The Future of Leadership, Technology and the Workplace with Futurist, Thomas Frey
In this episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, Jenn De Wall interviews Thomas Frey, founder of the DaVinci Institute. For those that don’t know Thomas, he’s a futurist and considered Google’s top-rated futurist speaker and is IBM’s most award-winning engineer. Over the past decade, Thomas has built an enormous following around the world based on his ability to develop accurate visions of the future and describe the opportunities ahead. Listen in as Thomas discusses the future of work and leadership.
Full Transcript Below:
Jenn DeWall: Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall, and thank you so much for tuning in to our newest episode of the leadership habit. Today I am interviewing an amazing expert. His name is Thomas Frey. He is a futurist, speaker, and author, and we spent the last half hour before this just talking about all of the different thoughts that he has. Not all of them, but many, and it was so great to just hear your perspective. So Thomas, thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Thomas Frey: All right, let’s have some fun on this show.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, yeah. That was for those that don’t know you, even though you’ve traveled the world, we just talked about how you were in China and Russia, you’re everywhere. For our listeners that haven’t heard of Thomas Frey yet, tell us about yourself from your words.
What is a Futurist?
Thomas Frey: All right. I work as a futurist, and my job is to help expand people’s understanding of what the future holds. Now I tend to do that primarily through technology-driven change. So how the technology is affecting us, but sometimes there’s a lot of other factors that come into play. And so it is this rich vein of opportunity. And the way I kind of, the way I think about this is that if we, we, we make decisions today based on our understanding of what the future holds. So it’s this vision of the future that we have in our head determines our actions today. So if I change somebody’s vision of the future, I changed the way they make decisions today. Now that’s a critical factor because every presentation I do, that’s my goal, is to change people’s vision of the future. And as a result, they walk out of the room, making different decisions.
Jenn DeWall: Gotcha. That’s a big challenge. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people that want to, or it’s difficult for them to see a future that’s different than their past.
Thomas Frey: Right? I mean, it’s real easy to understand, see if we’ve all personally experienced the past as we look around us, we see evidence of the past all around us in all information would come into contact with as essentially history. So the past is very knowable, and yet we’re going to be spending the rest of our lives in the future. So it’s almost as if we’re walking backwards into the future. And, and so that’s the challenge- is to help turn people around, give them some idea of what the future might hold because we are focusing on what’s happened in the past because that’s what we know that’s very knowable. It’s very understandable for us. The future, though, that’s this whole vague area that is yet to unfold. And so that’s, that’s my playground.
Jenn DeWall: That is a fun place to play, especially with just understanding how much technology has even changed in the last few years. Especially more so if you look at it over a few decades, but even the last few years, how different technology looks like, and what, how that impacts organizations or individuals.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. And, and it’s changing so quickly, just think about a child growing up today but a five-year-old today what they will experience over the next 10 years and 20 years and, and so on. I mean, just in, in through the eyes of a child, how the world is shifting and changing cause they have a whole different perspective on the world we live in than we do. And my dad just turned 93 years old today, and he has a radically different perspective than I do because he was, he was born before World War II, and he has that whole generation that type of thinking. And so how do we take our minds and put it into the future and then we start getting a better grasp as to what’s going to happen there. It gives us an advantage if we can get, make our decisions even 1% more correct in the future because of studying it and understanding what’s going on, it gives us a huge advantage over our competitors.
Jenn DeWall: Yes. Oh my gosh. Yeah. You’re two steps ahead of them. Three steps ahead of them. I know that we didn’t plan to talk to this, but how do you even start to position yourself where you can see it even 1% greater or more correct than what you were before
Thomas Frey: There’s a number of different techniques that we use. These are what’s referred to as anticipatory thinking protocols. These are the tools that futurists use. Some of them work better than others. I have a number of techniques that I like to use myself. One of them I call situational futuring, which I will take some technology and extend it out 20 years, and then I will create bodies of information like how will this affect a housewife, how will this affect an entrepreneur or a school teacher? And started going around and creating these scenarios around that. And then that creates this little mosaic of information about that. And then, once you start creating these scenarios about the future, then you try to break them. So, well, what if this didn’t happen this way? What if this broke here? But if there’s a law against it, or what if these companies come out with something that outdates that technology and, and, and so we come at it from a lot of different angles. But that’s the fun part, I think. Anyway.
The Future of Robots
Jenn DeWall: Yes. Well and there’s a lot of fun things even that were just coming through my head right now, whether it be a Roomba, you know, those little vacuum cleaners that go around the floor, like thinking what would those look like in 25 years? How will that functionality change?
Thomas Frey: Well, let’s, let’s just take that idea. Okay, you have a device, some robotic device. It’s cleaning your house. Now that robotic device has to know what’s valuable and what isn’t. Now, this device is going on cleaning the living room, and it comes across a piece of paper. How does it know if that’s a valuable piece of paper or a piece of trash? Now it could be a dollar bill, it could be a birth certificate, it could be any number of valuable things, or it could just be a page turn out of a magazine. How does it know that? So over the coming years, we’re going to be teaching our robots how to think, what’s important, and what isn’t. Now, as an individual, we place an emotional value on every object in our house. This chair is worth more than this table. This couch is worth more than this lamp over here.
Thomas Frey: And so we have an emotional value that we place on everything. So we don’t, we don’t consciously think about this, but we have a values system that we instill in the things that we have around us. And it’s so if we’re going to start training our robot how to clean a house, then we are instilling that value system into it. And that in our personal bias goes along with that. Which is something that’s going to be a challenge sometime in the future. But I mean, we have to teach this robot. If it’s cleaning the walls, you don’t spray the wall with water cause the electrical outlets will start shorting out. You have to- these are things that it has to learn. And so all of these things no. Now I talk about, we talked back and forth to our devices, whether it’s Alexa, Cortana, Google, whatever it might be.
We talk back and forth. We’re building the brains of the robot because he sinks are getting smarter as we go. So the more we talk back and forth, the more conversations we have with them they’re going to get smarter. And so over time, they can start making complicated decisions. Now, when we talk about building the brains of the robot, the robot might be a driverless car in the future. The robot might be a flying drone. It might be an actual robot, but these brains we’re training, or it may be a vacuum cleaner for that matter. We’re going to start installing these brains and everything around us. And so that and then we’ll, we’ll ask Siri, Hey Siri, what kind of beer am I in the mood for today?
When Technology Changes, We Must Change with It
Thomas Frey: Yeah. But think about getting into a driverless car in the future, they’re going to be watching you. Because the government wants to prevent terrorists from driving a bomb into a building or blowing up people or unleashing a contagious disease that would go from one car to another. So, so there are all kinds of sensors. There are all kinds of audio recordings, video recordings, and stuff that will likely go on inside of driverless cars. Even though people would prefer that that not happen. You want some privacy in your car, but there’s a trade-off for privacy and convenience, and there’s a security aspect of it too. Is it okay to put my dog into a driverless car by themselves to go to doggy daycare?
