Charles Day regularly interviews the guiding forces behind some of the most disruptive companies in the world on his podcast, “Fearless: The Art of Creative Leadership.” He recently chatted with futurist Faith Popcorn—founder and CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve—about how she harnessed her insights onto tomorrow to help Fortune 500 clients accelerate their brands and businesses into tomorrow. Popcorn has a lifelong history of tracking consumer trends (as a 6-year-old she was tasked with observing the customers at her grandfather’s store in Manhattan and discerning their needs). She’s not psychic but maintains that pattern recognition is a vital art and science: “I just put strings together.”
During her hour-long conversation with the host, Popcorn highlighted some of her predictions and shared her ideas on the future of leadership. When asked if the goal of her work is to create change, Popcorn said, “We’re going to be robot-replaced before we even get to change.” Popcorn has previously said that the rise of automation, while challenging in the short term, is part of our evolution. It will be up to emerging leaders to harness this shift. One new direction for disruption is what Popcorn calls “Cloud Doctoring.” In this shift, medical care is moved away from human health-care providers and becomes AI-driven, with biometric data being collected by implanted chips, analyzed and relayed to medi-bots. Hardware, software, apps and human intelligence will all be tapped to bring this to fruition. Calling our era “one of the last fully human generations,” she sees doctors being relegated to “Engineers of Medicine— technicians that maintain the embedded technology within our “human-machine” bodies.
Another shift in the work world is underway. Popcorn also notes that the concept of employment is changing due to lack of faith and trust in companies. Young people approaching the job market have seen their parents “abused or fired” by their longtime employers. As a result, loyalty toward companies by the next generation has greatly diminished. In the rising Gig Economy, young people will steer their own destiny as they have four or five simultaneous gigs. While this clearly has drawbacks when compared to the old model on careers with benefits, it will allow them to be less reliant on one source of income.
Popcorn maintains that most companies are living in “yesterday, or the day before yesterday and they’re quite comfortable” and because of this they often underestimate the consumer. So how should corporations stop this practice and start preparing for the future? “Recognize creativity when it happens,” she advises, which involves carefully listening to ideas that fall outside the status quo. These ideas may provoke a reflexive response of “But we can’t do that!’ She says tomorrow’s leaders know that seeing a genius idea to fruition is non-negotiable.
This calls for great leadership, but, she tells Day, although she warns against calling it that. “Leadership and management are male terms. I think they should call it Guiding, Helping, Embracing or Lifting,” she says, at this moment when women and gender-fluidity are both rising in our culture.
Tomorrow’s trends, Today