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. As a top tech analyst during the Dot-Com era, Jerry helped shape the worlds of software and online services, paving the way for online community, blogging, wikis, social media and more. 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.
Jerry is unique in being able to bring 26 years of contextualized, curated information to bear on your questions, live and virtually. Your participants will jump in their seats when they take part in this process.
Change defines the present and uncertainty permeates the future. What are the skills, practices, and superpowers that this world in flux demands – and how can you cultivate them with purpose and joy?
In 2024, humans’ ability to embrace all kinds of change, uncertainty, and not-knowing isn’t exceptional, but rather table stakes. It’s at the heart of responsible leadership, thriving culture, and effective communication. Put another way, tolerance of uncertainty is the #1 skill we’ll need this year – and beyond.
April Rinne – change navigator, speaker, investor, and adventurer – has been obsessed with these questions for more than 25 years. Her work and travels in more than 100 countries have given her a front-row seat to a world in flux, as well as a world of wisdom to navigate the unknown. Not only is she your guide to developing a “flux mindset,” she’s also ranked one of the 50 Leading Female Futurists in the world by Forbes and is a Harvard Law School graduate, a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, a member of the Silicon Guild and Thinkers50 Radar, a Fulbright Scholar, and the author of the international bestseller Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change.
April is a trusted advisor to well-known startups, companies, financial institutions, nonprofits, think tanks, and governments worldwide, including Airbnb, Nike, Intuit, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, AnyRoad, and Unsettled as well as governments ranging from Singapore to South Africa, Canada to Colombia, and Italy to India. For more than two decades, she’s been known for seeing emerging trends early, understanding their potential, and helping others do the same. April is a bridge-builder between stakeholders, priorities, business models, markets, and those excited about change and those resistant to it. Most recently, she’s been part of Finland’s inaugural “masterclass of happiness,” combining her Finnish heritage and “fluxiness” to reach audiences around the world.
Earlier in life April was a global development executive, an international microfinance lawyer, and a hiking guide. Before that, she spent the better part of four years traveling solo, with an insatiable desire to better understand how the rest of the world lives. (One lesson: Change is universal. How we deal with it is not.) She is as comfortable at Davos as she is talking with microfinance borrowers in an urban slum. A certified yoga teacher, she can often be found upside-down, doing handstands around the world.
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 has been weaving her own story about how to thrive amid flux, personally and professionally, for as long as she can remember.
Today April is an acclaimed speaker, thinker, advisor and writer. She is known today for her many keynotes each year to business, industry, investment, policy and educational audiences around the world, and for her role as a bridge: between startups and governments, between developed and developing countries, between those excited about change and those resistant to it. She is also an impact investor, mental health advocate, yoga teacher and insatiable handstander. April's handstands underscore her upside-down perspective on the world: they help her see differently, stay flexible, and bring joy (and occasionally amazement) to others. Earlier in her career served as a global development executive, microfinance lawyer, and hiking and biking guide.
April holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in International Business and Finance from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. in International Studies and Italian summa cum laude from Emory University. She is a Fulbright Scholar and studied at Oxford (University College; one full academic year), the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the European University Institute (the EU’s premier graduate institution; one full academic year). In 2011 the World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader; she has attended Davos multiple times as well as WEF summits worldwide.
But April’s CV and educational pedigree don’t begin to capture April’s story, her perspective, and her understanding of the world. Both of her parents died in a car accident when she was 20, which threw her into a world of flux. She put the expected path on hold to deal with the aftermath, ultimately letting go of how she thought her own future might unfold. Rather than the Ph.D. her parents expected, or the Wall Street analyst position society expected, she spent several years leading hiking and cycling tours from Puglia to Patagonia, which in turn provided enough income to travel widely (and alone) from the Golden Triangle to the Darien Gap. From there, her unconventional journey took off.
April spent the first half of her career focused on global development and financial inclusion. She was very early to the world of impact investing. She led microfinance teams on four continents, wrote microfinance legislation, was in the vanguard of mobile banking innovation, and created new investment vehicles for the world’s underserved before Muhammad Yunus made microfinance a household term.
When the digital economy and smartphones began to take root, April shifted her focus to how these new platforms could help build more inclusive business and more robust opportunities for income generation. The second half of her career has focused on how this “new” economy and the future of work will play out worldwide, advising numerous startups, established companies, governments, policy makers, financial institutions, educational institutions, think tanks and others along the way.
Taken together, April’s breadth of experience and exposure to other cultures and ways of life provide her with an enormous lens through which to see change. On the one hand, she is as comfortable at Davos as she is talking with microfinance borrowers in an urban slum. On the other hand, she has seen how – regardless of age, income, or background – humans genuinely struggle with navigating the unknown. She is convinced that the disciplines of a Flux Mindset can help. So does Thinkers50, who have recognized the Flux mindset as a "Breakthrough Idea."
April brings a practical perspective and a global worldview. She has lived with, advised others on, experimented, researched, prototyped, traveled long and far to experience, speak with and learn from others about how to embrace flux.