Jim Carroll


Jim Carroll is one of the world's leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts, with a client list that ranges from Dupont to Johnson & Johnson, the Swiss Innovation Forum to the National Australia Bank; the Walt Disney Organization to NASA. His focus is on helping to transform growth oriented organizations into high-velocity innovation heroes.

Jim will discuss his recent article with us, 17 Trends In 2017, which details the seventeen trends that he is following in the New Year.

ep:02 - Jim Carroll: Futurist, Trends, and Innovation Expert


Episode 2: Jim Carroll: Futurist, Trends and Innovation Expert

Gail Davis:    Jim Carroll is one of the world's leading international futurist, trends and innovation experts, with a client list that ranges from DuPont to Johnson & Johnson, the Swiss Innovation Forum to the National Australia Bank, the Walt Disney organization to NASA. His focus is on helping to transform growth-oriented organizations into high-velocity innovation heroes. Jim will discuss his recent articles with us, 17 Trends in 2017, which details the 17 trends that he is following in the new year. Welcome, Jim.

Jim Carroll:    Thank you.

Kyle Davis:    How are you doing today?

Jim Carroll:    Doing very well. Glad to join you here and talk about the future.

Kyle Davis:    Well, the future is now.

Gail Davis:    The future is now, that's right. Jim, I think you had told me in a previous conversation that you've been doing this about 25 years. I'm just curious how you got into this. How did you become one of the world's leading futurists? What's your background?

Jim Carroll:    The background is pretty bizarre, and I don't play this up to a lot of clients because they kind of freak out when they first hear about it. But then they realize it really kind of makes sense. I'm actually a CPA, an accountant, by background. I was with predecessor firms of KPMG and Ernst & Young way, way, way back, but I got on the internet, or what was pre-internet way back in 1982. I figure I was probably one of the first thousand people online, and very involved with technology in the '80s. I wrote a ton of books about the internet and e-commerce in the '90s, and that got me onto the speaker circuit.

    You know, I realized quite quickly I was speaking about more than just technology and the internet, but was really speaking to a wide range of social and demographic and other economic trends. Somebody said to me one day, "You know, you're really focusing on the future, not just technology, and so what you've become is to a degree, a futurist," so boom, that's where it came from. An accountant who's a futurist. I think where it's relevant is when I'm with the CEO of a Fortune 500 talking to his or her team, I've got that business expertise combined with this ability to see future trends that I think really brings me something special.

Gail Davis:    That's awesome. You became a futurist and an author. At what point did you get into actually speaking?

Jim Carroll:    It was about 1993. People were clamoring to understand what's happening with this connected world. What does it mean? What's the impact on my business? People started calling. "Can you come and speak to us?" Then there were a couple of bureaus in the early days who approached me and said, "Look, we got a tremendous number of requests for this. We've got some clients. Could you come in and speak to them?" and it just sort of launched off from there. From 1993, '94, '95, it was an absolute rocket ride. I was doing 80, 100 events a year, just tremendous range of different industries. To a degree, it's like playing the clubs. You play the small clubs. You're working in the small venues, and then all of a sudden, boom, before you know it, you're in front of 7,000 people in Las Vegas and kind of going, "Wow. How did I get here?"

Kyle Davis:    Great stand-up reference.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah.

Kyle Davis:    So I'm curious, because I talked to another futurist not too long ago, and he was mentioning ... To me, he's like, "Hey I predicted people jumping on Twitter to a room full of people that should know about it, and then two years later, the conversation was all about Twitter." So since you've found this career now that's spanned 25 years, what are some of those milestone things that you'd encourage people, and they begrudgingly listened and they weren't so receptive to it, to fast-forward a few years later and they're all about it?

Jim Carroll:    Oh, man. There's a ton of them. This whole big buzz out there today about the internet of things-

Kyle Davis:    Oh, IOT.

