Travels from Oregon, USA
Jerry Michalski's speaking fee falls
within range: $20,000 to $25,000
Business advisor and futurist, Jerry Michalski helps organizations navigate the transition from the consumer mass-marketing economy to the Relationship Economy, the new economic model driven by trust and conscious capitalism. Drawing from decades in the corporate world, specifically as a technology analyst during the DotCom Era, he is the founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, a think-and-do tank focused on researching, preparing for, and accelerating that transition. He specializes in open source software, pattern languages, the sharing economy, microfinance, unschooling, traffic calming and workplace democracy.
Michalski has advised several large companies, tech startups, and nonprofits about how to take advantage of the rapidly increasing connectivity in today’s world. He has worked with companies such as Best Buy, Havas Media and non-profits like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Institute for the Future. During the era of rapid Internet growth, Michalski served as an advisor to eGroups (now YahooGroups) and Pyra (now Blogger, part of Google). Formerly he worked for ExxonMobil and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Michalski has a claim to the world’s largest published brain – a concept map of his own thoughts which he has curated online for nearly 2 decades. He spent years designing, hosting and facilitating major events, namely the PC Forum and the Institute for the Future’s annual Ten Year Forecast. He is the former managing editor of the technology newsletter, Release 1.0., and is fluent in both Spanish and German.
Jerry Michalski (ma-call-ski) is the founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, a collaborative inquiry into the next economy, which is based on trust.
More broadly, he is a pattern finder, lateral thinker, connector and facilitator. He loves public speaking and has a unique claim: the world’s largest published Brain (online and in an iOS app).
Three decades of exploration into the interactions between technology, society and business made him realize the word “consumer” made him itch. Paying attention to the word gifted him the thesis that we are entering a Relationship Economy: We are rediscovering trust, interdependence and meaning through movements as varied as open source software, pattern languages, the sharing economy, microfinance, unschooling, traffic calming and workplace democracy.
From 1987 to 1998, Jerry was a technology analyst, first at the market-research firm New Science Associates (where he created two of their seven research services), then as Managing Editor of Esther Dyson’s monthly tech newsletter Release 1.0, as well as co-host of her annual conference, the PC Forum. He was fortunate to be on duty when the Internet showed up and helped shape the nascent industries that it changed.
Since 1998, Jerry has been independent, advising organizations large and small, including many a startup that has since been bought, merged, sunk or taken public. He’s been widely quoted in the major media and greatly enjoys public speaking.
In 2010 he founded REX around his discomfort with “consumer.” He paid attention to the word, its metaphors and business models, and realized that every sector of our lives has been consumerized — to society’s detriment. REX members come from diverse sectors of the economy.
Prior to starting REX and writing Release 1.0, Jerry spent five years at New Science Associates, a technology market-research firm similar to Gartner (later bought by Gartner). At New Science, Jerry launched and ran two of their retainer research services, Intelligent Document Management (which included hypertext and groupware) and Continuous Information Environments (which included wireless communications, voice/data integration and then-hot topic of pen computing). He framed the services around client dilemmas, not tech segments as was the analyst-industry default, which greatly appealed to client firms like GE, AmEx and FedEx and caused competitive market-research firms eventually to follow suit. His conceptual scope diagram for the IDM service forced another industry-wide shift, this time from bullet points to conceptual illustrations.
Jerry’s first real job in the world was as a transportation clerk at Mobil Oil, looking up freight rates in a room full of paper tariffs, a job that has been successfully automated since then. At home, he was learning about computing and the early online world with an Apple II+ and a 300-baud Hayes modem. He’s one of those folks who brought his Apple to work to show his colleagues VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet — which they didn’t understand.
Between Mobil and New Science, Jerry earned an MBA from the Wharton School and spent almost three years in strategy consulting with an internal strategy startup at Price Waterhouse. (He rues that his age shows as the companies he was with continue to change names, such as ExxonMobil and PricewaterhouseCoopers.)
