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What My 2013 Means for YOUR 2020!
December 20th, 2013

It’s been an incredible run! 2013 proved to be another fun year with a number of keynote presentations and workshops, once again in a vast number of different industries.

Usually, at the end of every year, I write a ‘trend report’ related to key trends that will impact you in the future. You’ll find some of them in the 2014 and beyond section to the right.

This year, I thought I would do something different though — why not outline for you what you should thinking about in terms of the trends that will affect you between now and 2020, based on what I’ve been speaking to my clients about in the last year.

A typical working day at the office for me during 2013!

A typical working day at the office for me during 2013!

Here’s a list of just a few clients where I’ve had the privilege of speaking, with a message focused on one or several key trends that we need to think about as we head towards 2020:

  • NASA Goddard Space Center — a keynote and a half day working session with senior leaders, research scientists and project managers – including those who are building the James Webb telescope, the replacement for the Hubble! Perhaps one of the most extraordinary working days of my life, and it was a thrill to bring my 20 year old son along with me – I have long been a space exploration junkie! The focus of my talk? Broadly, putting some context on the theme “the business of space is changing.” NASA is faced with dramatic trends that define new challenges but vast opportunity, from the increasing commercialization of space, rapid advancement of national space programs (think Iran and China) and the impact of the distribution of global R&D. That’s a key trend to 2020 for every single organization and every single industry: there are vast changes underway in terms of business models in every industry, and they are bigger than you think. Transformation is a key word going forward: no industry or company will look anything in 2020 like it does today. Innovators will make sure they are part of it, not blindsided by it.
  • Sandia National Laboratories – a keynote and a half day working session with a room full of, literally, nuclear scientists. I must tell you, when I walk into one of these situations, I often ask myself as to how I ended up in this very strange job. Then I focus on the task at hand: in this case, the broad theme being the fact that there is a fundamental, deep and substantive change in terms of how global R&D is carried out : the knowledge tentacles of an organization into the global collective mind will define its future success. Every organization must align to this new reality, and understand how to realign its knowledge acquisition and development process.
  • Private wealth managers, Athens, Greece – a keynote for a group of “family office managers.” In the room, I had folks who represent and manage the wealth of a vast swathe of some of the wealthiest families on the planet. Key message: on a long term basis, growth abounds in the global economy, and world class innovators focus on opportunity despite economic volatility. Perhaps that’s why it was held in Athens — read my blog post on the “Miracle that is Greece.”
  • American Medical Group, Phoenix, Arizona – a keynote for this group, which represents a vast cross-spectrum of the US healtcare system. Key message? The real future of health care isn’t found in the ridiculousness of the politics, but in that the rapid acceleration of science will provide more opportunity for innovation in the next 5 years than we have seen in the last 100. Looking out to 2020, we are going to see massive change in everything we think about healthcare. Genomic medicine is undergoing a cost curve that equates to what happened with computer chips – in 5 years, you’ll go into Radio Shack and buy your own genomic sequencing machine for $2. That’s but one trend of many – check out the health care section of my blog under the trends area, and dig deeper.
  • Lender Processing Group – a keynote built on the theme of my book of 15 years ago, Surviving the Information Age. The client was celebrating a 25th anniversary of a customer event, and wanted to look back at trends from the past and cast them into the future. What turned out was a talk that was a huge amount of fun – you can find the full video online as well as a number of clips! Key theme? Baby boomers are a very unique generation because of their relationship with the earliest days of the computer revolution. Key trend? We are in the midst of an absolute massive generational transformation  that relates to attitudes towards innovation and change, as baby boomers retire and Gen-Connect takes over positions of power and influence. Looking out to 2020, this is probably one of the deepest, most profound and sweeping trends to impact us. Right now, half of the global population is under the age of 25. What do you think happens next? It’s going to be different!
  • ERA 2013, Austin, Texas – this keynote and many others involved a dramatic look at some future trends sweeping our world, such as the “car of 2017” Key trend? Increasing acceleration of change means that we are living, for the first period of time, in which modern technologies come into our life,  become a part of our life, and then disappear. Do you think your car will even have a GPS 5 years from now? Probably not — GPS will disappear as the car begins to drive itself. Things are becoming “things from the olden days” literally before our very eyes.
  • FMC Agriculture, Los Cabos, Mexico  – a lot of talks this year in the agriculture and related industries. Think about what is coming soon: driverless, autonomous tractors! Drone aerial technology for monitoring of crop health. Pinpoint targeted seed varietals that are designed for a particular acre of ground that meets certain, key characteristics. Global Acceleration of change. And above all, growth opportunities. Key message: don’t presume that the way your industry works today will be how it works tomorrow: everything around you is going to be very, very different.
  • Black & Veatch , Aspen, Colorado – a keynote for their annual Utility Executive Leadership Institute Conference. My focus? The future of infrastructure, energy, utilities — and what happens when everything around us becomes intelligent, connected, aware, and location oriented. Key message? From now to 2020, industries will be redefined by those who dare to go with big, bold thinking as to solve some of the leading challenges of our time
  • Pella Doors & Windows, Pella, Iowa – and so I found myself in Idaho in the middle of Febraury for a talk to this long established manufacturing company on the key trends that are redefing the manufacturing sector — and every industry, into the future. One of my key messages: out to 2020, a world of rapid concept generationr, rapid concept development and rapid prototyping are the new normal. This requires a new type of skill set and new ways of bringing products to market — as we’ve seen with Tesla Motors and many other new startup manufacturing organizations. Key message – as we head to 2020, we’re witnessing organizations toss away the 20th century mass production methodologies in favour of highly customized, uniquely designed, fast developed new ways of getting things done. It involves flexibility, agilgiy, and the ability to innovate in ways that previously have not been possible, using technologies that were barely conceived of just five years ago.
  • Surge Accelerator, Houston, Texas – an opening keynote for this event involving pitches by young, growth oriented startup companies focused on opportunity in the energy sector. I must admit, it’s the only event at which I’ve seen the audience drinking Bloody Mary’s first thing in the morning (they were served as part of the event)  – this is Texas after all! One of my main points was that we can expect a lot of ongoing, unexpected change over the long term in the energy sector and other industries. By way of examine, I showed multiple headlines from 2008 about the forthcoming “boom” in nuclear power. (i.e. it was on June 29, 2008, that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a breathless headline : “Nuclear Renaissance: Nuclear Power is Safer Than Ever And We Need it To Reduce Pollution and Our Dependence on Foreign Oil.“) Of course, they weren’t thinking or aware or cognizant of what was bubbling below the surface, so to speak, in the revolution  is shale-gas, horizontal drilling and other leading edge exploration and production techniques. Key message? Between now and 2020, be prepared for a lot of surprises that might challenge everything you know, and ensure you’ve got the innovation capability to adapt to short, sharp shocks of change.

