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Over the years, I’ve done many talks within the manufacturing industry, putting into perspective the real trends and opportunities for innovation that will allow for reinvention of this sector. Lots of CEOs are bringing me in for a leadership meeting, knowing that their future will come from aligning to fast paced trends (as opposed to wishful thinking as found in the current political environment). Much of the opportunity for innovation in the  sector involves advanced technologies, digitization, new manufacturing methodologies and process — and of course, 3D printing or additive manufacturing.

I’ve been speaking on stage about 3D printing for well over ten years. The concept of having a printer that can ‘print’ physical things is a fascinating one, and is evolving at a furious pace. Earlier this week, I did a talk for a manufacturing organization in New Haven, CT, that included a detailed overview of who is doing innovative work in this area. I’ll blog about that later.

For now, though, a lot of the opportunity from 3D printing comes from the ability for rapid prototyping and design. It unshackles organizations from having to commit to a full production run upon finalizing a product design; instead, it leads to an iterative process in which the product design can be continually changed. In addition, there is quite a bit of ‘grassroots’, tinkering innovation around 3D printing, with folks fooling around in their garage or home workshop to developing fascinating new products. They can then use contract 3D printing manufacturers to turn their ideas into a physical product.

To that end, here’s a great story! Last year, when I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual PGA Merchandise show, I spoke to the Professional Golfers Association as to how quickly 3D printed golf clubs will become an opportunity for innovation within the game. Watch the clip.

Imagine my surprise the other day when I’m out for a round at my home golf club, Credit Valley Golf and Country Club, and meet a fellow member named Gary Woolgar. He’s actually 3D printing his own custom wedges, using his first prototype on that day. (I’m not quite sure I understand the design concept, but then again, my golf game is a bit of a shambles right now).

It’s such a fascinating story that I told it on stage last week when I headlined a session on manufacturing innovation for a global, $2 billion company. Watch this clip too!

This is one of the most exciting aspects of 3DPrinting — the world around is changing at a furious pace, and sometimes, its driven by engineers who have an idea, the tools to test the idea, and the initiative to make it work. Organizations need to embrace the same type of thinking: grassroots innovation, tinkering, and trying out new ideas, methodologies and technologies.

If you are in the manufacturing sector, you need to empower your team to do the types of things that Gary is doing. It’s only be experimenting with the tools of the fast pace future that you can discover the opportunities they will present. In other words, you need more guys like Gary around!

 

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

 

One of my key responsibilities as a futurist is to help my clients — some of the largest associations and companies in the world — align themselves to the fast paced trends of today. One key question that always comes up? “When do we get involved with any key trend?”

I walk them through that issue from a variety of perspectives and with observations I’ve seen from spending time with countless Fortune 1000 organizations. However, I stress that when it comes to the issue of timing, it is critical that they get involved in some way with any new trend or technology.

Some don’t. History has taught as that some when it comes to key trends, some organizations don’t bother showing up at all or don’t show up at the right time — and end up missing a lot of opportunities. Hence, the quote in the picture!

How do you determine when to invest? The best guidance comes from something called the “Gartner Hypecycle.” Years ago, the global research company suggested that any new technology goes along a curve – it appears, hits the time of excessive hype and expectations. That is followed by the inevitable collapse of enthusiasm as people realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to implement the technology and determine the opportunity that comes from it. But inevitably, both the expectations and technology itself matures, and it becomes a key component for innovation and so much more.

You can take any technology and place it on the curve.

Consider e-commerce: it appeared, and people got carried away with the potential during the dot.com era of the late 1990’s. However, that involved a period of rather excessive and ridiculous hype, and so we had the inevitable dot.com collapse. Plateau of productivity? Amazon is steamrolling retail in North America, and Alibaba dominates retail trends in China. Everywhere, stores are closing and online shopping is accelerating. Amazon buys Whole Foods. Do you get the point?

Now consider the explosion of new technologies around us today: 3D printing, the Internet of Things (#iot), virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars. A key component to your strategy is figuring out where they are on the curve, and hence, what you should be doing with them in terms of an innovation strategy. There are some useful observations to be found online, such as this one which takes the hype-cycle and places a variety of technologies at their current point on the curve.

But here’s the thing: if a key technology shows an opportunity, don’t ignore it if it is still early days. Otherwise, there is a good chance that you won’t be ready when it becomes real – when it hits the plateau of productivity. 

