Humility & Curiosity: The Antidote to Hubris

with Zoe Routh

Humility & Curiosity: The Antidote to Hubris

with Zoe Routh

TF guests Zoe GTA BW glow style-500x500

Australia’s foremost trainer of futurist leaders, Zoe Routh, shares practical insight into her business. She explains how senior executives can improve the entire organization when they master the skill of foresight. Zoe is the author of five books about futurism and leadership.


[Add a key tweetable from the show, ensure you are not over charcter limit for tweets which will include shortened link

Breaking Banks
Hosted By Brett King, Jason Henrichs, & JP Nicols
The #1 global fintech radio show and podcast. Every week we explore the personalities, startups, innovators, and industry players driving disruption in financial services; from Incumbents to unicorns, and from the latest cutting edge technology to the people who are using it to help to create a more innovative, inclusive and healthy financial future.

[Music] this week on the futurists Zoe Rath it’s all about the cautionary tale we present a future I think every leader is aspiring to a better future and yet when we try and create those things there’s always things that hold us back


welcome back to the futurist with myself and robbed her sick hey how are you super thanks good to see you again bro good so we have another futurist on I guess that’s like you know part of the stick now everyone’s futurist on our show or sci-fi author or something Zoe Routh is a leadership futurist a podcaster she’s got her own podcast sound boost setup where she’s coming to us from today and of course a multiple award-winning author and she’s a leadership futurist she works with leaders and teams looking at Future Horizons um she’s Canadian originally um but uh Lives Down Under in Australia and we’re going to talk to her about um her fifth book A near near future sci-fi book called The olympius Olympus project a dystopian future so uh you know we get into that too on on this show but Zoe Welcome to the futurists thank you so much Brett and Robin really delighted to be here we’re glad to have you yeah yeah so um uh you know let me start with a simple question when did you first realize you wanted to be a futurist uh well I think what I was thinking about my futurist journey I thought wouldn’t I become self-aware as a futurist that’s probably a good way of understanding and that probably was more recently and yet the Genesis of the work that I do started in a very specific point in time with the Collision of two experiences and that was in 2009 where I went to a conference and I saw Craig rispin who is an Australian futurist and he did a presentation on the future and I spent the entire keynote with my mouse hanging open going oh my God what is going on I had no idea all these things were happening and my head exploded with opportunities and possibilities and basically scenarios I guess in terms of what the future was holding and I got really super excited and I went up to him straight afterwards and said give me your details I want to know more I want to know about how you do this how you stay on top of all this stuff and that was sort of the start of trying to understand and navigate the future

sounds like a podcast just like that that’s how you respond to futurists yeah well there’s so much amazing stuff happening and it’s really wonderful to be able to decipher what does this mean um I think the other the other important thing that happened in that very same year I started working at the Australian rural Leadership Foundation and that gave me exposure to a an adult development theory in in leadership called uh leadership maturity framework and it was about the concept that as adults we continue to grow and evolve we evolve Our World Views our values and the way that we see ourselves in the world around us and those two things came together in kind of like an amazing synthesis where I went wow if this is the future and all these things are happening we absolutely need to evolve as leaders in order to be able to navigate that and deal with it and so the the compunction and the the compunction to actually help develop people and their thinking and their value system became an imperative for me as a leadership professional so those two things came together and went wow there’s a lot of work to be done and to help us as humans to be able to contend with the context that’s that we find ourselves in that we didn’t necessarily plan uh and yet we need to to deal with it’s an interesting point you make it’s and it does affect leadership uh there’s there’s kind of an epiphany right that you have and a moment we realize like wow I really need to understand this stuff better you know there’s all this future technology coming and with it all kinds of social change and economic change and business change and I think many many people are conditioned if you work in a big Corporation particularly you may be conditioned to think it’s not my job my job is to focus on this you know operational thing that we that we do every single day and we’re going to do it next year the same way we did it last year and I think increasingly that’s no longer the case uh increasingly the the situation is that everybody in the organization Marketing sales operations product development manufacturing distribution every single one of those is subject to some significant change sometimes multiple changes at once and so there’s a leadership moment there