There’s one more item that should be on the list – eye surgery! Three days ago, I had two intraocular lenses implanted, in what is known as Lens Replacement Surgery. It’s the same surgery as cataract surgery – before you get the cataracts. The benefit? For the first time in 34 years, I’m not wearing contact lenses or eyeglasses. I joke to my wife that I’ve become a bionic man! Whatever the case may be, I’ve got better vision — and hopefully, even more insight into what the future might hold.


The Miracle that is Greece….
November 25th, 2013

A week ago, I had the delightful opportunity of being the closing keynote speaker for a global conference of family wealth managers that was held at a resort outside Athens. It was a pretty fascinating group ….

Athens2013Needless to say, I don’t take on too many international keynotes; the travel can be gruelling, and to do a quality job, you need to ensure you’ve planned in enough time. And in this case, the trip was all the more wonderful because I was able to bring along my wife, Christa. We turned it into a bit of an extended adventure.

We spent 3 days in and around the Athens area (in addition to side trips to Italy and Germany.) And I must say, I came away pretty impressed with what I saw.

I think my expectations of Athens have, in large part, been shaped by international media coverage around the upheaval, protests, riots and political challenges that have occurred through the last several years. Certainly, it is a country that is in the midst of significant turmoil and challenge.

But here is what I saw — the people were genuinely friendly. There was a vibrancy in the tourist areas, the markets, the streets. There were no visible signs of unrest. I kind of liked the place. I was impressed; it did not fit with my expectations of something much worse after the political challenges of the last few years.

On the flight home, I read the slide deck of another presenter at the conference — George Pagoulatos, Professor of European Politics & Economy Athens University of Economics & College of Europe.

