Corporate Conversations

The Future Exit SignI’ve written many times about the challenges we all face trying to predict the future. Just last week I offered “Seven Principles for Taking Charge of Your Future.” None of them involves predicting anything.

I gave up making predictions many years ago.

In the immortal words at that great American philosopher, Yogi Berra,

It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

[A quick Google search suggests that Nobel-prize-winning physicist Neils Bohr may have said that first, but it’s more fun attributing it to Yogi Berra]

I prefer to approach the inherent uncertainties about the future with a radically different mindset.

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Mark LeBlanc and Henry DeVriesI’ve just returned from a life-changing workshop. It was the first annual “Indie Books International Family and Friends Forum,” organized by Henry DeVries and Mark LeBlanc (Mark’s on the left) for Indie Books authors (and future authors). Indie Books is my publisher, and I couldn’t be happier with our relationship.

Henry and Mark are two of the most remarkable people I know, and they produced an experience this weekend I’ll never forget. Not only did the various sessions inspire me (and my fellow authors) individually, but the most powerful outcome of the weekend was the creation of a community. I’m now part of a group of smart, caring writers and speakers who are committed to supporting each other in the best possible way.

There’s no way I can re-create the experience for you, or capture it in words. However, I am going to share just a few of the sound bites that stuck with me. Frankly, it’s probably going to sound trivial and obvious, but I can vouch for the power of each one of these principles.

There is deep meaning here if you take these ideas seriously. In the interest of time, I’ll just mention them briefly without unpacking them completely – but I can guarantee you’ll hear more about them over the coming weeks and months.

So – here we go.

Ken Blanchard with Jim WareFrom Ken Blanchard (of One-Minute Manager fame (newly revised, by the way), and a fellow Cornell University grad who I knew way before he published the first of his 60+ books – that’s Ken on the left):

Invest in Essence before you worry about Form or Process. In other words, get to know someone at a deep personal level before you commit to any kind of partnership or joint effort. Know who you are working with before you worry about how you will work together.

From Dean Minuto, the award-winning Vistage Keynote Speaker and author of The One-Page Sales Coach: Your Guide to Getting YES from Anyone, Anyplace, Anytime:

Make your message visual. The brain absorbs visual information up to 30 times faster than auditory information. You can say it, and they will hear it; but if they see it, they’ll understand it far better and remember it much longer.

From Dan Janal and Robin Ryan:

Become a local celebrity by reaching out to local journalists and TV/radio producers. Make it easy for them to print your ideas or to interview you. Focus your energy on becoming a “go-to” expert for local news, and eventually the national media will find you.

From Tim Gard, CSP, CPAE (NSA Speaker Hall of Fame):

Have fun, mostly for yourself, and share it when you can. Tim entertained us with travel stories, every one of which had a personal lesson. As Tim told his stories I laughed so hard it hurt. But I also learned to look at life with a sense of humor and a passion for the pleasure of a good laugh.

And, by the way, we also experienced a somewhat more serious “final rehearsal” of Karyn Buxman’s upcoming TEDx talk on the therapeutic value of humor. Humor isn’t just about a good laugh, it’s also in service of good health. And good leadership (Karen’s forthcoming book is called Leading with Levity)

My most inspirational moments, however, came from Mark LeBlanc, a former president of the National Speakers Association and the author of the classic book for entrepreneurs, Growing Your Business, as well Never Be the Same, the story of Mark’s 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago in Spain (he’s done it twice and is about to embark on his third walk).

Mark tells me I’m the first person to call him my Yoda, but even that doesn’t do him enough justice. Here are just a few of Mark’s most important messages:

If your strategy doesn’t work, it’s not the strategy’s fault.” In other words, strategic failures more often stem from a failure to execute than from a bad idea.

What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.” That’s why Mark advocates developing a daily routine in which you do things like make business development calls, or friendship calls, every single day, five days a week, without fail. Just like one-a-day vitamins, make the important tasks in your life into habits, not strenuous, difficult activities. Be disciplined.

Similarly, “Success is determined not by outcomes, but by momentum.” Are you moving forward? Are you paying attention, and adjusting your efforts to your current reality? What pace is right for you? Your momentum depends on how you feel, and how you feel depends on your doing your best today – every day. And if you fall down, pick yourself up and start over.

In truth, there was much, much more, and many, many powerful conversations with friends new and old. As I said at the outset, it was a game-changing weekend (at least I intend to make it into one). Stay tuned, and I’ll report on my own momentum in making these principles not just good ideas but a central part of my life.

Don’t face the future alone. Jim Ware works with organizational leaders who want to make sense of the future and transform its inherent uncertainty into opportunities for extraordinary success.

Contact Jim today to explore how his workshops, keynote presentations, and expertise in orchestrating powerful conversations can put the future to work for you.


I am very pleased that the C-Suite Book Club is currently featuring Making Meetings Matter, my most recent book.

