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I just had a short talk in an airport with an urban planner; the inevitable question came about as to where I was going, and then, what I do. (In today’s case, I’m going to speak to 250 cattle ranchers about their future….)

So I explained the idea of a futurist, and in order to make it relevant, I came up with a trends scenario for him: “What do we do about zombie cars from an urban planning perspective?”

The essence of the issue is this:

  • one day, we’ll have a lot of self-driving vehicles
  • in that context, there are many communities where people have to pay extra for overnight parking spots, either for their condominium or due to the unique design of the neighbourhood they live in
  • in some communities, these parking spots are expensive — upwards of $500 to $1,000 a month
  • people with self-driving cars will avoid this cost, simply by sending their cars out at 6 or 7pm to drive around the neighbourhood for the night, or to go park at a shopping mall parking lot somewhere
  • everyone will order them back around the same time — say, 6AM
  • and so we will suddenly have to deal with new traffic jams occurring at 6am
  • so the question is, what will an urban planner do to deal with the new challenges coming from zombie cars?
  • Will it be an issue, and how should we manage and plan for it?

Just saying. Just one of many fascinating topics I bring into my keynote, Accelerating the Auto and Trucking Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

Recently, I’ve had two absolutely fascinating session, each about 2-3 hours in length.

In one case, a major private equity firm engaged me to meet with their main advisory board In another case, I met with a group of very wealthy investors who were / are owners of major family held businesses, with valuations into the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

Over the years, I’ve taken on an increasing number of small, intimate events for investor groups that have involved me leading a wide ranging discussion of the investment opportunities I see emerging in the future.

In both cases, these small, intimate meetings (with 20-40 people) were built around a structure in which I would cover a wide variety of future trends where I saw significant opportunity in the future. We then had a wide ranging discussion around these opportunities and a very lively debate.

Both were pretty heavy duty groups, with current and ex-CEO’s, Congressmen, Senators, venture capitalists and angel investors, university professors and researchers. Without getting into a lot of detail, one of the events had me take on four specific issues. These are the key areas that I spoke about:

  • big data: what’s beyond the hype, and what’s real?
  • intellectual property – what’s next as a venture play
  • oil & gas & US energy self-sufficiency: what sideline opportunities are emerging
  • regulatory challenges: as the velocity of change runs up against regulation, who will emerge as unique winners?

In the other case, I defined future opportunities in the context of the vast, transformative trends that are upending industries, providing for massive business model innovation, and for a lot of competitive disruption:

  • pervasive connectivity: massive opportunity as every device is connected, and we have awareness as to its status, location and IP address
  • big, bold movers: the phrase I use for organizations who are in a transformative frame of mind in solving big problems in healthcare, energy and the environment
  • revenue reinventors: how to find the signs of organizations reinventing their revenue stream at a furious pace, which is fundamental to success in todays economy
  • health care reform: what’s really happening, and who’s really innovating far beyond the political bluster. Think bioconnectivity, virtuality, mobility, wireless.
  • the future energy: opportunities beyond shale which involve accelerating science. Cows!

These types of sessions are tremendously invigorating; I really enjoy them, and the feedback in both cases was fabulous.

So there’s another thing that a futurist does that you might have never thought we do.

Here’s a clip from my 2010 keynote in Tucson, Arizona on the future of the workforce. It covers everything from generations in the workplace, the future of outsourcing, and the impact of specialized skills.


The best part? The story of a snowboarding kid who turned down a job because it messed with his time in the powder!

It’s a true story, and tells you much of what you need to know about the future of the workforce. Make sure you read the PDF story, “Don’t mess with my powder, dude!

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