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40 Futurists: Your Child’s Success in Tomorrow’s World of Work

Future of Work Expert Round-Upv2

For the second part of this Expert Round-Up, (access part one here), the world-renowned futurists I contacted pitched in on the future skills they believe your child will need to enhance their relevance and marketability. Others focused on the importance of making a contribution to the world and an overall satisfaction with their lives in the years to come.

What do you think?

Skills for the 21st Century

Hazel HendersonHazel Henderson – “Be a planetary citizen.”

The founder of Ethical Markets Media, Hazel is also a world renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, consultant on sustainable development, and author of The Axiom and Nautilus award-winning book Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006) and eight other books.

“Try to  keep all your wits about you and don’t get too narrow in your pursuits. I gave similar advice to my grandson, who was very discouraged about the state of the world we adults had created!  I agreed, but asked him to check out all the free MOOCs there are today, where he could begin educating himself along his own interests before signing up  for any college. And NOT to take out any student debt. He discovered Kahn Academy and found this MOOC very helpful. He got his BA online with the University of North Arizona, from his home in that state and its community college.

“Try to become a generalist and begin by understanding how the planet functions by using your daily income of free photons from our Mother Stare : the SUN!

“If any high-schooler is ready to learn how to become a planetary citizen, I hope they will come and visit me online at our MOOC and watch our TV shows on”

Flavio Liberal – “Skills for the unpredictable.”

Flavio is a futurist thinker and entrepreneur based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He focuses on exponential Flavio Liberaltechnologies and social disruption impacts in education. He is co-founder of TESI Education, an innovation readiness start-up that helps prepare students for global changes.

Focusing mainly on skills rather than a profession should be the primary goal for high school students that will be graduating in the next 5-10 years. It is still a blur how profound and fast the impact of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics will be. Previously we had a misconception that these technologies would replace only mechanical and not creative tasks. However, we now see this falling apart when we read about bots writing poems and creating brands’ logos.

So, how can you be prepared for the unpredictable? What are these skills? Critical-thinking, communication, creativity, problem-solving and self-guidance skills are necessary, along with entrepreneurship and coding skills.

40 Futurists: The skills you need to prepare for the unpredictable. #futureproofyourchild Click To Tweet

David Smith – “Define your work.”

David SmithAs a wicked problem solver, dynamic visionary, product creator, technologist, strategic planner and business executive, David has a world- renowned reputation and remarkable track-record as a global futurist. He was named one of the seven top global futurists in the Millennium issue of Businessweek feature entitled, “What Technology will be like in 100 years”

First, realize that for today and tomorrow we are in a time of life-long learning. The old paradigm of school, work, and play is over. The next generations will do all of these as a “Blended Lifestyle” approach. Second, take time to find mentors and apprenticeships. During the last century we lost the importance of these and with the growth in careers that you will have in your lifetime these will help define you, and take the time to do this for others. You live in the networked age powered by digital technologies that drive an exponentially expanding knowledge base and connect a diverse, globalized world. Yes, these are amazing times. And third, always remember that you define your job and work. Do not let it define you. The hard thing about planning your life is you have no idea where you’re going, but you want to get there as soon as possible.”

Andy Hines – “Be hard to automate.”

Andy is Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Foresight at the Andy HinesUniversity of Houston.

Taking a Machiavellian approach, I’d look for jobs that are difficult to automate, such as those that involve personal services, relationships, and associated people skills. To prepare, build a foundation in creativity and foresight, along with critical and systems thinking. Add in the ability to learn about new and diverse subjects quickly; the jack-of-all-trades is actually better positioned for the future than the deep subject matter expert. To complete the package, “do what you love, and the money will follow.”

Advice for your child from 40 futurists: Be hard to automate. @houstonfutures Click To Tweet

Anne Boysen – “Multi-colored collars.”

AnneBoysenpicAnne, who is originally from Norway, is a graduate of the Foresight program of University of Houston and helps companies prepare for the youngest generation. For her work specializing in Millennials in the workplace, she draws on research methods from social science, data analytics and foresight.