And I’m fascinated by what he has summarized, in terms of just how quickly has aligned itself to its new reality:

This has been the largest fiscal consolidation of any country in modern history

  • the primary budget deficit of 10.5% in 2009 is now 0.0% in 2013
  • the cyclically adjusted fiscal balance: ‐19.1% in 2009 and just +0.6% in 2013
  • the 2013 budget deficit 2013 at 4.1%  is lower than Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US!
  • the current account deficit is now close to zerom down from 14% GDP in 2008

It is estimated that the country will see the first signs of positive GDP growth in 2014.

These are truly staggering numbers, and a truly astonishing achievement. Granted, it has not come without significant pain to the Greek people. There is a lot of unrest bubbling beneath the surface, as well as political challenges and uncertainty. The rates of unemployment are simply staggering, particularly amongst the youth.

So how will things unfold for Greece from here? It’s hard to say, particularly given the unemployment situation. But what I saw myself, and what I see from George Pagoulatos, convince me that Greece has likely hit bottom, and there’s no where to go up but up.

Let’s hope so. It’s a wonderful country.


“I’m now building polls, live, in real time, while on stage in front of several hundred people. Talk about a deeply powerful method of providing for audience interaction.”

As my audiences become ever more engaged with their mobile devices, I’ve learned that I must continually step up my game and ensure that they remain engaged with me!

Attention spans in society are collapsing, and we who own and do our job on stage must ensure that we keep those attention spans on the message…. whether I’m in front of scientists, leadership and researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Center or 2,000 ERA real estate professionals in Austin, Texas.

And so my most potent powerful weapon in that regard is my use of PollEverywhere on stage.

Yesterday during a keynote in Chicago, in a pattern that I’ve been using for about a year, I took things a step further than simply using several multiple choice text message based questions from the stage.

I worked interactively with the audiences to build a list of the most difficult challenges that they may face — and another list of the responses they think might help them deal with those challenges. After coming up with each list, everyone in the room got a chance to vote on the responses!

Live, in real time, in front of hundreds of people. This is fun stuff! Think about it — working with the audience, I’m now building part of my keynote on the fly to delve deeply into the real issues and opportunities my audience is thinking about.

I’m doing this more often as of late : here’s a post I did about one recent talk, “Highly interactive, highly insightful – a private strategy meeting for 50!”.

Here is what the room came up with yesterday in Chicago, n terms of their most significant challenges — and after I built the list in my Web browser, how they voted on the list. (Click on either image below for a larger image)


I then worked the room again, seeking answers on how they might respond to the challenge. Once again, I built poll in real time, and had the room vote on the results.


This is POWERFUL stuff for a keynote presentation.

If you are seeking someone to wow your audience, challenge them to think differently about innovation and the future, then you might find this to be a really fascinating way to take your meeting or event to the next level.

By the way, when you’re on stage, you’ve got to keep your cool — and have a tech partner who excels at customer service! So it is with PollEverywhere. Somehow during the process, just after voting and building the second poll, I lost the results to the first one! While on stage, I commented about this to the audience, looked up the customer support phone number for PollEverywhere, and phoned them.

They picked up the call in just under two minutes — and immediately showed me how to fix my problem.

Astounding, wonderful, stupendous customer service!



I’ve got a LOT of keynotes coming up out into 2014, with events in Athens, Greece; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Chicago; Anaheim; Orlando; Phoenix; New Orleans, Atlantic City, Marco Island, Naples and more!

If you are following my site and thinking of bringing me in for your next meeting, event or CEO session, you better contact me soon!

In any event, with all these talks lined up, various clients are making press announcements about my keynote.

The folks at Edgell Publications have confirmed me for a fourth straight booking (!) — the 2014 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference held in Las Vegas in March 2014. (They previously had me open their 2011 Consumer Goods & Technology Conference, last years Value Added Reseller Conference in New York (cancelled and rescheduled due to a hurricane) and the 2013 Hotel Technology Forum in Las Vegas.

What I am up to this time? Read an extract from the press release below.

We’re well underway on planning HT’s 2014 spring conferences, the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC, March 18-20th) and Hotel Technology Forum (HTF, April 16-18). Both of these events owe their success to you, our readers, for your willingness to come together, share your stories, and collaborate on solving industry challenges. These are truly your industry events.