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh.
Thomas Frey: And then do you want to get into that car after that dog has been in it? Is it okay to put my child into a driverless car to go to school? I’m going to invent the car that will recognize a parent on one end and a teacher on another end. Can I put a six-year-old kid into a driverless car to go to school, and for how long? I mean, we haven’t had these discussions. These are public policy issues that nobody’s talked about.
Jenn DeWall: Right. Even the minimum age of what kids can ride in a car seat, but then if it comes to going into a driverless car.
Thomas Frey: For how long? 10 minutes. Okay. I mean things go wrong if a kid’s by themselves a half-hour, is that too long? A six-year-old kid. I mean they can get sick, they can throw up, they go get panic attacks.
Jenn DeWall: But then if you program it to identify them, it could drive them to a hospital. Right. That’s just, Oh my gosh, I’m blowing my mind just thinking about, because I know that even in my own lifetime, the internet didn’t, it wasn’t as prevalent. I mean, I think that the conceptual theory of the internet was there, but in terms of it being a mainstream thing that people used. AOL to get dial-up internet that took so long. And the fact that now everyone has a personal, my grandparents are in their mid-eighties, and they use social media. They have their smartphones, and they have an Alexa, she’s got a Kindle. So the books go right there. I mean, it’s crazy, right? I can’t even conceptualize what that is going to look like in 20 years, let alone five years. Because I feel like the pace of technology is so quick.
Thomas Frey: So the iPhone, the first iPhone, came out in 2007. I’ll keep that in mind cause that was 12 years ago, you know, just think of all the things that we didn’t have before the iPhone came out. We didn’t have any mobile apps. So for them, Twitter just barely got started before that. I mean GPS was really bad.
Jenn DeWall: Facebook too. Facebook is only 15 years old.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. And everybody owned a camera. Now they used their phone.
Jenn DeWall: Great. And then you save everything on the cloud. Why print out those pictures. You don’t need those
The Future of Cash
Thomas Frey: Buying these damn expensive printers, with the color cartridges that cost $40 for the color cartridge. Yeah. Yeah, that’s crazy. So we’ve, we’ve altered our lives in so many ways, and we just can’t even remember all of the changes that happened along the way. I remember going into stores having to write a check and having to show through three different forms of ID. Well, first of all, I’d have to wait for the person in front of me that had to do all this too, and then taking a half hour to get that person checked out and then it came to me and I would have to do the same thing. And then the checkout lanes were really, really long and we had to have all these people working there to just shore up all the credentials and everything and make sure that everybody paid with, with guaranteed funds or something.
It was such a laborious process. And, and we, we forget where we’ve come from because that, that was just super painful. And now we’re, we’re at an age where things you just flash your phone, and suddenly you’ve paid for it. Now over in China, it’s really interesting because, in China, they’re using Alipay and WeChat Pay to pay for things. They don’t use credit cards over there, and they’ve stopped using cash for the most part. So even if you’re a beggar on the street, the beggars have a QR code out next to them so that you can, you can send them a few bucks through your phone. Or if you’re a busker on the street, you’re a street performer; you have a QR code out there so you can get your tips that way.
Jenn DeWall: So there’s no change of hands and money. No physical change of hands.
Thomas Frey: Yeah, no, nobody’s carrying cash anymore.
Jenn DeWall: How does that impact, I know that FinTech is on the rise. How does that impact from your own perspective, like how would are even shifting out of a paper currency, that handheld currency, how does that impact our traditional banking system?
Thomas Frey: See, when you paid for something in cash, that’s a painfully laborious, I mean a cash transaction. The money actually ended up getting counted at least seven times throughout this transaction. The person handing you the money counted the money out. Then the person receiving it counted the money again. At the end of the shift. They had to count up how much was taken on that day, and then you, and you’re going to make a deposit, you have to count it into the deposit. The person at the bank taking it in has to count it again, and at the end of the banking shift, then they counted again. And so just the number of times that that cash has to get counted, just think of the labor content in cash and it’s just massively huge. Now when you’re dealing with digital money, it’s just numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s way easier than counting the cash in and out
Jenn DeWall: And everything’s done by a computer. So the human error, everything is so much less.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. Nobody’s going to slide a $20 bill in their pocket if it’s all digital.
Jenn DeWall: Right. And then I guess how does it impact the ability to counterfeit money? If it’s that way, how can you possibly, then-
Thomas Frey: You have some really smart hackers out there that are trying to figure out ways of duplicating money. So I send, I send $100,000 over here. Well, let’s duplicate it and send another a hundred over here, and they won’t know the difference. Well that’s, that’s the big trick. That’s the- you have to make sure that that’s not possible.
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Workplace
Jenn DeWall: Gosh, I knew that I was going to ask you a million questions that we’re also going to go off-topic, but we can, so we’ve already had I really love the conversation that we’ve had thus far. I can change gears and go into what we had talked about talking about, but I almost don’t want to, but I do want to because it’s just neat to think about how our future, I guess if we bring it back, even going into AI, how are you seeing AI have an impact on the workforce?
Thomas Frey: You know, virtually everybody today has this nagging anxiety. Am I still going to have a job five years from now? And if not, what new skills do I need to learn to be relevant in the future? That’s the that’s it’s kind of this nagging concern that virtually everybody has. And, and so it’s a moving target. It really is a moving target. But the way I look at this is the internet is a very sophisticated communication tool that enables us to align the needs of a business with the talent of individuals and far more precise ways than ever before. So rather than hiring somebody full time, we bring them on for two months or two weeks or two days or even two hours. And so I think in the future that we’re, we’re not it’s not us versus the AI.
It’s not us versus the robot. It’s us with them. And so I think we’re moving into this era of super employment only. It’s not full-time jobs. It’s all gigs. And so the big problem we have today is nobody’s teaching people how to, how to run the business of you. That’s, that’s a challenge. Nobody thinks of themselves as a business unit because, in the future, we’re going to have all these freelance opportunities, but nobody’s really good at, at managing that. And so that takes a variety of skills. You suddenly, you have to learn how to set up a business entity around yourself. Then you have to learn how to price your services, how to negotiate deals, how to write contracts, how to, how to market yourself, how to sell yourself, even creating your books, doing the accounting getting insurance.