This is where my “think big, start small, scale fast” mantra comes into play. Even if it is early days, you should make sure that you are working with, experimenting with, and gaining expertise in any new technology. Fail early and fail fast! That way, you will be better positioned when it hits the “plateau of productivity.”

One thing I’ve learned? Some organizations don’t take this step. They don’t show up to the starting line. They are too dismissive of new ideas and new technologies The result is that they don’t even appear in the race, and miss out on building up the early expertise and experience with a key technology.

I’ve just put up another “highlight” post about the fascinating events that I’ve keynoted or spoken at for the 2nd quarter of the year. It’s a good overview of the unique topic areas and clients that I take on.

So how do these events come about? I’m often asked by people as to how clients discover and book me. Some of it happens directly – through word of mouth, previous clients, or by people finding my Web site and learning about the highly customized keynotes that I do. But a good number of my bookings also come in from a number of major global speakers bureaus who have actively represented me for a number of years.

In mid-April, my wife and I visited the Washington Speakers Bureau, one of several major bureaus who actively represent and book me. Right at the entrance, I was reminded that they are a real class act with a welcome sign. There I was!

These bureaus are aware of my expertise, the topics I cover, and most importantly, how I work with their clients to build a highly relevant customized presentation. (Should you have found me through one of these bureaus, let’s make sure they are involved in any contracting process. It makes no difference to your cost, and they can help to ease the contracting and logistics process. They are also an invaluable resource when you are looking for other speakers or people of note).

Given their role, I invest a lot of time with my bureau partners. They are critical in helping people find the right experts for particular meetings, and only represent people who have proven themselves in terms of insight, content, and presentation capabilities. Some of my partners are the biggest in the industry: they range from groups such as Dallas based Gail Davis & Associates (who booked me into the PGA of America and an event in St. Andrews Scotland in one year!!!),  the Washington Speakers Bureau, Keppler Speakers, Leading Authorities (all in Washington),  and the Toronto based National Speakers Bureau, among many others.

I often take the time during my travels to visit with these folks to keep them up to date. This quarter saw two great visits, to the Washington Speakers Bureau and to the Harry Walker Agency.

Walking into WSB was fun — for my visit, they did place my book, The Future Belongs to Those Who are Fast, next to those of some other folks they represent.

(I am not under any delusions; the spot is used regularly, and it was replaced shortly after  when Simon T. Bailey visited…)

In any event, I met with 25 folks on the WSB team and had a great discussion on the trends, topics, business issues and more that I am seeing in the industry. I ended up writing a blog post that they distributed to their client list: take a moment to read Keeping Up with the Speed of Change: Future Trends in the Speaking Industry.

I also had the chance to visit one of the other bureaus that represents me, the Harry Walker Agency in New York City, just a few weeks ago. They have a great client list; for example, they booked me in to headline the Sports & Fitness Industry Association leadership meeting, where I had the distinct honour of being followed on stage by Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL.

The neat thing about Harry Walker is that they are the exclusive agent for another couple of folks new to the speaking circuit.  (What I would give to share the stage with either of them! Being an optimistic futurist, I am pretty certain that this will happen! Michelle and Barack, here’s to a great keynote together at some point! I’ll cover the future trends, and one of you will talk about what we need to do to get there — or something like that…..)

I take a lot of care to ensure that all of my bureau partners are kept in the loop on my topics, and these visits are a critical part of the process. These are but two; I’ve visited many of my other partners through the years.

To cl0se out this post, here’s one other speakers bureau item of note: just the other day, I had a session with the Board of Directors of a major credit union in Toronto; it was held at the Westin Airport Hotel in that city.

Driving in, I realized that this was the very hotel where I did my very first speaking gig, way back in October 1993, for a packaging company. That event, which would launch a carerer that now spans 24 years and over one million people, was arranged by my longest surviving speakers bureau parters, the National Speakers Bureau in Toronto.

 

What goes on in the life of a futurist? Lots of stages and lots of fascinating events, with talks focused on linking future trends to opportunities for innovation! Here’s a wrap-up of some of the events from April to June of this year.

Gore Mutual, Toronto

This was certainly a highlight – I shared the stage with Astronaut Chris Hadfield (best known for his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Odyssey from the International Space Station, with 36 million+ Youtube views) and Environmentalist David Suzuki.

