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“Inaction in the face of opportunity is but an excuse!” – #Futurist Jim Carroll

Part of the role of a futurist is to provide people insight into the trends that will be a part of their future, but also to put into perspective the opportunities these trends present. A lot of people get excited when they see what I can offer in that regard.

But people are funny – and here’s a good story you can think about to see if you are suffering from a culture of inaction.

I recently had a call from a senior VP of a major company in the retail industry. She thought that it would be extremely helpful to bring me in to their upcoming corporate leadership meeting – with so much change in retail they need to be challenged in their thinking. With clients like Disney, The GAP, Pepsi, Godiva, and more, I certainly have a track record for doing just that – I spend a lot of time speaking to the massive and fast trends sweeping the world of retail. I even have separate keynote topics on retail and the Amazon effect.

Fast forward. She wrote back last week, indicating that their CEO didn’t think it was a good time to be doing this. As in, stay the course. Stick with the status quo. They didn’t need to be challenged right now ; they had a strategy and needed to see it through. They might think about doing a deep-dive future session next year. Something like that.

What’s that phrase people use? I was gobsmacked, particularly after she had outlined in a conference call all the issues that they needed to be thinking about!

Here’s the thing – I get a lot of situations like this! Where someone on a corporate team knows that the organization needs to be challenged out of their complacency — but then it goes up the ladder, where senior management puts a stop to the idea. I’m never sure why, but I know what the result will be.

This particular organization will now go on my fail-radar. I’ll watch them over the next decade, along with dozens of others, and will see the stumbles and failures and missteps they will make as they fail to align to obvious future trends. Not because they didn’t bring me in — but because they clearly are driven by a culture of indecision!

Remember this likely reality – 50% of the companies that you see around you today likely won’t be around you in but 10 short years. Particularly in retail!

Inaction is in the soul of many organizations. This might be you!

Why does this occur? With 25 years of effort in advising on organizations on trends and the future, I’ve become quite adept at spotting the culture of slow that kills initiative:

  • actions are based on lifelong lessons that no longer apply
  • variation in routine is abhorred
  • the strategies they have in place are often outdated by faster trends
  • they are structured by command and control structures that don’t allow for agility
  • outdated HR practices reward mediocrity
  • individualism is punished
  • risk is something to be feared, not embraced
  • collaboration is absent
  • corporate culture breeds change-resistance anti-bodies
  • they discount the big thinkers who are changing their industry – they think they know better!
  • they have allowed a leadership style of deferring decisions to overtake all activities
  • a belief that their company and product are invincible, and that their continued success is inevitable
  • It’s an interesting time to be in business. Disruption, fast paced business model change, technology! It’s all real folks – you can’t avoid it.

The future belongs to those who are fast, and yet many are structured for slow.

Rant over.

Next month, I’ll keynote the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology conference. It’s an unprecedented 5th repeat booking by this organization.

The energy industry is in the midst of fast hyper-disruption.

Here’s a quick little video that I put together for them to outline some of what I’ll cover.

 

 

A question came in from a potential client last night, and after writing a long answer, I thought it was probably a good idea to blog it and place the answer on my site!

The question was for a potential European event, and really had to do with whether I could work with an a European / international audience, be respectful in my timing, work with the translation team, work with simultaneous transition, and provide enough regional or localized content.

The answer is yes, yes, yes and yes….!

On stage in Sao Paolo for the Worldskills global conference. My audience featured individuals from 85 countries.

My mother tongue is English, and sadly, while I don’t speak any other languages (despite some 10 years of French lessons in elementary and high school!), I regularly speak on an international basis. This involves working with translators. focusing on international content, and working to keep my pace slow enough for the audience to be respectful of their needs.

Here’s the critical background on the international work that I do:

  • global audiences. I do a LOT of international work; I’ve presented in Sao Paolo, Budapest, Munich, Athens, Stuttgart, Prague, London, Paris, Brussels, Ghent, Stockholm, Zurich, Tokyo, Mexico …. and in all of these situations, have ensured that I have slowed my pace to be respectful of the audience.
  • simultaneous translation. Many of these events have featured onsite translation through headsets; the fact is, I regularly do sessions that feature simultaneous translation, and know the criticality of sharing the deck in advance with the translation team
  • advance translation planning. In some cases, I have done a Skype or Google Hangout walkthrough with the translation team of my slide deck, so that they are comfortable with the content and direction
  • a long track record with stage translation. I’m based in Canada and have been on stage for 25 years. Given that, my earlier years featured several hundred (!) events that have involved simultaneous translation (English/French) with headsets/translations. It’s just a thing in Canada!
  • sequential translation experience! My Budapest event actually featured sequential translation into Hungarian as opposed to simultaneous translation. Tthat was kind of fun, since my translator was actually on stage with me, followed me around, and even mimicked my stage actions!