“47% of existing jobs will disappear, but mostly 20th century jobs. Beyond the blue-white collar binary, our collars will turn green, pink and yellow, with some black turtlenecks here and there. Green jobs will make our production systems smarter, cleaner and more efficient. The elder boom will bring greater need for caretakers, both human and robotic. Yellow collar is about creativity, which is still harder to outsource to computers.

“Ask yourself: Could this task be done better by a computer or somebody 5000 miles away? If not, claim your skill and get good at it!”

Nereida Perez – “See the world.”

Neddy is Vice President Global Diversity & Inclusion, Talent & Organizational Capabilities at Ingersoll 266cb81Rand. 

  1. Study a second Language whether it is Spanish, Mandarin or German.
  2. Travel with your family or friends but get out of the U.S. and see at least 3 countries before you are 27 years old.
  3. Pursue a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. If you don’t plan to go to college than sign up for an apprenticeship program in STEM. Some 71% of all jobs in the U.S. over the next 10 years will require knowledge or degrees in STEM.

David W. Wood – “Update your awareness.”

David WoodDavid is Principal at Delta Wisdom and Chair of London Futurists.

“The successful citizens of the future will be those with the ability to expect the unexpected. In practical terms, four specific skill sets will be especially valuable: agile work methods (such as scrum and lean); continuous learning; emotional intelligence (so that our emotions don’t sabotage our ability to make necessary changes); and – perhaps most important of all – constantly updated awareness of the fast-evolving capabilities of the single biggest driver of change, namely artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart automation.”

Jared Weiner – “Intelligence versus smarts.”

Jared is Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of The Future Hunters, one of the world’sJared Weiner leading futurist consulting firms. Jared evaluates emerging social, technological, economic, political, demographic and environmental trends in the global marketplace – and identifies the strategic implications (the “So what?”) of those trends for several of the most influential Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and public sector clients.

The future will not be about memorizing facts or mastering programmatic skills. Technology is increasingly capable of doing those things as well, if not better, than people. Some refer to that process as outsourcing or disintermediation. We call it “othersourcing.” As a result, education, as we’ve long known it, will be less useful. And, many of yesterday’s most common jobs will no longer exist.

So…what’s next?

The future will increasingly be about new methods of individualized learning. It will be important to learn how to learn. It will be important to be adaptive. These are the skills that will be most useful – and most prized by employers – in the workplace of tomorrow. The work you do in the future will be far more about intelligence (the ability to apply novel thinking to never-before-seen challenges) and less about smarts (the ability to memorize, retain and apply information). 

The future: Less about smarts, more about intelligence. @JaredWeinerNYC #futureproofyourchild Click To Tweet

Andrew Staines – “Focus on fundamentals.”

Dr. Andrew StainesAndrew is a government futurist and innovator who has worked across environmental, social and economic policy areas, briefing the UK Cabinet on issues as diverse as demographics, IP law and crypto-currencies. In his spare time he’s developing food security technologies in his back garden with a long term dream to grow coffee in Scotland.

“Remember it’s not about the latest tech or trend, we don’t all need to learn to code on today’s platforms because it would have all changed by the time you’re ready to deploy your skills. Focus on the fundamentals; think critically, be able to manipulate data, have a flexible worldview, things change all the time and so do we. Practice speaking and writing to others whenever you can, however scary it is.

“With increasing automation and changing work patterns, think positively about what it can do for you and how best to develop your own niche. Being a futurist was not mentioned in my career chat at school.”

Joel Barker – “Build a better brain.”

Joel is a world-famous futurist, author, video maker, and inventor. He was the first person to popularizeJoel Barker the concept of paradigm shifts for the corporate world.

Learn to code; it is the language of the 21st century and learn Spanish as well. Mastering those two languages is as much about building a better brain matrix and expanding the problem-solving capacity of your brain than it is just about communication. My son is a programmer and has a BA in Chinese along with economics. When he is working an especially difficult problem, he switches to Chinese to change his perspective. That’s a great advantage over a one language, no coding competitor.

Read widely outside your normal interests because the great ideas of the 21st century are going to be combinations of ideas that have been already thought of.

Build a friendship base and honor and respect it.

Wendy Schultz – “Be multi-disciplinary.”

Wendy SchultzWendy is an academically trained futurist with over thirty years of global foresight practice and director of Infinite Futures.