All of these things that you have to, you have to take on once you’re an entrepreneur. And so nobody’s teaching people how to do that. We have a little over one and a half million people today that are freelancers in the United States, making over a hundred thousand dollars a year. So if you want to break into that high paid freelancer category, you have to suddenly hang out with other high paid freelancers. That’s, that’s the best way to learn how to do that. But how do you do that? Because those freelancers don’t want to be found. And so it’s, so, it becomes rather tricky. But I, I find this whole category very interesting, and it’s, it’s not that AI is taking all of our jobs away. AI becomes another tool in our toolbox. It gives us the ability to do things and accomplish things that we could never do in the past.
Jenn DeWall: Work smarter, not harder. And it’s it, I mean, I didn’t think about that, that everyone slowly is becoming maybe their own personal brand in a way that they never even needed to find that value of in themselves that they could bring, they never needed to see that beyond or outside of their annual review of how did you do this year? They didn’t have to consciously think about those goals for themselves.
Thomas Frey: Pretty much we’ve been trained from birth to be a cog in the wheel. We’ve been trained to be part of the system if you will. And, and in the middle of all that, we’re being taught that we’re not that important, but the reality is, is we’re very important to us. Are there. There’s, there’s a group of people that are out there that everybody has their own fan club and so your ability to manage your own fan club, to grow it, to communicate with your fan club, to have all the inputs and outputs with your fan, that ability to manage your fan club. That’s a critical skill for the future. Nobody’s teaching people how to do that, and that is so important because, in the end, it ends up being all about you because it, you are the business,
The Future of College Degrees
Jenn DeWall: You know you had written a blog article about your stance on- and it’s titled 32 Future Accomplishments that will give you more Status and an Influence than a College Degree, which right now I wouldn’t say that college- unless you might be taking that entrepreneurial track and you’re learning a little bit more about that- I don’t think college really prepares us for any type of soft skill introspective thinking and in the way that maybe aligns with what we would need to have in the future.
Thomas Frey: Yeah, so I like to use this illustration. It actually never unfolds quite like this. But if you think about somebody from my college sitting down with an 18-year-old kid and they actually never say this, but this is the message that comes across there. They’re telling the 18-year-old kid, Hey, do you want to drive that fast car? Do you want to live in that house, in the mountains or on the beach? All you have to do is sign here, and all your dreams will come true. Now they don’t actually say that, but that’s the message that the kid is hearing. And they’re thinking, Oh well, this is an easy one. And it’s a methodical process that you can step your way through to get a college degree. And invariably, you’ll start off with, with really high expectations of yourself. I’m going to go down this engineering path, and I want to take some really hard classes to test things out cause I’ve been smart in high school and stuff.
And, and then if you take a few classes, you say, you know, I’m not quite cutting it, so maybe I’ll switch to a degree in economics or something. And, and then, yeah, yeah. I’m still not passing the economics classes either. Maybe I’ll just take something easier just to, I got to salvage something out of this and after two or three years, then yeah, I need to graduate somehow. And so they’ll take whatever degree they can get just to get out of the door. And they’ve made so many compromises along the way that they actually have nothing of value at the end. Now, this is, this is what typically happens. Now, somebody graduates from college that can’t find a job. So after a couple of months, they pick up a project, then pick up another project, another project before they realize that they’re working as a freelancer and just that nobody’s taught them how to be a freelancer. So they’re doing it begrudgingly thinking that the world somehow owed him a job, never realizing that that could be the preferred lifestyle for them. That they could actually say no to the things that they’re not good at, say yes to the things that they want to do, and actually take control of their own destiny. Now that is a whole separate issue, from what they’re thinking because that’s nobody’s actually coached them to go in that direction.
Jenn DeWall: People don’t even know they have the choice. I think I heard the expression, the majority of people go through life on autopilot every single day. They just are not consciously aware that they are the ones that are in the driver’s seat.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. And there are so many conscious choices we’re making. We’re, we’re just set in default mode. We just click on the default option all the time. Now, somebody who wants to take the initiative, though, that’s where there are all these other options that are out there that nobody’s talking about. Like if I want to design a video game as an example, people who design video games, that’s, that’s learning how to do that, that’s, that’s more than a college degree and then being successful at it, that’s even way better. If I’m going to become an inventor, learning the invention process, how to file a patent, how to, how to market your invention, how to create prototypes, and all that. That’s the equivalent of a college degree; maybe if it’s successful in an invention, that’s even better. If, if I’m going to write, write a script for a TV series if it becomes a hit series, that’s way better.
Then, if I’m going to open my own business, if it’s a successful business, that’s even way better. If I get elected to a city council- that’s equivalent to a college degree, if I get elected to higher office, that’s even better. And so you can just start understanding that these are not, there’s not a methodical path you can go down to do any of these. You have to make conscious decisions that you want to stick your neck out. You want to be bold and different and try things that are unique and different and not be afraid of failure. That’s, that’s all part of the game.
The Future of Niche Markets
Jenn DeWall: Right? And it’s, you know, we’re, if that’s a challenging piece because as we age, we obviously get more comfortable. So that fear of failure becomes a lot bigger than what it is.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. There’s a bigger downside mean, if you own three or four houses and you and, and you have 250 people working for you, a failure can look radically different than, than somebody who’s, who’s all alone living in an apartment that doesn’t have much to lose. So, so yeah, but then, the kind of the trick is to learn how to fail faster. Because you’re gonna make mistakes. There are just things that are gonna go wrong, but just keep at it. Just keep plugging away and just be relentless and, and try new things. There are so many new opportunities coming out of the woodwork. When I was a kid growing up, everybody wanted to become a rock star. Everybody wanted to be on stage.
Jenn DeWall: Who did you want to be?
Thomas Frey: Alright. You know, I had bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who and, and there are lots of big bands – Jethro Tull. There are lots of big bands out there. But, but now you talk to young kids, they either want to be the one to be a pro gamer. They want to play video games and, and win the big tournaments, or they are they want to be a YouTube star that’s an easier path actually because there’s, there’s hardly any barrier to entry to becoming a YouTube star. Well, at least getting YouTubes posted. Yeah, we have something like 400, 400 hours of YouTube video are going, getting posted every, every minute under YouTube. Which is just absolutely crazy. Yeah. If you want to create a product and sell it on Amazon, you can do that. But just understand that Amazon currently has 606 million products listed on Amazon.
Jenn DeWall: Wow. How big of a store would you have to have to host everything that Amazon sells?
Thomas Frey: It’s pretty crazy because it’s such a distributed network and everything. See, in the past, if you came up with the idea for a product that only appealed to one in 35,000 people, that would have been a product that nobody wanted to put on the store shelf because the market was too small. Nobody would want to put that in a store. Today you can, you can make a really comfortable living out of products that only appealed to one and 35,000 people.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, niche products.
Thomas Frey: Yeah, because you can communicate with the entire world and, and there are so many products that are even nichier than that, that are on Amazon right now.
Jenn DeWall: I heard about one in our class. The one that I will know that I was shocked about was bacon-flavored dental floss
Thomas Frey: And bacon-flavored bandaids too.