The event was arranged for insurance brokers and distributors, encouraging them to align themselves to the future trends that are reshaping their industry. My role was to speak to issues of disruption and change in the insurance industry, a topic I’ve covered for many major insurance conferences and companies worldwide.

I used a brand new slide deck at this event — it’s two weeks old! — and I must say: it rocks. The material flows at a fascinating pace, the audience reaction was tremendous, and it does a great job of conveying our world of fast change. I’m adopting this deck for all keynotes going forward — and I will have some video from this presentation soon.

Genentech, San Francisco

This event was for 550 executives from this pharma-tech company — it’s owned by French pharmaceutical giant Roche. It’s also one of the global leaders in the business of pharmacogenetics : that is, the development of highly targeted drug therapies based on particular genetic profiles.

My keynote took a look at the future of healthcare and the big transformative opportunities that exist in a world of accelerated science. The topic strikes close to home for me : I’ve had my own genetic profile done (the news is all good!)

Godiva Chocolates, Ghent, Belgium

This was a repeat engagement — the company, along with its parent Ulker from Turkey, had me headline a global leadership meeting in London, UK in January. The Godiva team found the message to be powerful, and so they invited me back for a deeper dive into global retail trends. My keynote took a look at consumer behaviour, fast new retail store technology, the impact of Amazon, the role of the mobile device in collapsing attention spans, the new product influencers and so much more….

In this case, the small meeting room (with 50 executives from 18 countries, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Germany and more…) didn’t offer a great photo, but the view outside of my hotel room sure did! I love doing events in Europe! Invite me in!

The world of retail is changing at a furious pace – witness the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon — and I’m doing quite a few talks on trends in this area, including for a major retail conference in Las Vegas this fall.

4C Summit, Tucson, Arizona

I love it when I get repeat gigs! Back in 2010, I was invited into this annual event, to speak to 250 cattle ranchers on future trends with ranching, food, consumer behaviour and more. I had several billions of dollars worth of cattle in the room and reported on it at length in a few blog posts.

They invited me back again this year for a keynote that took a look at the new world of consumer influence, issue messaging and more. In the era of fake news and rapid myth-information, cattle ranchers need to do a better job in telling their story to the world, and that was the entire focus of the event this year.

In my opening keynote, I put these trends into perspective. And, to be honest, I was blunt with them that if they recognize that some misinformation exists, they should their emotions to drive their passion for purpose.

Hence, a rather undiplomatic slide. But it did get a lot of retweets!

Drive 17, CUDirect, Las Vegas

This event took a look at the future of automotive lending with a particular emphasis on the credit union sector, which is the line of business that CUDirect is focused on.

I had a bit of fun at the sound check the day before, with Vegas being Vegas after all – you’re always guaranteed a great stage! Here’s an infinite me!

Of course, the next morning I was on duty, outlining the many ways in which the era of self-driving cars, intelligent highways, the sharing economy and many more trends would come to challenge the very idea of automative lending in the future. The auto industry is accelerating fast — and I’m doing numerous talks for industries and companies affected by this trend.

Nasscom C-Summit, New York

Now this was cool! I was invited in by Nasscom, which represents the global software and business process outsourcing industry for India. Essentially the national trade association for one of the largest software and services industries in the world.

My closing keynote, “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption”, provided context on how quickly our world is changing. This was the debut of my new slide deck (mentioned above), and walking on stage, I realized it more than rocked!

This was a great audience: I had global CIO’s from Johnson and Johnson, Schneider Electric, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Phillips Health, NBC Universal, Estee Lauder, GE and Anheuser Busch Inbev, and over 200 more.

As an aside, these folks know that, despite a world of fantasy in Washington, access to global skills is a key factor for future success.

Highmark Health, Pittsburgh

This is one of the leading players in the healthcare insurance and group benefits market in Ohio, and they invited me in for a talk on the future of healthcare. In attendance were senior executives, HR and benefits managers for major employers throughout the region.

While political volatile rages, the science and technology of healthcare isn’t slow down, and I put some context on the transformative trends that can redefine our approach to some of the more complex issues of our time. Highmark is part of the Blue Cross group, and I’ve keynoted at least 15 other Blue Cross events over the last 15 years.