“Learn programming and media production – those will be the primary languages of the future – but study biology. We are moving from the digital age into a biological (biotechnology, bio-engineering, synthetic biology) age, and people who are still obsessing over digital capabilities to the exclusion of all else will be left behind. Don’t hack machine code, hack biological code.”

Thomas Frey – “Take Your Pick.”

Thomas’ website, Futurist Speaker, offers a wealth of information, including a video about preparing for over 160 jobs that don’t yet exist. He is Chief Futurist at the DaVinci Institute and Google’s top rated futurist speaker. Thomas Frey

The following “14 Hot New Skills” is one of his blog posts:

  1. Transitionists – Those who can help make a transition.
  2. Expansionists – A talent for adapting along with a growing environment.
  3. Maximizers – An ability to maximize processes, situations, and opportunities.
  4. Optimizers – The skill and persistence to tweak variables until it produces better results.
  5. Inflectionists – Finding critical inflection points in a system will become a much-prized skill.
  6. Dismantlers – Every industry will eventually end, and this requires talented people who know how to scale things back in an orderly fashion.
  7. Feedback Loopers – Those who can devise the best possible feedback loops.
  8. Backlashers – Ever- new technology will have its detractors, and each backlash will require a response.
  9. Last Milers – Technologies commonly reach a point of diminishing returns as they attempt to extend their full capacity to the end user. People with the ability to mastermind these solutions will be in hot demand.
  10. Contexualists – In between the application and the big picture lays the operational context for every new technology.
  11. Ethicists – There will be an ever-growing demand for people who can ask the tough question and standards to apply moral decency to some increasingly complex situations.
  12. Philosophers – With companies in a constant battle over “my-brain-is-bigger-that-your-brain,” it becomes the overarching philosophy that wins the day.
  13. Theorists – Every new product, service, and industry begins with a theory.
  14. Legacists – Those who are passionate and skilled with leaving a legacy.
40 Futurists: The skills and work for those that look to the future. #futureproofyourchild Click To Tweet

Ron Esser – “Maybe the military?”

Ron EsserRon has worked as a strategic plans Officer in Military Intelligence. He is currently writing the strategic plan for the Museum of Military History, in Kissimmee, Florida.  As well as looking into the strategic implications of Advanced Manufacturing in the U.S.


“Have you considered the Military Option?

“If you would prefer to not acquire debt for College, perhaps you should consider a Military Academy. There are four Military Academies. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The Navy Academy also is for Marines. Not only are you getting paid to get an education, you know you have a job upon graduation.

“If these are not an option for you, considering reducing your College debt with a Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) scholarship. You will acquire knowedge skills and abilities and friendships that will enhance your future.

“Good Luck!


Kate McCallum – “Get creative.”

Kate McCallum, MA, is a Media Futurist, Producer, Writer and Speaker specializing in transmedia.  She Kate McCallum founded the c3: Center for Conscious Creativity whose mission is to “Create a better future through arts and media,” and she serves as the Chair of the Global Arts and Media Node for The Millennium Project, a global futurist think tank. 

To work in the fields of arts, media and entertainment, learn how to write, shoot and edit your content then distribute it online to a global market.  Technology has democratized media and storytelling. Emerging technologies where billions of dollars are being invested—like 360, Virtual and Augmented Reality—are disrupting traditional media and will create thousands of new jobs, not only in entertainment and arts, but in education, medicine, journalism, travel, commerce, military, and science. Read great literature, watch great films, and learn the art of storytelling no matter what field you enter. Purchase a 360 camera and start experimenting and training your mind to create in this spatial format. It’s the future!

And now for the final section of this series, on the importance of Contribution (not only attitude and skills).

Strategic Futurist Sketchnote

What Contribution Might You Make?

Karen Hurley – “Join us!”

Karen HurleyKaren–aka the “Unconventional Futurist“–helps people and organizations mindfully put aside the nature-less and violent images of the future from media, and envision their own joyful, ecologically sound, and socially just futures. Ones that will guide and inspire their actions in the present. Using emerging knowledge in neurobiology, neuropsychology, quantum theory, futures studies and environmental studies, Karen facilitates new understandings in how and what we envision as our futures, affects the futures we are creating.