For MURTEC 2014, we’re thrilled to announce that global futurist and best-selling author Jim Carroll will be your Keynote speaker. Carroll has well over 20 years of experience in studying what makes companies relentlessly creative, and how they ride critical trends in order to achieve success. At MURTEC 2014, he tackles the future of food service, covering everything from consumer expectations, to changes in e-commerce, to greater innovation trends, and more.

Actually, we worked out a more indepth escription for the conference Web site, which follows below:

Restaurants 3.0: A Global Futurist’s Take on Consumer Trends, Food Service and Innovation
Speaker: Jim Carroll, Futurist

A decade has passed since O’Reilly Media coined the term Web 2.0 to identify the shift in online content from static to consumer-generated. For restaurants, the next evolution to 3.0 (or whatever it will be called) could mean the difference between a location-based search for the closest coffee shop, versus a customer saying to their mobile device, “Order me a large iced latte.” Location found, order sent, payment confirmed, pick- up in five minutes. In this opening keynote address, join leading global futurist Jim Carroll on an exploration of Restaurants 3.0. Carroll has well over 20 years of experience in studying what makes companies relentlessly creative, and how they ride critical trends in order to achieve success. At MURTEC 2014, he tackles the future of food service, covering everything from consumer expectations, to changes in e-commerce, to greater innovation trends, and more.

It should be fun!

Standing on a corner
September 22nd, 2013

A brief pause between keynotes….



For the first time in 20 years, I’ve taken an entire summer off. In that, I chose not to undertake any keynotes or corporate off sites; nor did I choose to write a book; or do other things related to work (other than attempting to manage conference calls with various clients and of course, prep work for upcoming autumn events)…..


I almost aced the 11th hole one day — shot a driver 180 yards into the wind. It started left, curled right, hit the green, and just rolled up near the hole!

Instead, I golfed, spent time with my family, undertook epic bike rides — and, well, golfed!

But that’s quickly coming to an end. Today, I had a day away from golf in order to buy airline tickets for my upcoming autumn 2013 keynotes.

It’s a busy autumn, with trips to Orlando, Boston, Hartford, Athens (Greece), Phoenix (x2), Albuquerque, Denver, Montreal, Aspen, Philly (x2), Chicago (x2), Cabo San Lucas, Halifax, Atlantic City, New Orleans … did I mention I am completely and solidly booked until 2014? And we seem to be turning way 5 to 10 inquiries each DAY for events September 2013 to December 2013!

Who am I speaking to this fall? A wide range of groups, ranging from The 2013 Enterprise Network Conference, the 2013 LIMRA 2013 Group and Worksite Benefits Conference , a corporate event for Black & Veatch, Highland Capital Brokerage, The American Medical Group Association, the Building Owners and Managers (BOMEX) Association, Verizon, the Electronics Representatives Association annual conference, United Technologies, the Professional Compounding Centers Association of America, SunGard, the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Association, FMC Agriculuture, the Retail Value Chain Federation  — and others! Oh, and a few other private events, including one for a group of global financial / investment managers.

Meaning, I’m covering just about everything from healthcare to manufacturing, hi-tech to insurance and financial services, retail to agriculture, construction to aerospace.

Of course, now that I’ve booked all the flights, it’s back to summer. Tomorrow, I’m in a member / guest golf tournament, my partner being one of the the longest serving NHL Referees of all time, Ron Wicks!

When I keynoted an automotive dealer conference last spring, I was interviewed about some of the key trends which will shape the auto industry in the future.

But after that interview, they asked me a question that came right out of the blue — what were my favourite or most unique keynotes.

Here’s what I had to say!

Many of my keynotes and leadership meetings in dozens of industries and corporate events involve a good, hard look at serious future trends. It’s a lot of work, takes a lot of research, but is a hugely rewarding “job.”

And then, every once in a while, something completely different comes along. So it was with a major US financial company that was holding the 30th anniversary of their key customer meeting. And since they’re somewhat in the IT business, they wanted a keynote that looked back in time, rather than looking forward. Something fun, engaging, and which would help folks have a good laugh at the unique experiences baby boomers have been through over the last 30 years. As it turns out, they found me, through one of the speakers bureaus that represents me.

The results was a rollicking, hilarious 45 minute keynote based on lots of my material from one of by books from the 1990’s: Surviving the Information Age, but a lot more material that I’ve developed and have used on stage over this 20 year career as a speaker.