I didn’t have a picture of the stage, but did get this great photo during my morning walk in the City of Bridges. That’s their HQ in the background!

Western Manufacturing Technology Show, Edmonton, Alberta

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has had me keynote some major events in the past — 2,000 manufacturing executives in Las Vegas at the IMX show , and 1,500 more at the BigM conference in Detroit. Each of these also involved a small, intimate dinner presentation for CEO’s and others the evening before.

Based on that track record, SME has booked me to headline 3 major Canadian manufacturing events; this was the first in the series. Like every other industry, manufacturing is being reimagined and reinvented at a furious pace.

My keynote took a look at fast trends involving 3D printing, the factory of the future (“Industry 4.0”), rapid digitization, the role of the Internet of Things in the factory, rapid prototyping and so much more. In the fall, I will headline the biggest Canadian manufacturing event in Toronto.

Exelon

My talks don’t just involve events on massive stages in Las Vegas : I also do an ever increasing number of small, hands on working sessions with small groups of executives.

In that context, I was approach by this major energy company to come in and spend a morning with their nuclear division, with a particular focus on the “future of energy.”

Given the audience background, I literally had a room with a whole bunch of nuclear engineers! A good example of the unique type of topics that I take on through my process of detailed customization.

Habitat For Humanity Annual Conference, Kelowna, British Columbia

Sometimes, you get a keynote that goes beyond the issues of disruption, business model change and other issues. In this case, the role for passion, purpose and caring in society.

My keynote for the annual conference of the Canadian component of this global initiative took a look at future trends impacting philanthropy and charitable organizations; the changing nature of the home and shelter; smart cities and more.

I launched a phrase in the room – given the current ugly political environment in the US, my belief that it is time that people “double down on dignity.” There seem to be so many in society who are driven by an agenda of hate, fear, distrust of immigrants and the poor, and in that context, its important that we examine our social and human values. And hence, double down on our philanthropic efforts.

The phrase and the context in which it was said certainly caught some attention!

Allegacy Credit Union, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The CEO saw me speak last year at an event in Chicago on the trends impacting and disrupting the financial services sector, and so she decided to invite me in for a working session with their regular Board of Directors meeting.

It sort of expanded from there, and I ended up speaking to a room of about 50, consisting of the Board, key leadership executives and a few community leaders.

I don’t have a stage shot, since it was held in the main meeting room at the Wake Forest University football stadium — but did get this shot before I began.

It’s been a busy time for me with talks in the credit union industry — just two days ago, I spent 3 hours with the Board of a major Canadian credit union on similar issues of disruption.

Ontario Municipal Systems Association, Windsor, Ontario

This event had several hundred CIO’s and IT executives for cities and towns from across the province. My keynote examined the future of smart cities, intelligent infrastructure, the role of the Internet of Things in a municipal setting and more.

The keynote certainly caught some attention, with an article appearing in a national trade publication – municipalities should not be left behind in an era of acceleration!

There is a very important theme here: an increasing number of economic development decisions are being made based upon the ‘smart infrastructure’ of a region. This will be a focus of a keynote I do in the fall for the Nevada Economic Development Association.

Sir Adam Beck Public School, Toronto

Last but not least, this quarter featured the conclusion of my time capsule project with a Grade 5 class. I blogged about the project earlier — essentially, I golf with a Grade 5 teacher, Ian Bates, and suggested to him one day that his class should do a project!

So they did! They did all the work — and we sealed the capsule on June 13, only to be opened on the same day in 2045!

Why 2045? I’m not quite sure how this came about — but I do know that I’ll be 86 years old when it is opened, so I’ve got to stay focused on my future!

There were several other keynotes in this quarter, and I’ll blog about those too. I’m winding down for the summer, with only 4 events scheduled (by choice!). And this fall is already busy, including an event in Tokyo where I headline Nikon’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Stay tuned!

 

I’m off to New York, where tomorrow I will be the closing speaker at Nasscom’s inaugaural C-summit

The National Association of Software and Services Companies is a trade association representing the major players in the Indian IT and business process outsourcing industry. The event is taking a look at future trends and opportunities for innovation, and features a wide variety of other fascinating speakers, such as the CIO’s for Johnson and Johnson (also a client of mine), Praxair and Schneider Electric.

