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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.

 

 

Being on stage in front of some of some of the world’s leading organizations and senior executives, you get the opportunity to address a lot of unique topics.

And with 25 years of doing this, I believe that I’ve highlighted trends from just about every perspective possible! Including, for example, issues involving understanding, managing and minimizing a world of accelerated risk.

So it was that I found myself on stage in front of senior corporate legal counsel for a good portion of the global Fortune 500 at two events in Chicago and Dallas last month, as the opening keynote speaker for the annual Baker McKenzie client conference.

Baker McKenzie is big – it is one of the top global legal firms, with 13,000 employees, of who 4,700 are lawyers, in 77 offices across 47 countries. The client list is simply unparalleled: I had folks from AT&T, Intel, 7-11, Citi, Bell Helicopter, BP, Ericsson, JCPenney, Allstate, JPMorgan Chase, McDonalds, GM, Hyatt, Oracle, Pizza Hut, Southwest Airlines and a few hundred more others in the rooms. (Fun fact: many of the companies at the events are included in my own client base.)

If you are going to speak to a few hundred corporate legal counsel, you’ve got to bring your “A-game.'” With that, my talk focused on 2 key issues: what comes next, and what risks come with that?

To start out, my keynote took a look at ‘25 disruptive trends,’ (a topic which has quickly became one of my most in demand speaking topics through the last year.) I took a look at the core issues leading to a faster world and massive business model disruption and change – everything from the acceleration of science, to what happens when every company becomes a software company; the impact of an increase in the number of business partnerships due to skills fragmentation, and the issues that come from the acceleration of knowledge; not to forget the hyper-connectivity that comes from the Internet of Things and the new business models that emerges a result.

Want some of this insight? Read this post on disruption – it started out as a list of ’10 Drivers of Disruption’ but has grown from there. Or book me and bring me into your organization!

I then spun these trends into the question of : what new risk is emerging in this fast paced world? The thing is, as all this change comes about, we are in an era in which organizations are faced with new risk, unforeseen risk, faster risk, more complex risk, extended risk, and the acceleration of risk!

With that, my keynote on disruption spun into these future issues of risk, such as:

  • accelerated risk: simply put, as everything speeds up, risk happens faster, which leads to:
  • the rapid emergence of new risk: we are in an era in which organizations are now subjected to the sudden arrival of new forms of risk which did not exist before. How do you develop a legal culture to cope with that?
  • hyper-connectivity risk: the connectivity of the Internet of Things (IOT) leads to new forms of shared and hyperconnected risk.
  • partnership risk: organizations are struggling with skills issues, and need to partner faster. This leads to more complex – and faster – partnerships, which leads to new forms of partnership risk
  • IP risk everywhere: because everyone is becoming a software company, intellectual property (IP) issues go through the roof!
  • speed risk: organizations are focused on speed – agile is the new leadership focus. But moving faster requires that they take on more risk that must be managed in new and different ways.
  • role risk: the issue of speed and agility is quite contrary to the risk minimization role that most corporate counsel must manage, so there is a significant change in their role.
  • regulatory risk: and then there is a regulatory mismatch – organizations are innovating in such a way that is becoming more difficult for regulatory organizations (such as the FDA and others) to understand, manage, or provide a structure for that future risk.

There was much more than I spun into the talk, but it leads to one simple conclusion – we are headed for a world of what I could call “fast legal!” Simply put, both legal firms and corporate legal counsel need to work harder to get faster. (Are they good at this? Not often. Small example: I’m frequently booked by many of the Fortune 500 companies that were in the room. Fun fact – many of them have turned my simple little 3 page speaking contract into epic legal documents that are, I suppose, legal works of art. The record is 42 pages! I refuse to sign such contracts, and they eventually come around and sign mine. Also, most can’t cut a check quick enough for my contract terms, and end up paying me by credit card!)

It was a wonderful event, and met with a great response – there was a lot of this:

But here’s a key point: this is but one example of where I’ve looked at the future of risk.