Jim Carroll:    -which is huge. I've been talking about it in the context of what I call hyper-connectivity. Since about 1995, going back 21 years, predicting what would emerge, connected appliances in our kitchen. That's actually come home to roost. As soon as I'm back to work, I'm with one of the world's largest manufacturers of appliances in the home appliance industry, with the CEO and his senior leadership team, 50 executives, talking about that as a very significant transformative trend this organization has latched onto in a very big way. It took 21 years, but people are finally listening. The whole concept of LinkedIn, I like to think I sort of predicted that. Internally, what I was doing within this global accounting firm way back in 1986, talking about the fact that we'd have this sort of online collaborative knowledge-sharing tool, this tool that could be used to discover and access very, very unique skills. I developed an internal network. We actually called it Linkage, not LinkedIn.

    I can go back and look at a whole bunch of things where I'm pretty proud of what I predicted. I will say I was extremely embarrassed that I wrote a book around Y2K and certainly didn't get that one right, so I don't like to talk about that one too much.

Kyle Davis:    Well, it happens. I swear that I had the idea for Uber before there was an Uber, and the idea for a spaghetti pan that had holes in it so I could drain it out later, but that's neither here nor there. That does make a good segue into one of that things that you're predicting for 2017, when you're talking about no longer just the internet of things, or IOT, but I believe it's the integrated internet of things, or, my apologies, the intelligent internet of things. That is going to allow more connectivity, more communication through several devices. Maybe you have the Google Home or what it is, and it's connected to your Nest or your Amazon Echo and they're all talking to each other. Then you're driving off in your Tesla, and your Tesla's sending out signals to Elon Musk saying, "Hey, it's time for a diagnostics update." Could you shed a little light on that?

Jim Carroll:    Well, the easiest example is probably what could potentially, and what is already happening with energy. The idea is that you've got some backyard energy. You're generating solar, wind, whatever type of energy. I've got my energy, solar, wind, and just as we've shared music in the early days of Napster, we're going to share energy. We'll create our own little... We'll call it a microgrid, little community energy grid in which we're sharing the energy we generate. Well, we tap into that and we link into that backyard weather sensors, local weather sensors, and we're feeding in weather information from other sources, which helps us to understand when we can best generate solar, or wind, or other energy. Not only do we have these individual intelligent devices in our homes, but they're starting to network to each other. They're starting to talk to each other, so they become their own little intelligent system that can better predict when should we be generating energy and take ourselves off the main grid so that we're becoming most efficient in terms of what we do.

    The second example, vehicle to vehicle communications. Everybody's talking about self-driving cars. Obviously there's a lot happening there, but there's a lot of other stuff that is underway as well. The concept is, my car is going down the highway and it's not only self-driving, but it's got the capability to talk to intelligent sensors that are embedded in the roadway, so the intelligent highway infrastructure begins to emerge. Not only that, my car can talk to your car, can talk to other cars with telemetry, radar, and other technologies so that we're all acting sort of together as one. We're not just becoming single vehicles going down the highway, but we're vehicles that are traveling together. We're aware of where every other vehicle is. We're aware of conditions on the road, not only within the next 100 feet, but within the next two miles. That's a very good example of an intelligent connected system, and that's the obvious next step of what's going to happen with the internet of things. There's just tremendous technological advances like this that are underway.

Kyle Davis:    I can just imagine ... I just recently moved back to Dallas from New York City, so I was a walker for many years, but now that I'm driving, I'm having the great privilege, I guess you could say, of using the Waze app. I'm just imagining something like that where vehicles are communicating, or at least providing input, making the Waze app far more powerful than it is today, than just having a bunch of Uber drivers say, "Hey, there's pothole over here. Hey, there's an accident, or, you know, watch out for that cop on that corner."

Jim Carroll:    Exactly. That's the exact concept. Your vehicle will have the intelligent capabilities. We'll have devices and we'll feed directly into Waze or other collaborative systems like that. The key thing that is happening is that's a trend, but the bigger trend is what's happening in the automotive sector is if you think about that, what's underway is the control of the speed of change for the automotive sector is shifting from auto companies, companies in Detroit, to companies like Google and Apple and Uber, companies that innovate a lot quicker. And that's one of the big substantive, transformative trends that I talk to my clients about: Control of the speed of innovation in every single industry is shifting from within an industry to Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley companies innovate a lot quicker. It's happening in education, happening in healthcare, happening in consumer goods, everywhere. A lot of companies aren't used to dealing with that speed of change.

