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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)…..
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.
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
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!
I spend a lot of time speaking to global financial organizations —some of the world’s largest institutions — helping them understand what they need to do from an innovation perspective to stay ahead offast paced change.
These talks are often aimed at the idea of “how do we need to transition our advisory services — as financial planners,investment advisors, wealth managers — to keep up with fast paced change?” No where is that question more important than when thinking about the impact of technology and social networks on investing. Think about the change that the investment industry faces. We are witnessing the early stages of a massive transition of wealth from one generation to another. The numbers are staggering: we’ll see $12 to $18 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer In the next12 years (US GDP is $12 trillion) in North America; and by 2053, some $130 trillion will have moved from one generation to another.
That’s a lot of money sloshing around — and much of it is going to a new, tech-savvy financial consumer.
This next generation — I call them Gen-Connect — continue to aggressively integrate technology into their lives; they’re busy researching health care, insurance, retirement planning and investment advice online, on Facebook and through other social channels.
So what do you do? Adopt change as a mantra and prepare yourself to reach, support and interact with Gen-Connect in new and different ways.
Here’s a list of innovation strategies I provided in a recent keynote for a major global financial institution
1. Focus on growth
With so much volatility in the financial sector, it’s all too easy to take your eye off of the “opportunity ball.”
Yet there are huge opportunities that surround us ; probably the biggest is that we are going to witness a massive intergenerational transfer of wealth from the baby boomer generation to their uber-wiredGen-Connect children. In every area of the world this is going to involve a requirement for a lot of financial advice. As I noted in my remarks for a recent keynote to a group of senior bankers: “Never before has the need for financial advice for Australians been greater;only 20% of Australians are currently getting professional advice.”The same holds true for North America.
That means there are tremendous opportunities for growth! For many, access to financial advice is still too hard and complicated – that’s why it’s a great time to innovate, in order to build market share!!!!
2. Structure for fast paced change
There are several certainties in the financial sector as a result of the impact of technology.
We will see more business model change as companies leverage technology to change relationships in the world of wealth management; we will see more sophisticated competition as a result, and continuous business model disruption with new, young upstarts that really know how to leverage technology and social network relationships. Combine this with continual shifts in consumer behaviour as we manage more of our money and investments using online tools — and speed things up with even faster technology-driven fast change, such as with the impact of mobile technologies.
What happens when ‘there’s an App for everything’in wealth management? That’s what you need to keep up with!
3. Reshape brand messages faster
Clearly there’s a lot of fast-paced change in financial services , and it’s critical that financial institutions continue to reshape their brand at the pace of rapidly changing consumer perception.
Part of this has to do with how quickly volatility comes and goes. Noted Jim Buchanan, Senior VP of Consumer Marketing at the Bank of America in an article in Advertising Age, October 2009: “Six months ago, we were trying to re-assure the market and consumers that we are safe and secure….now consumers are telling us they’re not worried about those things anymore…..What they are interested in is ‘How can you help me manage my finances?‘”
Innovative organizations ensure that the brand message evolves at the pace of a world in which volatility is the new normal. As a financial manager, you must make sure that your brand and image are seen to be modern, up to date, and in tune with the brand expectations of Gen-Connect. You can’t be “your grandfathers’ wealth manager” anymore.
4. Adapt to momentum of financial consumer change
Quite simply, the new financial client is online in a big way, and smart financial organizations will evolve their service and support message to these platforms.
The numbers are staggering; in the case one recent keynote I provided for a major financial institution, I emphasized that:
- 147 million people interact globally on social networks via their mobile phones – we can expect 1 billion within five years!
- usage of Twitter continues to grow at a staggering pace — and people spend more time on Facebook each week than they do on watching television.
- they spend far less time reading newspapers and magazines in paper fashion — and in fact, some don’t look at such products at all!
The result of this i that they are increasingly influenced by advertising, marketing and branding messages that they see online. Ifyou are still trying to reach out to them through traditional media,you might be missing them altogether.