Over the years, I’ve done numerous talks that have examined the concept of the “future of risk from a variety of different perspectives:

  • I led a session for a major global construction/infrastructure company that took a look at new risk issues with such things as smart highways, self-driving cars and other issue, and the risks that unfold in this new era
  • I did a talk for Towers Perrin way on accelerating insurance risk, and a similar talk for the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America
  • I took a look at emerging healthcare risks as the headliner for the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management
  • I was the opening keynote for a customer event for FMGlobal, a leading underwriter of insurance risk in the commercial real estate space. My talk took a look at a broad range of trends that will impact the future structure of buildings, architecture, manufacturing facilities and more – and of course, the new risk unfolding!
  • I even opened the National Firefighter Apparatus Manufacturing Association annual event, which took a look at the rapid emergence of new fire risk, and how we need to plan for that in the design process of future firetrucks. Read more here!

There have been a lot more, too numerous to mention. Gosh, I even wrote an article in 2004 entitled “The Future of Risk”!

One more thing: I love Baker McKenzie, because they are an organization that walks the talk.

As a legal firm, their entire essence and core of being is to a degree, around the issue of risk. How to manage it, guard against it, follow up on it, mitigate it, and litigate it when it goes wrong. With that, what a pleasant surprise to discover that they had a fairly significant social media team — at both events. They blog, tweet, and share insight about the firm, what it is doing and what it is seeing. They obviously have to this very carefully in the context of managing the risk of the message — you live in a unique world in a professional services firm.

The fact that Baker McKenzie does this in such a substantial way blows me away. I’ve never met a professional services firm – and I’ve been booked by virtually all fo the major global ones over the last 25 years — that has such an open mindset to aligning to this fast new world.

Bottom line! Think now about the context of risk — in a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast!

 

You asked, we listened. I’ve got one client in 2018 who is bringing me in to demystify what is quickly becoming one of the most disruptive issues today.

Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, Bitcoin and the End of Money: Understanding The Ultimate Disruption”

In as little as ten years, the very concept of money will have been forever changed. And the fact is, it’s happening now in real time. But it isn’t just money that is being disrupted: the blockchain concept promises to unleash a wave of innovation that parallels and exceeds the impact that came with the arrival of the Internet economy.

Making sense of the trends and the reality of what it represents can be a challenge. A new vocabulary has emerged that involves radical new concepts, the decentralization of authority, and rapid hyper-innovation : blockchain, Ethereum, ASIC and currency miners, hard forks and smart contracts! At the same time, headlines speak of the ongoing rise in the value of grandfather of all crypto-currencies, Bitcoin, while other news outlets and experts label it a bubble.  Merely interpreting all of the components of this new world can be a fascinating journey.

Yet the voyage becomes even more challenging when faced with opinions that are all over the map. What does it meaan when when Jamie Dymon, the head of  JPMorgan Chase calls Bitcoin a fraud and the people who buy it “stupid,” and yet at the same time, the head of the IMF says that Bitcoin could give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money? When a cryptocurrency goes from a valuation of a few hundred dollars to over $10,000 in a matter of months? When 2018 will be defined by an acceleration of the acceptance of distributed ledger concepts at the same time that a horde of fraud artists invade this fascinating new world? When some countries state they will abandon long held concepts of a national currency in favour of digital cash?

But wait, there’s more! The impact doesn’t stop with the arrival of the first wave of concetps as found in ‘money’ such as Bitcoin. What is emerging is the infrastructure and a foundation for the next economy: one that is reliant on distributed, digital trust, the elimination of the middleman from many business interactions, and fundamental, disruptive concepts that run up against most of the economic models of the last 100 years. These are challenging times, and difficult questions are being presented.

What does this complex new world mean to your business and your business model? Is it a fraud, or is it a bubble? What’s real, and what’s not? Are we in the midst of the latest Tulip and dot.com phrase, or is there substantial change underway?

In this keynote, futurist and technology expert Jim Carroll peels away the layers of the world of cryptocurrency, outlining the challenges and opportnities that come with the end of the concept of money as we know it. These are truly transformative times – for the realty of blockchain goes far beyond the current hype surrounding Bitcoin. The concept of distributed ledgers will change entire industries, challenge the very nature of the legal concept of offer and acceptance, and unleash a torrent of hyper-innovation around business models.

