Are you curious about how current trends might impact the future? If so, you may be a futurist. In fact, we can all apply strategic foresight to plan for what’s ahead, exploring the current tends in our own lives to think through how the future could unfold—and then building a plan around the things we can control.

Today, we’re joined by Rebecca Ryan, the futurist and economist behind NEXT Generation Consulting, Inc, a forecasting firm dedicated to leaving the world a better place for future generations. She also serves as the Resident Futurist at the Alliance for Innovation, Senior Advisor at the Governing Institute, and Board Chair & Faculty at the Institute for Zen Leadership. A thought leader in the realm of strategic foresight, Rebecca is the creator of Futurist Camp and the author of ReGeneration: A Manifesto for America’s Next Leaders.

Rebecca starts by defining what it means to be a futurist and sharing an exercise for becoming the futurist of your own career and life. She explains why technology is making us less human and challenges listeners to a weeklong digital detox. Rebecca also offers her take on the future of truth in a time when belief trumps reason, and she weighs in on what’s in store for the middle class in the years to come. Listen in for Rebecca’s insight around the current period of Winter we are experiencing in America and learn what YOU can do to advocate for others and call Spring forward!


Themes explored in this week’s episode:

  • What it means to be a futurist and how the recession inspired Rebecca to dive into the deep end of the foresight pool
  • The powerful glass and rubber balls analogy for guiding your priorities
  • The multistep process for becoming the futurist of your own career and life
  • How to live in the present as a futurist
  • Why Rebecca believes technology is making us less human + her Digital Detox Challenge for Life & Leadership listeners
  • Rebecca’s take on the future of truth and the current assault on science, journalism and the intelligence community
  • The premise that America is in a period of Winter and what we can do to call Spring forward
  • Rebecca’s insight on the future of the middle class
  • The value in thinking through what a direct competitor might do to take your place

Resources from this episode:


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Quotes from the episode:

“Historians are people who study the past. Journalists are people who have craft around the future. And futurists are people who study what’s coming.”

“In life, all of us are given five balls. Four are glass, and one is rubber. Your glass balls are your family, your friends, your health and your integrity, and if you drop one of those, it does not come back. But your rubber ball is work. I promise you, if you drop that ball, it will come back.”

“When you look across those three stories—the watch and wait story, the negative disruption story and the positive disruption story—the question you ask yourself is, ‘What are the things that I have control over … that are going to help me regardless of what happens?’”

“Are we applying the best of our presence to our thinking about the future?”

“There is a race to the bottom of your brain stem.”

“What we’re forgetting is what it means to be human. What it means to be human is to solve problems creatively and talk together and use our brains for thinking about solutions rather than for passing along these things that take us lower and lower on the brain stem.”

“The more time I spend on these [social media] platforms … I feel less and less myself.”

“Belief trumps reason.”

“There is a full-on assault on the idea of reasoned logic.”

“Look for unusual alliances.”

“What is going to be your peanut butter cup opportunity?”

“There’s a way for those of us who have had privilege—we need to stand up FOR and WITH others.”

“We are the midwives for Spring.”

“Human ingenuity, human initiative, human creativity, human advocacy, what we as two-legged human meat suits naturally know how to do—connect with other people, talk things through—that’s where the magic always is.”

“It starts with each one of us doing the next right thing.”

“If there was someone else gunning for your job, what would they do to kick your ass?”

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