It’s not just about marketing — it’s also about customer support. The entire world of customer support has gone online, and you need to be able to support them in the world to which they are accustomed.
The bottom line for financial and investment advisors is that social networks are an extremely effective tool to keep core clients in the loop; as an outreach tool, they’re fast, effective, unique, quirky,and certainly the story of the day. Financial advisors have to go where the client is going, and should be thinking about how to become socially-networked oriented advisers. Given regulatory issues, that can be a big challenge!
5. Adjust platforms to this changing behaviour
I continue to emphasize with my global financial clients that the impact of mobile technologies on financial services is absolutely massive. Think about Wizzit, a South African service that is essentially a text message based banking system.The reality is that the new financial consumer expects to be served on new platforms: as noted by Thomas Kunz, Senior VP at PNC Financial: “Gen-Y does not reconcile checkbooks, and they don’t believe in float. For them, their balance is their balance.”
That’s why PNC has released a “virtual wallet app” available for iPhones. They’re reaching out to this new financial consumer in a big way. That’s why every organization is scrambling to keep up with “Appworld” particularly considering that Apple sold 3 million iPad 3′ within the first 3 days of release.
Aggressive change with business platforms provides big opportunity for business model disruption. A key factor here has to do with new client acquisition: what’s happening is the point of origination of the relationship might change as people transition their banking to mobile devices. Opportunity can come from continuing to build the advisor and distribution channel into these new platforms.
And that’s not a threat – that’s a huge opportunity!
6. Leverage off of new peer-to-peer behaviour trends
The new financial consumer relies more than ever before for advice from their social networks. Peer-to-peer social driven advice through sites such as TradeKing is coming to the forefront: it’s a service that allows people to share stock tips and research through extended social networks.
Does this diminish the role of advisory services — not at all, if you drive in and become a part of the peer-to-peer conversation!
7. Re-orient distribution channels
Here’s another key point: I’ve emphasized to my insurance and other financial clients that the next-generation advisor/broker/agent expects ever more sophisticated technology platforms to help support their role.You’ve got to make sure you are keeping up with their needs.
In one survey in the insurance sector, 80% of brokers indicated that the sophistication of the technology platform of the provider would influence who they would choose to do business with.
According to Kevin Murray, EVP and CIO at New York-based AXA Equitable: “The younger generation of financial professional will almost demand online self-service….they will want to text any questions they have into the service centre or self-service from their mobile device. We’re going to have to be able to provide that capability. It’s how they will operate.”
8. Build your own peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge networks
The new financial advisor is also thinking socially, and is actively looking for peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge. Imagine building a financial advisory team that is collaborative for ideas, share insight on market wins, constantly leverages insight from new branding campaigns that work in unique ways, and constantly shares great idea son new methods of converting leads into clients — that’s how this next generation works!
Back to Kevin Murray: “They will also want an online collaboration tool to …find answers concerning product or questions from their customers. The X and Ygenerations are going to demand a different way of selling and servicing their customers.”
What’s it really all about? Freeing up their time to build opportunity, make sales, close deals.
9. Reduce churn through electronic relationships
Here’s something else to think about according to Chief Marketer (October 2009), “The average brand saw one third of highly loyal consumers in 2007completely defect to another brand in 2008“.
People are far less loyal, and far more likely to jump ship at the drop of a hat. That’s why continuous innovation in terms of the relationship is critical — and that’s maybe why continually transitioning to new technology platforms such as an iPhone app might reduce that churn
10. Better, more focused niche marketing
We’re in the new era of analytics and analysis, which provides new opportunities for advisors to reach out to markets previously unattainable. As noted by Money Management Executive in October 2009: “Financial advisers generally prefer to manage a small number of high-net-worth clients rather than a large number of small accounts,but recent advances in automation technology could change this dynamic.”
11. Evolve the approach
Insurance and financial advisory services are products that are always sold based on fear — they aren’t bought.
This reality doesn’t go away because of new technologies. What does change is that technology is a powerful enabler that frees advisors forum having to focus on the mundane, routine, time wasting stuff, in order to focus on providing the advice & guidance that advisors can provide. Focus on the core role!
