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Just over 18 months ago, I opened the annual meeting of the United Soybean Board in St. Louis, a group that represents most of the US soybean industry. I was on stage with a message for over 300 soybean farmers about opportunities for future growth. In addition, I spent 2 hours in a private session with the Board of Directors talking about opportunity. To see what I covered, read my blog post from my keynote “Accelerating Innovation: My Time With the United Soybean Board.”

We talked a lot about China and global markets as a big opportunity. Today, the industry is struggling with the fact that they while they spent a lot of time developing China a key market, the country has now targeted their beans with tariffs. They are in the front line of the new global trade war.

Who would have thought? Well, people vote, and votes matter.

With that in mind, watch this video from my good friend Jim Carroll – he’s the head of the Arkansas Soybean Board. Jim and I met when I spoke to this group. It’s a video message with his most recent update to his members – soybean farmers all of them – on their opportunities for innovation.

He’s talking about the same opportunities that I focused on in my keynote: new markets, using soybeans for new products and new opportunities (i.e. meal for fish farming in Egypt), sustainability – the whole idea of not selling ‘beans by the bushel’,’ but selling soybeans for use in different ways for different purposes. Did you know that Ford uses soybeans in seat cushions for cars? That’s an example of the type of innovative thinking occurring in the industry. Continue Reading

Over a 25 year time span, I have built a remarkably successful career as a speaker, speaking to organizations worldwide about future trends, what comes next, and how best to get there. Take a look at my client list; many of the world’s biggest and most prestigious organizations have had me in for my insight. I must have some views and insight that are worthwhile.

Often, I am booked directly by those who find me online, but I am also regularly booked by some of the largest, most prestigious speakers bureaus in the world. Folks like the Washington Speakers Bureau and Canada’s National Speakers Bureau, among countless others – probably the top 30 agencies in the world actively work with me. I’ve spent a great deal of time over 20 years to build and nurture a relationship with these folks. It’s a pretty exclusive club — I am booked by the same people who book Barak and Michelle Obama, George W. Bush, various astronauts and business executives, sports figures, entertainers and more. It’s not a stretch to say that I operate at the elite level of the global speaking industry, with audiences of several thousand, in locations like Dubai, Oman, Tokyo, London and Washington.

In my spare time, my wife and business partner Christa volunteer our time to a local charity near our ski chalet north of Toronto. To that end, I would like you to watch this video clip about this group, known as Events for Life.

Events for Life provides daytime activities for young disabled adults; we have young people with autism and other disabilities, as well as those with Down Syndrome. Our goal is to give them a pathway and activities that helps them to live an enriching life. We are overjoyed with the results.

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Last week, in Las Vegas, I was the opening keynote for 3,000 people at the National Fire Protection Association annual conference.

I was asked to limit my remarks to 20 minutes. I don’t do TED talks – it’s difficult to fit in all the trends involving a fast future into a short time span! But I did some work, and cut myself back – and you can see the full (21 minute) talk here….

Our challenge: involvement! In 1964, Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered in New York City as a crowd of bystanders stood by, watching, unwilling to do anything to save her. What does it say for our world when too many people are too unwilling to get involved….”

So began my speech, in Grade 7 or Grade 8, in the Ontario championships for the Optimist Club of Canada. I was all of 11 or 12 years old. I was bothered, I think, by what I was witnessing in the world at the time, and the story of Kitty Genovese, which I saw in a Readers Digest magazine, captured my attention. It became the basis of my speech, which set me on the path for a big competition!

I didn’t win – I was crushed! I was certain I had nailed it! And I couldn’t believe that the kid who beat me had a squeaky little, high-pitched voice, and didn’t seem to deliver with the passion that I did! How did I not take the big prize!

I was given time off during the school day in my elementary school in London, Ontario, Canada, to practice for my provincial public speaking championship . The teachers were probably relieved — I was a bit of a problem student….

Such are the lessons that teach us things later in life…..

So today I’m down in a place called London, Ontario, Canada, south of my home outside of Toronto. It’s where I grew up as a baby, from 1959, until we moved east in 1972. We’re down in the area briefly, and I had a chance to visit some of my old haunts in a rushed visit prior to going to a wedding 45 minutes from here.

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If you’ve been following me, you’ll know I’ve been doing a series of customized event videos which serve as promos for various client events. They’re short, to the point, and effective. 2-4 minutes in length.

Do they work? I’m headed to Houston right now, and the client reported that after they sent oft the video teaser, attendance registrations went up by 75%

Learn more about how I make them in this clip. The magic comes in two forms – I film in my home green screen studio, and then the magic is added by my awesome overseas video producer in Russia! Armine is actually from Armenia, and works in her day job in the TV scene in Moscow. In her spare time, she helps me out! The result is amazing! Literally. Give this a watch now.

Kick your event up a notch with your own customized video. Watch them here – and contact me for more information.

And stay tuned – we will soon be launching an opportunity for a cool video keynote summary! More details to come.