Jenn DeWall: What!? Does it look like a strip of bacon?
Thomas Frey: It does. It does. Yeah. But boy, does that wound heal fast.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Yeah. You wonder like how have we? And then you know, does that, there are so many other problems that can come with that too, of that. Are we doing need to be creating all these things? Like do we need bacon-flavored dental floss?
Thomas Frey: There. There are moments in our life where that’s exactly the answer we’re looking for.
Jenn DeWall: That’s true. So going and thinking about, you know, college. College isn’t necessarily giving us, especially if they have a common path, which is that evolution of the kind of bouncing through and then ending with a degree, but not necessarily one that is a STEM specific degree where they can add a lot of immediate value. It’s more conceptual, and it’s not necessarily all applicable, but you talked about that there are so many different ways that we can create success for ourselves. They’re unrelated to the college degree, and that will align with the direction of where we’re going to be going in the future. And I think this is a valuable topic obviously with knowing how much debt is out there with student loans and that the rate that individuals are being paid isn’t necessarily enough to be able to pay for them. It’s just not necessarily giving us the skills that maybe are in alignment with the future or the ones that we actually are going to use to create our success at that moment. So what do you do? Like for the people that are maybe the people that are even thinking, I’m not going to take a risk because I don’t have a college degree. Right. Hanging their hat fully on that being the sole way to say that you are accomplished.
Certifications or Degrees? Which is Bettter?
Thomas Frey: Yeah. One one of the columns I wrote recently is asked this question, is, are certifications today now more valuable than college degrees? Because we can get certifications in areas like cybersecurity AWS, which is Amazon web services, or Google cloud management. We can do a lot of healthcare certifications as well. And all of these, most of these we can get within less than a year, we can get these certifications and then we’re off and running, making money usually well-paying jobs. And in a lot of the tech spaces that the tech world really doesn’t care what your, what your credentials are. They just care whether or not you can do the job. And, and so all of these are unfolding quickly, and the certifications are coming out of the woodwork because that’s, that’s a quick way to kind of separate the wheat from the chaff.
So as somebody’s gone through and learn these particular skills that are valuable to us, and so as, as an example, there’s a lot of these, these certifications that will pay six figures and more. Google cloud management, that’s one of the highest-paid ones. Now, artificial intelligence, that’s one of the highest-paid on cybersecurity, just certificates. They aren’t combined with certain certification because you have to take a test, you do have to take a test, but they don’t care what classes you took to get there. Then it’s just that you take, if you pass the test, then you’re good to go. And, and so my son, as an example. He didn’t have a college degree, but he learned how to program, and so he’d go into interviews, programming interviews, and they would, they would grill them.
I mean, these interviews would be a full day long and he’d be grilled by three different groups just to make sure that he was good at what he was doing and they would give him problems, and then they’d ask him to get up to the whiteboard and to go out there and sketch out the algorithms that you use to solve that problem. And, and as a result, I mean, he worked his way up in the system. Now there’s, there’s a certain group of programmers that are totally self-taught at somewhere, 7 – 9% of all programmers are completely self-taught this, this stuff just makes sense to them. And they’re the ones that generally work their way up into the top of the system because they are so, it’s so natural to them that they’re the savants of the coding world. Now something like 73% of the programmers self-taught on some level, but it’s, it’s the other 27% that I worry about that half to have a teacher teaching them something. Otherwise, you can’t learn it. Those are the ones that aren’t going to progress very far in their life. So this, the tech world is changing things so quickly that we have to stay ahead of the curve, and that’s what’s, what’s really challenging. So we now have options for going out. We have a question, we’d just gone to YouTube, and somebody put a YouTube video up there that we can watch, and we can learn how to solve that problem.
Jenn DeWall: Great. I don’t think I’ve ever gone on to YouTube. Google looked for something and couldn’t find it. I think if I would have to think really hard about, I really don’t think anything comes to mind.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. There might be some really specific niche problems with some really new technology that wouldn’t be up there. But it’s rare because right now it’s, it’s, it’s a mad dash to see who can get the first videos out there on each of these topics. And if you’re, if you’re first, then you’re likely to get much more traffic, and then the traffic turns into ad revenue. And there’s a lot of people making a ton of money on YouTube right now. And these are, these are not old people either.
New Ways to Build Brand and Gain Status
Jenn DeWall: No, you can make money, like eating food on YouTube. I’m just amazed by all of the opportunities to generate revenue from different channels. Things that I again have not ever thought of. I’ve, why would I ever think someone would want to pay money to watch me eat a sandwich? But all you need is a camera and a YouTube channel, and you’re good to go.
Thomas Frey: The product is not eating the sandwich. The product is you. And so if people understand that, that it’s about them, how they’re articulating this experience, what they’re going through, their facial expressions, all of this is about them. And, and so they, then it’s the business of you. They are learning to leverage that because this is a unique and different opportunity that did not exist 20 years ago. Nobody could do that then.
Jenn DeWall: Right. How do you think podcasts, knowing that podcasts are, that we’re on a podcast right now, it’s another up and coming medium to be able to share information. How do you think they, they can give you a status, they can give you that level of expertise or how do you think they’ve changed it?
Thomas Frey: The number I came across is that there are something like 700,000 podcasts out there right now, and that number continues to climb. I’m guessing in just a few years we’re going to be up over 5 million different podcasts, but podcasts will be used in lots of different ways. It’ll be used, too. There, there are different revenue streams that go along with it from the advertising to the sponsorship, but it will be used to sell other things as well. And so I think we’re going to find a lot of unique and different ways too, to leverage podcasts. In fact, if you’re a podcast star, that’s, that’s better than a college degree.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, right. You’re, you’re making the sponsorship money. You have the opportunity to likely travel to conferences or go and meet people, and you know, there’s a lot of, great, if you are going back to thinking about why not just find those opportunities that maybe you’re naturally good at instead of forcing yourself through the ones that they’re not, your strengths. Podcasts allow you to pull up anything. Whether it’s thinking about there’s, I mean there are so many different types of topics, whether it’s thinking about a specific dietary lifestyle, lifestyle to wanting to talk about like crime stories. I mean, any type of topic that you can find, like our Leadership Habit podcast, is out there, and it’s interesting that we are able to give voice to even just those niche things. And we were talking about this before the podcast, just understanding how, Oh no, we actually were just talking about this with Amazon, but people have the opportunity to explore niches and make these niches relevant and mainstream, which is very interesting.
