Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey
Futurist Thomas Frey
Google’s Top Rated Futurist Speaker
Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute
Author of the 2011 book “Communicating with the Future,” Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey is a powerful visionary who is revolutionizing our thinking about the future.
“The greatest value in understanding the future comes from spotting the major cultural, demographic, societal, and economic shifts early and translating them in to viable business strategies,” says Tom.
Thomas continually pushes the envelope of understanding as part of the celebrity speaking circuit by creating fascinating images and understandings of the world to come. He has been fortunate enough to headline events along with some of today’s most recognizable figures: Tom Peters, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus; former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giulliani; Former President of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana; Prime Minister of Spain, Felipe González Márquez; Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz; Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal; and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn.
As the Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute, he works closely with the Institute’s Senior Fellows and Board of Visionaries to develop original research studies, which enables him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities.
Because of his work inspiring inventors and other revolutionary thinkers, the Boulder Daily Camera has referred to him as the “Father of Invention” while The Denver Post and Seattle Post Intelligencer have referred to him as the “Dean of Futurists”.
Thomas has been featured in hundreds of articles for both national and international publications including New York Times, Huffington Post, Times of India, USA Today, US News and World Report, The Futurist Magazine, Morning Calm (in-flight magazine for Korean Airlines), Skylife (in-flight magazine for Turkish Airlines), ColoradoBiz Magazine, Rocky Mountain News, and many more. He currently writes a weekly “Future Trend Report” newsletter and a weekly column for FuturistSpeaker.com.
Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Thomas spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer. He is also a past member of the Triple Nine Society (High I.Q. society over 99.9 percentile).
Popular Keynote Topics
Over the past decade, Thomas Frey has built an enormous following around the world based on his ability to develop accurate visions of the future and describe the opportunities ahead.
His keynote talks on futurist topics have captivated people all over the world including NASA, IBM, AT&T, GE, Hewlett-Packard, TEDxRESET in Istanbul, Boeing, Capital One, Bell Canada in Montreal, Visa, Ford Motor Company, IT Leaders Forum in Moscow, Lanxess in Shanghai, Hunter Douglas, Creative Innovations 2012 in Melbourne & Sydney, US Dept of Energy in Washington, DC, Alberta Congress Board in Alberta, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, HSM ExpoManagement in Mexico City, Hindustan Lever in Mumbai, G-Learns in the Dominican Republic, The Family Office in Bahrain, OPTI Foundation in Madrid, and many more. Having started seventeen businesses himself and assisting on the development of hundreds more, the understanding he brings to his audiences is a rare blend of reality-based thinking coupled with a clear-headed visualization of the world ahead.
Each year his talks touch the lives of tens of thousands of people. Here are some of his most popular topics, but don’t feel restricted by this list. Every year he designs dozens of custom presentation based specifically around the needs of a particular audience.
1.) Unleashing the Future :: Future of Innovation and the Converging Forces of Change
In 2018, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, charged with selecting the winner of the famous Nobel Peace Prize, has decided to change the process they use for determining the winner. Rather than selecting the winner themselves, they’ve decided to host a global election to allow the people of the world to decide which one of the candidates has done the best job of promoting global peace.
What makes this a significant event is the volatility of the tool itself. Not only is it based on the viral nature of the Internet, but also combines the infectiousness of personal choice and personal freedom with the ability to influence the course of human history through the stellar reputation of a hundred year old institution best positioned to make it all happen.
A story like this, used to predict a future event in great detail, is called a scenario. Scenario building is a tool used by futurists to raise awareness of possible future events. The story itself involves an “unleashing” – an unleashing of ideas, probable outcomes, and self-fulfilling prophecies that will invariably be both good and bad.
