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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!

“Disintermediation” is the potential for individuals to bypass a relationship with a financial professional – such as a wealth management or investment advisor — by doing things on their own utilizing the Internet. It’s the idea that people will buy insurance directly, and thereby bypass any sort of relationship with an insurance broker. or, that they won’t use a wealth management advisor, because they believe they will be able to make better decision on their own – and thereby, cut out a commission-oriented relationship.

We’ve talked about disintermediation in the industry for a long time, and while it has happened to a degree, there are still many large firms that still have in place a business model that involves a broker network. Will it ever change that model? And if so, when? And how do we continue to deal with that potential reality?

That was part of the focus of my talk in Dallas. The trends in the wealth management, insurance and financial services industry are stark. In a nutshell:

  • how people search for financial services is changing
  • loyalty is declining
  • geography is collapsing
  • competition is increasing
  • relationship building is not always done in person
  • attention spans are collapsing, and with that, the foundation of interaction
  • Moore’s law continues to accelerate the structural change within the industry

In my keynote, I covered these and many more future trends, in order to outline the fact that in 10 years time, the very nature of the industry, and the business model in place, might no longer look the same. I ran a few online, interactive text message polls with my audience, as I do in all of my talks, and the senior executives in the room certainly agreed with me. This is what they responded with:

From that point, my talk took at a look at innovation opportunities to ensure that the broker, advisor, and others would play a powerful role into the future despite the potential for business model change. And the fact is, there is a lot of potential here, but it involves keeping up to date with the high-velocity expectations of today’s financial consumer.

They are influenced with wealth management decisions through the social networks in which they participative – Reddit is their Bloomberg!

How so? One of the most powerful methods is to align to the significant behavioural change introduced by the next generation client – today’s 20 to 25 year old financial consumer. They live in a different world – it’s all mobile, instant, interactive, and fast. They expect to able to get approval for a mortgage or car loan online in 45 seconds or less. They want instant, up to date summaries of their financial position through their iPhone. They are influenced with wealth management decisions through the social networks in which they participative – Reddit is their Bloomberg!

But its’ not just innovating with this new client demographic  – it also involves innovating with your own broker channel as well. Those of that age group who work within the financial services industry are fundamentally different too, in that they live in the same instant, short attention span, fast moving world. They expect to be able to do things fast, find clients fast, support those clients fast – and generally, adopt new ideas faster!

I’m getting a lot of hands on experience e with this new generation, in that my 23 year old son now works for a wealth management firm, similar to the one that I did my talk for in Dallas. He is busy building a career in the industry, at the same time that the industry is in the midst of massive potential upheaval. Will he be disintermediated? If the company that he works for does the right things, I don’t think so!

To that end, I spoke to my client last week about the reaction of the individual who hired him. She’s been in the industry for 35+ years, and has built a very successful wealth management firm. I understand that she was at a conference, and was speaking about some of the unique things she was doing to reach out to today’s new type of client.

Her response? “I hired a 23 year old!”

Brilliant! And that’s one of the key innovation success factors going forward – you can innovate in the context of a fast moving industry, by ensuring that you align yourself to todays’ fast moving client and employee. Generational innovation – understand it, and take advantage of it.

That’s one many trends I covered in my talk in Dallas last week. The future can often happen slowly – but can quickly happen all at once, particularly with the next generation!

 

 

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!

A customized video, focusing on the rapid trends impacting the urban transpiration sector, and encouraging people to attend. Learn more about how I put these highly polished, professional event videos here.

In addition, the organization did an interview with me, involving a fair bit of back and forth, which result in a lengthy Q&A article on the types of issues which would be covered at the conference — and why people in the industry should be in attendance. You can read the full article here:

Then there was the press release which went out, in order to continue stirring up the buzz.

Of course, then there is all the social media that goes with this material.

The conference isn’t till June, and we’ve already got same great buzz underway!

Some speakers will show up, do their keynote, and take your money.

Not me! I will do more before I even show up – I will work hard to take your money!

The National Fire Protection Association has booked me to headline their annual conference in Las Vegas this June.

As with every organization, they know that effective event marketing is a key to their success: and that they need to work harder to build attendance and interest in their events. To that end, I’ve been working relentlessly on some extremely customized, short videos that can be shared in advance of the event. Take a look at some of them here.