Kyle Davis:    Yeah. It's fast. I come from the startup world, where-

Gail Davis:    I actually have a thought that's going through my head. Sometimes all these predictions about the future can almost make your head hurt, and so I'm curious as a speaker, when you're talking about trends and things that you see that are going to happen in the future, what is your objective with the audience? Is it just an overall macro view of how the world is changing quickly? Or do you try to give customized examples to their industry? Or are you really just trying to get people to see the importance of thinking in an innovative way?

Jim Carroll:    Probably all of the above. I think the key thing that I'm recognized for is the very customized work that I do. There's a lot of folks who go in and say, "Here's the future, and isn't it wonderful, and I'm gonna scare the heck out of ya." I go in with a lot of very, very detailed research. I was in St. Louis in early December with the United Soybean Board. I had 300 soybean farmers in the room, and so I was doing a talk on the future of agriculture, but very specifically not just future of agriculture, but the future of the soybean industry. I guess I sort of nailed it, because I was so specific at the end, one of them asked, "Could you become a soybean farmer because you'd be a real inspiration to other farmers with your detailed knowledge of our industry?"

    I think to succeed as a futurist, we need to make it very specific to the audience. We need to make it very relevant. We need to make it something that gives them concrete, actionable steps. I do a lot of talks in healthcare. For example: hospitals, and I can talk very in-depth about future healthcare trends from a scientific, technological, demographic, pharmaceutical trend perspective, but also get very specific. What do we need to do in a hospital setting, to deal with the reality of these trends and make them very actionable? It's the customization that counts.

Gail Davis:    Is there any industry out there that's exempt from needing to care or worry about the future?

Jim Carroll:    I don't know if there's any industry that is exempt. I think there's some industries that it's tougher to help move them along-

Gail Davis:    Yeah, that's a good perspective.

Jim Carroll:    -with change. Probably the toughest industry is education. A lot of vested interests, a system that is very methodical in their ways, a lot of people who are very resistant to change, a very big, cumbersome, complex industry to change, and a lot of folks who think that it's perfectly acceptable to keep doing tomorrow what we were doing 50 years ago. That can be a very, very challenging industry, so I think it's more their receptiveness to change as opposed to the impact that change will have on them. Look, 10 years out, 20 years out, education will look nothing like it does today. We know that, but there is very much I think a resistance to change in that industry, and that exists in some other industries.

Kyle Davis:    I would also say that government would fall into that, if you consider government an industry, just largely because of some of the rules and procedures and policies that they have in place were built for a different time where things didn't innovate as fast, or you didn't have to come across unique scenarios that only would really occur today, that wouldn't have happened, let's say, in 1776 or 1834, for instance.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah, but there's a lot of pockets of innovative thinking out there. I had a really cool engagement earlier this year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They brought me in for sort of a commencement address for the graduating class in a governance CIO course that they have. It was all about the future of governance, future of government, and my talk was very much on the theme of, here are the future trends which are providing an opportunity for the transformation and reinvention of government, and so here's how you can, with your newfound knowledge, carry this concept of innovation by linking yourself to those trends, to do wonderful, innovative things in the world of government. There are a lot of pockets of thought like that out there. Again, the key thing to do is you need to make it relevant, in terms of specific issues, to the folks in the room.

Kyle Davis:    One of your 17 trends that you picked out was a green China, and I think that's a good segue with regards to government and with policy. You're mentioning that right now, just due to the American political climate, there's a lot of pushback going on with regards to any environmental reforms. What you're seeing right now is really a big push within China to develop next-generation renewable or sustainable energy, such as solar, wind and tidal. I'm just curious if you could expand on that for us and what the future, not just for China but also the world as a whole, will look like with regards to those different types of energy sources.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah. I'm always very, very careful on stage not to wade into political issues. That's a minefield, and so what I try to do with my audience is, look, there's issues that are occurring out there, and then there's science. Science is something that is marching along at a furious pace. We're witnessing rapid evolution science in every single field of human endeavor, and if we consider the science of solar, if we consider the science of wind, or the science of any alternative form of power generation, we're witnessing furious rates of new discovery, furious technological advances. I think that solar has just outperformed other, traditional forms of alternative energy for the very first time. We're simply getting better at it.