We are seeing a number of converging forces that will both rewrite the rules of business and redefine the world of innovation, and each of these driving forces has the potential of blindsiding us if we don’t spend time carefully crafting stories about the world to come. - Keynote
- Empowering “Things” for our Internet of Things
- Entering the Era of Global Mandates
- Four Unexpected Macro Tends for 2013 and Beyond
- Moving from Just-in Case to Just-in-Time Living
- Anticipatory Computing :: Unlocking the Ultra-Human in All of Us
- False Wisdom of Crowds
- Four Key Trends Driving the Future of Patents
2.) Teacherless Education, Driverless Cars, & Workerless Businesses: A Battle Waged Between the Needs of the Present and the Forces of the Future
People make decisions today based on their interpretation of what the future holds. That’s why we say “the future creates the present.” This is just the opposite of what most people think—that what we’re doing today is going to create the future. In reality, the image that people have in their heads today of what the future holds will determine their actions. So if we change people’s visions of the future, we change the way they make decisions, today.
Smartphone apps have exploded onto the scene creating a nexus for physical products vs digital products. At the same time, the same devices are driving an “awareness revolution” creating ongoing conflicts between privacy and transparency. Crowdfunding is on the verge of taking on the banking industry. Traditional colleges are being undermined with online education. And Baby-Boomers are beginning to shed many of their physical possessions as they prepare for their retirement, and a new generation with different values will be assuming power. So where will the creative minds of tomorrow take us?
At the heart of all these changes is an increasingly untethered society, finding new ways to make connections in a fluid ocean of ideas and talent that meet the hyper-individualized needs of the people creating our future. The businesses of tomorrow will be defined far more by the journey they’ve taken and the people they’ve touched than the money they earned along the way. - Keynote
- TEDxRESET on Teacherless Education (Video)
- Driverless Highways :: Creating Cars that Talk to the Roads
- The Threat of a Jobless World
- Workerless Businesses an Explosive New Trend
- In Search of the Next Great Addiction
- Inventing the 3D Pill Printer
Traditionally, libraries have been the place where people go to find answers to difficult questions, but today libraries find themselves being the question.
The relationship between a user community and its library is changing. Library “customers” are beginning to view the “relevancy” of their institution through a different lens, and their perception of what a library is and how it can add value to its community is evolving.
With new information exploding from virtually every corner of society, libraries today find themselves at the intersection of four fundamental crossroads of change – literacy, books, education, and work.
Literacy involves much more than just reading and writing, it involves the constant flow of words in and out of our heads, and this flow of words is morphing, fragmenting, and changing.
Books are becoming increasingly digital in nature. As books continue to evolve, the notion of what a book is and how it will be used to convey its content, will be an evolutionary metamorphosis unlike anything we have ever seen.
Our education systems of today will soon be transitioning to hyper-individualized self-paced learning systems formed around the flow of organically generated courses synced specifically to the learning styles of each student.
Technology is rapidly eroding the idea that work has to occur in a certain place. Instead there is a diminishing value to proximity, and at the same time, a diminishing value to place. Work in the future will increasingly be formed around the momentary needs of the business. Workforce talent will be skills-based and matched automatically to suitable projects and micro-jobs.
At the heart of all these changes is the constantly evolving library, a library adept at reinventing its services to meet the changing needs of their constituencies. - Keynote
- Future Libraries and 17 Forms of Information Replacing Books
- The Future of Libraries: Interview with Thomas Frey
- The Fall of Book Publishing: The Rise of New E-Book Business Models
- Next Generation Literacy
- Future Libraries: Once a Refuge, Now They Mean Business
- Future Libraries: Nerve Center of the Community
- The Future of Library Series: Part 3 – The Electronic Outpost
- The Future of Library Series: Part 2 – The Search Command Center
- The Future of Library Series: Part 1 – The Time Capsule Room
The average person that turns 30 years old in the U.S. today has worked 11 different jobs. In just 10 years, the average person who turns 30 will have worked 200-300 different projects.
Business is becoming very fluid in how it operates, and the driving force behind this liquefaction is a digital network that connects buyers with sellers faster and more efficiently than ever in the past.
But the effect of our flowing digital business world does not stop with how transactions are performed. Instead, it has begun to morph and change virtually every aspect of how business is conducted including the duration and permanency of work assignments, the employer-employee relationship, and the organizing principals around which work assignments and talent coalesce.