There are many relevant examples of the international work I have done.

  • I just keynoted Nikon’s 100th anniversary dinner in Tokyo, with an audience from 37 countries. I provided my slide deck in advance to the translation team; I was simultaneously translated into Chinese and Japanese.
  • in January, I keynoted the first leadership meeting for Ulker; the parent company is Turkish, and the meeting represented the entities of the corporate group with the leadership team for Godiva Chocolates (Belgium), Ulker Biscuits (Turkey) and McVitie’s Biscuits (UK),  but with individuals from each of those 3 groups from around the world; a secondary booking had me with Godiva’s global supply chain team from 25 countries. Both massively global audiences.
  • Accenture had me speak at their annual energy conference in San Francisco; we had utility executives from China, Japan, Russia, Philippines, India, and 26 other countries. In that case, I was simultaneously translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese!
  • my keynote for the Worldskills conference in Sao Paolo featured simultaneous translation into Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition to speaking internationally, I often do Fortune 500 events that feature a leadership team from around the world. Some recent examples are global leadership meetings for Dow Chemical in Wilmington (2 events) with individuals from 57 countries; Disney (27 countries); and dozens, dozens more. So can I work with an international/European audience? Definitely yes. (Plus, when I mentioned for the Ulker group that I was Canadian, I got cheers. I think that the Canadian brand image is kind of fun right now!)

The other question that often comes up has to do with regional content, as in European specific examples/storylines. Can I customize my content so that it doesn’t include just American examples. (Well, did I mention I’m Canadian?)

It’s not the cover of the Rolling Stone, but I was once featured on the cover of CEO Magazine Hungary. The only speech where I had armed guards in the room with Uzis! But that’s another story for another time!

The answer is yes – I can easily and often do that do that. Many of the client bookings above have involved a necessity where my examples include global, not North American centric examples.I am regularly booked and work with content that is specific to the folks in the room. And so my Godiva Chocolate supply chain event included retail trends from Asia, India, the Middle East. My Dow Chemical talk took a look at global trends with examples for many of the different groups in the room.

The fact is, I do *extensive* research as a part of my talk, and regionalization is part of what I bring to the table if we need to do that with the content.

I work hard to alleviate the concerns of any clients who book me, and this includes translation and internationalization.

So – pick up the phone and call me. Let’s chat!

I was recently invited in to keynote the annual SAP Utilities conference in Southern California, and had a room of a few hundred executives from the energy, utility, water and wastewater sector.

Here’s a clip where I spoke about the acceleration of everything having to do with battery technology. I think its one of the most fascinating yet not fully appreciated sectors in our world of disruption – with an impact on everything from energy to transportation, consumer devices to medical care, and more.

Learn more in my post: The Future of Just About Everything is in Batteries.

Baker McKenzie is one of the largest, prestigious law firms in the US, and they’ve invited me into keynote their annual client conference in Dallas and Chicago this November.

So I went on stage before a keynote in Las Vegas, and filmed this little teaser video form them. Have a watch!

Check the Web site for more info, or click below.

On stage, I have a little bit of fun pointing out that the cartoon below seems to summarize  the state of the political situation in the US today. I used it a few weeks ago when I keynoted the Nevada Economic Development Conference, with a talk that look a look at the opportunities for growth in the state through trends other than gaming and tourism.

“We’re going to get to the 22nd century,” Carroll said. “We’re not going back to the 1950s. There are those who say, let’s focus on coal and wave a magic wand and bring back these manufacturing jobs, which are dead gone and not going to happen. If we look at the world of manufacturing, it’s all about robotics and 3-D printing. It’s all about mass customization and about the ability to design products faster and get them to market faster and highly intelligent connected products.”

Appropriately enough, my keynote featured the title: “The Jetsons Arrive 50 Years Early: What Are the Economic Development Implications?” (I love my job!). My talk examined the rapid evolution of science, business models, hyper connectivity, intelligent highways and autonomous vehicles, the future of agriculture and many other accelerating trends.

I guess it went well: the feedback just came in from the individual who booked me: “You were amazing.  Your presentation exceeded our expectations.  Your knowledge and insights were intriguing and inspirational!

After my talk, I had a chance to chat with a reporter for the Las Vegas Business Press, who ran an article about the conference. An excerpt from the article appears below. Obviously, the decision by Amazon to locate a 2nd headquarters somewhere had the attention of everyone in Las Vegas, as in every other jurisdiction in North America.