“Imagine a world, not too far in the future, where all children, teenagers and adults are safe, happy and have enough healthy food to eat.  A world where animals and nature are treated with respect and kindness; where lakes, streams and the ocean are healthy and clean; the air is clear.

“Now put your hand on your heart and imagine your role in creating one of these healthy, joyful, peaceful communities.  What work will you do that will contribute to the creation of ecologically sound and socially just communities or even a nation?  Others have begun this journey – join them.”

Charles M. Johnston – “Think about the future.”

Charles is a psychiatrist, author, and futurist.  He’s best know as the originator of Creative Systems Dr. Charles Johnston Theory, a comprehensive framework for understanding change, purpose, and interrelationship in human systems. You can find his blog as

It wasn’t long ago that everyone had classes on history, but in school only rarely did people look to the times ahead.  Doing so has now become critical.  And I encourage you not just to reflect on the future in terms of new inventions and technologies.  Think about the kind of world you would want to live decades ahead and the kind of world you would want to create for your children and your children’s children. Live your life in a way that reflects the answers to find and your life will contribute to larger well-being. More personally, doing so will mean that your life will always be imbued with a sense of purpose.

Gray Scott – “Solve big challenges.”

Gray ScottGray is a futurist and one of the world’s leading experts in the field of emerging technology. He is the founder and CEO of and a professional member of The World Future Society. He has frequently appeared on and been interviewed by the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Forbes, CBS News, VICE MOTHERBOARD, Al Jazeera America, FOX News, The Washington Post, and Psychology Today.

“Begin studying the future. Research emerging technologies. Look for ways to solve pressing problems. The world needs affordable, clean water, food, and housing.  Create apps, codes, and robots that can address these issues and you will be ready for the future. Ask your teacher about creating a study or research project on the future. What kind of future do you want to live in? Visualize that future and work towards making it happen.”

Ways to #futureproofyourchild from 40 futurists. @grayscott Click To Tweet

Leon Young – “Your most important tool is…”

Leon is a Futures Concepts Strategist. He has leveraged 20 years as a military strategist and is a Leon Young professional futurist, specializing in organisational strategic thinking development.

You will change the world. You will be changed by the world. So think about the big picture and always have a vision of where you are going. Without these you will get lost. With these, you will find your path. Oh – read, write, read, write. Don’t forget to build your most important tool, your mind.

Jennifer GidleyJennifer Gidley – “Live your passion.”

Jennifer is President of the World Futures Studies Federation (UNESCO Partner), a psychologist, educator, futures researcher and author of Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures (Springer) and The Future: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press).  

“Focus on what you love to do and how you can best make a contribution to the world of tomorrow. Don’t get trapped into “training” for jobs that won’t exist. Forget about the words “work” and “employment” – they are part of the old industrial era model being swept away. Be creative and resourceful.

“Imagine the possibility that you can make a living doing what you love and are good at. Be a social or ecological entrepreneur (putting people and planet before profit). You can make a good and healthy living that way.”

Claire A. Nelson – “Reinvent yourself.”

Claire is a Futurist, Sustainability Engineer, Social Entrepreneur and Storyteller with 30 years of  Dr. Claire Nelsonexperience in international development.  As Ideation Leader of The Futures Forum, Claire – a global citizen with visitations to over 40 countries – hopes to help bring diverse perspectives to meet the challenges of how we create thriving futures, to leaders and organizations around the world. Her current public interest research is a transmedia storytelling project “OUR SHARED FUTURE: A Day in the Life in The Year 2030,” which aims to help build consensus about life in 2030 for at least ten percent of humanity.

“I am imagining speaking to my Goddaughter Kimani, who is 13 years old and going into High School this Fall, here in Maryland:

“Imagine if you will a world where there are 8 Billion people and instead of visiting a doctor to check on your sore throat. You go to a Kiosk in the pharmacy and breathe into a cup and the kiosk tells you which throat spray to buy. By the time you graduate college this may very well be the world you inhabit.

“I am thrilled you want to do biomedical engineering and following in my footsteps somewhat.  But I don’t want you to give up the violin, or the goofy stories you write, because the world of work in 2025 when you will be done with Bsc and Msc and DSc. you must go all the way will not have long term job security like I have had for 30 years.