12. Enact change
Many advisors will be in comfortable, established routines. Change is not easy. That’s why organizations in the financial sector that are trying to be innovative need to help existing advisors focus on the opportunity and the benefits that come with rapid change, rather than being fearful of the change that technology is bringing to the industry.
Bottom line? As I sum up in many of my keynotes — “Innovative organizations make bold leaps, in order to keep up — and stay ahead —of a faster future.”
I just successfully finished the 2012 200KM Ride to Conquer Cancer, from Toronto to Niagara Falls. It turned out to be a 109K first day, and 106k on the second day. (For my American friends, that’s about 145 miles … two wheels, two legs, and lots of enthusiasm!)
Yesterday over 4,800 people rode in this groundbreaking fundraiser – through buckets of rain. The first leg took me an unimpressive 5 hours. But today started at 7am, with sweltering heat — but I managed to pull in a pretty impressive 4 hours and 4 minute ride!
Not bad for a 53 year old guy who used to smoke — but quit over 25 years ago at the urging of his wife, Christa. At one poignant moment early in the relationship, she stated: “It’s either me or the cigarettes.” I quit cold turkey. The smartest this I ever did – quitting and choosing her! Otherwise I might just be another grim cancer statistic.
This is a fascinating event in just so many ways. I take tremendous pride in being able to do a ride like this at the age of 53. It is a life-changing experience to ride next to folks — denoted by the yellow flags attached to their bikes – who have survived a bout with cancer.
And it’s timely. Right now, I’m right in the middle of doing a number of keynotes around the theme of ‘the future of wellness, health and fitness.” I’ll be blogging on that this week — but let’s just say, what a way to link what I talk about with what I do! I’ve been on a BIG personal fitness kick through the last year, and I can tell you the ride was a heck of a lot easier this year.
The funds from the Ride to Conquer Cancer go directly to the Princess Margaret Hospital cancer foundation, one of the top 5 cancerresearch centres in the world. There couldn’t’ be a more worthy cause.
These are the awesome people who sponsored my ride through a donation to the Princess Margaret Hospital. They are the heroes of the ride. (Presented in order of donation, newest donations first.)
I am still short of my goal, so if you would like to make a donation, visit http://ride.jimcarroll.com.
- Steve Potocny, a neighbor and great golf buddy!
- Max Kazman, my very unique brother in law
- Mark Davis, a ski friend
- Colin Thompson, another ski friend
- Keith Croucher — a pal from University over 30 years ago.
- the good folks at Goodman Speakers Bureau – who had booked me into the series of keynotes on health, wellness and fitness
- Kevin Campbell, a ski friend
- John Langhorne and his family – another ski friend
- Laura Boland and family — yup, ski friends
- Peter Smith – you guessed it a ski friend
- Rob Sykes, a friend of 25+ years
- John Gardner – he visited my Web site, looking for some info. I found it for him, and he made a donation!
- Mark Jeftovice, CEO of easyDNS and long time friend
- Greg McKenzie — golf buddy – he put up with my golfing at Troon in Arizona
- Scott Kress, Mt. Everest climber and very good friend
- Peter Berczi – another ski buddy, who put up with my skiing while out in Aspen this year
- Mary Joy Aitken – a donation from a Twitter follower! (who wrote that it was a very important cause.
Thank you to all!
Tomorrow I head to New Orleans, where I will keynote the International Dairy, Deli and Bakery Association. One of the key themes — fitness, health, and wellness!
Paula Dean and Sarah Palin are also speaking at the conference — I think my message will be different from theirs! And here’s lot’s of fun – I’m followed on stage by Terry Bradshaw….
The Canadian Society of Association Executives “Association Magazine” has just released their latest edition, which included my article with the title above.
You can grab the PDF of the article at the right on the image. Note that it is English and French.
The article is based on the blog post I wrote back in November last year, shortly after my keynote for the 2011 T. Rowe Price Investment Symposium, where I played into the theme in a big way.
