How does your CEO learn about the future? | Changes of Tomorrow

“All of our senior executives operate the same way I do. They work in the future, they live in the future. Right now, I'm working on a quarter that's going to reveal itself in 2021 sometime.”


“All of our senior executives operate the same way I do. They work in the future, they live in the future. Right now, I’m working on a quarter that’s going to reveal itself in 2021 sometime.” – Jeff Bezos, founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon, one of the most innovative businesses of the 21st century.

Bezos’ quote got us thinking: If executives are supposed to live in the future, how do they learn about it? Imagine the complexities! On top of an ultra-rapidly transforming world, life at the top of the power pyramid tends to build isolating bubbles of knowledge.

“CEOs need to constantly update what they know—keeping up with the dizzying pace of developments in the multiple worlds of, for instance, market evolutions, technology or innovation.” (McKinsey)

Not an easy challenge, even if we consider the three main ways in which CEOs learn: from peers outside their company; turning to mentors who have been there and done that; and practicing and embedding new skills consciously.

We figured we could share some recommendations about how to learn about the future across these learning channels.


What’s changing: Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Learning from others is one of the basic ways in which we learn, but the downside of learning from our peers is staying inside our industry or our circle of influence.

Expand your reach and learn from a diverse selection of CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs in these two podcasts:

Reid Hoffman needs to be in your circle of influence. He has been called the Yoda of Silicon Valley, mainly because he has been a mentor to dozens of visionaries and idealists who dream of changing the world.

There are three (old, yet very new) concepts that will define the future for most CEOs: privacy, ethics, and trust. (Ask Mark ). How your company deals with them will define your success. (2 min, 7 and 10 min read)

And if you happen to land the brilliant innovative idea, what impact will it have on humans? Listen to one of our new favorite podcast: Should this exist? And learn about the utopian and dystopian implications of the most innovative products being created today. Start with Woebot (35 min audio)

Want to stay focused? A good habit to develop is to get a hobby. Science tells us that our minds need distractions.

Want to live on the edge of learning about tomorrow? Explore other industries, like Formula 1 (4 min read) and other companies with different cultural values, like Alibaba (6 min read)

The growth loop: experiment, learn, and repeat is a skill. Learn how the engineers at Apple did it with the iPhone. (7 min read)

And remember, in creating the future, leave a little room for luck. (6 min read)


Mental energizer

Voice assistants are often gender-specific for a reason. Companies test these computer voices on users and listen to the results of those tests. At Amazon, users preferred Alexa as a woman rather than a man. That relatively small sample set was extrapolated to represent Alexa for everyone. Research has shown, too, that men and women alike report female voices being more “welcoming” and “understanding” than male voices, and it’s easy to understand why these would be qualities any company would want in their always-listening voice assistant. But these companies and researchers only tested male and female voices. And testing a narrow set of options on a limited number of users isn’t the best way to build representational technology.

– From “The World’s First Genderless AI Voice is Here” by Mark Wilson for Fast Company.


Food for thought


The idea that learning happens by hearing while asleep or under hypnosis.


Tomorrow’s numbers.

The average Netflix subscriber spends two hours a day on the streaming service, says Cindy Holland, vice president for original content at Netflix.

Agriculture accounts for 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And 65% of that comes from belches and farts of cattle and other farm animals, says the World Resource Institute

About 10% of hospital patients contract a new illness during their stay. The ingenious new ways to beat disease.


This week’s exploration of possible futures was curated with curiosity by Iñaki Escudero, Future Activist.

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Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash.