Everywhere we look, the economy is changing. Growth doesn't look like it used to. Work and the workplace have turned upside down. Business leaders and policy makers are wondering what to do. And it's still early, with even more change on the horizon.
Jerry Michalski and April Rinne are here to help you navigate this space, both today and moving forward.
Together and individually, they have seen these forces at work and helped birth new industries. From microfinance to tech booms (and busts), from the sharing economy to automation, and from new business models to trust-driven innovation, each of them has been at the 50 yard line in the very early stages of some of the most important transformations of the last three decades. They love what they do, and when they do it together, more than doubling the value they bring to the table.
They’re great at trailblazing and they love helping others forge profitable new paths.
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Jerry Michalski helps people see the future differently. He was a key tech industry analyst in the middle of the dot-com vortex, shaping how entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and journalists saw the early Internet; shining a spotlight on specific trends and startups; and making important introductions. He advises organizations large and small on how to navigate the waves of technological and social change that are transforming their industries and our world. Briefly put, producers could once mostly ignore consumers, telling them what was on offer and what they should want. Now the playing field is much more level. People are not mere consumers. Companies are realizing this, which is leading to a humanization of capitalism. The problem is, most companies don’t know how to be human, strange as that may seem. Jerry helps organizations become more human by offering unique perspectives on innovation, automation, big data, reputation, trust, authenticity, intent, purpose and other words that frighten the lawyers. He does this by guiding conversations into deep waters, framing issues crisply and clearly, and opening new possibilities.
The sharing economy, collaborative economy, on-demand economy, freelance economy, gig economy, access economy, trust economy -- or even just the “new economy”: what is going on? From Airbnb to TaskRabbit and Uber, hundreds of sharing and on-demand platforms are transforming industries and causing us to rethink almost every aspect of our lives. Anyone with a spare room, a car or even a little free time can become a mini-entrepreneur. What is the future evolution of these businesses? Who are the next disruptors on the horizon? What -- and where -- are the real opportunities and obstacles? Sharing Economy expert April Rinne has the answers. Advisor of choice for a range of private and public sector organizations, from Airbnb to the World Economic Forum and governments worldwide, a graduate of Harvard Law and an inveterate traveler, Rinne can help you see the shifts underway through a practical, helpful lens and bring new insights to light for you and your organization.
Lessons from the Frontlines of Change and Innovation
Reporting from the vanguard of innovation, Rinne and Michalski offer a game-changing and informative deep-dive into the forces that are changing the way we live, work, and do business. In this fascinating and substantive program, they each unpack three engaging stories of fundamental change they've witnessed and participated in—from the effects of automation to the rise of the gig economy, and from leapfrogging innovation in emerging markets to understanding tech's new horizons — providing riveting anecdotes, crucial analysis and tangible takeaways on issues such as the future of work, rediscovering trust, consumerism's effects, business model disruption, globalization vs. global citizenship, and tech and human interaction. A highly customizable program in which they will tailor their stories to your audience, Rinne and Michalski will provide a roadmap for how to navigate an uncertain future, translating change into opportunity at every step.
Tomorrow’s Business Models: What Succeeds?
In so many ways, the business world is transforming before our eyes. Boundaries of cost and access that have protected incumbent business models for decades are crumbling. Ordinary citizens can share open blueprints and make things, by accessing new technologies and tools, opening up innovation to far more people. Market-makers no longer need to own any assets. These shifts are playing out in almost every sector imaginable, affecting everything from transportation to tourism, lifestyles to labor markets, and sustainability to social connections. In the process, new business models are emerging that portend to redefine business even further. Together, Jerry and April guide you -- highlighting examples from around the world -- through examples of these new models, how are they taking root today, and what's on the horizon.
The New Economy: What’s It All About?
The New Economy: the term raises eyebrows immediately, as do terms such as Sharing Economy, Collaborative Economy and On-Demand Economy. More fundamentally, we're looking at how new technologies enable more people to connect with more people, learn more things and create more value than ever before in human history. This leads to a series of ripple effects: increased awareness of unsustainable business practices, a growing sense that "stuff doesn't mean happiness," enhanced social connections, and innovative ideas coming from unprecedented corners of the world. Traditional dynamics related to production and consumption, supply and demand, and growth metrics are increasingly coming under pressure as these concepts, new models of value creation and resource management emerge. Together, April and Jerry expertly show you how the New Economy is manifest today and what we can expect tomorrow.
The Changing Face of Producers, Consumers and the Value Chain
Not long ago, Producers and Consumers were separate entities. The former made things, the latter bought them. Those boundaries have melted. Not only are consumers often also producers, but also -- with increasing frequency -- they may not need companies to meet their needs at all. Today, wise companies are rethinking every aspect of their business and value chain. They are building authentic relationships with ordinary people to critique, review, design, sell and even fulfill their offers, the way Lyft and TaskRabbit do. In some cases, they are turning their business models almost inside out -- often with surprising success. These shifts are creating all-new value chains and prompting changes in how we think about value as well as values.