At the heart of the coming work revolution will be a new kind of business structure serving as an organizational magnet for work projects and the free-agent talent needed to complete the work. – Keynote
- 2 Billion Jobs to Disappear by 2030
- Competing with Robots
- The Threat of a Jobless World
- Workerless Businesses an Explosive New Trend
- 55 Jobs of the Future
- Visionaries Wanted – No Need to Apply, Just Do It
- Business Colonies: A study of structure, organization, and the evolution of work
5.) The City of the Future
While cities are limited by their geographic boundaries, the physical borders do not limit their global clout and influence.
As living breathing organisms, cities are well-positioned to experiment and take advantage of their regional differences. While countries may come and go, cities remain as long term entities that will survive and thrive into the distant future.
With transportation becoming easier, making us a more mobile society, and with cell phones and the Internet speeding up our digital communications, our cities are becoming a more fluid environment.
Much like water that flows downhill using the path of least resistance, businesses and social structures have begun to move from areas we find less appealing to areas that are more appealing.
Future cities will be designed around fresh new ways for people to meet people, and they will be judged by their “vibrancy, their interconnectedness, and their fluid structures for causing positive human collisions. - Keynote
- The Rise of City Power
- Tax Code 2.0 :: Is Extreme Complexity the New Simplicity?
- Making the Post Office Invisible
- Building Remarkable Communities of the Future
- Will Future Mobility Lead to Future Instability?
- The City of the Future – Part One
- The City of the Future – Part Two
- Reinventing Sales Tax
Driverless technology will initially require a driver, and it will creep into everyday use much as airbags did. First as an expensive option for luxury cars, but eventually it will become a safety feature required by governments.
The greatest benefits of this kind of automation won’t be realized until the driver’s hands are off the wheel. With over 2 million people involved in car accidents every year in the U.S., it won’t take long for legislators to be convinced that driverless cars are a safer option.
The privilege of driving is about to be redefined.
Many aspects of driverless cars are overwhelmingly positive, such as saving lives and giving additional years of mobility to the aging senior population. However, it will also be a very disruptive technology.
Driverless technologies will be blamed for destroying countless jobs – truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, limo drivers, traffic cops, parking lot attendants, ambulance drivers, first responders, doctors, and nurses will all see their careers impacted.
We are all terminally human, and human fallibility lies at the heart of the transportation conundrum. We all love to drive, but humans are the inconsistent variable in this demanding area of responsibility. Driving requires constant vigilance, constant alertness, and constant involvement.
However, once we take the driver out of the equation we solve far more problems than the wasted time and energy needed to pilot the vehicle.
But vehicle design is only part of the equation. Without reimagining the way we design our transportation systems, driverless cars will only achieve a fraction of their true potential. - Keynote
- Driverless Highways :: Creating Cars that Talk to the Roads
- The Curse of Infrastructure
- Where’s My Flying Car?: Before flying cars… flying delivery drones
7.) When Ivory Towers Fall: The Emerging Education Marketplace
Throughout history, education has been formed around the concept of “place.” Build fancy buildings, attract world-renowned scholars, and you have a college or university. This model works well in a culture based on teaching. Over the coming years, with our hyper-connected world, we will be shifting to a leaning model. And while “place” will still matter, it will matter differently.
Teaching requires experts. Learning only requires coaches.