Thomas Frey: Right, right. So, and you can associate with other people that have your same quirky niche interest. That’s it. That’s very important. I mean, if you, if you like to do artwork on the sides of buildings, only you like to do just really abstract artwork in reds and greens for whatever reason, you can hang out with other people who like reds and greens on large buildings. That’s a really quirky niche. And so why would you do that? I can’t explain, but that’s your comfort zone. You like being around those people,
Jenn DeWall: Right? You’re like, we’re going to make more of that in the world. What are other ways like outside of college, you know, podcasting, knowing with our, going back, and getting certifications? I know I went back to school, you know, I did my undergrad, I did my master’s, and then I ultimately went back to school again. But well, last time was for a certification. It was for my coaching certification. Yeah.
The Future Looks Great for Artists
Thomas Frey: One think about is that right now there’s so much original content that’s being generated online, on original video content. Netflix is spending like four and a half-billion dollars a year. Apple is spending a billion a year. YouTube is spending a bunch of money. The Hulu is, is spending tons of money. There’s, and there are several, several other ones. Amazon has spent a bunch of money on their Amazon Prime stuff, and there has never been a better opportunity for somebody who is a scriptwriter. Somebody who is an actor, actress, people who are lighting guys, camera guys, makeup people. All of this, see, all of this is, is freelance stuff. I mean, this is the way Hollywood has worked for years. Whenever a movie project comes to the play, it attracts all these people to come together and then the citizens over, they disband, and they form around other projects. These projects are happened with greater and greater frequency than ever before. So if you ever had a dream of being a writer for a TV show, now’s your chance. I mean this is, there’s a better chance now of getting into that field than ever before in all history. Cause we are generating so much new content all over the place.
Jenn DeWall: That’s an interesting point because I think when you think about the dream of being, whether it’s an actor or actress or anything supporting us, that you likely think you have to know someone, that’s the only way that you’re going to get in. Or you think that there are just a fixed amount. Like you can’t get in there. It’s a really tough industry to crack. But that’s making decisions off of past data. They’re not acknowledging where we are today and where the future’s going.
Thomas Frey: People are dropping out of their careers of being an insurance salesman, being accountants there. There’s a lot of boring jobs that they felt they had to do in the past. Now suddenly, they have opportunities to be a star on whether it’s on Facebook or whether it’s on Twitter. Whatever it is, they can become a star, and they can leverage that and unique in different ways. And, and suddenly that’s their full-time job. That becomes their income stream. It becomes their, what the world knows them as, and they are no longer just this little hidden person in the back of the room. They can emerge and come out into the sunshine.
Jenn DeWall: That brings me up to; someone had sent me a link for a YouTube video on just someone that he just shares his opinion while he is just drinking wine. I’m sure he makes a lot of money for his YouTube channel through that own TV show that he created for himself. Yeah.
The Skills You Need for the Future
Thomas Frey: Yeah. And, and, and so I was told that it’s, it’s all about the frequency and having the video show up on a regular, frequent basis and, and if you do it consistently for four months, then you’ll start noticing this spike in traffic and then it goes up from there. So if you continue to do things like that, you’ll get better over time, but, but stick with it. I mean, don’t just your mind every other day and do something different. If you’re consistent in how you’re doing it, that’s how you build an audience. That’s how you build your fan club. Now there’s, there are lots of things that schools are not teaching today. One of the big things that schools are not teaching today is how to use distraction management. How do you manage yourself in light of all these bright, shiny objects that we have around us?
And there are tons of them. So it’s easy to get distracted. So how do we, how do we focus? Nobody’s teaching people how to do that. We’re, we’re not teaching people how to manage their, their, their gigs, how to manage their freelance career. We’re not teaching that. We’re not teaching people how to manage their relationships. Because we can, we can have relationships with people all over the world on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and LinkedIn and, and so how do, how do we manage that? And then we can have how do we manage our technology? Should I buy this new phone? Should I buy this new computer? This gaming console, should I get this over this one? Nobody’s teaching us how to make those decisions. And so the schools are leaving all of this that’s off the table because the teachers don’t know how to teach that.
We’re just teaching all the old stuff that we were taught in the past. But this is the stuff that’s most relevant to young people today as, as a young parent, how do parents manage their kids today because they have a whole bunch of extra decision points that their parents never had to deal with. How much screen time should the kid have? At what age do they get a phone? And then do we have phone curfews? How do we manage security? Should I be tracking my kid all the time? Should I give them some freedom? There are all these weird things that yeah,
Jenn DeWall: Considerations that they never had to even-
Thomas Frey: We don’t have the right rule book yet.
Jenn DeWall: And again, goes, technology is faster than what I think we recognize going back to kids, how they have those apps, and then they can bury them in an app that looks like a calculator. And we’re supposed to, as a parent, I’m not a parent, but parents are supposed to somehow stay current with everything. And they’re sometimes the most, you know, further back, right. They have the technology. They might have a social media account, but they might just have one. They don’t have two, three, four, or five.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. Yeah. And then, how to, how to be self-promoting. How to stick your neck out there and not be afraid of the world sees you for who you are. Because you’re, you’re not a terrible person after all.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. If we could cure That for people, I would feel like that’s the closest way to get world peace ever. It’s just by getting people to really see like it’s okay to be who you are. That’s totally fine. In terms of being a futurist, in terms of being able to make an impact on the world, the only way that you could possibly do it is by being yourself. You replicate someone else’s idea; you’re not adding more value.
Thomas Frey: Right. Right. But we have so many new channels right now that we just had never had in the past. I mean, if you want to, you want to create a Broadway play, if you want to create a new board game, if you want to, there are just things that we can do today that we just never could in the past. And I think everybody should feel empowered by all of this opportunity. And so nobody’s teaching us how to manage the opportunities or how to direct our attention, how to manage our time and our focus and our money and all that. In that process, all of these things I view as on the one hand it was a problem, but on the other hand, it does an opportunity, somebody can solve that problem. And in the middle of solving that problem, you’re solving millions of people’s problems around the world.
Jenn DeWall: What do you think is the best way to pursue personal growth, given that college may not prepare us for the state of where the business is today and where we need to be? We know that we can use and leverage things like social media to become maybe a brand expert or a thought leader, but how do we even, how do we start? How do we start to self-study?
Thomas Frey: Yeah. It’s, it’s, that’s actually a great question because that comes down to us. I’m pretty sure there’s a YouTube channel that will answer.
Jenn DeWall: Of course, there’s probably a 500. I just have to find them.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. So that’s, that’s an interesting question because we don’t know how to focus our attention very well and we don’t know how to, how to take that thing that we’re focused on and monetize it and turn it into some sort of a revenue-generating income stream and, and then something that we can actually rely on of, because some of these are, some of these are such quirky areas. You might be the first one in the world can be doing something like this. And so so it actually makes money. Yeah. Well, I guess so. Never tried it before.
