What goes on in the life of a futurist? Lots of stages and lots of fascinating events, with talks focused on linking future trends to opportunities for innovation! Here’s a wrap-up of some of the events from April to June of this year.
Gore Mutual, Toronto
This was certainly a highlight – I shared the stage with Astronaut Chris Hadfield (best known for his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Odyssey from the International Space Station, with 36 million+ Youtube views) and Environmentalist David Suzuki.
The event was arranged for insurance brokers and distributors, encouraging them to align themselves to the future trends that are reshaping their industry. My role was to speak to issues of disruption and change in the insurance industry, a topic I’ve covered for many major insurance conferences and companies worldwide.
I used a brand new slide deck at this event — it’s two weeks old! — and I must say: it rocks. The material flows at a fascinating pace, the audience reaction was tremendous, and it does a great job of conveying our world of fast change. I’m adopting this deck for all keynotes going forward — and I will have some video from this presentation soon.
Genentech, San Francisco
This event was for 550 executives from this pharma-tech company — it’s owned by French pharmaceutical giant Roche. It’s also one of the global leaders in the business of pharmacogenetics : that is, the development of highly targeted drug therapies based on particular genetic profiles.
My keynote took a look at the future of healthcare and the big transformative opportunities that exist in a world of accelerated science. The topic strikes close to home for me : I’ve had my own genetic profile done (the news is all good!)
Godiva Chocolates, Ghent, Belgium
This was a repeat engagement — the company, along with its parent Ulker from Turkey, had me headline a global leadership meeting in London, UK in January. The Godiva team found the message to be powerful, and so they invited me back for a deeper dive into global retail trends. My keynote took a look at consumer behaviour, fast new retail store technology, the impact of Amazon, the role of the mobile device in collapsing attention spans, the new product influencers and so much more….
In this case, the small meeting room (with 50 executives from 18 countries, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Germany and more…) didn’t offer a great photo, but the view outside of my hotel room sure did! I love doing events in Europe! Invite me in!
The world of retail is changing at a furious pace – witness the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon — and I’m doing quite a few talks on trends in this area, including for a major retail conference in Las Vegas this fall.
4C Summit, Tucson, Arizona
I love it when I get repeat gigs! Back in 2010, I was invited into this annual event, to speak to 250 cattle ranchers on future trends with ranching, food, consumer behaviour and more. I had several billions of dollars worth of cattle in the room and reported on it at length in a few blog posts.
They invited me back again this year for a keynote that took a look at the new world of consumer influence, issue messaging and more. In the era of fake news and rapid myth-information, cattle ranchers need to do a better job in telling their story to the world, and that was the entire focus of the event this year.
In my opening keynote, I put these trends into perspective. And, to be honest, I was blunt with them that if they recognize that some misinformation exists, they should their emotions to drive their passion for purpose.
Hence, a rather undiplomatic slide. But it did get a lot of retweets!
Drive 17, CUDirect, Las Vegas
This event took a look at the future of automotive lending with a particular emphasis on the credit union sector, which is the line of business that CUDirect is focused on.
I had a bit of fun at the sound check the day before, with Vegas being Vegas after all – you’re always guaranteed a great stage! Here’s an infinite me!
Of course, the next morning I was on duty, outlining the many ways in which the era of self-driving cars, intelligent highways, the sharing economy and many more trends would come to challenge the very idea of automative lending in the future. The auto industry is accelerating fast — and I’m doing numerous talks for industries and companies affected by this trend.
Nasscom C-Summit, New York
Now this was cool! I was invited in by Nasscom, which represents the global software and business process outsourcing industry for India. Essentially the national trade association for one of the largest software and services industries in the world.
My closing keynote, “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption”, provided context on how quickly our world is changing. This was the debut of my new slide deck (mentioned above), and walking on stage, I realized it more than rocked!
This was a great audience: I had global CIO’s from Johnson and Johnson, Schneider Electric, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Phillips Health, NBC Universal, Estee Lauder, GE and Anheuser Busch Inbev, and over 200 more.
As an aside, these folks know that, despite a world of fantasy in Washington, access to global skills is a key factor for future success.