The two primary variables of time and money will drive the new education marketplace, and the four primary trend lines involve:
- Shortening the distance between students and experts
- People matter. Rewriting the social context of learning
- The emerging courseware industry
- Experimental emersion camps
Those who attend will begin to understand the shifting ground on which higher education stands and how the embryonic learning businesses of today are set to mushroom into the next-ed industries of tomorrow. Many of our existing colleges and universities will collapse, leaving great opportunities for those who specialize in rebirthing this great institution. - Keynote
- Teacherless Education and the Competition that will Change Everything
- TEDxRESET on Teacherless Education (Video)
- The Rise of the SuperProfessor
- The Coming Coder Wars
- The 5-Year Pipeline
- Accomplishment-Based Education
- Competing for Status
Can better food create better people? Will a better food supply lead to healthier, stronger, better thinking people? This is exactly the premise that is driving many of the advances in farming today.To understand agribusiness
in the future, consider a model that conveniently exists right now – in the human-food interface. Metabolism is a term used to describe the various chemical reactions that take place in every cell of the body. Intermediary metabolism is a vast web of interconnected reactions by the constituent parts of the cell. Every metabolism is different. Gaining an ability to read and monitor a person’s metabolic reaction to the food eaten will cause the agriculture industry to evolve with great precision around the tiny niche demands of consumers.
- Entering the Legal Marijuana Era :: Finding the Pitfalls and Profits in the Years Ahead
- The Coming Food Printer Revolution
- Tapping into the Secret Language of Plants
- The Coolest Profession on Earth
- The Future of Agriculture
Thomas Frey, Futurist – WGN Radio
Mike talks to Futurist Thomas Frey about Driverless Cars, and they take your calls
Tom Frey Peers Into The Future To Extract Eight Future Technologies That Will Define The World interview on Brainstormin’ w/Bill Frank
Listen in as Futurist Thomas Frey is interviewed by Brent Green on the Positive World Radio Network.
Videos (Additional videos here)
TEDxRESET 2012 – “Communicating with the Future”
TEDxUChicago 2011 – “Communicating with the Future”
Futurist Thomas Frey Interviewed on Fox News
Futurist Thomas Frey appears on the Microsoft-produced
documentary “The Last Stand – Gears of War”
Futurist Thomas Frey at Bell Canada
Top 10 Photos
Unbeknownst to most, one of Thomas Frey’s favorite pastimes is collecting brilliant photos and writing captions for them. You can see some of these photos here.
At the DaVinci Institute we use our own systems for forecasting the future. As we learn about your industry and apply our research methodologies, we are able to create a vision of the future that will specifically address the interests of your audience. Past examples include The Future of…
- Global investing
- Global systems
- Media and entertainment
- Web 10.0
- Privacy vs. transparency
- Computers and the Internet
- Robotics and drones
- 3D printing
- Future manufacturing
- Housing and real estate
- Banking and financial services
THE THOMAS FREY EXPERIENCE
A key differentiator with professional speakers is the audience experience. Thomas not only comes to each talk loaded with provocative knowledge and tantalizing visuals, he also includes just the right amount of humor, motivation, and topical trends in a way that are both immediately useful as well as enticingly entertaining.
Here is what you can expect when working with Thomas Frey for your next event:
Cutting Edge Thinking: Thomas pushes far beyond the limits of conventional wisdom, often talking about extreme futures and building intriguing “what if” scenarios as a tool for discussing far reaching implications. His presentations not only stretch the imagination but also challenge current thinking.
Engaging Delivery: Tom’s thought-provoking dialog and intense delivery enables audience members to grasp new possibilities and concepts while comprehending the salient touch points he presents. New ideas have a way of infusing audiences with energy and Thomas has the uncanny ability of touching on the most poignant trends, invigorating everyone who attends.
Custom Tailored Research: All talks are custom tailored to mesh with the goals of the event organizers as well as those who attend. While his mind may have been traveling to the far reaches of the future to put your presentation together, he’s very much present, ready to tackle the immediate challenges your audience faces, when he takes the stage.
Global Insight: Forever a student of the world, as his talks take him to many countries around the earth, Tom has developed original insights and first hand experiences that go far beyond the conventional stories of others. His talks provide up to the minute worldwide scientific data along with expert global trend forecasting.
Positive and Uplifting Themes: While it’s easy to wallow in the trouble filled underbelly of life, Thomas sees every problem as an opportunity and keeps all of his talks positive and upbeat, steeped in the wonderment of possibilities. These opportunities are every cloud’s silver lining, and we truly do have spectacular futures and fortunes that lie ahead.