Virtual Reality in the Future
Jenn DeWall: And that is interesting because I wonder if, because they haven’t seen it, especially if it doesn’t have an imprint on technology, are you, then he may be more reluctant to even pursue it because it’s not validated by the technology.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. So if you think about all of the ways that VR and AR are going to get used in the future of this virtual reality, augmented reality, and it’s, it’s falling under this big category and mixed reality. So we’re simulating things that we can never do in the past. And so we’re going to have these mixed reality channels we can go to and restore all of the things that we’ve created on these channels. And so, like a YouTube, you can sort through it, and you can find whatever thing you’re looking for only at it will appear three-dimensional. You can be part of that experience- new and different. So we’re going to have mixed reality stars out there that have figured out how to monetize that, how to leverage that. And then even the idea of how do you create an ad, a VR ad that’s somehow in the space, you know, your product placement or whatever it might be, that’s three dimensionalized hanging in space somewhere as you’re going through this crazy experience.
And then, then they’re going to have games that move into three-dimensional games and all that. I wrote this column a while back on this idea of how much it would be worth to sell the VR rights to NFL football. I mean it had to do with that whole idea that sometime in the future, not too distant future, we’re going to be able to put on a VR helmet and watch a football game and, and we’re going to want to immerse ourselves in it so that we can then, I think in the future all the players will have little cameras around their helmets. And so then you can pick out whatever player you want to be, and you can put yourself down on the field and experience what that player’s going through and then with, with haptic feedback, then if they get hit, then you can feel it.
I’m not as bad as they do, but, but, but then you can become the quarterback. You can become a wide receiver or a defensive tackle, whatever you want to be on the field, and you’re right down there with the other players. Now the problem with experience, how much would that be worth? How much extra would you pay to do that? Now, if you do that, watching a football game tends to be a social experience. You’re with friends, and you’re having pizza and beer and hot dogs, whatever. Suddenly you’ve taken yourself out of the room of all your friends because you have this experience going on in your own head. Suddenly you forget where you put your beer, where your pizza is, and all the conversations going on in the room don’t involve you because you’re so wrapped up in being on the field there with the other players. Yeah. How does that work? I mean, that’s a problem on the one hand, but it’s also an opportunity for somebody to figure that out. On the other hand.
Jenn DeWall: Well, and how does VR impact, I know with the, with the cell phone, with virtual communities, how that’s drastically changed the way that people socialize in many people would say, or some people say not in a great way because people are losing that ability to have those direct face to face conversations or picking up the phone. If you take it to one step further and go to VR and you can’t share that experience with them, then how much further away are you or how much more connected are you? I mean, those are just different. Those are different thoughts that came through Jenn’s brain. Well, I was thinking about that is how would be our impact, our ability to socialize with people if you can’t share it with them.
Thomas Frey: We’re very social creatures by nature, but I get this question quite a bit. How long will it be before meeting somebody virtually will be as good as meeting somebody in person? We’re still a long way from that. I mean, we’re still, if we’re doing a virtual meeting, we still, we’re going to miss that little bead of sweat falling down there forehead or, or some of the body language that they’re using or just the things, the sidebar conversations happening before or after. And, and so I kind of come to the conclusion that as soon as we can make a virtual meeting as good as a physical meeting, we’re still not going to go there. So somehow, the virtual meeting has to be better than meeting somebody physically. So if you can answer that question of what constitutes better, there’s a whole world of opportunity out there for you if you can.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. What does better look like? Even from a virtual side? Cause I noticed that there’s a reluctance to want to have meetings virtually because they think they maybe aren’t, they’re just not the same. And I would say that some of them actually go the same way, but what would make them better then? Is it a full sensory experience? Being able to have a closer view or you can see that bead of sweat, or you can smell the pizza that they’re eating.
Thomas Frey: You’re monitoring all their vitals, did their heart rate go up, did their brain waves go off on a different tangent. What happened?
Jenn DeWall: Oh wait, could you even picture if you could tell when people’s minds started to wander if that was the level- you’re like, I had this conversation with you, and now you’re going a completely different direction.
Thomas Frey: He’s not paying attention. He’s dreaming right now. I think he fell asleep. Yeah.
Jenn DeWall: You could start to actually be like, and I can tell how attentive you are now with technology. How would that change as a performance review with the bus? You were only attentive 50% of the years, so we are not going to pay you your annual raise.
Technology and Social Isolation
Thomas Frey: Right? Yeah. So anyway, that becomes this weird scenario that is that going to happen sometime in the future? We don’t know. Will we get to that point. I think we’re, and we’re social creatures by nature. We want to be around other people. We have this kind of this need to be around other human beings. And technology is very isolating. Technology is very isolating because sometime within the next ten years, I will be able to jump into a car and go to Chicago, and it will drive nonstop well until it has to charge up or something along the way. But that’s, that’s just going to be little interludes, but go all the way to Chicago, and I won’t talk to a single person. I’ll be watching video games playing video games, watching movies, and just doing all kinds of things inside of the ship while sleeping. And I don’t have to socialize at all. So that’s, that’s very isolating, and I think we might have more and more things like that. Technology tends to pull us away from other humans. Lots of gamers spend their entire day in a basement. They’re, they’re having great fun, but yeah, pretty isolated. Yeah. So they’re kind of weird individuals.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Well, they don’t socialize. I mean, we don’t socialize. That goes back to skill. If we don’t have that as a developed skill or it’s not there is a place that maybe you even have those shared experiences, someone that’s playing a video game where they are focusing on capturing, what would it be? What did, what was the example we heard last week capturing the, in this role the individual was talking about how in the virtual world in this e-game or one of the roles they like to play on whatever game this was is they were kind of the healer if you will, and so they would capture all of the supplies or get all of the supplies and health and then they would bestow these things on to other people. And so there’s that gratitude that you get from helping people in this virtual setting, but then trying to apply that same concept, same endorphin rush that’s going to come into us, the true space has given the fact that you like to hand out artificial things that may be going on way too much of a tangent, but it is whereas you deal with these situations that are so far from someone’s reality and then try to make them somehow work in that reality and that it comes off as awkward, right? Like how you would even conversation with the people that are playing a game is going to be different than how you would talk to people. Maybe this is too much of a tangent that we can edit this right out of the podcast, but it is interesting.
Thomas Frey: It’s not, and it’s not because this is this real-world situation. These are happening all the time, and these are people that are part of society. We’re working with them, and we’re selling things to them. Now the reason an economy works is because we’re all deficient individuals for all terminally human and we need things and we, and because we need things, it gives that’s, that’s the reason why we need each other. So if I need something done, I go to somebody who I know can do it, and other people ask me to do things for them. So we’re providing all these goods and services. So if you have a world that only has two people in it, that’s a world that has a very limited economy with those two people trading back and forth. Now, if you have a world with a hundred people in it, is that 50 times greater than two people?
