What World Class Leadership Looked Like in 2019: A Focus on Big Ideas, Transformation, Disruption, Velocity and Risk!


This year marks 25 years that I’ve appeared on stage speaking about the future, trends, disruption, transformation, innovation. And what a year it was!

I always emphasize to my global client base that they’ll find I can take on any number of highly customized topics for their leadership meeting – you’ll learn more about that by reading about some of these events below – a few of the highlights from 2019.

Topic: The Future of Manufacturing in Emerging Market Economies
International Finance Corporation – A Member of the World Bank Group
Marrakesh, Morocco

This had to be the highlight of the year: 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 a focus on the economic development opportunities that can come from the acceleration of manufacturing opportunities throughout emerging economies around the world.

This follows up on other high profile global keynotes, including the World Government Summit in Dubai, the WorldSkills Conference in Sao Paolo, the International Roads Union Transportation Summit in Muscat, Oman, and the Swiss Innovation Forum in Zurich, Switzerland.

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.

I’m still working on an edit from the event; in the meantime, here’s my pre-keyote report filmed during sound check the day before.

Topic: The Acceleration of Healthcare Risk in A World of Faster Science
Pfizer, Paris, France

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 of their legal, risk and compliance executives 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 – and present new challenges and opportunities along the way.

And more specifically, what new legal and other risk issues might come from this faster future. How did they find me? Through online research where they discovered several of the keynotes I’ve done for some of the largest law firms in the world on the future of legal and other risk!

I didn’t get this talk down on film – but I did do a little pre-event video before going on stage to give people a sense of what I would be covering.

Topic: Realigning Your Sales Team to a Disruptively Different Reality
Phillips Medical, Nashville

Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.” So goes the phrase. Which increasingly, in a world in which the era of acceleration is changing what you sell and how you sell it, is a recipe for disaster.

With that, I give you what I’ve learned about internal sales force and dealer meetings – they are kind of a funny thing, and most of them usually end up with very little return on a substantial investment.

Why is this so? Because most companies are on autopilot – they pick a location, find some sort of “inspirational” phrase (“Achieving Excellence!”) – and spend a ton of money organizing the event. Then they go and find a motivational speaker who comes in and tells the sales team to ‘do you best, aim high’ exceed expectations.‘ (‘Achieve Excellence!’)

The message, overall, rings hollow, because everyone in the room has heard the same canned message before. They’re dulled to the idea; they’re complacent in their thinking; they’re bloated from inspiration.

They don’t ‘achieve excellence’ – they excel at being mediocre.

Meanwhile, the very essence of what the organization is trying to sell is changing, the current value proposition has been destroyed, the customer is more demanding, and disruption is destroying concepts held dear. The organization is busy trying to sell a widget – but it’s not a widget anymore, no one wants a widget, and most of the rest of the world has moved beyond widgets!

Hence, my approach to sales and dealer meetings.  Watch this highlight clip from a recent keynote for the Philips medical devices annual sales meeting in Nashville. The organization knows that it is moving beyond selling singular medical devices, into selling a service based on some sort of new, hyperconnected, intelligent AI medical thing.

Here’s a clip from the stage!
Topic: The Future of Safety & Risk in the Era of Acceleration
National Safety Council, San Diego, CA

This is the largest occupational health and safety conference in the world, with over 15,000 professionals in the field attending the event.

I was invited in for a closing keynote to look at the future of safety risk – how an era of device connectivity, the Industrial Internet of Things, robots and cobots, the virtualization of the workplace,  the acceleration of new material science and other trends might impact the future of safety going forward!

This is typical of the type of unique keynote topic I take on – backed by extensive client consultations, detailed online research including access to several thousand news articles around safety and risk, and continual ongoing trends analysis once I’ve been confirmed for the stage.

Here’s an edited clip of that keynote for well over 2,000 people in San Diego at the 2019 National Safety Council annual conference. Words to live by.

Topic: Trillion Dollar Opportunities – The Future and the Next Economy
Blackrock, San Francisco

You must be doing something right when the world’s largest asset manager, with $6.84 trillion in investments under management, invites you in to speak to their largest clients about the next trillion dollar opportunities.