But the future isn’t just about Amazon! It involves a region aligning itself to the trends of the Jetsons in the 21st century, rather than trying to find hope in the era of the Flintstones of the past!


New Amazon headquarters buzz of Nevada Economic Development Conference
Las Vegas Business Press, September 2017

One of the speakers was Jim Carroll, a futurist and expert on trends and innovation and author of “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast.” He said there’s a massive number of global trends and Amazon and online shopping is one that’s providing jobs and future economic growth. Robotics and artificial intelligence are part of the story line of the future as well.

Carroll said Northern Nevada landing the Tesla electric car gigabattery factory shows there are no limits of what the state can attract.

There’s an opportunity here, and Nevada is waking up to the fact that it’s not about agriculture, gaming and tourism,” Carroll said. “There’s a lot of other big trends going on in the world of which Amazon is just one. Why not get into the mindset that we can pursue all of these things?

Carroll said he speaks at conferences across the country, and there’s going to be a lot of competition to land Amazon and it seems that every state and metropolitan area is going after the headquarters.

“When it comes to Amazon, every jurisdiction in North America wants it,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be a massive competition. It got the attention of every single development group in North America.”

Nobody knows what’s Amazon’s preference is for locating the second headquarters, Carroll said. The company will be looking for skills, incentives and locations. It’s possible executives want a location closer to the center of the country, he said.

I think first and foremost any region shouldn’t get into defeatist mindset,” Carroll said. “We’re never going to get ahead if that’s the way we think. That’s why I encourage people to start with a positive mindset.

Carroll repeated that Amazon is only one of what will be many “big new initiatives” and companies that regions can pursue. He said the future will be about batteries, and it’s not just about Tesla’s electric cars but batteries in drones and for utilities and energy.

Amazon is but one thing of many things happening out there,” Carroll said. “What Nevada needs to do is get the mindset of how do we position ourselves for one of these many things beginning to unfold?

Carroll said the trends are heading toward “the world of “The Jetsons,” citing the 1960s futuristic cartoon. But instead of looking at the 22nd century, many want to stay in the world of “The Flintstones,” Carroll said of the 1960s cartoon depicting the dinosaur age.

We’re going to get to the 22nd century,” Carroll said. “We’re not going back to the 1950s. There are those who say, let’s focus on coal and wave a magic wand and bring back these manufacturing jobs, which are dead gone and not going to happen. If we look at the world of manufacturing, it’s all about robotics and 3-D printing. It’s all about mass customization and about the ability to design products faster and get them to market faster and highly intelligent connected products.”

Nevada is making the right bet focusing on solar and wind energy and microgrids, Carroll said. It’s about the acceleration of energy science rather than coal, he said.
Nevada shouldn’t worry about trying and failing like it did in landing a Faraday Future electric car plant in North Las Vegas, only to have the project stopped before it began, he said.

There’s a lot of angst about the car plant that didn’t go ahead, and my take is you have to try that,” Carroll said. “Some of that stuff works and some of it doesn’t, but you got to make sure you are out there and hitch yourself to a horse. Sometimes you fall off and have to get up again.

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Baker McKenzie is one of the largest law firms in the US, and they’ve engaged me to come in and keynote their annual client conference in Dallas and Chicago this November.

As with many of these talks, I’ve put together a little teaser video that they can share with their clients in advance to gain their interest. Give it a watch!

Interested in booking me for a similar event? Contact me, and we can talk about how I can put together a similar promotional clip for your event as part of the talk!

We’re in the era of ‘connected energy,’ and everything is set to change in pretty dramatic fashion.

That will be the essence of my message when I speak to several hundred energy and water utility executives when I keynote the annual SAP Utilities conference in Huntington Beach, California. It’s great to spend some time with SAP again — I did about a dozen keynotes for them from 2003 to 2007, back in my “What I Learned From Frogs In Texas” days!


The session description reads:

“The future belongs to those who are fast! That’s the mantra of futurist Jim Carroll — and no where has this become a reality faster than in the world of utilities. There is no doubt that the next phase of the world of energy involves the convergence of a variety of trends, each of which is significant on their own, but combined, provide an opportunity for massive disruption — and opportunity. The era of massive hyper-connectivity at an industrial, commercial and residential level as a result of the acceleration of the Internet of things. The rapid advancement of energy science, particularly with battery storage, alternative energy sources and other leading edge technologies. Business model disruption through the fast arrival of technologies that support personal and local energy energy microgrids through backyard wind, solar, biomass and other forms of energy generation. New demand and infrastructure requirements arising from such significant trends as smart cities, self-driving cars and intelligent highway infrastructure. And then there are simple light poles — which are now becoming ‘fitbits for cities’ with embedded environmental sensors, car-charging technologies, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and traffic management technologies! But wait — there’s more! At M.I.T. they are even in the midst of research as to how to grow solar cells from plants! That’s why no less than the Edison Energy Institute has stated that going forward, ““The threats posed to the electric utility industry from disruptive forces, particularly distributed resources, have serious long-term implications for the traditional electric utility business model and investor opportunities.”