Jerry earned an MBA from the Wharton School, where he stumbled into the mind-expanding ideas of Russ Ackoff, and a BA in Economics (mostly econometrics) from UC Irvine. He is two degrees from Kevin Bacon, having taken an urban-design course at Penn from Kevin’s Father, Ed. He was raised in Peru and Argentina and speaks fluent Spanish and German, as well as pretty passable French.
Futurist Jerry Michalski shows why our school system is limiting our children's ability to learn and the alternative models that are emerging as fitting replacements for an out-of-date paradigm. Michalski illustrates how the skills students learn in a typical school are no longer relevant to the real world and fail to prepare them for success in a modern society where persistence, creativity, and personal autonomy are critical for success.
Michalski brushes aside the notion that "technology" is the solution to our educational woes, stating what we really need is "agency." "Agency means the permission, the ability to do something, the ability to act on something," he explains. "What's happened is that we have removed that sense of agency from everybody...what we want is this sense of permission, that it's okay to go out and change your world."
Futurist and regarded tech analyst, Jerry Michalski prepares businesses for new technologies and changing consumer habits. Michalski is a specialist in the “Relationship Economy,” the new economic paradigm that is obligating companies to restructure the way they view and interact with their clients. He works with groups on strategy, increasing connectivity, and building a culture of trust between their organization and the people they want to reach.
The Future of the Customer
Not too long ago, the world of retail seemed pretty simple: there were producers and consumers. Producers made things and consumers bought them.
But that world has changed: those consumers are transformed. They are much more than consumers; they are customers, members, users and active participants in business. They can design, improve, manufacture, fund, review, recommend, translate, sell and troubleshoot almost anything. Items that seem improbable one day are available the next. Crowdsourced movies? Done. A car? Also done.
How can companies remain relevant in this new world order? How should they treat their former consumers? Where are the new sources of value? What is the basis of credibility? What is the company’s new role and structure?
Technology, Business and Society
These days, technologies can spread almost instantly. From one day to the next, people are pouring the intimate details of their lives into social media platforms such as Facebook. Or walking everywhere with smartphones and personal fitness monitors that report back every heartbeat and footstep.
The speed of change is so swift that we seldom get to slow down to consider the implications, such as:
Audiences for this presentation include:
Companies are leaving value on the table. Value that would make them indispensable to clients and customers. Value that would make them more welcome as virtual citizens worldwide. Value that adds to the bottom line, but not in traditional ways.
The problem is that they can’t see this value. The lenses they’ve been taught to see through don’t let these kinds of value shine through.
This isn’t about “valuing intangibles” or otherwise monetizing things that have little physical form. It’s almost the opposite: it’s about the value in things we haven’t monetized, or shouldn’t have monetized, or whose financial value shows up in new ways, like loyalty, credibility and trust.
Trust is the New Differentiator
Trust is central to so many things in business and civic life, yet we don’t fully understand it. On the one hand, we often take trust for granted. On the other hand, we’ve built most of society on the assumption that neither individuals nor institutions can be trusted.
As the marginal cost of providing services has fallen near zero and global competition has commoditized market after market, companies have lost their basis for differentiation. Moving forward, people will be loyal to companies they genuinely trust — a level of trust very few companies offer today.
How might we apply a deeper understanding of trust to take business to this higher level? For example:
SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn/take away from your presentations?
MICHALSKI: I teach a different way of seeing the same facts and events that we all see. Once you see the role of trust, for example, you start getting innovative ideas. You see new ways of solving thorny problems. You see optimistic futures worth fighting for. I paint that.
SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?
MICHALSKI: I need to understand the setting and context well, and the engagement’s lead goals. I’m a bit of a contrarian, so if I can’t help them achieve those goals, I turn down the engagement. Once we’re aligned, I create a new presentation. Sure, I re-use segments, but I’m always refining and reinventing how I communicate these ideas.
I’m especially valuable when people are genuinely trying to see differently. (I say “genuinely” because I’ve been in a few settings where clients claimed to want disruptive ideas, but in fact wanted certification for their existing practices.)
SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?