But that defines the types of events I took on in 2019 -I had several of these talks as you will see below. 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 to their senior clients to outline my views on what comes next in the global economy – and where the big bold bets within industries will pay off!

I don’t have any video from this event, so I’ll give you this clip from a keynote in Muscat, Oman in 2018 that gives you a sense of what I covered.

Topic: The Future, The Era of Acceleration and Industry Transformation
Microsoft Canada, Toronto, Canada : 2019 FutureNow Conference

This is the largest event that Microsoft puts on in Canada, with over 2,000 senior executives and I.T. professionals in attendance, and they invited me to given the opening keynote address.

I took a look at the whirlwind of new ideas and new technologies redefining our world – A.I., robotics, the Internet of Things, virtualization of industries, augmented reality and so much more!

The key theme? The I.T. infrastructure you put in place isn’t just technology anymore – it’s the lifeblood of the entirety of the future of your organization as every company becomes a technology based company.

This is just one of well over 2000 of talks I’ve done for many of the world’s largest technology companies over a 25 year career – at this point, it’s fair to say that most of the world’s largest tech companies have had me in at one time or another.

Here’s a highlight clip from that talk.

Topic: The Reality of Disruptive Trends
EY National Tax Conference, Montreal, Canada

This global professional services organization had me on stage in Montreal, Canada, at their annual client tax conference.

In the room were senior tax executives for major corporations from around the country. They’re responsible for managing complex tax situations for the multinational corporations for which they work; keeping up to date with a myriad of new global tax laws; ensuring that their organization is in full compliance with a complex world of ever changing regulations.

Even so, the CEO’s and senior strategy executives for whom they work are busy with other challenges – often dealing with the realities of business model disruption, fast changing markets, the rapid emergence of new competitors and more. With that, my keynote took a look at the disruptive trends that will change their world in the future, and how they might impact their tax strategies and business structures going forward.

Fun fact – I’m actually a professional accountant by background, having worked for a predecessor firm of EY 30 years ago – for over a decade! So it was natural that I could explain their tax future to them!

Here’s a sneak peak!

Topic: Aligning to Acceleration: What Comes Next in Retail, Logistics & Supply Chain?
Revionics Insight 2019, Torrey Pines, California

The average consumer scans some 12 feet of shelf space per second. Mobile interactions are dominating purchasing influence in the retail industry.
Omnichannel, pick and pack, instant delivery and Amazon-everywhere are the disrupting retail trends. Add to this the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products and more. In the world of retail, the future belongs to those who are fast, agility is a virtue, and decisiveness insight is a gold mine.

We are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 years.  More than we have seen in the last 100. My took a sweeping look the high- velocity trends in this sector, and how retailers can structure for success in this environment.

Here’s a look!

Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Billion Dollar Market Opportunities
Berkshire Partners, Denver, Colorado

We live in a time of massive challenge, and yet one of massive opportunity. Every industry is being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges! The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by the arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

This Boston based private equity firm had me in to speak to the CIO’s, CFO’s and head legal officers of some of their main equity invested companies – for a talk on the opportunities and challenges that come with this era of disruption.

Through the years, I’ve done quite a few of these presentations for very-high net worth families and firms. It has included such groups as the Wrigley family foundation and companies that manage the Rothschild wealth. And in one of the most fascinating events I’ve participated in, I was invited to Athens to address several hundred representatives of what are known as  ‘family offices’ — organizations that manage the wealth of the world’s wealthiest. While I did not get a complete list of attendees, I do know that some of those in the room represent and manage the wealth of folks such as the Bill & Melinda Gates family office; the Accellor-Mittall families, those of the founders of Google and many, many others.

It was suggested to me that some $10 trillion of wealth was represented in the room.


Topic: The Future of Food and Food Manufacturing Facilities
Stellar Group, Phoenix, Arizona

If you are involved in building the next generation food processing plant for a large, global food company – you’d better understand the key trends impacting the future of food!