The challenges and opportunity in the energy sector are real, and it’s captured pretty accurately in that summary. Need a hint of what is going on? Simply take a look at what is happening with battery storage technology.

Quite simply, we are in a situation in which a centuries old business model – the centralized production of power, distributed one-way through a relatively unintelligent system — is set to change in so many ways.

I’ve spoken at numerous energy conferences through the years, including the global Accenture Energy & Utilities Industry conference. Just a few months ago, I spoke privately to the nuclear division of one of the countries largest energy utilities, literally with 20 nuclear engineers in the room. And a few years back, I was engaged by the CEO of PG&E to do a video on what happens if grassroots power production and micro-grids lead to the disruption of the industry.

 

Stay tuned: I’m sure I’ll have a lot to post, including an overview of why light poles are a harbinger of what’s to come with our connected future!

Beneath the surface of normalcy lies a hidden layer of complexity. No where is that more true than what is happening within the world of golf.

Next month, I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for the Quintiq World Tour in Philadelphia — they’re an organization that specializes in software to help to manage complexity! I promised them I would do a little video teaser for the conference. I was a bit busy at the time — it’s summertime! — but I got it done! #golfiswork

Here’s my keynote description:

Accelerating the Business in an Era of Fast Change

Industries are being transformed by a world of constant, relentless change, and the future belongs to those who are fast. Understanding, preparing for, and managing the growing complexity in your supply chain and operations will increasingly become the challenge of our time. Whether it’s fast business model disruption, the impact of hyper-connectivity through the Internet of Things, or faster transformation of entire industries through advancements such as 3D printing and self-driving vehicles — wherever you look, there are undeniable, transformative forces at work.

Join us as futurist Jim Carroll takes us on a voyage of the transformative trends of our time, and the strategies that organizations are pursuing to master fast change. Jim speaks to organizations worldwide on issues of future trends, disruption, and innovation. His clients include NASA, Disney, the Swiss Innovation Forum, the National Australia Bank and Nikon.

This fall, I’m headling a major retail event in Las Vegas – Xcelerate 2017! Details are here.

 

There’s a lot of change underway – and certainly, the Amazon/Whole Foods situation is a wake up call for everyone. I’ve been speaking about the decline and transformation of traditional retail for over 20 years. In the 1990’s, I even wrote a book about e-commerce that was translated into German and Russian, as well as being picked up and distributed by Visa USA to it merchants.

Retailers must scramble to keep up with fast paced change. Maybe that’s why Godiva Chocolates has had me to Europe twice this year for insight on what’s going on.

Here’s the description for my September keynote.

The Disruption and Reinvention of Retail: Aligning to the World of Speed  

It’s hard to discount the speed of change occurring in the world of retail and consumer products. Consider this: E-commerce could be 25% of the retail – grocery and convenience — experience by 2021. Shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology for a new form of in-store promotion, continues to move forward. Mobile payment involving Apple Pay and disappearance of the cash-register, providing opportunity and challenge with loyalty, infrastructure and disruption. Then there is Amazon Alexa, AI and shopping bots! Simply talk and products are added to your shopping cart, and delivered within an hour! Let’s not stop — there’s also the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location). And last but not least, the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products, collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain!

We are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 year than we have seen in the last 100. Savvy brands, retailers, shopping mall and retail infrastructure companies are working to understand these trends, and what they need to do from an innovation perspective to turn them from challenge to opportunity.  Futurist Jim Carroll will help us to understand the tsunami of change sweeping retail.

When the GAP went looking for a trends and innovation expert to speak to a small, intimate group of senior executives, they chose Jim Carroll. He has been the keynote speaker for some of the largest retail conferences in the world, with audiences of up to 7,000 people in Las Vegas, including Consumer Goods Technology Business & Technology Leadership Conference • Subway • Multi-Unit Franchise Conference Las Vegas • Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit • Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit • Retail Value Chain Federation • Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) Global Leadership Conference • Burger King Global Franchise Meeting • VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Summit • Manufacturing Jewelers Suppliers of America • National Home Furnishings Association • Do It Best Corporation • US Department of Defence Commissary Agency • Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Group Branding/Retail Summit • Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association • National Association of Truck Stop Operators • Convenience U annual conference • Point of Purchase Advertising International Association • Chain Drug Store Association of Canada • Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors • Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers

 

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