For this particular event, I pulled together 3 distinct video clips with my producer. Have a watch – they focus on future fire risk, accelerated infrastructure risk, virtual reality and more.

 
You can also watch the full, long version. We need to change things up a bit – long versions for the Web, shorter versions for social media!

Want to take your event to the next level? Work with a speaker who actually cares about your event and your own message – not theirs!

Back in the fall, I was the opening keynote speaker for the Annual Coffee, Tea & Water show in Dallas, put on by the National Automatic Merchandising Association. Great feedback – one fellow wrote “Jim, it was just simply astounding. I go to a lot of events and see a lot of speakers, but you hammered home the point that change is inevitable with solid insight, indisputable facts and powerful motivation. Well done!

That’s my job – to take you in the future. It’s why organizations like NASA, Disney, BASF and hundreds of others have engaged me to come in for a talk to rattle their cages.

“Talk about disruption, in just 90 minutes, Jim Carroll, futurist, and trends and innovation expert, managed to terrify me, Miss geeky nerd!” Is this the right approach to the future? Read on!

And sometimes, fear is a great motivator!

Read this article which just ran in CoffeeTalk, the magazine for the industry association, which just ran. In the context of the quote above, at least I know I am getting through!

Transition and Relentless Disruption as the New Reality
by Kerri Goodman, CoffeeTalk, January 2018

While attending the recent NAMA Coffee, Tea & Water conference, I was impressed/terrified by the keynote speaker whose topic was Innovation, Disruption, and Our Industry. Now, I have always prided myself at being not at just the ‘leading edge’ of technology, but at the ‘bleeding edge’ blazing trails through trial and error, rather fearlessly. In fact, CoffeeTalk launched our website in 1994, quite some time before even Coca Cola!

Click to continue reading

Talk about disruption, in just 90 minutes, Jim Carroll, futurist, and trends and innovation expert, managed to terrify me, Miss geeky nerd!

He began with a seemingly innocent reference to one of my favorite childhood programs, The Jetsons. It was fascinating to have this worldwide authority on transformative change walk us through exactly how this cartoon actually accurately predicted the future from robots and Roombas to at screen TVs, video chat to digital newspapers, even drones and smartwatches! Perhaps we all need to find the reruns online and take a peek at what is still to come?

However after the fun of seeing this 1962 TV show accurately predict where we are today, he returned to the terrifying ramifications of this constant disruption from technological advances: 65% of five-year-olds, right now, will be working in a job that does not currently exist. In fact, half of all first-year college students will have the knowledge they acquired in college be obsolete by the time they graduate! is is basically what Moore’s Law predicted back in 1965, technological advances will double every two years. DOUBLE!

Carroll stressed: No matter what we think or want, relentless disruption is the new reality. Even the Coffee industry is full of this disruption: k-cups changing the face of coffee consumption; smart roasters that can give you detailed information to create truly consistent roast profiles, brewing equipment that can reach out to service technicians to let them know they need to be fixed (IOT) before the operator even knows and so much more.

So how do businesses ride this tidal wave of disruption and transition? To be very honest, my first thought was to move to the deep woods somewhere and live off grid. Thankfully that was quickly replaced with hope. The solution starts out quite simply: business people and leaders must learn to think in a new way!

Disruptions are not threats, they are opportunities!

And so it is with a resounding Yeehaw that I say goodbye to 2017, most definitely the greatest personally transitional year of my life.

Nothing stays the same.

The folks at Farm and Dairy Magazine interviewed me on trends to watch in 2018 in the world of agriculture. It’s a good read – you’ll find it below!

On stage in New Orleans, I spoke about the idea of Spock having a medical tri-corder on the farm. It’s not as crazy an idea as you thinK!

As I write this post, I’m down in San Antonio, where I’ve got two events where I’ll speak about the future of agriculture to several hundred dealers for a farm and ag supplier about future trends.

I love talking to farming groups – it’s one of the most innovative industries that I know. Watch this video for the reasons why!

5 agricultural trends to watch in 2018
Farm and Dairy, January 2018

SALEM, Ohio — The top five trends to watch for in 2018 are sure to keep farmers on top of their game.