Highmark Health, Pittsburgh
This is one of the leading players in the healthcare insurance and group benefits market in Ohio, and they invited me in for a talk on the future of healthcare. In attendance were senior executives, HR and benefits managers for major employers throughout the region.
While political volatile rages, the science and technology of healthcare isn’t slow down, and I put some context on the transformative trends that can redefine our approach to some of the more complex issues of our time. Highmark is part of the Blue Cross group, and I’ve keynoted at least 15 other Blue Cross events over the last 15 years.
I didn’t have a picture of the stage, but did get this great photo during my morning walk in the City of Bridges. That’s their HQ in the background!
Western Manufacturing Technology Show, Edmonton, Alberta
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has had me keynote some major events in the past — 2,000 manufacturing executives in Las Vegas at the IMX show , and 1,500 more at the BigM conference in Detroit. Each of these also involved a small, intimate dinner presentation for CEO’s and others the evening before.
Based on that track record, SME has booked me to headline 3 major Canadian manufacturing events; this was the first in the series. Like every other industry, manufacturing is being reimagined and reinvented at a furious pace.
My keynote took a look at fast trends involving 3D printing, the factory of the future (“Industry 4.0”), rapid digitization, the role of the Internet of Things in the factory, rapid prototyping and so much more. In the fall, I will headline the biggest Canadian manufacturing event in Toronto.
My talks don’t just involve events on massive stages in Las Vegas : I also do an ever increasing number of small, hands on working sessions with small groups of executives.
In that context, I was approach by this major energy company to come in and spend a morning with their nuclear division, with a particular focus on the “future of energy.”
Given the audience background, I literally had a room with a whole bunch of nuclear engineers! A good example of the unique type of topics that I take on through my process of detailed customization.
Habitat For Humanity Annual Conference, Kelowna, British Columbia
Sometimes, you get a keynote that goes beyond the issues of disruption, business model change and other issues. In this case, the role for passion, purpose and caring in society.
My keynote for the annual conference of the Canadian component of this global initiative took a look at future trends impacting philanthropy and charitable organizations; the changing nature of the home and shelter; smart cities and more.
I launched a phrase in the room – given the current ugly political environment in the US, my belief that it is time that people “double down on dignity.” There seem to be so many in society who are driven by an agenda of hate, fear, distrust of immigrants and the poor, and in that context, its important that we examine our social and human values. And hence, double down on our philanthropic efforts.
The phrase and the context in which it was said certainly caught some attention!
Allegacy Credit Union, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The CEO saw me speak last year at an event in Chicago on the trends impacting and disrupting the financial services sector, and so she decided to invite me in for a working session with their regular Board of Directors meeting.
It sort of expanded from there, and I ended up speaking to a room of about 50, consisting of the Board, key leadership executives and a few community leaders.
I don’t have a stage shot, since it was held in the main meeting room at the Wake Forest University football stadium — but did get this shot before I began.
It’s been a busy time for me with talks in the credit union industry — just two days ago, I spent 3 hours with the Board of a major Canadian credit union on similar issues of disruption.
Ontario Municipal Systems Association, Windsor, Ontario
This event had several hundred CIO’s and IT executives for cities and towns from across the province. My keynote examined the future of smart cities, intelligent infrastructure, the role of the Internet of Things in a municipal setting and more.
The keynote certainly caught some attention, with an article appearing in a national trade publication – municipalities should not be left behind in an era of acceleration!
There is a very important theme here: an increasing number of economic development decisions are being made based upon the ‘smart infrastructure’ of a region. This will be a focus of a keynote I do in the fall for the Nevada Economic Development Association.
Sir Adam Beck Public School, Toronto
Last but not least, this quarter featured the conclusion of my time capsule project with a Grade 5 class. I blogged about the project earlier — essentially, I golf with a Grade 5 teacher, Ian Bates, and suggested to him one day that his class should do a project!
So they did! They did all the work — and we sealed the capsule on June 13, only to be opened on the same day in 2045!
Why 2045? I’m not quite sure how this came about — but I do know that I’ll be 86 years old when it is opened, so I’ve got to stay focused on my future!
There were several other keynotes in this quarter, and I’ll blog about those too. I’m winding down for the summer, with only 4 events scheduled (by choice!). And this fall is already busy, including an event in Tokyo where I headline Nikon’s 100th anniversary celebration.