Of course, everyone knows that we live in interesting times, and that like many nations and organizations in the world, Nasscom is working hard to align folks to a new world order of crazy twists and turns, often illogical policy directions and massive uncertainty. Such is the world today!

Here’s what I know: every business in every industry is faced with unprecedented change through the next 5 to 10 years as disruption takes hold. Read my 10 Drivers for Disruption, and ask yourself how you will be affected.

Then ask yourself : will you have the skills, agility, strategy and capability to align yourself to a faster future? That’s what I will be covering in my keynote! A key part of that equation involves the skills equation. While there might be wishful thinking in parts of the world as to how to deal with a challenging skills issue, the reality is that having a great skills strategy is a crucial factor for success in the era of disruption.

With that thinking, here’s my keynote description!

Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast: Innovating in the Era of Disruption

We live in a time of massive challenge, and yet one of fascinating opportunity, as every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other trends.

In this keynote, futurist Jim Carroll outlines the key drivers of disruption, but offers a path forward. Undeniably, we must align ourselves to the realty of multiple trends: hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous technologies, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry. As this happens….every company becomes a software company, and speed defines success. That’s why the New York Times recently indicated that the methodologies of agile software development are increasingly becoming a key general leadership requirement.

In this new world in which the future belongs to those who are fast, experience is oxygen. There’s no time to learn, to study, to plan. It’s time to figure out what you don’t know, and do the things that are necessary to begin to know about it. Experiential capital is the new capital for the 21st century.

How to cope with accelerating change? In this keynote, Jim outlines his simple but transformative structure : Think big, start small and scale fast! Jim has been working with and studying what makes organizations survive in a fast paced world. His clients include NASA, the PGA of America, the Swiss Innovation, the National Australia Bank, the Wall Street Journal, Disney, and many, many more.

I work with many of the world’s leading bureaus, one of who is the Washington Speakers Bureau. They represent such people as Condoleeza Rice, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, John Kerry, Magic Johnson, Terry Bradshaw — global political, sports and other leaders. They’ve just run a blog post that I wrote on trends in the speaking industry. (Many of the worlds leading bureaus book me ; not only Washington Speakers, but also National Speakers Bureau / Global Speakers; Gail Davis & Associates; Leading Authorities; the Harry Walker Agency; Keppler Speakers ; Executive Speakers and many more!)


You can’t open a newspaper without seeing an article on the impact of ‘disruption.’  We now live in a period of unprecedented change in which your business model and the assumptions by which you operate are set to be forever disrupted.

In my own case, I spend a tremendous amount of time with different organizations in a vast range of different industries and professions, helping executives to understand and respond to the disruptive forces around them. And in the last several years, I’ve noticed some pretty significant changes in the speaking industry as organizations struggle with disruption.

If you are someone on your team responsible for organizing corporate or association meetings, you need to think about and react to the trends and forces at work. Quite simply, change is occurring several ways: with the speed with which speakers and topic experts are being booked, the topic areas that insight is being sought for, and the short time frames that everyone is working within.

As a speaker who focuses on how to link trends and innovation, my tag-line has become ‘the future belongs to those who are fast.”

The world is speeding up – and organizations need to respond faster

Consider the changes that everyone is impacted by today. Business model disruption. The rapid emergence of new competitors. The challenging impact of social media. Products that are almost out of date by the time they are brought to market. The digitization of everything and the impact of the Internet of Things.  All of these trends — and more — require that organizations pick up the pace when it comes to their strategies, actions and innovation efforts.

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I’m always thinking about my clients and my keynotes and the messages that I need to deliver on stage. With that, I’m always keeping my eye open for a good business parable. So here’s another one, that came from a unique opportunity for a quick little ski lesson from one of the top downhill racers in the world, Larisa Yurkiw.

Advice for me in a personal lesson from one of the top 3 downhill ski racers in the world: “Focus forward — keep your shoulders pointed to where you want to go. And be like a slinky. You never know what the next bump in the snow is going to throw at you, so you need to be prepared for anything. You can only do that if you are in a position that will let you flex quickly.”

I was skiing this weekend at my home ski club — it’s a small eastern hill known as Georgian Peaks. Bluebird skies and great conditions. And so at one point, I came down one particular run — Rogers — which is rather steep and challenging for someone who only took up the sport at the age of 40.

Normally, I would look like a total doofus on this hill, but the conditions were so good that maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing or faked it well. But I felt that I actually skied it pretty well.