Here’s a great clip — where I’m talking about how quickly our world is changing, as things that are a part of our lives have become things from the “olden days” — and it has happened before our very eyes.


The entire keynote was a blast. I’m going to do a few minor edits and will put the entire thing up online over the next few days. Let’s have some fun with it!



Convenience Store Decisions gave me a call, and wanted to speak about some of the trends impacting the industry.

The intervivew was a piece of cake — I do a lot of keynotes in the retail space. And just last year, a leader in “forecourt marketing” (which is industry speak for c-store marketing…), featured me as the keynote speaker at their Digital Forecourt Marketing Summit

 “It won’t be too long before I am able to fill up my car while my iPhone is communicating with the c-store,” he said. “By the time I walk into the store an LCD TV panel up on the wall is going to recognize me and greet me with a customized commercial.”

Here’s the extract of my observations from the article. (Small error in the article though – I’m not based in Dallas, but Toronto!)

Shift in Consumer Demands
Dallas-based futurist Jim Carroll sees healthier foods becoming a more fundamental offering at more convenience store down the road. “You wouldn’t think it, but there is a very seismic change going on in terms of what the stores are selling,” he said. “I think they’re realizing that what people are consuming—fried foods and fatty snacks—is changing. People are much more conscious of their food consumption.”

This is a trend that Carroll has been hearing about personally—directly from c-store operators. “Wellness—focusing on nutrition and an active lifestyle—is certainly a trend,” he said. “You think about the number of convenience stores that have undertaken a shift to fresh food. The focus is not on Doritos and Twinkies. Sure, some operators do focus on these items, but your industry leaders and top quartile chains are embracing change.”

Retailers, Carroll said, are trying to get away from the traditional popping chips paradigm. “If you play into the sort of ‘life to go’ issue and recognize that people want to get in and get a healthy meal quickly, why not have those items at the ready in convenience and gas stations? Even 7-Elevens now are selling sushi.”

Promotions, too, will gain impact, Carroll predicted. “It won’t be too long before I am able to fill up my car while my iPhone is communicating with the c-store,” he said. “By the time I walk into the store an LCD TV panel up on the wall is going to recognize me and greet me with a customized commercial.”

Once the store recognizes a particular customer there are endless possibilities to upsell merchandise via text messages and electronic coupons. The constant in the equation is change.

“I see c-stores undergoing relentless change in terms of what they do,” said Carroll, “because I think consumers change so quickly. That’s a major part of what’s going on—a very fast format shift. There is a South African chain that is converting its entire c-store strategy over to fresh food—a complete format shift, because even over there they are seeing that same kind of demand for fresh food served fast.”

It’s always a thrill when you come away from a keynote with fabulous feedback. So it was with my keynote for KOA – Kampgrounds of America — in Orlando in November!

I had an awesome stage, morning slot, and was primed for a great talk. I had done a *lot* of research on camping and outdoor hospitality trends, and was ready to pump up the crowd with a message around growth, change and branding.


The feedback has just come in, and the clients comments are just absolutely thrilling:

Jim Carroll’s session with our franchisees was extremely timely and exactly what we were looking for.  Based on where we are in our system and the changes and innovations we are implementing, we could not have selected a better speaker.   One of the things that made Jim’s message so powerful for our franchisees was the amazing detail and customization Jim included in his session.  We’ve gotten a great reaction from our franchisees and I’d highly recommend Jim to any franchisee system looking for a message of change and innovation delivered with a lot of great energy and humor.  He was great!” Mike Booth, Assistant VP, Franchising, KOA Franchise Services


Jim Carroll was fantastic!  He was funny, well organized, and communicative.  The effort and detail he put into finding out about our industry and our franchise system made it possible for him to connect immediately with our franchisees.  He was by far the easiest speaker we have ever worked with and anticipated our needs every step of the way.  I’d recommend Jim to anyone looking for a futurist who delivers an outstanding presentation – in both relevant content and a dynamic and fun delivery style.  We loved him!” Jenny McCullough, Director of Training and Events,KOA Franchise Services

I think the thing which really makes me stand out in the market is the effort, research and customization I put into my keynotes. You can read about this: I wrote a blog post some time back, “What Goes Into Building a Great Keynote?

From a speaking perspective, 2012 was a great year with a lot of fabulous events! I’m looking forward to 2013!