    We can generate more power via these alternative methods, so we do know we're in a period of political turmoil in the US, and there is going to be a lot of discussion as to what are we doing with carbon versus alternatives? I think given that that might slow down some of the non-scientific initiatives in this regard, then I think it's clear that other countries, and China has stated this as a stated purpose, they're going to be a little bit more aggressive with these alternative technologies and ride that scientific trend to take advantage of the rapid advancements that are occurring. That's, to me, a natural trend which is going to play out given political uncertainty.

Kyle Davis:    At least in the short term, the next 4, 8, 10 years, if we consider that the short-term, I think that makes a lot of sense. I think with that, one of the things that I'm thinking about now is not governments, but also companies and organizations, the whole partnership component with which you talked about with regards to innovation. And how governments may be working, or partnering with, a private company, or the private sector, to help innovate something, or governments may collaborate together, or two private companies may choose to innovate. I'm just curious as to how you see that trend going, because like I said earlier, I come from the startup space. One of the unique things that we did a lot of was partnering with other companies to fill a gap. They have something that we want. We have something they want. We're going to partner instead of build something, because it's already there. It makes things faster. I'm curious if you could expand on that.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah. I think I call it complexity partnerships. If we go back to the internet of the things example, what is happening is a lot of products will have connectivity built into them. They'll have computer chips in them where they did not hold those chips before. They'll have links to the internet. That's going to require technological skills that a lot of companies don't necessarily have today. Where are they going to get those skills? They're going to have to go out and establish partnerships to find those skills. That's happening in every single sector. If we look at healthcare, genomic, DNA sequencing. That's becoming far more critical in terms of what we're doing with drug development, in terms of diagnosis, in terms of new forms of treatment in the healthcare space. Well, look, there's not a lot of hospitals that have genetic specialists sitting around waiting for employment, so they're going have to go out and partner with organizations who have those key genomic skills that they don't have.

    I think that defines a key trend going forward: We won't have the skills we need in this very fast, hyper-connected, very complex economy, so increasingly the ability to go out and get the right skills at the right time for the right purpose will increasingly define our future success.

Kyle Davis:    Now I may date myself just a little bit, but I'll tell a funny little story. There was a dating app that was out a few years ago called Date My School. The whole idea behind it was you used your .edu address to connect with other people. Now I believe, if I remember correctly, that this was actually done by Columbia Business School students, and the real thing was not a dating app per se, but to actually connect individuals with a verified system. So to actually take somebody, let's say an engineering team at MIT, who wanted somebody who was in the business school at the University of Pennsylvania, and then a design shop that was at the University of Texas. And using those .edu addresses to be able to reach out and do that hyper-connectivity at a speed and at a pace that would allow them to find the right people to facilitate that collaborative effort and that collaborative change, to bring forth that innovative process, and to bring goods and services and other items to market a much faster way.

Jim Carroll:    That comes to the issue of speed, because things are changing so quickly. Products come to market today and they don't last very long before they have to be upgraded to changed, and so companies don't have the long luxury of time that they used to have in the past, so they're going to need specialized skills. They need to find those skills really, really quick to get things done. That just is part of this whole mix of the future. My tagline for a lot of my audiences has been that they future belongs to those who are fast, and if you mix skills into that, that's just another element of what we need to do to get there.

Kyle Davis:    I could not agree more. You have to be fast. You have to be fast and agile, maybe some kanban or scrum or some other project-planning type things, but go ahead.

Gail Davis:    Jim, when you look at the trends that you're highlighting for 2017, is there one that you're more excited about than others?