The link is right here:

Check it out!





My silence the last several weeks stems from the fact that I have just returned from a three-week business/pleasure trip to England and France.

While technically I could have easily posted from there, a combination of business commitments and personal holiday time conspired against my finding the time (or the energy) during the trip.

However, now that I am safely back in my “global headquarters” office in northern California I want to encourage you to take a close look at two important newly-published reports that I have been involved in (pardon the shameless self-promotion; I honestly believe these are important reports worth your time and attention). [click to continue…]

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The Future: Next ExitThere are four questions I’m asking everyone I know these days – and that includes you:

  1. What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?
  2. What are you most uneasy about?
  3. What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the way we work and live in the next five to ten years?
  4. If you could change one thing about the way you work right now, what would it be?

I’m just getting started, but I want to build on a few insightful comments I’ve already received about that first question:

What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?

As you might expect, the people I’ve listened to so far are excited about a wide variety of developments they expect to see, ranging from improved – and personalized – education and health care to increased cross-cultural collaboration and much more efficient generation of energy using non-fossil fuel sources like wind power, solar power, and even geo-thermal (accessing and leveraging the heat emanating from the earth’s center.

I am most intrigued by the almost-universal expectation of much greater personalization – the ability of technology to handle the complexities arising from individual differences like personal educational backgrounds (we’ve all studied different topics and have differing levels of knowledge about anything and everything we can think of). [click to continue…]


Last week I announced a new research project focused on gathering insights and ideas from a wide range of smart people (that is, almost everyone I know, plus many of you who I don’t know – yet).

There are four questions I’m asking everyone I know these days – and that includes you:


  1. What aspects of the future of work are you most excited about?
  2. What are you most uneasy about?
  3. What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the way we work and live in the next five to ten years?
  4. If you could change one thing about the way you work right now, what would it be?

I am pleased that I’ve already received thoughtful responses to those questions from several people, including Robert Buss, Graham Jervis, Bob Leek, and David Fleming. You can read their  responses, posted on my blog last week, at this link: “Let’s Talk About Tomorrow[click to continue…]


Let’s Talk About Tomorrow

February 6, 2017

I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years investigating the future of work and doing my best to interpret it for you – especially the “So What?” questions that breakthroughs inevitably produce.

But I have also pointed out on many occasions that, obviously, the future doesn’t exist – yet.

We, together, create the future, one day, or one moment, at a time. The actions we take, the assumptions we hold, and the expectations we create about Tomorrow all add up to new experiences that become The Present and then The Past.

I like to talk about “premembering” the future in the sense that the more we can anticipate what might happen, the better prepared we can be for whatever does happen. Besides “So What?” the most important question we can ask is “What if?” [click to continue…]



Last week I described five dimensions of the future of work as I envision it (“Oh, the Things I Know about the Future of Work!”). I don’t claim to have any special or unique insights, but I do believe there are patterns visible today that help us anticipate what the future of work will likely include.

But never forget that we don’t discover the future; we invent it.

Yes, there are events and conditions outside your control that certainly impact your future, but it is your reaction to those “uncontrollables” that determines whether the future works for or against you. And what matters most is how proactive you are about both anticipating those “outside” factors and developing plans for coping with and/or leveraging them for competitive advantage.

I’ve just returned from a powerful two-day experience that convinced me more than ever of the power of applying an activist, designer mentality to the future. [click to continue…]

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Disappearing Work - StuckyIn October my monthly Talking About Tomorrow membership program (“TAT”) featured former IBM researcher and current Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University – and Very Smart Person – Susan Stucky, who led the group in an important conversation about “disappearing work.”

But Susan wasn’t talking just about all the jobs that are being automated out of existence. She is of course highly aware of, and deeply concerned about, automation, but she asked the TAT participants to focus on another, often unseen, side of the emerging digital economy.

She opened with this statement by economist W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, from a 2011 thought piece in McKinsey Quarterly:

Digitization is creating a second economy that’s vast, automatic, and invisible—thereby bringing the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

(from “The Second Economy,” October 2011) [click to continue…]

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Telescope_to_Right2016 is coming to a close; this is the time of year when most organizations and their leaders focus their energy and attention on the future. It’s a time for visioning, strategic planning, goal-setting, and sorting out how tomorrow will be different from today.

But how many times have you completed a strategic planning exercise, or a visioning effort, with high energy, high hopes, and exuberant optimism that the effort will finally – finally! – produce meaningful change, only to see everything evaporate in the face of organizational resistance and/or apathy?

Pushing a rock uphillAchieving lasting and meaningful change in large organizations often feels impossible. It’s like Sisyphus rolling that boulder up the mountain, only to see it cascading back down to the valley, and having to start pushing it uphill all over again – and again, and again.

One of the best ways I know to avoid that kind of frustration and stagnation is a Future Search Conference.


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