Jerry Michalski is a futurist with a practical, humanist bent. He is also a Gladwellian connector, guide and pattern finder. Since 1987, he has been helping organizations large and small navigate the turbulent changes at the messy juncture of hyperconnectivity and outdated world views.
Practically, this means delivering speeches with insights that help organizations: be authentic — and therefore more trustworthy — in a mass-media world; innovate, working with the world’s new forces, not against them; design from trust; re-imagine their relationships to those people formerly known as consumers; see where value is going as markets flip and citizens stop acting as mere consumers; and understand and leverage the effects of automation on their various stakeholders.
Through a dozen years’ experience as a leading technology industry analyst, Jerry developed his perspective. As an analyst, he helped shape technology markets and in particular introduced the Internet to investors, entrepreneurs, corporate users, civic entities and nonprofits. For example, in the June 1993 issue of Release 1.0 (then the leading tech newsletter), he wrote about online community — then an obscure concept — illustrating how much more was already happening online than commerce.
In the middle of that period, just as the Internet started warming up in the mid-90s, Jerry noticed that the word “consumer” didn’t sit right. Paying attention to that word and its implications helped him realize that we are in the early stages of making capitalism more human — and more humane. He calls this new era the “Relationship Economy,” in contrast to the fragmenting and problematic consumer mass-marketing economy.
Speeches ignite imaginations, but it is often what you do right afterward that catalyzes change. Conversations about large-scale change can be difficult, especially if they challenge long-held views or corporate taboos. Over the years, Jerry has developed facilitation skills that let him guide conversations that are safe yet deep, diving into uncomfortable waters and expanding perspectives.
In 2010, Jerry turned the Relationship Economy insights into a think-and-do tank called REX (the Relationship Economy eXpedition). REX members come from Kaiser Permanente, Deloitte, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the United Nations Foundation, the Institute for the Future, Intuit and many more. Together they explore the implications of this shift to a focus on relationships. In particular, how can organizations still thrive in this new world order?
Along the way, Jerry has advised numerous startups, from Pyra, which became Blogger and then got acquired by Google, to Evernote and CoTweet, which is now part of Salesforce.com.
Although he’s not in the Guinness Book of World Records, Jerry does have a clear claim to uniqueness: the world’s largest published Brain. (TheBrain is a concept-mapping application Jerry adopted on its first press tour, back in 1998.) To get a feeling for Jerry’s Brain, search for “Jerry’s Brain” in the Apple app store. Now imaging tracking everything you care about for 18 years and curating it with care, accumulating a quarter million nodes connected by nearly half a million links — all put in by hand.
Jerry earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Irvine, and an M.B.A. in International Business from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Jerry’s parents met in Bolivia; they raised him in Peru and Argentina, with a year in Berlin after that. As a result, he can deliver speeches in fluent Spanish and German, as well as English, of course — all like a local. His French is also good enough for public speaking.
April Rinne is a thought leader and advisor in the sharing economy. She builds strategy, guides conversations and tackles the key questions with a wide range of stakeholders, from companies to governments, policy makers, investors, associations, educational institutions and non-profits. Her goal is to help others discover how the sharing economy can create a more efficient, sustainable and happy future—and figure out what to do when faced with uncertainty, or when everyone's goals can’t be met.
April’s work in the sharing economy has both breadth and depth. She has advised Fortune 500 companies on business model innovation, local and national governments on policy reform, and investors on portfolio strategy and execution. She also tackles broader issues related to technological innovation, such as effects on the workplace, quality of life, travel and emerging markets.
An inveterate globetrotter, April has visited 90 countries and counting (most recent: all three Baltics). Her work has taken her to almost every corner of the world. After college and a Fulbright fellowship, she spent four years traveling independently—with a backpack, shoestring budget and the goal of seeing how the rest of the world lived. These experiences continue to influence and inspire her today. It also means she is equally comfortable with CEOs of major corporations and entrepreneurial youth in urban slums.
Prior to the sharing economy, April had a successful career in global development, social enterprise and innovation. She was an early voice in microfinance, where she led a range of investments as well as policy reform worldwide, and advised a range of organizations from Kiva to Grameen and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has a very successful track record in building markets that work better and for more people.
In 2011 the World Economic Forum elected April as a Young Global Leader, where she leads the Sharing Economy Working Group and serves on the Urbanization Advisory Board. She also serves on the Advisory Boards for Seoul Sharing City in South Korea, Amsterdam Sharing City, the National League of Cities (US) and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. She is also a director of the World Wide Web Foundation and a member of the Relationship Economy eXpedition (REX). Her writing has appeared in Wired, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Stanford Social Innovation Review, the World Economic Forum, The Huffington Post and numerous other publications.
April holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in International Finance and Business Relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. summa cum laude in International Studies from Emory University. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the European University Institute and a Visiting Scholar at University College, Oxford University. She speaks Italian molto bene, Spanish bastante bien, French un petit peu, and enough Dutch and Kiswahili to survive.
Finally, April enjoys taking an upside-down perspective on the world. This often opens up new ideas, linkages and opportunities. But it also means: don’t have a handstand contest with her—you’ll lose.