Unique Topics, Global Events, Deep Insight, Disruptive Thinking : This is What a Futurist Does!


I’m touring over in Portugal after an opening keynote last week for an event in Morocco for the International Finance Corporation / World Bank.

And while visiting a Moorish castle yesterday outside of Sintra, I got into a conversation with a fellow from New Zealand. As often happens, we shared information on our ‘jobs’, and I ended up trying to explain what a ‘futurist’ does.

That inspired me to roll forward this post, which features a number of the high profile events I’ve undertaken through the years.

First, let’s put into perspective my role – for close to 25 years, I’ve been on stage, speaking to the disruptive, transformative trends of our time.  Watch his ‘highlight reel’ to get a sense of what I can bring to your event!

Some of the more high profile events are covered below. This is but a sample of my work! Topics covered include keynotes on the future of self driving cars & trucks, agriculture & farming, banking and financial servics, food & retail, architecture and construction, and smart homes and the Internet of Things.

First off, can you tell you that I love my job? Here’s a picture from when when I was on stage for an event in London, England, for Godiva Chocolates worldwide leadership team.  Never mind that with jet lag, it was the equivalent of 3:30AM in the morning!

I’m on, I’m wired, I’m inspired – that’s what I do!


World Government Summit, Dubai, UAE
The Future and Economic Opportunity

I was invited to speak at this massive global conference, with 3,400 attendees from 60+ countries worldwide. It’s sponsored and opened by the Prime Minster of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and tasked with the issue of examining the future role of government in solving some of the challenges of our time.

It was an absolutely fascinating event; I shared the agenda with other speakers such as Goldie Hawn, Robert deNiro and Forest Whittaker, the head of the International Monetary Fund, the Prime Ministers of France and India, and more!

My session description? “Futurist Jim Carroll takes a look at the key trends which will impact our future in an era that has change happening faster than ever before. Even today, we have a new vocabulary that didn’t exist just a few years ago: self-driving cars, 3d printing, crowdfunding, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarmbots, smart dust, vertical farms, Internet of Things, cognitive computing, smart factories, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, quantum computing, intelligent farms, smart clothing! What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates.”

International Finance Corporation / World Bank, Marrakech, Morocco
The Future of Manufacturing in Emerging Market Economies

I was the opening keynote speaker at the 2nd Global Manufacturing Conference for the International Finance Corporation, a part of of the World Bank Group, held in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The conference saw the attendance of government ministers, business executives, development experts and other officials, with al focus on the economic development opportunities that can come from the acceleration of manufacturing opportunities throughout emerging economies around the world.

The booking came after extensive discussions with senior executives at the International Finance Corporation / World Bank on my views on the future of manufacturing, previous keynotes around the world in the manufacturing sector, and of critical importance, my views on the accelerating opportunities of emerging economies including the region of Africa.

PGA of America, Boston – Annual General Meeting
Growing Golf Through Innovation and Disruptive Thinking

What do you do when you are the world’s largest working sports organization – representing the hard working teaching pros you find at the local golf course – and you want to focus on the trends that might help to define future growth of the game?

You reach out to the worlds’ highest ranked uturist to give you insight into those trends, and how to align yourself to them with an innovative and creative mindset. Jim Remy, the President of the PGA, found me, and invited me in to address their annual general meeting. As a golfer, this was a huge career highlight – learn more about what I covered, and the specific golf oriented leadership keynote I offer at jimcarroll.golf

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – JANUARY 27: Jim Carroll speaks at the PGA Forum Stage during the PGA Merchandise Show held at Orange County Convention Center on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America).

Pfizer, Paris, France
The Acceleration of Healthcare

The rapid evolution of genomic science, the acceleration of gene therapy, the virtualization of healthcare with medical device connectivity, the changing nature of the relationship between patients and doctors, an explosion in medical knowledge – the world of healthcare is in the midst of more change than it has seen in the last 100 years.

This pharmaceutical giant brought together a global team to examine issues and opportunities in the world of healthcare, and needed an inspiring keynote to take them on a tour of the sweeping trends that could define their future.

Deltec Bank, Nassau, Bahamas
Disruption, Opportunity and the Next Billion Dollar Markets

This is a private wealth management firm with a global group of high-end wealth management clients around the globe.

They invited me in for a closing keynote on “Our Disruptive Future” – and I took a look at the trends which are providing for massive economic growth, the rapid emergence of new industries and the ongoing disruption of existing ones.

If you are going to invest a few billion dollars in the future, you want some pretty good insight into what to do with the money!

Nikon 100th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo, Japan
The Era of Accelerating Change

This was certainly a treat – they invited me in to headline a dinner with my observations on the future!

My audience consisted of people from 37 countries, with simultaneous translation into Japanese and Chinese.

You don’t get to be a company with a 100 year history without constant, relentless innovation and reinvention, and so it was an honour to be invited in to headline this prestigious event.

IRU World Congress, Muscat, Oman
The Acceleration of Trends and Transportation into 2025

What’s the future of highways and infrastructure in the era of electric self-driving vehicles?

It’s hard not to underestimate the seismic change that is underway : one day we will look back and observe that while we once had cars that were based on carbon sources such as gasoline, and which were driven by humans, they are now electric, with batteries, and drive themselves. What’s the future f the highway and road in this conexdt?

How do we make them intelligent, aware, hyperconnected, and part of the overall transformation of transportation that is underway? These were a few of the themes I gave as I opened this conference in the Middle East, with over 3,000 representatives from throughout the global transportation industry.

Blackrock, San Francisco
The Future and the Next Economy

What industries will rule the growth market 10 years out? Which ones are in decline? How does the speed of Silicon Valley innovation redefine entire industries? Who can keep up – and who is suffering from a slow pace of innovation?