MICHALSKI: Well, there was the time when, five minutes before going on stage in front of a thousand people at State Farm Insurance, the bottom fell out of a glass bottle of apple juice as I opened it above my lap.
Or the time I spoke (in French) before the IT directors of the luxury conglomerate LVMH at their corporate boardroom in Paris, after which the sliding wall opened up and waiters bearing bottles of Möet champagne greeted us.
Then there was my DHL host who, before I was to speak, impeccably introduced me to his colleagues from around the world, bringing out useful and interesting points about each.
Finally, a flight delay caused me to miss a connection in the middle of the US, after which I snagged a different flight, then rented a car and drove until 3am to make a talk the next day in Michigan.
Actually, a better ending is the time I spoke before Paul Allaire and the Xerox board, urging them to take the pieces of the Internet they had helped invent and build an open, collaborative layer of smart documents – only to realize they were lost in their two-year Strategic Planning cycle and weren’t really listening.
SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?
MICHALSKI: Open minds and hearts. Much of what I have to say sounds uncomfortable, but I say it because there are great solutions awaiting those who see differently. Unfortunately, the scripts in our heads usually make us throw away uncomfortable evidence, so I try to couch what I say in ways people will hear it.
SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?
MICHALSKI: Trust is my front door. It’s a word we take for granted, yet only one person in 100 has thought about it in any depth. It’s also the new differentiator, the way forward through these thorny trust- and fact-free times.
Understanding the role of trust opens up conversations about the redesign of any sphere of activity: marketing, education, governance, agriculture — they’re all ripe for radical redesign, and I don’t mean through digitization or the Blockchain.
Separately, my two decades using TheBrain to curate what I care about has given me insights into knowledge management and collective intelligence that are fun to share.
SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?
MICHALSKI: I did enough public speaking early in my career that I lost my dread of it. Then, I started to really enjoy communicating ideas, particularly those that are difficult to digest. Next, I developed a series of ideas worth communicating and everything added up.
SPEAKING.COM: How do you keep your audience engaged and actively listening during your keynotes? Do you use case studies, personal stories and/or in your speeches?
MICHALSKI: For a talk I gave in Copenhagen recently, I had the audience pair up, then gaze into each other’s eyes for a mere two minutes (which of course felt like two days), while I talked on. I invent things like that, as well as storytelling and moving around onstage or in the audience.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients achieve?
MICHALSKI: I used to say that I was “on the 50-yard line of the Dot-Com revolution,” because of my role then as a very visible tech analyst. Then several friends drew my attention to the many ways in which I helped shape the industry, not just watch. For example, in 1993, I wrote two issues of Esther Dyson’s newsletter Release 1.0 on the topic of online community. My writings also shaped instant messaging, eCommerce, weblogs and more.
Additionally, I’ve helped an insurance company reframe the role of insurance in people’s lives, many startups see their potential markets in a new light, and many corporations understand the dynamics of online community and trust. Back in the day, I may have been the inspiration for Bezos’ “One-Click” ordering, but that’s a hard one to prove.
“I never fail to learn new insights from his talks. First he intrigues, then he unfolds his insights and then he suggests new pathways ahead that enable me to act on the insights. By the end of his talks I feel like I own his ideas in a way that they become part of me. Yes he has a great knack for telling compelling stories and letting me fill in the conclusions. And his use of presentational materials — his mind maps — always excites and illuminated. Why didn’t I think of that?? Well, once you see his visionary and far reaching mind maps you say to yourself, wow — not only does this guy have great and compelling ideas but he has a unique tool set to help accelerate sense making and communication. So by the end of his talks I realize he is a true maestro orchestrating ideas, tools and concepts that stuns and excites me to action.”
– Xerox PARC
“Jerry Michalski is one of the brightest, most engaging speakers who has ever participated in our leadership events. He’s part technologist, part business adviser and part social psychologist and he truly gets the relationship economy. Jerry’s presentations help us understand the present, imagine the future and question our assumptions about what it means to work and play. And if you miss something, don’t worry. You can always search the map of his brain online!”
-Public Affairs Council
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