Daily Inspiration – Future Initiative – “Motivation is overrated in the face of better insight!”


“Motivation is overrated in the face of better insight!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

“Are you a motivational speaker?”

Hell yes! But not really.

That’s the question I always get from new people I meet when it comes around to the topic of what we do for a living. The question quite possibly could drive me nuts, because  I think “motivational speakers” like Tony Robbins and others who encourage people to walk across the fire to discover their ‘internal strength‘ are just a bunch of crackpots!

And I know that I’m now headed into the season when I’ll get asked the question a lot – with my golf season starting soon, I know that I’ll inevitably get asked the question as I meet new people out on the course. Sometimes, for the fun of it, I explain, “Well, I go out and talk to large groups of hungover people.” To a degree, that’s what I’m doing quite often when I’m keynoting events in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, or New Orleans. You earn your pay with audiences like that — yet can still change their world for the better if they can get through the haze of their misery!

But then I will patiently explain that I’m a ‘futurist, trends & innovation expert.” Some folks still don’t quite understand that means after I spend a bit of time explaining my work, I will finally give up and will admit that yes, I am somewhat like a motivational speaker and that I’m pretty darn good at it!

Here’s why. When I tie the future trends I speak about into opportunities for innovation, I’m implicitly encouraging people to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that exist, rather than coiling away in fear of the potential threats. Every talk about innovation and future trends includes powerful challenges to people to align themselves to the future with a sense of optimism — that’s motivational. In particular, it’s found when I usually close every talk with my 10 Great Words, which many people have said provides them with a powerful motivation to adapt quickly to the future — a future that is unfolding around them faster than ever before.

So, sure, I’m a motivational speaker!

Through the years, I’ve had thousands of folks contact me, Tweet, post to Facebook, or in the best possible compliment — book me for their event after they’ve seen me speak. Some of these folks tell me I’ve changed their view of the world in a very major way: such as this comment which came after I spoke to over 3,000 people in Salt Lake City at the National Recreation and Parks Association annual conference some years back:

Dear Jim,

I just wanted to let you know that in my 20 years of attending the NRPA Congress, no one has captivated me more than your keynote address. And, all during the week, when we talked about the Keynote, everyone agreed!

In fact, I presented a seminar “Creating the Wow—New Marketing Trends for Everyone”, and mentioned a few of your insightful comments. It was amazing to see how everyone was captivated with your session. In fact, it is the only time I can remember, that people were upset that we were running late and you had to wrap up your talk rather quickly.

In addition, Vendors raved about you pressing attendees to visit the trade show, talk to peers, and see how technology is changing our profession. It was quite a Home Run!

We have a saying in our department, the 2008 NRPA Gold Medal Winner (Class II—100,001 to 250,000), which is, “Engage. Inspire. Change a Life Today!” I wanted to leave you with this… YOU Engaged. YOU Inspired. YOU changed lives that day! Thanks again for sharing your keen insight and talents with all of us!

Rick Herold, Director of Parks and Recreation
City of Grand Prairie, Texas

So hell, yes, I’m a motivational speaker!

You know my favorite phrase: “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovators see the same trend, and see an opportunity.” You want to be the latter type of person. And if somehow through the years I’ve inspired you to think that way, then I’m doing my job as a motivator!


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.