“The greatest gift you can give someone else is a better future!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Housing is one of the most basic human needs, and yet for many, one of the most significant challenges. That’s why I’m excited to be heading to Iowa in two weeks to speak at the Iowa Housing Conference 2022 in Des Moines, Iowa – a conference that is exploring advanced concepts, ideas, and strategies for housing the homeless.
It seems everyone is going to Iowa – I guess there are some folks who are trying to position themselves for a potential run at the Presidency! With that in mind, here’s a question I received from an audience member after a keynote I gave for a manufacturing conference in Las Vegas in 2010. No, I’m not running, LOL!
Back to the. focus on the conference: sometimes, you get a keynote that goes beyond the issues of disruption, business model change, and other issues. In this case, a topic related to opportunities for passion, purpose, and caring within society. The greatest gift any society can give their fellow man, woman, or child is a roof over their head, and with that, an opportunity for a better future.
The issue of the homeless is a difficult, intractable, and seemingly insolvable issue, and I will admit I have zero expertise in the complexities of the topic. And yet, I know deep in my heart that I, or many other people, could have once ended up there at any point in time but for the grace of fortuitous circumstance.
It is a gut-wrenching and challenging issue – many of us often turn away. Some weeks ago, we were up at our cottage, and while out for an early morning bike ride, I came across a disturbing scene. A homeless man had obviously lost control of his bicycle and trailer sometime during the night, with all of his meager belongings scattered all across the path, blocking a busy morning route for joggers, cyclists and folks simply out for a walk. He himself was passed out in the bush, looking to be in rough shape; fortunately, someone was already taking small steps to care for him and to move his earthly belongings.
All of us encounter this type of scene each and every day – and yet, never quite know what to do. The issue of the homeless is massively complex, often driven by the acceleration of mental illness, substance misuse, economic challenges, and physical abuse.
And yet, at any moment in time, any one of us could have been that person. Sometimes, all we can do is forge a pathway that accelerates the opportunity for dignity. Hence, my participation in this conference. It’s an important topic, and while I cannot speak to many of the complex societal issues, I can speak to the trends that might help society to accelerate the opportunities for shelter – as seen in the session description below.
This is not the first time I’ve taken on this topic – some years back, I was the opening keynote for the annual general meeting of Habitat for Humanity Canada. Jimmy Carter, who has played a huge role in the organization over the years even as his age advanced, provided a video message just before my talk, about the need for compassion, caring, and charitable thought. He’s the type of former President that I like.
My opening comment at that talk? I launched with a phrase that captured my thinking given the current ugly political environment in the world – it is a good time for people to “double down on dignity.” There seem to be so many in society who are driven by an agenda of hate, fear, and distrust of immigrants and the poor, and in that context, it’s important that we examine our social and human values. And hence, double down on our philanthropic efforts.
Someone managed to capture that moment in a tweet, even though I was talking about something else!
Double down on dignity? The phrase and the context in which it was said certainly caught some attention! The audience cheered and stood up – it set the tone for my talk! I think as our world becomes more complex, all of us need to double down on dignity, and I’m excited about this particular talk.
Rethinking Housing in the Era of Volatility – It’s a Great Time to Double Down on Innovation!
In an era of economic volatility, it’s more important than ever to focus on the future in order to achieve the core mandate of assisting the less fortunate in society. When it comes to housing, it’s also important to align opportunities for shelter with new opportunities that exist. That’s where the message of Futurist Jim Carroll comes in with a two-track message.
The economy? Here’s a key reality that Jim has shared with his global clients through the recession of ’01 and ’08 – only 10% of organizations become breakthrough performers during a recession – but that is because they decided to double down on their innovation efforts despite uncertainty. That’s a powerful lesson for all of us – because the other 90%, driven by aggressive indecision, become the marginal performers, the failures, the innovation laggards. That’s why it is important for the housing sector in Iowa to double down on the future despite economic volatility – and to focus on the trends that will drive future growth.
Growth? Opportunities? In the housing and construction sector, we are seeing fascinating new trends with methodologies, materials, robotics, energy efficiency and so much more. The concept of 3D printing housing components has gone from science fiction fantasy to practical potential reality in just a matter of years; the emergence of new construction materials continues to offer up opportunities for cost efficiencies and savings in the overall budget; automated masons and bricklaying concepts are already being pursued, moving from theory to reality faster than we might think. And energy? Oil is over, solar and wind dominate the future, and local neighborhood microgrids drive opportunity. Consider this fact – we are already seeing the emergence of window technology that is not just a window – but a solar energy generator at the same time! When it comes to construction, the future is nothing but an opportunity!
Join us in a keynote on a voyage with Futurist Jim Carroll as he helps us understand what comes next, and what to do about it!