I was invited in to talk tis senior clients of one of the world’s largest institutional equity managers to outline my views on what comes next in the global economy – and where the big bold bets within industries will pay off.


NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Houston, Texas
Transformational Leadership and the Reinvention of the Space Industry

I was invited to share his thoughts on the future, and opportunities for innovation, e with their top scientists and management, including astronauts, mission directors, folks who manage the Hubble Telescope, deep space probes, near earth satellite missions ….

The business of space is changing at a furious pace, and NASA invited me in to challenge these deep-thinkers as to how to innovate, change and adapt with a fast paced world.

What do you do when you are the worlds leading space organization, and things are in a bit of a funk? Funding cutbacks, the cancellation of missions and programs?

You engage the world’s leading futurist to come in for a talk on the issue of ‘transformational leadership’ and what great leaders do to redefine their future in an era of significant transition!

Mercedes Benz, Detroit, Michigan
Disruption: Self-Driving Cars and the Sharing Economy

Obviously, this is a HOT topic, and being invited in by one of the pre-eminent automative companies in the world to share my thoughts on these trends is certainly a career highlight!

Our times are characterized by an increased number of organizations looking for in depth insight to the massive disruption occurring in the industry – I spoke at automotive, trucking, hi-tech, finance and insurance conferences about the impact of self-driving, autonomous vehicles.

Walt Disney Corporation, Hollywood, CA
Innovation in the World of Upside Down Trends

Considered as one of the most innovative organizations in the world, Disney invited me to address a senior leadership meeting, specifically for my insight on consumer trends, and the new innovation methodologies underway in the world of entertainment, retail and consumer goods.

Management of this master storyteller made this comment after Jim’s talk: “ Jim’s storytelling approach really helps to get his points across!”

Baker McKenzie client conferences, Dallas and Chicago
The Acceleration of Risk in the Era of Disruption

It’s pretty cool when the top-ranked global legal firm — operating in 38 countries with 13,000+ legal staff — picks you to come in and speak to their most important clients about the future — and the unique legal issues that the future brings.

That’s what Baker McKenzie did! The audience was pretty spectacular – key corporate legal counsel for a vast number of global Fortune 500 companies, individuals responsible for managing the accelerating complex legal issues of our time. My keynote took a look at fast new risks involving intellectual property, the Internet of Things, new careers, accelerated product innovation and so much more. I’m busy working on a blog post on my thoughts – stay tuned!

Simplot, Phoenix, Arizona
Future of food, agriculture, retail and consumer behaviour

This agricultural company is the largest global supplier of French fries to McDonalds and other food companies, as well as being very active in other aspects of the industry. This was a team leadership meeting as well, with individuals from throughout the organization – marketing, product development, legal, finance and accounting, supply chain and more. They invited me in to speak to over 400 executives about key trends that will impact them in the future, including the accelerated pace of agricultural science, changing consumer behaviour, faster marketing and brand challenges, and other similar topics.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), London, England
The Future of Media, Broadcasting and News

The BBC had Jim in for two keynotes focused on the future of broadcasting and media … at a time when the industry is faced with massive disruption, opportunity and challenge.

SAP Utilities conference, California
The Future of Energy & Utilities

You have to love it when a client invites you back – and in this case, SAP was bringing me back in for about the 20th time since they first booked me in 2003!

This conference had about 500 executives from the energy utility industry in the room, with a focus on future energy, water and wastewater trends. I delivered a barnburner of a speech in the morning for a small group of senior executives, and a repeat performance later in the afternoon for the entire group, with a focus on the massive, disruptive change occurring in the energy space, including issues around grid party, micro-grids and intelligent grids, the acceleration of renewable generation methodologies, battery storage technologies and more.

McKay CEO Forum, Vancouver, Canada
Defining Opportunity in the Era of Disruption and Opportunity

Imagine a room full of 300 CEO’s and senior executives, and you get the McKay CEO Forum, one of the pre-eminent senior level events in Western Canada.

I did a wide ranging talk on the theme of disruption and industry transformation, putting into perspective the stark trends that are impacting and reshaping every industry at a furious pace.

Pladis – Godiva Chocolates, McVities Biscuits  Ulker – Keynote on the Future of Food & Retail, London, England

This was a huge amount of fun! I love overseas trips!

And what an organization — Pladis is new, with three separate, distinct brands coming together with a focus on future opportunities.

My keynote covered trends in fast-changing retail, consumer behaviour, store infrastructure, brand promotion and more. It must have gone well — since Godiva is having me back for a separate supply chain event in Ghent, Belgium in May!

Scotiabank, Toronto, Canada
Future of Banking/Financial Services

More disruption — business models, the rapid evolution of technology, new competitors with PayPal, Google and Apple.

Just what is a bank anymore, and who is it? What do they do in terms of innovation with fast changing expectations, business model disruption, the relentless impact of mobile, the rapid acceleration of innovation from every perspective?

Whatever the case may be, agility needs to be the core focus going forward — and that was the overall message within my keynote, which took a deep look at the trends sweeping this industry.


Whirlpool, Chicago, Illinois
Future Impact of Internet of Things (#IoT)

This is a company that is making a transition from being a company that sells appliances, to being a computer company that happens to sell hi-tech within appliances.

The industry is speeding up as Moore’s law comes to take hold; the value proposition changes with the service-ification

Gore Mutual, Toronto
The Future of the Insurance Industry

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
Transitioning “SickCare” to “Healthcare”

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!)


Nasscom C-Summit, New York
Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption

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.



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.