Right after 9/11, everyone predicted that we would see the end of meetings, events and conferences: people would recoil in fear, stop travelling, and cocoon at home.

That was the dumbest thing I ever heard, and I said so in a column I wrote for Successful Meetings, the voice of the global meetings and events industry. Titled “Get Real,” it was bang on with my of my comments and predictions.

Fast forward – technology is changing the hotel, meeting and event industry at a furious pace, and Successful Meetings just ran an article on these trends. It’s a great read. But its kind of fun that they start the article with y comments on the cautious speed fo technology in the sector.

Read the intro below, and read the full article here.


7 Hotel Tech Trends to Watch
Whether it’s chatbot concierges or self-check-in kiosks, hotels are getting smarter
by Ron Donoho | April 02, 2018

Robots. Facial recognition technology. Virtual and augmented reality. There’s a seemingly unending stream of cool tech tools flowing out of research-and-development centers and into all corners of the meeting and hospitality industries. It’s influencing hotel and event check-in processes, adding bells and whistles to guest rooms, and innovating meeting spaces. To borrow from Thomas Dolby, they’re blinding us with science.

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The future happens slowly, and then, all at once!” – Kevin Kelly, Founding Editor at Wired magazine.

That, in a nutshell, was the modern day leadership dilemma that I presented to the CEO and senior team of a major company in the US financial services industry, at their corporate meeting last Monday in Dallas. Before I met with them, I put together my early morning “motivational quote of the day” and came up with this observation.

(Learn more about these daily quotes here – and take part by following me on various social networks!)

I put the quote together that morning based on my slide deck for the day: I was covering the key trends which would impact the world of insurance, banking, wealth management, investment advisory services and more going forward. And here was the big issue I was challenging them with that was the sub context of my talk – when it comes to the future, the big challenge is not necessarily knowing what the trends are — it’s increasingly, ‘when are they going to happen?’

We might have any number of trends which will impact financial services going forward – artificial intelligence, blockchain, disintermediation, robo-advisors, the acceleration of expectations, the emergence of new competitors, social-network driven wealth management and more. Yet, when might any of these trends become real and have a significant, disruptive impact? That can be a bigger issue than the trends themselves!

Consider one of the most overwhelming and challenging trends in the industry — will direct broker relationships survive in a world in which consumers are doing more and more online? It’s a trend known as “disintermediation,” and I’ve been speaking about it on stage for close to 25 years. Read my post from 10 years ago about the potential for change in the wealth management industry, when I did a talk for the National Australia Bank!

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It was pretty ironic to be doing a talk a month ago on the future of manufacturing – at the Trump Doral Resort in Miami nonetheless – at the same time that trade barriers were being put in place to try to take an industry back to where it was in the 1950’s.

What I’ve learned from 25 years on the stage is that some people will blame everyone else but themselves for their lack of success. And when failure comes, it is the fault of everyone else! The quote captures the essence of their mindset.

We live in interesting times, where some believe that with a wave of a magic wand, an entire industry can be transformed overnight and returned to its former glory.

It won’t happen like that, folks.

It will happen through constant innovation, big bold moves, skill set reinvention and challenging thinking that will – and already is — providing for significant transformation. The future of manufacturing is all about adapting to collapsing product lifecycle and reinventing products faster The connectivity and intelligence that comes to products through the Internet of things (IoT) connectivity Mass customization. Digitization, robotics and the cloud. Design based on crowd thinking. Rapid prototyping and deployment. Faster time to market. 3D printing or additive manufacturing.

My talk last month might have worked for some folks, and if I saved them from their thinking, I will have succeeded.

But I know that there were likely others in the room who would not have liked my message – they are on the train of thought that by trying to stop the future, you can return to the past.

In other words – they are likely doomed to fail in the future, because they will make little effort to actually get there!

 

Take a look at my client list. I’ve developed a worldwide reputation for keynotes and talks at Fortune 1000 leadership meetings that go beyond customization – they go to the heart of the transformative issues that need to be discussed in the room.

What’s my secret sauce? Read about how I work with you in this little video clip!

Let’s face it – your annual event, conference or leadership meeting is critically important. The last thing you need is a speaker in the opening or closing keynote slot who is going to give you perfunctory attention, deliver a canned talk, take your money, and leave you wondering, ‘what was that all about?’

Not me! I take the approach that I’m going to have to work hard to have the right to take your money!

Consider a recent project I worked on with the Trapeze Group, a software company in the urban transit space. After some back and forth, they decided I was the right guy to open their annual conference in Nashville this June. What helped to convince them was the level of customization I do in terms of the topic — something that has earned me a global reputation with a massive A-list set of clients.

But it wasn’t just that – it was the fact that fact I would go the extra mile for them with ‘event collateral’ – material they could use to drive interest in and attendance at the event. After all, that’s one of the most important up front goals.

We’re not even 2 months away from the event, and here’s what the Trapeze Group has already!

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