And then a voice in the lift line behind me — “I followed you all the way down!” Larisa Yurkiw was standing there. “Let’s do a few more runs.

If you don’t know Larisa’s story, you should. She started at the same small Ontario ski hill, and progressed to the elite of the global downhill ski racing circuit, racing against her friends Lindsay Vonn, Julie Mancuso and others. Before her retirement, she was ranked number 3 in the world, competed in the Olympics, and more. What makes the story more unique is that she did it all on her own terms, establishing and funding her own ski team because the national sports association didn’t step up and believe in her. She did!

It’s a great story, and she’s now telling it in a powerful stage keynote – A Daring Need for Speed. (Full disclosure : I’ve been mentoring Larisa on how to take her story to the stage, and she’s doing a great job. If you are looking for a powerhouse speaker with a fascinating keynote, check her out!)

Back to my story — so we went up the lift, and then she gave me a tip at the top. I might not have it exactly right, but it was something like this:

“Focus forward — keep your shoulders pointed to where you want to go. And be like a slinky. You never know what the next bump in the snow is going to throw at you, so you need to be prepared for anything. You can only do that if you are in a position that will let you flex quickly.”

The essence of her 2 point lesson for me was to keep focused on where I was trying to go, and to be flexible and agile in my stance. Did it work? We did several more runs together, and I felt a fair bit more control in what I was doing. It’s too bad the season is coming to an end!

But for me, there was more than just a quick ski lesson — there was a great business story in that simple guidance! It’s almost the perfect business leadership lesson for the high velocity economy! With business model disruption, the emergence of new, nimble competitors, the onrush of technological change, challenging consumers and more, organizations today must have have more flexibility than ever before to respond to a sudden change in conditions, just as on a ski hill.

But that must be done in the context of keeping a key goal and strategy in mind — staying focused on where you want to go on the journey.

So your leadership lesson for today? Focus forward & be a slinky – simple, yet effective and compelling!

 

Ok, here goes — it’s been a fabulous 8 weeks, as I hit the road running, keynoting a wide variety of events in a number of different industries. New to this unique job – I’m working harder to get stage pictures; I use them in my daily motivational/trends quote. Follow me over on my Instagram page to get them and be inspired!

First off, can I tell you that I love my job? Here’s a picture from when I was on stage for an event in London, England, last month. Never mind that with jet lag, it was the equivalent of 3:30AM in the morning for me.

I’m on, I’m wired, I’m inspired – that’s what I do!

Here’s an overview of what I’ve been up to for the first two months of the year!

Omnitracs Outlook 2017, Phoenix, Arizona – Trucking Keynote

This is a software and logistics company in the fast moving trucking industry – my keynote was all about the future of autonomous trucks, bio-connected driver monitoring, the fast change occurring in the logistics/supply chain industry and more. There’s a blog post about it here.  I’ll have another! I’m doing more and more in the automative/trucking, and general transportation space – to such a degree, I’ve rolled out a separate keynote description: Accelerating the Auto and Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

United Suppliers Technology Exchange – New Orleans, Louisiana, Agricultural keynote

For this event I had about 300 farmers in the room — and truth be told, I love working with these folks. Farmers are some of the most innovative people I know — they are open to new ideas, the exploration of new technologies; they are constantly in search of new methodologies and so much more. It’s a theme I capture in the agriculture section of my Web site; in particular, read the post Two Types of Farmers. I’ve got a separate keynote description for my agricultural talks : Big Trends in Agriculture: What Will the World’s Oldest Profession Look Like in 2025?

Commscope, Dallas, Texas – The Future of Technology

This company is a long time pioneer in the world of telecom and hi-tech. They know everything is changing with hyperconnectivty, the Internet of Things, massive acceleration in product innovation and product lifecyles, constant growth as every company becomes a software company, and as Moore’s law rules everything from healthcare to agriculture, cars and trucks to every other industry! (That’s a long sentence — and while it might be breathtaking, so is the speed of change). Who better to help them make sense of a future in which the future belongs to those who are fast? (Hint: Me!)