Jim Carroll:    I think the one that has the real biggest implication is probably the one I call Amazon-ification of every single industry. That's one where I'm getting an increasing number of calls from CEOs or top-level executives who are realizing that their competitive landscape has changed, because Amazon has their industry in their sights. It's happening with hearing aid companies. It's happening with eyewear companies. I was brought in last year by a company that's in the home renovation industry, and all of a sudden, Amazon is in their industry and is working to compete against them, and it's forcing companies to examine their value proposition. It's forcing them to consider, what is it that we're really offering to our customers? It's forcing them to examine their technology platform. It's forcing them to confront a whole bunch of trends that they did not have to think about in the past. It's both an opportunity but also a very, very real challenge. I think that's a huge issue for organizations going forward.

Kyle Davis:    You know what's interesting is that one of the startups that I worked for in San Francisco, we were a payments platform provider, a pretty big one, and it was Square, but anyways. I remember when Amazon came into the payment space with their Amazon ... I forget what it was. And I just remember everybody at the office that day being rather somber going, "Oh, man. This is gonna change everything." Luckily, we won that battle, but I can definitely see how the future of it with regards to the Amazon-ification of different sub-sectors or different industries can really have a huge impact, especially with regards to some short-term things like food delivery. I know there's Amazon Local. They're trying to use Prime to do food delivery services for your dinner tonight, or taking over third-party bills with regards to hearing aids, like you said earlier. I can see a lot of things going there and seeing how that could disrupt the industry, so to speak.

Jim Carroll:    It's everywhere. I did all my Christmas shopping through Amazon Prime this year. I didn't hit a mall at all, but I'm actually going to Palm Springs in March, and I'm with a company that's in the automotive retail space, particularly tires. You might not think of it, but Amazon is a competitive threat to them. They're getting into that space. It's having a potential real impact on their business, and so rather than sitting back and reacting to it after the fact, the chairman and the CEO said, "Okay. We need to have a really good strategy session to understand this. We need to have somebody who can come in and talk to us at the level of our board and our CEO and our top leadership team to help put in perspective the major trends that are playing out as this unfolds, and then a good three or four-hour interactive discussion as to what we need to do about it."

    That's becoming an increasing part of my business. Not just a keynote, not just where I'm in giving very specific guidance on trends within an industry, but also a very interactive discussion at the senior leadership level to help them comprehend and strategize as to what they need to do with these trends.

Gail Davis:    I just made that note that I think sometimes the meeting planners ask to find a futurist, or someone to speak on trends, but really maybe they need a futurist or someone speaking on trends when the topic is disruption, or maybe when the topic is strategic selling. You could build a case that by understanding trends and predictions for the future, that could help you build your strategy, so really all those terms kind of come together, and it's our responsibility, I guess, just to direct people on ... You may think you're looking for someone on disruption, but what you really might want to consider is someone to talk about trends, or futurist angle.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah, and I've been making that link for years. What I've been saying to my clients for years is if you think about the concept of innovation, you can find a lot of folks out there who will come in and give you a nice little song and dance. You need to be innovative, change it up, do these innovative things and you'll discover magic. That's not my approach. My approach is, look, there are obvious future trends that are going to impact your industry and your company in a pretty profound way. They're going to provide both challenge and opportunity, and what you need to do from an innovation perspective is understand what do you need to change to deal with those trends and turn them into opportunity not just a challenge, and how do you need to challenge yourself in terms of your actions, your strategies, your structure, your workforce ... To me, that's innovation. Innovation isn't just some cool topic, but it's specifically linking your strategies, your day-to-day activities to these obvious future trends.

Gail Davis:    That make sense.

Kyle Davis:    One of the things that I'd like to do, and this is something that we did yesterday with another guest on the show was, discussing what 2016 meant. Just curious on a very high level perspective, what were the trends that you saw in 2016, whether they fizzled or they were just on fire-

Gail Davis:    Spot on.

Kyle Davis:    -spot on. What was 2016? For a lot of people, it's the year the music died, but I'm just curious for you, what is 2016 and what does that mean to you?