With an increased number of events causing hysteria, with the rise of “fake news,” an overload of news in general — thanks to the world being at our fingertips — farmers have to work harder to tell their story, said Jim Carroll, futurist.

“All producers need to be honest in explaining the humane treatment of animals, to explain what they do. We need real ag folks to tell our story, we’ve got to increase real news,” he said.

Social media is the key, and farmers haven’t been in the conversation enough, Carroll said.

This year, we need to keep our eye on emerging issues, agritourism and marketing, adds Brad Bergefurd, Ohio State Extension horticulture specialist and educator in Scioto County.

In addition to the continuous need to tell our story, experts believe these five issues will be trending in 2018:

Click to continue reading

1. Increased speed of change

We’ve been talking about it for years, and now it’s happening: Young people are returning to the family farm — the iPod generation is gaining the reins, said Jim Carroll.

“The speed of change will pick up; those returning to the farm are open to all these new ideas,” said Carroll, who travels the country talking about the future. “People are scared of the future, but want to understand it.”

The average age of farmers is 58. Their average age has been inching upward for approximately 30 years, according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture.

The census shows that during the past 30 years, the average age of U.S. farmers has grown by nearly eight years, from 50.5 years to 58.3 years, but that is about to change, warns Carroll, and that change brings rapid innovation adoption.

2. Fitbits for cows

A world with animal and crop health sensors will continue to flourish this year.

“Fitbits for cows, chickens, pigs — we see it happening now, but it will expand,” said Carroll.

Using drones to fly over herds to check on the health is happening. Farmers are monitoring the gestation of an animal, getting notifications from their iPhone, he said.

“We’ll see connectivity as a management practice,” Carroll said. “Being connected can save time and money on animal health.”

“Data analysis in the year ahead will supplement what farmers know intuitively,” he said, “and, in some cases, challenge those assumptions.”

New products rely on aerial satellite imagery, greenness sensors, soil maps and millions of weather data points — this innovation meshed with a group of early adopters is sure to keep technology pushed to the limits.

3. Global trade advocates

Global trade matters, it always has and it always will, agree Carroll and Tanner Ehmke, a former wheat farmer who is now the Knowledge Exchange manger at CoBank.

“Of course farmers in the Midwest are saying ‘don’t take apart NAFTA.’ NAFTA does matter,” said Carroll.

“Without a global perspective, the cost of food will double or worse. Without NAFTA, markets will be lost, trading partners and labor forces will be lost,” Ehmke said.

“There is room to be optimistic in trade in 2018,” he said. “But, we can’t lose NAFTA. No bilateral trade deals can replace the benefits of NAFTA.”

4. Labor shortages

Labor shortages will continue for highly skilled stoop labor, which tend to Ohio fruit, orchard, nursery, hops and vegetable crops, said Bergefurd, who focuses on specialty crops across Ohio.

“There were major labor shortages on Ohio farms in 2017, resulting in many acres of vegetables and some fruit not being harvested due to shortage of hand harvest labor,” he said.

He foresees a shortage of high quality, locally grown fruit and vegetables. Several large farms don’t have the needed labor, and, as a result, they are changing operations and not producing as many — or any — specialty crops, and are growing more grain crops instead, Bergefurd said.

Bergefurd predicts the acreage devoted to mechanically harvested pickling cucumbers will increase in northwest Ohio and few acres of the 80-year-old traditional, hand-harvested pickling cucumbers of Ohio will be planted due to labor shortages.

“Farmers who will plant hand-harvest pickles will adopt the use of harvest aids and will continue to move away from the crop share method that has historically been used,” he said.

5. Hitting bottom

“2018 looks like we will hit bottom, with grain and dairy prices bottoming out,” said Ehmke, who works to provide strategic insights about trends, structural change, and policy directives within the key rural industries served by CoBank.

“In 2018, we will see farm stress get worse before it gets better. We need to be proficient thinkers and use our relationships to get by.”

The world supply of crops will get tighter this year as usage picks up — starting to match with production, he said.

“We see the world demand, especially in Southeast Asia going up, and that is a good thing.”

Politically, trade uncertainty looks to continue this year, which won’t help the markets. Dairy prices continue to be under stress, as we see expansion globally, he said.