It’s actually much more than that because of all the lines of trade that are involved in it. Now, that’s a really simple example, but theoretically, a world with 9 billion people in it should have a greater economy than the world was 6 billion people in it. So so we, people, are what create the economy. It’s these human needs that drive the economy. And, and so us isolating ourselves from the rest of the world is not good for the overall general economy. Maybe. I’m not an economist, and I’m not.
The Future of Communication
Jenn DeWall: Well then, even while you’re talking and maybe you start to think about how technology has impacted our language, we don’t need you to, to write in shorthand or to actually write something out. You will be made fun of by Gen Z or Millennials. If you have a text that is written like a paragraph, you know, that’s, that’s a laughable thing because everything is so condensed. It’s just so much more vernacular, like shorthand and vernacular and acronyms and even what, how is that going to drive the academic landscape, the business landscape as we to see evolutions in our communication,
Thomas Frey: Right. Yeah. So teaching young kids how to write in cursive, do we need to do that? I mean, is that necessary anymore?
Jenn DeWall: They don’t know. I can, and I volunteer at a camp in the summers and they, many schools don’t teach that. So if their parents wrote a letter in cursive or actually us as staff will write letters to the students and there were a few times that this is how we learned it. We wrote them in cursive because that’s how you’re used to writing a letter and the students could not read it.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. I tried writing in cursive a while ago. I, I forgot. Did we learn how to do that? Yeah. Supposedly it was faster, but right now, I can just print things, and that’s good enough, and I don’t have to print a lot, so I don’t have to do it. I can type things out way faster. Although I’m not a great typist either. I’ve just, but all of this is changing because suddenly we’re going to start talking back and forth to our devices. We’re not going to have any written language at all to look at. So how does that change things? It opens up a whole new can of worms, so to speak because it’s going into this unchartered territory.
Jenn DeWall: Does that mean all books are then just read to you as if you’re a child again, or do you actually have to read anymore, or how are you capturing that knowledge?
Thomas Frey: Yeah, it’s, it’s actually a little bit different experience. But you know, the first time I listened to an audiobook, I thought it was cheating. I thought, wow, this is way too easy. And then, and then I thought about it for a while. And this, the process of reading, it’s just this process of looking at the characters on a page and turning them into mental concepts and images. Now, this idea of listening to an audiobook and turning them into mental concepts and images, that’s a little different process. But however, you get the information in your head really shouldn’t matter. And so that’s the important part. People get hung up over this particular process, and now the ideas that get generated along the way that’ll probably vary and differ by individual. But I think it’s more important that we make it easy to get the information into our head.
See, the whole trend line is we’re taking this vast information world out there with the internet, and we’re trying to make the interface with our brain as seamless and as invisible as possible. So 20 years ago, if you’d gone into a big library and you had some tough questions to answer, it can take you 10 hours to answer those questions. Going through card catalogs and doing the reference books and all that. Yeah, all of that. And now, today, with a search engine and the keyboard and the screen, you can get those same answers in 10 minutes who have going from 10 hours to 10 minutes. The next interface is the ten-second interface. This idea that somebody could ask you a question and in 10 seconds your mind could think your way to an answer. Now that’s, that’s this neuro link thing that Elon Musk is working on. That might even be faster than 10 seconds. But that’s, that’s the type of thing that’s the type of direction that we’re going. That’s the trendline.
Jenn DeWall: What did we lose? You know, if thinking if we’ve access to this information, it can be put into our brains in such a fast amount of time. Are we losing strategic thinking skills? Are we losing problem-solving skills? What are we losing?
Thomas Frey: That’s, yeah, I guess we’ll have to figure that out. I, there, there are, there are things that we lose. But it’s, it’s I mean we, we lost a lot of things when we went from the stagecoach to the car. Is that something we should have hung on to. I don’t know.
Jenn DeWall: Right, right. Cause you lose it. It just makes me, you know, cause I wonder does it create more excitement than that’s built as you continue to learn more or does it create people that become lazier and maybe aren’t as because they know that they don’t have to try to work for that in the same way that it was once done? Or do they love this access that they have, and they go further? You know what? I think you could probably argue it both ways, just based on,
Memorization or Access to Information?
Thomas Frey: Yeah. Well, our old way of thinking is we had to commit so much to memory. If you’re going to be a doctor, you have to learn all the body parts. You have to learn all of the nerve endings she needed to learn every chemical that’s out there and how it affects the body. And you have to have that all stored in your brain somehow. But if you can just think your way to those answers, do we need to have all of that committed to memory? Because that was hard. I mean, that took a lot to get all of that stored in your brain.
Jenn DeWall: So many notecards.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. And, and so that, that was thousands of cans of Red Bull to get that in there.
Jenn DeWall: Right, right. Definitely. So I guess one of the positive things is no more Red Bull. Maybe it’s saving money there and then you’re probably getting better sleep by not having that. It’s so interesting.
Thomas Frey: But will you be as effective as somebody that’s committed to memory? Yeah. And the people that have had to go through all those rigors in the past and becoming a lawyer or a doctor, teacher, whatever. If, if the path is easier for somebody in the future, is it the same, and you, being the old school person, feel short-changed because you had to go through so much. You had to endure so many hardships to get there.
Jenn DeWall: Right. Like maybe it’s not three years to get a law degree. It can be something that you do in six months and
Thomas Frey: Yeah, actually, actually, I think it might be something you can do in a month. I think an entire college degree could be sped up to a point where you could finish a college degree in a month. I think a lot of people, a lot of young people just for the hell of it, are gonna learn a language, some foreign language, one of these disappearing languages. They’ll learn one of these disappearing languages just over a weekend just because they can. I think that’ll be fascinating. It’s really, I think we’ve not, we’ve not figured out really good ways of learning foreign languages, but I think we can do that with AI. I think we can do that in a faster way ever than in the past. We need to learn roughly 2,500 words to communicate in a new language and just learning them, and then we can expand from there. But yeah, one thing, one thing that’s really interesting is that New York City is actually home to lots of of these disappearing languages. There, there are over 800 languages spoken in the New York City area. And a lot of times the people just speak them in their house. Husband and wife speak to each other in that language, that language that only they know how to speak. Yeah.
Jenn DeWall: That’s still alive,
Thomas Frey: Barely alive. There are over 500 languages so that we’ll have fewer than 10 people still speaking the language.
Jenn DeWall: I mean, it’d be interesting to think about how AI could then take that, listen to a conversation, translate what it is, and then actually create a backup library of language to keep it alive. AI can probably do that.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s something I’ve, I’ve actually written about that whole topic that I think we can, we can actually preserve a lot of these dying languages because there’s a lot more of our culture and history in a language than just speaking. There’s, there are different ways of expressing things. There are different ways of thinking about challenges and hardships and all that that we lose with that. So how will this evolve in the future? We’re still waiting to see.
