We are living in extraordinary times and an era of accelerated technological progress that is reshaping our lives. There’s a lot of noise about technology, big data, artificial intelligence, robots, augmented reality, automation, digital this, digital that. As a consumer I am being digitally talked to, sold to and eyeball assaulted in so many new ways. I see infographics, animations, videos and pop up chatbots aplenty on my daily cyber meanderings. I am awash with offerings of free e-books every time I even think of subscribing to a website (how does it know?). All of this is an attempt to assimilate me or cajole me into giving up some form of myself whether that’s personal information, time or money. The world is moving at pace and we want bite sized easy to consume information, advice and ultimately a digital answer on an e-postcard. With this rapid progression there is also a need for our skills to shift accordingly within the workplace.

“In about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers”

In preparation for this rapidly changing workforce, I decided to teach myself some new skills as I refuse to be left behind. I thought I had managed to keep a steady pace with technology, I have never been a critic, but I can’t ever claim to be an early adopter either. My phone has all the social media apps. Instagram appeals to all my loves like photography, architecture, graffiti art and Vietnamese food. Facebook is reserved for brain farting to friends, sharing proud mum moments or parenting fails, photos of good times but most rewarding is the mild stalking I can undertake from my judgement sofa. Twitter is my dark place, where I linger and lurk, follow political, economic and social commentators, in and amongst some very, very, angry people. And whilst I mostly enjoy the brutal sarcasm, most of the conversations are infuriating, and I come away emotionally battered. Some traditional notions need to be challenged but for me picking up an actual book is a pleasure and I’m grateful for the uninterrupted reading, no need to prove I’m human and it’s not too expensive should I drop it in the bath.

“Automation will accelerate the shift in required workforce skills seen over the past 15 years. Research finds that the strongest growth in demand will be for technological skills, the smallest category today, which will rise by 55 percent and by 2030”

Work gives me an opportunity to be creative, so I decided to step up my tech game and unleash my digital imagination. I have seen the statistics on how video content is the ‘go to’ place for higher engagement so I thought I’d give it a go. If I don’t move with the times, I may languish in the Old World graveyard along with my address book (it only holds one useful address now), the Yellow Pages (I only ever saw that being shredded by Geoff Capes) and my mum’s collection of Encyclopaedia Britannica (beautiful rows upon rows of maroon book spines with gold lettering promising a world of wonder in alphabetical order).

This is my guide to the three key stages of creating video content in the hope that you may learn from the challenges and successes of my digital advancement.

This journey begins with an attempt to create a video bio for the About Us page of the company website instead of submitting a couple of tedious paragraphs. I have written personal blogs and have good form on the selfie game, but I have never ventured into the vlogging sphere or taken to sharing video ‘stories’. YouTube has predominantly been reserved for reminding me how to put up an enormous 8-man tent once a year or that drunken night I tried to teach myself to moonwalk.

We are all familiar with B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-customer) but now we have H2H (human-to-human) as they, the world of the wide web, have named it. This appeals to me massively. I am a people person and my career has been about engaging with people and continually trying to build and hone my interpersonal skills. I can do this. A video bio would be quick and easy, something new(ish) and I get to glory in a little fame. It’s just talking to a camera, right? It can’t be that hard to have a conversation with my phone, surely?


I wanted to create a captivating, personalised and straightforward video to show my personality and share some information that would endear my audience to me. Apparently, it’s about storytelling. To be a storyteller I need a decent story to tell and to craft an honest account that people care about. This is a challenge not least because I’m only doing a short video for the company website. My first few attempts at a powerful story was D U L L and a lacklustre roll call of previous employers. This was a sure way of putting everyone to sleep and a good reason for my network to block me immediately. Every single one of us has a unique story and mine is reserved for my memoirs (yes, I’ve been attempting to write one for over a decade now) but that’s a serious chunk of narrative.

Born in Saigon. Raised in Surrey. The story of a 5-year-old refugee of war finding happiness in the Home Counties – A Memoir by Giang Hughes

It’s a work in progress and seemingly not appropriate for our company website and definitely wasn’t going to fit into a less than two-minute clip. I thought I could do something close to what I see on Instagram’s IGTV or the vloggers on LinkedIn, so I changed my tactic and tried to go for a more personal touch. Except with almost every take I have a glass-eyed crazed look of desperation. My unnatural enthusiasm and pleading eyes look like someone has forced me to sign up to a dating website after years of lost love, disappointment and rejection. Time for some critical thinking and furiously scribbled notes.


