Interview with Glen Hiemstra
What is your most popular keynote?
The most popular is Beyond 2020: Lessons from the Future. This keynote is first a wide-ranging look at future trends across several domains – society and demographics, technology, economy, environment, and the industry I am addressing – and then an inspirational challenge to get engaged in creating or shaping the future. A core idea is that if you “listen to the future” it is trying to tell us what to get ready for, what is needed, what we need to do to shape a preferred future.
Audiences like this speech as a kick-off to a conference or event, or as closing to send people home on a high note. The most common comments are that “you really stretched out thinking,” “you really challenged us,” to “the future will never look the same after that program,” to “we could have listened to Glen all day.”
How do you usually go about making your predictions for the future?
The process is one of wide and constant reading and research, studying other forecasts, watching for events, trends and developments that seem like indicators of the future, and then engaging in pattern recognition and both rational and intuitive thinking about what it all means. The future is not as mysterious as we think, if we but pay attention.
What types of clients benefit most from your talks?
The clients who are ready to look at the future more deeply, widely and with a longer time horizon. They often say, ‘we routinely do strategic planning, but this time help us look further ahead than we usually do.” For conferences and conventions the clients who benefit are those who want a content-rich yet entertaining look at the future, and who want to be associated with knowledge leadership.
What types of issues should companies be particularly aware of over the next few years?
People (employees and customers) are becoming older, younger, and more diverse. The Millennial generation is going to create some important cultural shifts, and the age wave is here and impacting all industries. Technology acceleration will continue. While we will use technology for increased productivity and collaboration, there are weak signals that a shift back to human-to-human interaction is coming.
At the same time stunning developments are coming in nanotech, biotech and medicine, and robotics or machine intelligence. Economically the greatest challenge is re-igniting middle class wage growth, and that will require re-thinking corporate incentives and social policy.
Environmentally there is no escaping wild weather, and resilience and next era energy are the waves to watch. The shift to cities and metro areas continues, as does competition for the creative class. Building sustainable cities will capture much of our attention in coming decades. Global economic growth will continue and we will be re-defining global economic terms continuously. And watch for the next moves toward the human race moving into space.
What do audiences gain from your Beyond 2020 talk?
Deeper knowledge of future trends, surprises, an enhanced skill set or mental framework for seeing the future, and inspiration to create the future rather than just waiting for it to happen.