Insights · April 22nd, 2020
Exponential Minds Podcast Interview with Glen Hiemstra, Part 4: Glen Hiemstra on how you can become a futurist
For Episode 1 of the second season of the Exponential Minds Podcast Nikolas Badminton had the pleasure to speak with a futurist with over 40 years of experience in the field, Glen Hiemstra. Nik is also the newest member of the Futurist.com Think Tank.
Glen is an internationally respected expert on future trends, long-range planning and creating the preferred future. An inspiring and deeply experienced voice among futurists, Glen has advised professional, business, and governmental organizations for over three decades. He is also the Founder of Futurist.com.
You can listen to the full interview here, and Part 4 (of 4) of this interview transcription, edited for clarity, is below.
How can we all become futurists?
Nikolas: We’ve covered a lot of ground here and what’s really interesting to me I, I didn’t know the depth of your background and how suddenly all the way from those early years at University so you’ve literally been a futurist for almost your entire career which is, which is kind of unheard of, because a lot of people are repurposing or they’ve gone from a strategy position to looking at applying foresight practices.
I come from a background of starting to use computers at 10 years old, building artificial intelligence in the 90s, and building out massive data analytics infrastructure. Then someone throws the word futurist at me eight years ago, and suddenly here I am having these conversations and being part of some really interesting movements around the world and I think that’s what we’re part of is people blazing the trail.
As futurists we are the bounty hunters of truth. It seems like Twitter has brought so many of us together. And now, there’s a lot of discussion of what a futurist truly is? I love the conversation. I love everyone. This podcast is about talking to everyone and finding out what makes people tick. What I find interesting is that everyone thinks about the future. Futurists do it but on steroids and we actively invite people in to ask what if. What if the world was different? What if we were to take a different path? Encouraging people to be creative, look a little further ahead. And maybe, you know, the world is going to be in a better place.
Glen: The debate about how you get to be a futurist has been an ongoing one and it has reemerged. Recently there was a little kerfuffle on Twitter about who gets to be a futurist and who doesn’t. And, in one of the last meetings of the World Future Society when it existed as a worldwide organization, I did a session on this with Cindy Frewen, who’s in my Think Tank group. At that time Cindy was the President of the Association of Professional Futurists, and still is a faculty member at the University of Houston futures program. They call it the program of strategic foresight now.
Cindy and I did this presentation and it was called ‘the future of futurism’. We presented a point-counterpoint program. She argued that you should have to get a credential to be a futurist. And, I argued that the goal of the futurists should be to teach everybody to be a futurist, so that everybody who walks out of the room from working with you should say, “hey, I think I’m a futurist.”
So it’s two different perspectives. If somebody comes up to me and says, How do I become a futurist? My answer always is the very first thing you should consider is going to school. Go get an undergraduate degree, go get a graduate degree, there are a few places in the world where you could do that.
Now, if that’s not feasible, or not realistic, then there’s a set of reading you can do. You can hang out with people who are futurists. You can go to conventions and conferences. And there’s ways to begin to think more professionally about the future. There’s definitely a contrast between those who are a futurist by mindset, and those who have some professional background,
My goal is to get more people to think of themselves as a futurist, to adopt that longer term perspective, to adopt a perspective of thinking about future trends in terms of what’s probable and what is possible and to think about vision in terms of what a preferred future is. And, in terms of action, how might we do something different this year to make a more positive future more likely.
Nikolas: Yeah, and I think that’s a really good way to wrap up the interview. I think that’s exactly what we do. Build the community and have the conversations that are needed the most. I have learned the most by spending time at conferences I speak at sticking around to speak to the people there. I talk to a lot of people and gain new perspectives. We can’t get that by reading articles in Inc, Forbes, or Bloomberg and suddenly take to the stage with any level of credibility.
All of the counterpoints help us flex our muscles around doubt and really plumb the depths of all preferred, possible, and even prosperous futures that could exist.
Glen: So we should talk about the future, the probable the possible, the preferred and the preposterous future as well, I like that.
Nikolas: I talk about the preposterous a lot. But, that’s a separate interview, and maybe we’ll get that done in a couple of months.
I’d like to thank you very much Glen. For spending your time today joining us from over there on the west coast in Washington State, and really just sharing some of your experiences I think it’s incredible perspectives on how this has been built up over time.
Thanks very much, Glen.
Glen: You’re welcome.
You can see more of Glen’s work at www.futurist.com and Nikolas is working alongside him and his team in Futurist.com’s Think Tank.