My next challenge was having the right location and back drop. Whilst our offices would be the best setting with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lakes to the business park, I knew I would feel self-conscious and awkward. Also, my colleagues would witness my discomfort, take the almighty piss out of me and laugh hysterically into their lattes. Away from our main office, our meeting rooms are uninspiring windowless square boxes. Recording anything there would be like watching police interview footage.

I opt for a home setting to save the embarrassment of an audience and it’s a stage that’s easier to manipulate. I have been known to artistically rearrange my dinner and added an expertly casual piece of foliage next to my plate for the perfect Instagram picture. This was going to be a doddle right? The first few takes were in my living room and it’s only when I review the clips properly, I notice my shelves bulging with every box set of Stargate SG1, I have a massive crush on Richard Dean Anderson (affectionately referred to as RDA by his fans) ever since his McGyver days.

Moving to the dining room, my next few takes were better. But this time you can see my sideboard overflowing with bottles of booze including an unopened 8-year-old bottle of tequila from a holiday in Mexico. The holiday tour organisers took a photo of me and my husband outside the pyramids of Chichen Itza at the start of our tour. By the time we finished the tour and boarded our coach home, we were presented with a ridiculously expensive bottle of tequila, but it had our happy faces on it and a purchase I had to make. Clever sales people.

There wasn’t a single background setting in my house that said ‘I am a likable, witty and capable professional’ instead I would be judged on my choice of TV viewing, a childhood crush on McGyver or just labelled as a drunk. With no time to clean up and un-clutter my house I improvised, using mental elasticity and complex problem solving (apparently the bots can’t do that). Using a large white cardboard sheet from no2 son’s school project, precariously propped up against the kitchen radiator. I manage a half decent take as I’m squatting inelegantly just so my head is placed to the centre of the white background.

“Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others” BUT “The skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity”


Perhaps the hardest lesson of all was dealing with my insecurities. It’s very hard not to scrutinise yourself when recording with a front facing screen. Trying to concentrate on the words I needed to say without being distracted by my middle-aged face. It’s a face I look at every day and had come to terms with but suddenly I was forced to truly look at it, talk on camera and not judge every wrinkle and line that experience has etched on my face. The playback reveals my uncertainty with my eyes darting just left of screen as I try to squint at my scribbled notes.

My venture to a brave new world suddenly felt like a massive error of judgement. What on earth am I doing? But I am not a quitter. I keep going. Attempt after attempt after miserable attempt. When Susan Jeffers Ph.D penned Feel the Fear..and Do It Anyway I don’t think she could foresee doing it anyway would turn my fear into abject humiliation. I am currently reading Selfie: How the West Became Self-Obsessed by Will Storr who explores self-interest and the rise of narcissistic perfectionism. It seems self-obsession dates to the Roman empire so I cannot blame modern times, social media and advertising for my video-blogging shame.


I have a new respect for anyone that can address a camera so easily. It looks so easy and where Facebook and Instagram have been at the forefront of video content, there’s a real shift on professional and business sites. Technology is a critical gearwheel that keeps society turning. The smartphone and videos are knitted into our lives and our minutes. Business is fusing with society. Professional life and personal life merged to one whole. We have evolved and I feel like I have evolved too following this experience.

I understand that completing my 1 minute 28 second video isn’t for the advancement of man but the joy of my final version felt like my inner 1980’s child was turning science fiction into business fact. It was only my first attempt at bridging the ‘digital divide’ and evolving my capabilities. Maybe I should ask no1 son, a 13-year-old digital native, to help me out. Fast forward to the future and he’s very likely to be doing a job that we couldn’t even imagine now, although I like the idea of him being a Dimensionality Co-ordinator, Screen Time Fatigue Counsellor or Hoverboard Tinkerer. Let’s not be surprised, I work with scrum masters – what the hell was one of those if you’d asked me when I was a kid (or just a few years ago).

So finally, I shared my final work with my two directors and they really liked it but their immediate suggestion was to get a professional in to do it properly. It’s seems I need to work on my new skills…

Footnote: In 2018 McKinsey Global Institute produced a discussion paper on Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce which explored the rise and fall of demands for 25 core workplace skills required in five sectors, across US and five European countries. This is following their ongoing research on the impact of technology on the economy, business, and society. All of the quoted references I refer to are from this paper unless otherwise stated.:

Giang Hughes is a Generation X child and living a brave new digital world, is not a broadcaster or video blogger (yet) but does have some experience with talking to herself.