Futurist believes we’re at start of a decade of transformation
US speaker and futurist David Houle believes we are living at the start of “the transformation decade”, where accelerating changes define the age in which we live.
Addressing this week’s gathering of convention and meetings industry stakeholders at the Fairmont Southampton, Mr Houle said he saw a good future for Bermuda in an increasingly globalised world.
“The word globalisation is no longer an economic term, but will define human society over the next ten to 15 years,” Mr Houle said.
As far as courting group business travel from the US is concerned, he said, Bermuda has a dual advantage.
“I think it’s perfectly positioned. For me, coming here for the first time, it combines the sense of being in a truly foreign country with somewhere that’s amazingly close to the US. People in an ever more homogenised, global world are looking to go to a place where they can get a distinct sense of being somewhere different. That’s very hard for us to find in the States, and it’s easy to get here.”
Mr Houle said his 18-year-old son, who he brought with him to the Island, had been fascinated to see “a place where people drive on the left side of the road”.
Bermuda’s differences stand out as more and more places come to resemble one another, Mr Houle added.
The futurist was brought to the Island by ‘Successful Meetings Magazine’ to share profound changes on the way in the convention and meetings industry.
“Meetings have to change,” he said. “Meetings are traditionally very formatted, very structured. Meetings need to open up and get more of an interactive flow. A phrase I like is ‘high-tech, high-touch’. The more high-tech our world becomes, the more important the ‘touch’ factor becomes.”
Overseas stakeholders and representatives from Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Elbow Beach and Rosewood Tucker’s Point also attended the event.
“I define what I do as being a catalyst to get people, the market and the world to think about the future, and to facilitate a conversation about it,” he said. “My calling is to provoke people into thinking about the future in ways they normally don’t.”
Mr Houle said his background was in network television where he seemed naturally good at predicting how the future would unfold.
As a sales executive for CBS in 1980, he got a distinct sense that a station called MTV might prove a success. A similar hunch that cable was the way of the future led him to the executive team that helped launch CNN Headline News.
“I have been doing this full-time since 2006,” he said of his job as a futurist. “In 2006, I said the price of oil would rise to $125 a barrel. In 2007, I said Obama would be President. I predicted the rise of unemployment in the US back when people thought it wouldn’t happen. My mission, my calling, my purpose, is to give people the opportunity to think about the future.”
Mr Houle said he is often known as “the CEO’s futurist” because he is sought after as a speaker for so many business heads.
Asked to sum up the message, he said: “I wrote my first book, ‘The Shift Age’, in 2007, and while I was writing it, I started asking people what they thought about the future. They fell into three groups. One, they talked about their own personal plans, simple things, like getting a promotion; two, they thought the future was going to be awful, with the global recession, the environment it was all negative; or three, they hadn’t thought about it at all.
“What I think is that ahead of us now there is a very significant time in human evolution and it’s very positive.”