What does it take to understand the future?
If the answer is perspective, Gerd Leonhard is our guy. An entrepreneur and musician with a background in Lutheran theology, his perspective on such crucial talking points as humanity and digital disruption combines both education and experience in a unique and insightful way.
Today, he is a leading futurist, speaking to and consulting for hundreds of influential companies including Google, Sony, The Guardian, Ogilvy, and Lloyds Bank.
Further separating Leonhard from the pack is his focus on actionable foresights. Rather than relying on speculation and trends, his advice is grounded in a single question: how will this change impact our sense of humanity?
It is a matter of whether the technology should be created rather than can it be created, at a time when the field is advancing so rapidly, and companies moving so fast, that ethics and responsibility risk being left in the dust.
Below are a selection of Leonhard’s most notable presentations on a range of topics including consumerism, innovation, and the value of new technology in traditionalist industries. If you’re an entrepreneur, or someone looking to venture out into unexplored territory in the near-future, take some time to enjoy Leonhard’s talks, and start preparing for the monumental change heading our way.
In a presentation at the 2012 EcoSummit in Berlin, Leonhard stressed the importance of resource networking as part of a global initiative to combat environmental crises. In light of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris accords, and the subsequent response from mayors and companies within the country that decided to honour the agreement regardless, Leonhard’s call to move from ego to eco proves an important one. Collaboration on all levels is key to solving major problems; we no longer have to live in a world where the most powerful get to define the reality of society.
Leonhard is not just a musician. Over a decade, he founded two companies, LicenseMusic.com and SONIFIC, that failed, in part, because of the music industry’s inability to break from an antiquated mindset. The video highlights key business initiatives that can easily be applied outside of the music industry for anyone looking to innovate and update their organisation as we approach the redefining of the workforce.
A shorter video from his web series The Future Show, Leonhard uses this episode to talk about the evolution of education, the cultural shift towards storytelling as a means of imparting knowledge in a world where fact-based information is at the fingertips of nearly all humans, and how learning institutions need to change to meet the needs of a shifting society.
Finally, here’s a presentation on ‘Megashifts’ the term Leonhard created to apply to the technology revolutions that not just improve our lives, but redefine them culturally, socially, and even biologically. The message here is an optimistic and inspiring one, and reminds us that futurism isn’t all about redundant humanity and killer robots.