You can read that post here, although the PDF of the article expands on the concepts in a bit more detail.
I’m finding a huge degree of interest in this theme as a speaking topic; actually, quite a few recent keynotes are being entirely built around the theme, since it is such a significant transformative trend.
Essentially, industries used to control their destiny. They could drive the pace of innovation.
That’s not true anymore, and as I have described on stage in the last few weeks to companies in the insurance, banking, credit union, agricultural and other industries — “What happens to you when the pace of innovation begins to occur at the same speed that Apple innovates. Because that is pretty well what is beginning to happen now.”
Read the article. Think about what is happening here.
The future belongs to those who are fast!
I’ve been remiss in blogging – 20+ keynotes since January, so I’ve been on the road. I’ve got lots to report on what I’ve been focused on in a huge range of different industries.
Back at the start of this travel odyssey, I found myself in Palm Springs, California, as the opening speaker for the 2012 California Community Associations Institute annual conference. In the room were several hundred lawyers and legal professionals supporting condominium and other community developments.
My focus? The key trends that would impact their role, both as lawyers and as individuals involved with complex real estate, construction and building design issues. So I did my homework, and put together what I thought was a great keynote. Certainly the instant Twitter feedback emphasized that I likely hit a home run.
I addressed numerous issues — including what will happen to the legal profession when the next generation of kids — who have grown up never knowing a world without an iPhone — enter the legal profession. Everything changes….
And here’s the fun part of my job — its’ always fascinating to find, after the keynote, the impact that I might have made on some people in the room. Which leads me to a post I found at the blog for Goodman, Shapiro and Lombardi LLC, a firm specializing in this industry, but based in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
After a brief intro, the post, headlined “Embracing Technology: Insights from the CAI’s Law Seminar,” gets right to the point:
I was somewhat skeptical about what I’d glean from the keynote speaker, Jim Carroll, a corporate consultant who describes himself as a “futurist.”
I’m often greeted by such a reaction. But that’s my job — I spend a huge amount of time thinking about future trends, undertaking research in dozens of industries, meet hundreds of executives at the events that I speak at and prepare for — and synthesize all of this into a concise 45 minute to 1 hour overview of what the folks in the room should be thinking about. In this case, my keynote focused on two big issues: the future of the legal profession, and the key trends that would impact the construction/condominium industry and communities going forward into the future.
After that introduction, the blog post goes on:
“Turns out he is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” on global trends and has helped many companies, including NASA and the PGA, transform their businesses through creativity and innovation.”
This is true — you can read about my keynote for NASA in this post, and a simple search for PGA on my Web site reveals all kinds of posts on my keynote for the “largest working sports organization in the world.” You don’t get to to do my type of job if you aren’t on your “A-Game” all the time!
So what did he think? This makes for a good read:
“Among the intriguing facts he imparted was a study citing that 65% of today’s preschoolers will work in jobs and careers that do not even exist yet. He piqued our interest with other obvious-yet-provocative statements… our kids have never known TV without a remote and have never heard the phrase, “Please get up and change the channel.”
It bears emphasizing that he was talking to a roomful of lawyers – people who, by definition, practice in a conservative profession averse to change or novelty. Indeed, much of the law is based on precedent and the notion that if it hasn’t been done before, it probably can’t be done now.
Yet our challenge, at this particular moment in history, is to get ahead of the curve, to dare to be groundbreaking. This may seem threatening, but it’s a message that should resonate within our industry as we think about what this means in concrete terms. On the horizon, I see more green buildings; eco-design; solar panels; and electric cars, among other innovations. There will certainly be legal implications for all this, and we need to be ready. In short, we need to think creatively and to embrace change.
And there’s my home run from the keynote – right there: “In short, we need to think creatively and to embrace change” and “Dare to be groundbreaking.” My job is to get people thinking about the future, and challenging them to think and act differently to deal with an ever faster rate of complex change.
It’s always a thrill to look back to see that I’ve pulled it off!