I just wrote this one up for the brochure copy for an upcoming 2018 event.

The issue of Amazon isn’t just about retail — it is about any industry with a middleman. Insurance, wealth management, finance, medical or dental care, home services and renovations. You name it. And the big question is – what are you going to do about it?

Disrupting Amazon : Accelerating Strategies for Success in the Era of Industry Transformation

Amazon is the elephant in every industry room. They will challenge and disrupt your business model, and shake your belief in the future to the core.

Why not change that before it changes you? Don’t wait for Amazon to disrupt you – disrupt yourself and disrupt Amazon first! As we witness the Amazonification of industries, deep insight into this massive-but-cheetah-like-elephant is critical, a fast strategy is required.

Futurist Jim Carroll has a key message: Don’t compete — transform! When Amazonian scale disruption occurs, you can’t hope to complete on price, the sophistication of the online interaction, or the other areas in which Amazon (and similar disruptors) clearly excel. You need a different proposition, different ideas and a different strategy. In many cases, this will come about through an implicit decision to compete based on the unique value you can bring to the relationship – service, support, personal interaction and other factors. In doing so, you specifically choose to not compete based on a race to the bottom and price.

Futurist Jim Carroll has headlined ‘Amazonificaiton strategies’ at a wide variety of corporate leadership meetings and association events in the medical, dental and veterinary industries; in the global optometric industry; in the agricultural dealer market, in the home renovation sector, and many more. He has provided deep insight on the transformative strategies and mindset that needs to be pursued.

The acceleration of disintermediation via Amazon is a cruel reality of our modern day world. Think about the business model of a a group of agricultural dealers who sell products to farmers. The simplistic view is that they buy products from the manufacturer, and then sell them to the farmer, with an obvious markup in price. Amazon could do this (and will) with a more sophisticated online system, and avoid the cost of the markup, thereby offering a lower cost alternative. How to compete? Become an invaluable partner to the farmer in terms of advice, expertise and personal support for new initiatives, products and ideas.

In the era of Amazon, you can’t hope to compete on price — because you will watch your business disappear! Futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll outlines the key trends, strategies and opportunities to be pursued in the ear of Amazonian acceleration!

 

We will see more change in every industry in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 100 as transformation and disruption sweeps the world.

Every company is faced with the rapid emergence of new competitors, significant new business models, more challenging consumers, the acceleration of science a race to the pricing bottom, and a transition to the speed of innovation that will define their future. How do you get ahead? By turning on your innovation engine, firing your creativity thrusters, and strapping in for a rocket ride into your faster future.

In this keynote, futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll shares the insight that he has gained by spending the last 25 years with a relentless focus on what turns organizations into high-velocity innovation heroes. None other than NASA has invited Jim in – twice – to share his insight on innovation strategies.

Innovative organization accelerate their creativity by turning their innovation engines upside down, focusing on customer oriented innovation and other unique models. They excel at sourcing ideas from the outside, turning that unique insight into fuel for their internal innovation factories. They challenge themselves on speed by getting into an iterative process of constantly rethinking, adjusting and redoing in order to discover the next best thing. They challenge themselves on business cycles, time to market and more.

In accelerated organizations, partnership is a key focus, collaboration is critical, agility is oxygen and imagination is relentlesss.

Launch yourself into the faster future with this unique, high energy keynote for global futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll!

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Too many companies and professions, when faced with disruption and change, fall into the vicious trap of competing on price.

In this video from a recent keynote, I speak about the mindset and strategies to avoid this vicious hell – by elevating your role and services, in this case by speaking to a group of optometrists!

The Evolution of Optometry from jimcarroll on Vimeo.

Disruption in the insurance industry is real – and the largest broker/agent association in the US (Texas) has booked me to come in and provide a path forward.

In January, I will keynote the 55th annual Joe Vincent Management Seminar in Austin, Texas. Watch the preview video now!

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.

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