in the organization who knows about these things and can help make an informed decision about how to proceed yeah a lot of leadership tends to be quite defensive of the Legacy as well right you know um particularly if the organization has developed DNA where that Legacy is what has made it successful so um you know how do you you know that sort of self-awareness as a leader to be able to adapt is is pretty unique you know oh it takes a lot of work yeah it takes a lot of work to drop the ego out of being attached to Legacy uh that’s for sure that’s one of the major obstacles that people find in terms of leaders getting their staff or their their teams to be more aware that’s also a big challenge it’s one of the biggest complaints I get from CEOs is how do I get my teams to think more strategically get them out of their silos and doing their job to think about the whole of organization where we’re heading and there’s there’s some significant barriers to that not least of which is just the urge and important in getting the job done and one of the other ones I’ve found as an obstacle which is an interesting one which ties in a little bit to Legacy and ego stuff is that it depends on how the organization is measuring success and how they’re rewarding people so if they’re rewarding people for individual accomplishments of course people are going to focus on that they’re not going to think about the whole of the organization because they put themselves first all of us do we’re all centered of our own universe and so we’re rewarded for our own individual performance we’re not going to get our head above the parapet because why so those are some of the challenges that are yeah why bother it because because it’s not they’re not in the job definition you know people say well I’ve got plenty of work to do with my desk that’s for the here and now I’ll let somebody else strategic planning they can handle that yeah yeah so you just touched on a couple of themes that I think are important uh one is the idea of allocating responsibilities and rewards you know that’s that’s a leadership function uh and another one is thinking about what comes next or having some Vision down ahead can you tell us broadly what is your definition of leadership sure I believe that leadership is about galvanizing others in pursuit of a better future I really have that in my definition and I think all of us aspire to live in a better future to improve things to make a contribution to having a positive impact and so leadership is about how do we get together as humans and to to accomplish that together yeah this is I I mean I I obvious obviously wholeheartedly agree with that but um you know Commerce and the operation of businesses you know but particularly over the last 50 years you know because if you look back maybe 150 years I think you’d find different sort of cultures around Innovation and industry but um it’s become a lot more about performance of the business in terms of Revenue generation that has been producing necessarily positive outcomes for people outside of the influence of the corporation except for the products and services you know not not like like there’s not a net um Collective view that industry is there for the purpose of bettering Humanity necessarily like if as long as it’s making a dollar you were totally talking to my favorite topic Brett and I know this you know capitalism needs a reform has been a topic that’s popped up on your show already and I wholeheartedly agree with that I think rubs sick of me talking about this but no no I’m with you because uh Milton Friedman stuff from 50 years ago still answers to this day we’ve sort of optimized around that idea of shareholder value is the only thing a corporation needs to focus on I think it’s completely incorrect yes there are stakeholders besides the shareholders whose voice yeah so what do you think will be the Catalyst for for that change you know in terms of the mission of the human race I think it needs a Tipping Point and if we look at adult leadership Theory it says that we need about 10 of the population to adopt a set of values and World Views before it becomes a mainstream thing before we have a collective change and so I think it’s rather than there’s rather than a single Catalyst that’s going to provoke us into this way of thinking I think it’s going to be a drip feed and a and a Groundswell that’s going to to happen and I think as leading thinkers keep talking about this keep sharing their perspectives then and keep doing our work around the planet then we’ll start to get uh more of an awareness around it and I see that I see it happening like there’s there’s some bigger platforms that are helping with this like um uh like B Corp for example you know and certifying organizations that are have commitment to sustainable development goals and are doing carbon accounting we have books like donut economics by Kate rayworth which came out five years ago I only discovered recently when like ah here’s our here’s our road map of how we actually get this done so there is a bigger interest and it’s interesting right now like it’s a point in time to watch the pendulum swing between bold ways of doing and new ways of doing and we see that in the tide of uh autocracy and con and conservative values swinging back to Progressive values and I use that outside of the uh the United States explicit reference to more of a global reference and we see this happening uh in in the UK in the U.S in Australia as well and sort of this is how development works it’s not a linear progression it’s not an exponential one in some ways it’s more of this messy backwards and forwards exploration negotiation yeah and negotiation right because we don’t want to throw out everything that’s good about past World Views we want to take the best of that with us and this is part of the challenge with development in in order to progress we have to reject the earlier stages of leadership maturity in order to embrace the newness and it’s in the rejection that we cause conflict with our neighbors and with our siblings and and our our friends because if two World Views don’t exist side by side very well until we