As prices hit bottom, Ehmke is optimistic that they will start to go the other way in 2019.

“I hope to see the dollar soften a bit. It won’t be a game changer this year, but it will start to help,” he said.

Are you ready for 2018?

You need to be. Change is fast and furious, and it’s everywhere. Watch this to understand what comes next — and what you need to do!

 

Production note: ‘green screened’ in my basement with my new iPhone X. The video quality of this phone is staggering! Awesome video edit done by my partner in Moscow, Armine Simonyan, aka Alexandra. Her work is wonderful!

For just over a year, I’ve started every workday morning with a cup of coffee, my laptop, and a photo from one of the stages on which I’ve appeared.

I’m thrilled to say that magically, this little bit of morning mediation has now turned into my next book!

Here’s the backstory – each morning, I find a photo from one of the countless stages on which I’ve appeared, where I’ve been busy talking about the future and trends. I spend some time, while sipping my coffee, thinking about the story that I was telling on stage for that particular photo. I wrap that story into an inspirational quote, work it into the photo, and release it into the world.

The reaction has been pretty remarkable – it seems to be touching people! When released, the quote goes up on Instagram, and is automatically blasted out to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. I figure that about now, the daily photo reaches about 50,000 people each day.

Those quotes have now morphed into my next book – an active work in progress – #38! I anticipate a release in the 2nd quarter of 2018. The working title? “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Stories from the Stage on Innovation, Disruption and the Accelerating Future.”

The books goes behind the scenes on many of these photos — which really are my observations that people have on hope, fear, the future and change. As a futurist and a speaker, you are in a really unique situation to observe how people choose to cope with what comes next. Some do – many don’t. There are powerful lessons to be learned from how people react to the future, and how they deal with change.

It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve released a book, and I am tremendously exited to be working on this one. What seems to be coming together is 25 years of insight from having the ability to share my thoughts on the future, trends, disruption and acceleration with over 2 million people from the stage.

Stay tuned!

Oh, if you want to see the quotes behind the book, take a look. And hit the links over on the right to follow me on various social networks and to see each new quote early every workday morning. Get inspired!

 

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In more industries than you think, Amazon is the elephant in the room. My experience has taught me that in every single industry, regardless of what you do and what you sell, you are or will soon be faced with a situation in which they will challenge your business model, and shake your belief in the future to the core.

Why not change that before it changes you?

What do you do as this situation comes about? Don’t wait for Amazon to disrupt you – disrupt yourself and disrupt Amazon first!

This particular photo is from an event with several hundred insurance brokers. Might Amazon disrupt the world of insurance? It’s certainly possible -the phrase used for this type of disruption carries the fancy term “disintermediation” – it simply means that that the middleman is cut out of a business relationship.

Let’s coin a new phrase for what is happening — the Amazonification of industries.

The fact is, Amazon (and other companies with the same strategy as Amazon) isn’t just changing the world of retail — its’ changing and challenging virtually every type of business that involves a middleman.

In the last few years I’ve been called into an increasing number of events where this is the new reality going forward — with clients seeking insight on what they should do when their business model is under threat. In quite a few of these events, I’m asked to address the ‘elephant in the room’, which is Amazon.

My 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, person interaction and other factors. In doing so, you specifically choose to not compete based on a race to the bottom and price.

The examples of the challenge are manyfold. I was invited in to speak at the quarterly leadership meeting of a company that is one of the leaders in the medical supplies marketplace. Clearly, a good chunk of their business could be subjected to risk as Amazon gets into their line of business.

How do they survive? Not by trying to offer a better price, but by working to ensure that their sales and professional representatives are working harder top provide greater value ion then service relationship they have with their clients,.

Similarly, I’m speaking to a group fo 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. Don’t hope to compete on price — because you will watch your business disappear!

It’s evening happening with optometrists — with a recent video clip where I’m on stage talking about what eye-doctors need to do when patients are focused more on price. In that case, focus on service!

The “Amazonification of industries” can get even more complex than that, when Amazon decides to offer a service element too! This is coming about quickly in the home repair industry — buy a door or window on Amazon, and they’ll line you up with a contractor that will do the installation for you. How can you complete if you are an established home contractor with a successful operation? It’s not an easy question, but is a reality that you might need to address!

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