American Financial Services Association – New Orleans – Automotive keynote

Again, in New Orleans — in this case, the finance/leasing end of the automotive industry, including financing companies and the dealer network. So much change in terms of business models in this sector: what’s the future of the  financing of car purchasing, in an era in when people might not even buy cars anymore as the sharing economy takes hold? Not to mention the fact that the very essence of the vehicle is changing as innovation speeds up, the dashboard goes out of date faster, and the resale value changes quicker! Don’t forget – the very nature of what we consider a car is changing as companies like Tesla come to redefine the industry!

Pladis – Godiva Chocolates, McVities Biscuits  Ulker – Keynote on the Future of Food & Retail, London, England

This was a huge amount of fun! I love overseas trips! And what an organization — Pladis is new, with three separate, distinct brands coming together with a focus on future opportunities. My keynote covered trends in fast-changing retail, consumer behaviour, store infrastructure, brand promotion and more. It must have gone well — since Godiva is having me back for a separate supply chain event in Ghent, Belgium in May!

Scotiabank, Toronto, Canada – Future of Banking/Financial Services Keynote

More disruption — business models, the rapid evolution of technology, new competitors with PayPal, Google and Apple. Just what is a bank anymore, and who is it? What do they do in terms of innovation with fast changing expectations, business model disruption, the relentless impact of mobile, the rapid acceleration of innovation from every perspective? Whatever the case may be, agility needs to be the core focus going forward — and that was the overall message within my keynote, which took a deep look at the trends sweeping this industry.

Alberici Group, St, Louis, Missouri – The Future of Architecture and Construction

This was a smaller conference than the others, but equally important! It was a leadership meeting for this major American construction company. My keynote kicked off the event, and covered issues around the rapid emergence of new construction methodologies, new materials and design concepts, fast paced architectural trends, the acceleration of skills and knowledge. This keynote came on the heels of a talk I did in the fall on the same type of issues for the American Concrete Institute – read more here. One of my key goals – get them aligned to the trends in their industry, rather than shying away from them.

Whirlpool, Chicago, Illinois – Future Impact of Internet of Things (#IoT)

This is a company that is making a transition from being a company that sells appliances, to being a computer company that happens to sell hi-tech within appliances. The industry is speeding up as Moore’s law comes to take hold; the value proposition changes with the service-ification (Yup, I made that word up) of business models, and as big device architecture issues come into play. I’m doing a LOT of talks around the Internet of Things — and its nice to see that a senior leadership team in the forefront of what is happening here chose me to come in and share key insight on what’s next.

Stay tuned – March, April, May and June offer a whole bunch more in terms of keynotes and leadership events. I’ll be blogging, tweeting and Instagraming as I go.

Let’s face it: the trends impacting life and property/casualty and groups benefits insurance companies are real.

The industries will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (IoT) and massive connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. Fast paced trends involving self-driving cars, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarmbots, smart dust, artificial intelligence and augmented reality will either mitigate, accelerate or challenge the very notion of risk assessment and underwriting! What happens when Amazon, Google or some kid in a garage decide to really change the insurance business model?

What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates. Whichever way you look, all sectors of the insurance industry are set for an era of disruption, challenge and change! Is the industry ready for transformative change? Not really! A recent survey indicated that while 94% of Chief Strategy Officers at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years,” fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs believe their companies are prepared.

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? Maybe not.

Jim has been the keynote speaker for dozens of conferences, corporate events and association annual meetings in the insurance sector, including • Certified Professional Chartered Underwriter Association • LIMRA International • Assurant Insurance • Chubb Commercial • Lincoln Financial • GAMA International • Cigna  • Blue Cross Blue Shield  •Equitable Life Insurance Company  •RBC Life Insurance •MetLife •SwissRe •American Institute of Actuaries • American Automobile Association • FM Global and SunLife. Jim led a discussion on the future of insurance at a private meeting that included CxO’s from most major insurers, including Allianz, XL Insurance, Travelers, AIG,  Zurich Financial Services, Allstate, AXA, MetLife Auto & Home, Farmers,  CNA,  Nationwide, American Famity, Chubb, Ping An, Lloyd’s of London, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, Generali, GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, and RSA.

Jim Carroll has been helping insurance organizations in the world understand the tsunami of change that is FinTech, the impact of mobile technology, social networks, rapid business emergence, accelerated risk, the emergence of new global competitors and heightened customer expectations.

In his keynotes he puts into perspective the real trends impacting the future of insurance, offering critical insight into the key innovation and leadership strategies in a time of disruptive change.

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