Jim Carroll:    It was a tremendously exciting year for me. Number one, the PGA of America had me in again to talk about the future of golf. Being a big golfer, that was tremendously exciting to me, but it's also indicative of the fact that that's an organization that recognizes, "Look, we need to change things in a very fundamental way to continue to grow this game, in a period of time when this next generation is maybe not getting as involved with the sport as previous ones. So what do we really need to do from this innovation concept to deal with the reality of what is occurring there?"

    I had a lot of fun with the theme in 2016, and I think it will play out in a big way in 2017, I'm already getting huge interest in it, where I'm sort of playing into the theme of The Jetsons TV show. What I'm doing with my audience from a high level perspective is the Jetsons were supposed to be here in 2062, and all of a sudden you can look at stuff in this TV show 50 years from now, it's real today. It's part of our lives today. What does that mean-

Gail Davis:    It's crazy.

Jim Carroll:    -in terms of what we need to do, and I'm driving my sons crazy. I'm sitting around watching The Jetsons show every moment I have a chance. There's actually one episode I just watched. Elroy's sitting in the living room. He's actually flying a drone. He's sitting on the floor. He's got the little controller, and the drone is flying overhead. That wasn't supposed to be here till 2062, but drone technology is everywhere and it's having an absolutely profound impact on industries.

    Manufacturing was huge for me in 2016. I had about seven or eight major manufacturing conferences. I had one event in Chicago with about 4,000 manufacturing executives in the room, and I think what's playing out there is there's, again, the political rhetoric. Look, the jobs aren't coming back. There's no magic wand that can be waved. Automation is huge. Reinvention of the industry is huge. Transformation, use of intelligent capabilities to do a a lot of innovative things in American manufacturing, that's real. Manufacturers are really lapping that up, so I was all over manufacturing last year. Did a lot of stuff in self-driving cars, and what's happening to transportation.

    What I'm discovering is a lot of very short-term business trends are hitting people faster and so they're sitting back and kind of going, "Wow. We didn't expect this trend to hit us, you know, this quickly. We need somebody to come in and help us understand its implications and what we need to do."

Kyle Davis:    Yeah. Trends are like viral videos now. They just take off. There's a lot of exciting things there. One of the things that you sent over to us prior to this recording was your list of new topics for the year, and one of them was The Jetsons, and you just talked about that, but could you touch on the other topics that you have for 2017, and what you plan on discussing?

Jim Carroll:    Yeah. I think one is people ... Look. Let's be blunt about it. 2016 was a brutal year, in terms of Brexit, in terms of the US election. There's organizations and people who are feeling a little bit battered and bruised, and concerned about where are we going in the future? What does all this uncertainty mean? I've got this one topic, The Lessons of Powerful Optimism, rethinking the future right now. What that does is it sort of puts a spin on future trends which focus on the opportunities that are coming with these trends, less so than the challenges. New York Life just had me in. They had me in for a town hall event in December, and specifically we want sort of a happy talk. We don't want something hard and heavy in terms of the type of stuff we've been through in 2016. We want something which is a real positive outlook for where we can go in 2017.

    Volatility is a big issue. I sense a lot of organizations are in sort of a state of suspended animation. They're not making decisions. They're a little bit uncertain as to how things are unfolding, so I've got a topic which is innovating in the era of accelerated uncertainty. How do we deal with this new world of volatility? A lot of interest in that one because I think uncertainty is an overriding issue and concern out there right now.

Gail Davis:    You mentioned that one of your clients specifically requested the happy talk. In general, do you have an objective on how you want audiences to feel after they hear one of your presentations?

Jim Carroll:    Yeah. I think what I want to do is to help them understand several things. Number one, the future is going to happen whether you like it or not. We need to get comfortable with that, and I do that in various ways. There's a great quote I use from Ogden Nash. He observed years ago, "Progress is great, but it's gone on way too long." We can't think like that. We can't make it go away, so let's accept that it's real, and let's understand the very real, specific trends which will provide, will challenge and opportunity for us, but let's not just focus on the challenge. Let's not just focus on the potential problems which can come from those trends, but let's really spend our time focusing on the opportunity that comes from those trends. How can we turn those trends into substantive, transformative opportunities as opposed to being a threat? I think that's the type of thinking that people need.