“The future is truly a magical place. I have been there and would love to have you join me on my next journey.” – Thomas Frey
“Tom is very insightful and definitely an original thinker.” - Colorado Governor Bill Owens
“Your presentation was absolutely wonderful.” - Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm
“Tom was great! We received high marks on his presentation! He was appealing and relevant to our audience and a dynamic speaker. It was truly a pleasure to meet him and a pleasure to work with you on getting him to our convention.” - Rozana Audisho, Public Relations Manager – FSCC Credit Union Retail Delivery Convention
“Thankyou for your excellent presentation in Jacksonville. It was a pleasure spending time with you, and your “Future of Education” speech was extremely well received. 84% of our attendees rated the presentation Good-Excellent. Powerful numbers indeed.” - Larry Fairman, Director, Florida Workforce Summit
“You are an amazing keynote speaker. Your experience and knowledge contributed in a huge way to the success of our Sales Rally. You have given us vision and clarity to the confusing world of technology emerging around us, showing us where our business is going, and because of that, many participants now see the urgency to act for our company to maintain its position as a leader in the ICT market.” - Martin Geoffroy, General Manager, Business Development, Bell Canada
“Tom is an exceedingly bright guy, a humorous speaker and a person who is quick to challenge conventional wisdom. He is a quick study who can develop an imaginative presentation around almost any conceivable topic.“ - George Sharpe, Founder of the Greenwood Group and former Vice President of Product Development for Hunter Douglas
“On behalf of the membership, I want to thank you for your presentation on future business trends. Our members rated your presentation “excellent.”They enjoyed hearing your thoughts on the future of business and where the creative minds of tomorrow will take us. Lively conversations.Thanks again for a most interesting presentation!” - Kristine Garland, Vice President, The Composite Can and Tube Institute
“One of the most thoughtful and entertaining talks I’ve ever been to! Tom is a very deep thinker, both motivational and inspirational with his ability to build creative insights into the world ahead.” - Steve Masias – Former EEOC Director, City of Colorado Springs
“Your talk was wonderful! Very engaging. We were all still talking about it on Wednesday (two days later).” - Alison C. Ruger, Director, Standards Business Development, Information Handling Services
“You were the entire topic of discussion in each of my classes the rest of today.” - Daniel Sage, Teacher at William Smith High School, Aurora, Colorado
“Thomas, I really enjoyed your talk at ACLA in Pittsburgh. I have been using your library and education predictions to create some great discussions for the past 2 years.” - Brad Fish, Allegheny County Library Association Board Member
“Once in a while, an article comes along that makes you pause, think for a few moments, and say “Yeah, that’s brilliant.” I went through that process yesterday when I came across the latest article from renowned futurist Thomas Frey at the DaVinci Institute.” - Brian Enke, Writer for Examiner.com
“I love reading your vision for libraries. We actually went live with a digital archive in November 08. ( I read your article about the future of libraries a few years ago when we were just starting to think about the digital archive. I was convinced it was the right thing to pursue after reading your article on the future.) Response has been tremendous! In the first two months the images were viewed over 200,000 times..and we hadn’t posted but about 1500 items. We started out calling it the shoe box archive. Everyone has a box of photos and documents under the bed and this gives people from all walks of life a way to share with us their stories of the community. The beauty is that we don’t keep the material and we don’t have the space or resources to preserve and conserve it.. We have just started working on some oral histories although they aren’t on line yet.” - Nancy Sanford, Executive Director, Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, Florence, AL
“Brilliant piece, Tom. I hope that world leaders can put aside their differences and act responsibly before it is too late to avert a global catastrophe. Thanks for your clear and persuasive analysis!” - Stephen B. Martin, Gifted Education Consultant, Thornton, CO
Your articles about the future of libraries are inspiring, knowledgeable and a bit frightening. The Literacy Advisory Council of Kurth Memorial Library in Lufkin, Texas is using your papers as a basis for future planning. - Peyton Walters, Lufkin, TX
Tom in the News
Papers, Columns, and other Writings
Creating the “new normal” – Tom Frey talks about a competitive edge through systems thinking
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