“So you will need to be able to do at least three jobs, like a good Jamaican. That way you will always be able to as we say “turn your hand make fashion.” Your success will depend on ability to learn to learn, and the capacity to reinvent yourself–again and again and again.”

Stephanie Pride – “The Six Cs.”

Stephanie PrideStephanie is a professional futurist who heads StratEDGY Strategic Foresight.  The company provides a wide range of services related to understanding the future, including keynotes, workshops, project design & leadership, training and coaching.

You’ll be entering the workforce in a world that is ever more complex and fast-paced, with unprecedented connectedness, data richness and transparency.  It will also be a world that is ever more resource-constrained and fragile, with political instability, economic upheaval and growing inequality.  More than any technical skills, you will need the following attributes: courage, confidence curiosity, creativity, connection and compassion.

You’ll need the courage and the confidence to tackle the big problems of climate change and global governance.  You’ll need curiosity and the creativity it unleashes to find solutions where we currently have none.  You’ll need the ability to connect to draw on everyone’s ideas for innovative responses.  Above all, and because the challenge and the opportunity of shaping the world’s systems anew will fall to your generation, you’ll need compassion to ensure our future world is one where the vulnerable are cherished. 

Rohit Talwar – “Challenge conventions.”

Rohit is a global futurist, keynote speaker and CEO of FastFuture Publishing.Rohit Talwar

“Look at new developments with an open mind. our world is going to change dramatically through progress in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, enhancement of the brain and body and radical life extension by 50-100 years. Think about how these developments could impact you, those around you and the world at large. Challenge conventional wisdom that says we must accept all new advances – be prepared to use your voice and your vote to ensure that all advances in science and technology are harnessed for the betterment of humanity. Make sure we are creating A Very Human Future.”

Advice from 40 futurists: Ensure ours is a very human future. #futureproofyourchild Click To Tweet
Dr. Liz Alexander, Futurist

Dr. Liz Alexander, Futurist

What a wonderful, positive note on which to end this Round-Up. Please keep checking back for more futurist perspectives on challenges that face us today and tomorrow. And stay tuned for the upcoming “TED-type” video series entitled “Future Proof Your Child.”

Thank you for reading. We would love you to do one or more of the following:

  • Post a comment.
  • Share an experience.
  • Promote both of these round-ups among your social network.  

Here’s to an amazing future for us all. 

Update: This post won first prize in Razor Social’s 2016 Blogging Challenge, announced early August. Here’s Ian Cleary with the news:

Razor Social 2016 Blogging Challenge – My Winning Entry from Elizabeth Alexander on Vimeo.

About Dr. Liz Alexander

There are 9 comments

  • Eleonora Masini

    It is very nice to read information about colleagues in Futures Studies such as myself.
    I wish you all my best
    Eleonora Masini

  • Eleonora Masini

    I hope to be in touch Eleonora Masini

  • Eleonora Masini

    I shall be very glad to be in touch with all of you colleagues
    Eleonora Masini

  • Eleonora Masini

    There is work for all of us in thinking about futures and specially futures generations
    Eleonora Masini

  • Eleonora Masini

    We have to work all for futures generations
    Eleonora Masini

  • Say Keng LEE

    An exemplary piece of work, about building change-readiness and future-savviness in our younger generation! It should be sent to all the school principals around the world.

    • Dr. Liz Alexander

      Thank you so much for your kind comments, Mr. Lee. I would be grateful to know how this might be accomplished easily. Perhaps there is a magazine that attracts such a global readership, that I might send the link to? In any case, I shall investigate…and thank you for the inspiration. Best wishes, Liz.

  • Srikanth Bhagavat

    Liz, I don’t have sufficient words to describe the importance of these messages. In my view you have done a great service to the younger generation in compiling this. I am sharing it with everyone of my clients who I know have children or grandchildren!

    • Dr. Liz Alexander

      Srinkanth: Thank you so much for helping to share this valuable information with your personal and social networks. I deeply appreciate your support. This will be the first in an occasional series. Next up: advice from futurists for the educational community, because (and I don’t know if it’s different in India!) it seems to me that the educational system is not yet adequately prepared to guide young people for tomorrow’s world of work.

      Inspired by your comments I plan to also share this with educational institutions around the world. Hope we get a chance to meet up again soon.

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