Jenn DeWall: I’ve loved our conversation today. It has been just an awesome conversation. I know we want a lot of different directions with this,
Thomas Frey: I never go off-topic.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, that absolutely didn’t happen. Christian’s staring at us like you guys are totally off-topic the whole time. No, but I think we all have to do that. We have to be a little bit more curious about what’s coming down the horizon, how we can better position ourselves by being more aware and alert to what we need to do to adapt.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. I, I like to say that we every, every entrepreneur needs to keep their peripheral vision intact as they, as they look over the opportunity landscape because there are so many things happening off on one side or the other side that we should pay attention to those because there are things happening there that we can take advantage of that we never imagined in the past.
What is Your Leadership Habit for Success?
Jenn DeWall: Tom, we like to wrap up every episode with a final question, and our final question is always, what is your leadership habit for success?
Thomas Frey: Yeah. That’s you. You told me that before we started and that one’s going to stump me. I don’t have any
Jenn DeWall: I think we talked about conceptual thinking. That is absolutely- how do you know, how do you become a great futurist?
Thomas Frey: We have a few different ways of doing things that so as an example one of the things we did at the DaVinci Institute that I run, we started the DaVinci back in 1997 and wanted to start it as a futurist think tank and the idea of what the future is a think tank and how it’s evolved over time. That’s, that’s still an unusual ongoing experiment. But I like to think of this as the, this process of trying to understand. It’s a laboratory for the future human condition. So how, how people are going to change and how our lifestyles evolve in the future. And, and so I kinda look at that as kind of our, our mission statement, if you will, and, and try to understand it from that perspective.
So we have a series of mastermind groups that we, we pulled together these intensely bright people, and we dive into these topics real timely topics. And that’s, that’s what I find that to be, well, the best entertainment in town, but it’s also just a fascinating way of unlocking a lot of brainpower on this one particular topic. The last one we did was on quantum computing and this idea of whether, whether or not Google actually achieved quantum supremacy or not, but it’s, it brings, brings up this question of how will, how will our problems get solved once we can apply a million times more computer power to any given problem that we have? And I find that to be such a fascinating question.
Jenn DeWall: What would, I mean, what diseases would be cured? If you have that much more additional capacity, brainpower data, pure data, right. That’s incredible to think about how that can be leveraged.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. Yeah. And Volkswagen just used quantum computers to solve one big issue. And that’s in the driverless world of how to how to create an operating system that gets the right number of cars in the right place in the city at the right time.
Jenn DeWall: That would be, would that mean that I would not necessarily have to stay in traffic then if they could figure that and be like, this person needs to get to work by 8:00 AM we will start her driverless car going this way.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. That they’ll give you the right time and everything, but for the most part, you won’t care because you can be productive doing other things. You won’t care how long it takes for the car to get there. That changes a lot of things. Well, I think, yeah, I think cars are, are going to evolve into lots of different things. I think we have driverless mobile businesses. I think we have driverless mobile offices. I mean, rather than being in this room here, we could be in a mobile unit traveling around town here, seeing all the sites, seeing everything going past us as we’re driving along, and we don’t worry about because that’s the totally safe environment. This thing is just driving. Is that the type of office you’d like to work in it?
Jenn DeWall: I would love to work in an office like that. I would love to be doubly as productive on a commute. I mean, I would say I’m productive on a commute with podcasting, but knowing that you could actually do something with your hands and eyes or being in a mobile place, just the stimulus that comes from changing and sceneries would be amazing for your own brainpower.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. So the businesses today spend a tremendous amount of money, getting customers to come to them. In the future. A driverless mobile business can go to where the customers are. So anytime there’s a softball tournament, there’s a parade on the main street, any gathering of people, driverless mobile businesses will be there and set up, be ready to do business. The mall of the future might very likely be just this giant warehouse that every morning they opened the doors and the whole stream of driverless mobile businesses come in and set up shop, and it’s a different configuration, a different grouping of businesses every day. So it’s a totally different experience every time you go there. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Jenn DeWall: Yes. I mean, it’d be even more fun to think about how they could do, you know, explore more with virtual trying on, but I could save time or just, you know, somehow finding that perfect thing based on understanding your saved preferences that you go into a virtual mall, and they say, by the way, there are 10 things and go to each of these stores, and you will find them waiting for you. Yeah, that would be insane. Know you think about, I think for people that aren’t really familiar with Futurists, maybe you think about the Jetsons, you’re like, well, none of that can happen. We don’t have, you know, a flying spaceship that’s taking us around, but so many more things have come to fruition than what I think anyone ever thought that who can put a finite absolute judgment on what the future holds for us.
Thomas Frey: Yeah. A great question to ask is, but a thousand years from now, what things will be possible and what things will not.
Will We Live Longer in the Future?
Jenn DeWall: Will life be possible? Will you be able to use technology to extend the way that you live? Like is immortal life then an option? That’s probably too much of a question.
Thomas Frey: No, we’ve actually dealt, delved into that whole project that whole discussion area because it, we start off with this premise, no person should ever die ever. And then you start going down the list. Well, we, in the future we can probably cure, cure all the diseases in the future. We can probably cure deviant behavior. In the future, if somebody has an accident, we can probably put them back together again and keep them alive. And, and then as we can probably cure aging as part of this. And so then you, you get to the bottom and say, well then no person should ever die ever. Is that our goal? And if not, why not? Is that our goal? It’s so we have the Hippocratic Oath that doctors are taking. Shouldn’t that be our goal, though? That no person should ever die ever. And so it brings up this, this great discussion and is that, is, is that going to be possible? And so I, I find that to be just as fascinating discussion because I talked to a lot of people and I say, well, I don’t want to live forever. Why would I want to live forever?
Jenn DeWall: Because you’re basing your forever on what the past is like when you have no idea how amazing the future could be.
Thomas Frey: I had a friend of mine asked me the question. He says, well, isn’t it true that somebody alive today is actually going to be the first person that’s going to live forever? And I said, well, that’s really a crazy question because, in order to prove that somebody can live forever, somebody would have to live longer than the person that lives forever, so we will never know.
Jenn DeWall: Best of luck trying to figure that out. Thomas, thank you so much for sharing your insight and your expertise, and as listeners, stay tuned, I’m going to give you some directions and how you can connect with Thomas. You can stay current with his work. You can find out more about the DaVinci Institute and just explore all of the topics that we’ve talked about today and many more that Thomas writes about. Thomas, again, thank you so much. Well, thanks for having me here.
Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the leadership habit podcast. To find out more about Thomas or book him for an event, head over to futuristspeaker.com, or find the website in our show notes. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, don’t forget to rate and review us on your favorite podcast streaming service and also share it with your friends.