That’s why the Stellar Group engaged me for this event – and that’s what I did! In the room were senior executives responsible for site selection and design of manufacturing and processing facilities for the world’s largest food companies – and my overview of trends led to an intense followup discussion. New food and consumer trends now emerge faster than ever before, and capital investment must lead, not follow!

Topic: Disruption, Wealth Management & the Next Trillion Dollar Markets
Deltec Bank, Nassau, Bahamas

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!

The Future of Autonomous Electric Vehicles
Kalmar Ottawa, San Diego

Autonomous electrification: get used to the phrase, because it’s the key trend providing for massive disruption of every aspect of the global transportation industry.

This company manufactures the small ‘container’ trucks you see in ports, rail yards and warehouses that are all a part of the global supply chain. As part of their national Dealers Meeting, they wanted a good overview of the trends that are leading them to transition to an electric, autonomous vehicle fleet, and brought me in for this purpose.

American Association of Orthopaedic Executives, Nashville: The Acceleration of Healthcare

3D printed body parts. The acceleration of medical science and the rapid emergence of new materials. IOT connectivity built into hip replacements that post on how well they are working. The acceleration of AI driven, bionic limb technology. I covered it all in a fast paced, rocket-ride view into the future for over 500 executives in this fast growing and significant sector of the healthcare system, challenging them to continue to find opportunity in the acceleration of fast moving trends.

With that in mind, the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives/ American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives had me in to open their annual conference in Nashville, with a talk on the future of healthcare.

Clients that book me have the option of getting some advance insight out to their people to get them excited about the event. So I filmed this – it’s a good overview of the trends redefining their world.

Topic: “Dare to Disrupt”
National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, Phoenix 

That was the theme for this healthcare and pharma focused event in Phoenix. It’s an interesting time to be in this industry – after all, organizations like Amazon, with the Berkshire Hathaway/JP Morgan initiative, are out to change the fundamental structure of drug benefit plans.

An often repeated phrase is that you should disrupt yourself before others do, and that was the focus of my keynote, as I took the group on a tour of the disruptive healthcare trends redefining their future.

For years, I’ve been describing the concept of innovation on stage with a simple structure. It’s by being focused on three questions: what can I do to run the business better, grow the business, and most important, transform the business. It’s the final issue that is so critical in today’s disruptive era.

With that, here I am on stage for the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, framing this issue of disruptive transformation in pretty stark terms.

The Future of Energy Utilities : Connected, Intelligent, Localized
Itron Leadership Meeting, San Diego, CA

This organization provides infrastructure and technology solutions to the energy utility sector. Once a year, they bring together their leadership team for an intense season to cover strategies, plans and objectives, and wanted to kick off their meeting this year with a good look at the future trends impacting their customer base.

I took a look at a vast number of trends, including microgrids, accelerating renewable technology, smart city infrastructure, the rise of electric vehicles and in-road charging infrastructure, as well as many other issues. Part of the challenge is that as their customer base transitions, what they sell transitions as well – from a product, to a service offering, and so my keynote covered in-depth strategies to deal with that issue.

I’m still working on some video edits on those issues; in the meantime, here’s the first few minutes of my talk!

The Future of Construction in the Era of Robotics and AI
Matheson Financial, Dallas, Texas

This company is involved in financing of major construction, energy and infrastructure projects, and once a year, brings together its key clients for a look at the key issues throughout the construction sector.

They wanted a dinner talk that would look at trends that are now and in the future disrupting the construction industry. I took a look at the arrival of advanced construction methodologies, the rapid emergence of new building concepts, new advanced building materials, remote-assembly-offsite disruptive trends, 3D printing in concrete and much, much more.

Pre-keynote sneak peak!

Career Education Colleges & Universities, New Orleans, LA – The Future of Education

The theme of the annual convention for this group of private colleges and universities was “Innovation: Our History! Our Future!,” with a goal to inform their school leaders of the emerging innovation and technology skills essential for tomorrow’s workforce.

My message took a look at the future of careers, the rapid evolution of knowledge and skills, and what to do in a world in which education demands are accelerating at a furious pace!



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.