    A lot of people look at the future and it can be very fearful. Change is fearful. People are uncomfortable with change. People don't like change, and so we need to get them through that and get them focused on, okay, what can I do to turn this into something that works for me as opposed to something that's working against me?

Gail Davis:    Perfect. I'm curious. Here you are a futurist, and you've been in this business for 25 years. I've been in and around it for about 35. Specifically in the speaking industry, what's stayed the same and what are some of the changes you've seen, and do you have any changes you think we're going to see that maybe we haven't thought of?

Kyle Davis:    And don't give away everything. We want that secret sauce on the napkin.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah, well I think there's several things that are happening. I think there's very much an issue out there of what I call new topic-itis. You witness it too. People coming out of the woodwork with crazy topics that are a little bit like Chinese food. They're a lot of fun when you hear it on stage, but you kind of leave and an hour later you're hungry.

Gail Davis:    That's awesome.

Jim Carroll:    I don't mean to diss people, but I play to my strengths, and that's the customization I do. Sometimes I'm reading 400, 600, and 1,000 articles on trends in a particular industry, so that's an issue. The organization's scrambling for the hot new topics. Well, at the end of the day, what does that really do for you? I think there's a lot of committee decisions out there, where the committee is making their decision based upon preview videos, and that drives me a little bit nuts because I've got 250 video clips on my site. If you're looking for an expert on soybeans, I can give you an expert video clip where I'm talking about soybeans. I think we need to play into the strengths of it's not just the style of the speaker on stage, but it's the very customized insight that they're bringing into the room.

    I think there's the issue of the consultative calls with clients, and Gail, you know this. Every single time there's a client situation, I encourage my partners, the bureaus, whomever, get me on the phone with the client. We can have a good 45-minute, half-hour, one-hour conversation to discuss what are they trying to accomplish? Where do we need to go? How can I help? What is it I might potentially bring into the room in terms of very specific content that might help you deal with that? That's an issue. I think there's a lot of surface-level decisions that are made very quickly in terms of style and performance, when it's really the substance and the content that counts. I sort of worry about that trend.

Kyle Davis:    So it kind of comes back to something that I've been really harping on here at GDA Speakers, not just the podcast, but GDA Speakers, which is content, content, content. Content is king. Content. Content.

Jim Carroll:    Yeah, content is critical, and it also lends into the issue of what is the role of the bureau in this day and age? Does it still matter when people can find so many speakers directly? I will tell you this. In October, November, December, I made a specific point of going and visiting many of the bureau friends who work with me, specifically to ensure those relationships are good and to have discussions about the topics I'm focused on, and what I'm seeing in the marketplace, and how we can work together. I think clients do need, particularly in this market where the are so many speakers and so many people out there, they do need that editorial guidance which comes from a good partner such as bureau, to help them understand the range of what is out there, and what works, and what doesn't work, and who might be the best fit.

    I think that is something that will continue to go forward in the future. It's like, why is there Spotify? Spotify exists in the music industry to help us discover the good stuff from all the range of music that is out there. Why are there speakers' bureaus? Because they are the Spotify of the content industry. Hey, I just coined a phrase there. That's pretty cool.

Gail Davis:    Yeah, I like it.

Kyle Davis:    We're going to edit that one out.

Jim Carroll:    That's really what it's all about. People need that guidance and assistance to discover what's real and what's good out there.

Gail Davis:    That's awesome.

Kyle Davis:    I think that's kind of a good jump-off, if you will. If you guys are interested in learning more about Jim Carroll, you can visit his website ... which I'm pulling it up right now. I believe it's jimcarroll.com. That's J-I-M-C-A-R-R-O-L-L dot com. You can also visit GDA Podcast for more audio clips and transcripts and blog posts. If you're interested in booking Jim for your next speaking engagement, or for half-day seminars, or whatever customized content that he will provide for you, you can visit GDA Speakers, or call 214-420-1999. Thanks, Jim.

Gail Davis:    Thank you, Jim!

Jim Carroll:    Okay, thank you. Thank you.