant classic MPU episode. My memory tells me this is the kind of episode I used to get every week – but that’s probably just because I was still learning stuff that I have since absorbed.

But it’s been a very long time since an episode contained SO MANY NEW IDEAS that are worth exploring. (And not coincidentally, the first episode I have re-listened to in a few years.)


As far as I’m concerned anyone who can find this site, get signed in, and knows enough to describe a problem well enough for someone to offer help is a MPU.

You wouldn’t believe how many university graduates have called me because they failed to turn on their monitor.


Having a great memory is unrelated to being smart, though the dependence of many systems on recall-based examinations trains us to think otherwise.
(Of course, having a great memory and being smart is a great combo)
Being a power user is about trying to use your machine beyond the basics, being a ‘Mac Power User’ is, well, now I see that @WayneG put it beautifully.

On a separate note, I listened to the episode half-asleep, and reading these comments I’m going to have to go back and listen again properly like usual!


Interested if anyone has the Google docs keyboard maestro trick sorted that my was mentioned here? That could be useful!

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“Having a great memory is unrelated to being smart, though the dependence of many systems on recall-based examinations trains us to think otherwise.”

Now that is a great observation. Thank you GraemeS.


You are ignoring the benefits of muscle memory which has nothing to do with being smart or a power user.

Let me provide an analogy. There are several piano pieces that I have some command of in my memory. This doesn’t make me smart. But there are many more that I can’t remember much about in my head but can sit down and play several pages without music (this is both good and bad). But this clearly doesn’t make me smart.

Anything that you do over and over is learned by something other than (or in addition to) you brain.

Holy infodump, Batman!

Also, I am running a low fever, and the ZocDoc ad almost made me call an ambulance…

@ismh High five, never-seen-Hamilton pal! One day…

Nice episode. I also use the trick where you shove the video call into a tiny window near the webcam. On my external display, the webcam is perched on the left, which is even more convenient.

Somewhere in there, near the Stream Deck question, Sean mentioned the trick to maintaining all this, which is to build up these tricks over years of daily use so you don’t need to see all your short cuts visually at all times. He’s right, but it’s hard to accept!

Great Episode! This episode in particular is pretty beefy. I have marked this one as unread in my favorite Podcatcher app and will have to listen again. I think I need to listen to it by my computer pulling up all the links in the show notes, instead of doing chores, exercising, or driving like I do when I listen to other podcasts.

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That was a particularly thoughtful and fun episode. However, there was a problem when the discussion shifted from automation on a personal level to automation on a social level.

Sean believes that increases in productivity (generated by automation, etc) should lead to an increase in free time for workers. If automation enables people to work less, then people should work less! That makes sense.

However, on a social level, there have been massive increases in productivity over the last century (thanks to laborsaving technologies like automation) but these have never led to a reduction in work time for workers. On the contrary, when workers become less important, corporations fire them and cut wages (as competition for jobs becomes more fierce).

For example, when Whole Foods replaces a cashier with an automated checkout system, that cashier doesn’t go on vacation or keep collecting a paycheck. He or she loses his or her job.

It would be great if increases in productivity enabled people to work less, but automation does not occur in a vacuum.

We live in a society that is divided between the rich and the poor and, as a whole, rich people have used the benefits of automation and productivity gains for their purposes.

Context is everything…


Before I changed careers I worked 10 years in Human Resources and hired around two thousand people.

Yes. During the 80’s we had to begin automating some systems to remain competitive. Those people were not numbers to me when we were planning our downsizing. Fortunately we were able to do it mainly through attrition.

Context is everything… For example, what can you do when people will pay $thousands for a smart phone then complain about paying $4.99 for an app? You learn to work more efficiently, do more with less, switch to a subscription model. A company that doesn’t survive doesn’t need any employees.

(emphasis mine)

Sean detailed a time when doing this led to a reduction in work time for workers, i.e. his model of the sabbatical. I think it’s ok to have these ideas, especially if one can show it can be achieved in some scenarios, and evangelise the benefits.