are able to see the value in each and it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a careful Journey that needs nurturing so will there be a catalyst I thought the pandemic would be a huge Catalyst and this is me and my naivety thinking oh my God this is the one thing that’s going to unite the planet unite the globe we are all facing this all humans on the planet are facing this crisis we must unite we will unite and to a certain degree that happened but not in the utopian version of of what happened because yes there was lots of things that we did collaboratively to find Solutions as humans and there was plenty of things that we didn’t we we had a reversal into uh parochialism isolationism nationalism as people buckled down and just looked after their own so I think there was a bit of both happening um idealistically I thought it would be the one thing that would help draw us forward but it didn’t draw us forward in a major leap just more in a match it didn’t factor in the Trump Factor but but also there’s this desire you saw you see this right now now that the the pandemic is easing up uh it seems I wouldn’t say it’s over because Winter’s coming here in the Northern Hemisphere and we’re going to find out just how much more there is to this particular virus but the but but it’s easing up right and so uh what you see now is this incredibly deep-seated desire to revert back to how things were in 2019 and I keep telling people it’s not going to go back some things no some things will continue but some things have changed irrevocably one example is now that people have learned that they can work anywhere it’s no longer a theory and um and I think the universities have taken exactly the wrong lessons here many universities are doubling down on the on-campus experience because they bungled the remote learnings so badly but that’s not really the right lesson to take away I think the right to the lesson to take away is resilience demands that you develop remote learning and thereby knockout half the cost of education and you know make it accessible to many many more people that’s how you Scout learning yeah you know as a leadership coach or leadership trainer what do you do when you run into those kinds of um hide-bound you know kind of uh resistance or I guess uh you know reactionary responses immune systems change yeah yeah corporate immune system exactly yeah well it’s tough right so these are all speaking to a lot of um unconscious biases the sunk cost fallacy with the universities is a classic one they have all this infrastructure what are we going to do with it now like it seems like a huge way space if we don’t get people back into the office or back into the classrooms and the same thing with a lot of office people so part of the work is pointing that out that there’s some biases that are at play here and to to ask better questions so in terms of how do I help organizations really Shine the Light on the stuff that they don’t need to see uh it’s gently gently because this is terrifying stuff for people right it’s it’s it triggers all sorts of survival mode mechanisms and when people are in survival mode biologically their cortisol adrenaline goes up their peripheral vision gets shut off they go into tunnel vision and they don’t want to listen so it’s gently gently is the strategy in terms of methodology one of the things I like to do is actually ask careful questions you know so what would have to be true for this in order to work looking at for example their blind spot and gently gently saying well let’s explore the context and I I do three things to help help them understand connectual contextual um situation they find themselves one is look far so look far is all about two things looking on time Horizons what has happened in the past to lead us to this point and into the future what could happen in the next 10 years and so looking far people have a hard time with timelines it’s a meth it’s a muscle that needs to be developed and I think about when I was 32 and a guru was a personal development group said what’s your 10-year plan I’m like I’m 32. 42 seems really old and really ancient I can barely get through the year like I have goals for the year so our sense of time is actually tied to our leadership maturity as well so helping our leaders sort of get comfortable looking into the past and looking like what’s happened in the last 10 years 20 years 50 years that has led to this point helps them stretch the capability of understanding patterns and and changes over time so they can better project so looking far is the first piece going deep is another one and I use some futurist methodologies there such as the problem tree to dig into the problems that they’re seeing looking below the surface and the complexity that’s that’s there that’s the systems thinking methodology as well and the the third piece is to be wide and that’s to look at Ripple effects of their actions so if we’re looking at a blind spot of let’s say a leader who says everybody must come back into the office that’s it 100 percent and they’re thankfully few the fewer people doing that in my experience but let’s say you have somebody who’s got a blind spot like that it’s like okay let’s look at the ramifications of that what does that mean for your individual worker who was grateful during the pandemic that they didn’t have to drive an hour and a half in back-to-back traffic each day uh so three hours they got back with their family so if you make this call the ramifications for them and their family is this were you aware of that and the ramifications on those kids growing up is this and the ramifications of having more vehicles on the road is this and so you start teasing out with them what are the implications of that so that future consequence wheel is an element in terms of practice that I use as well so uh look far go deep and be wide are the three principles to help leaders at first understand their context before we look deeply at the at their decision and their blind spots and I think that helps like I like it I believe that that makes sense it’s a handy checklist too and they’re easy to remember look Fargo

when you first encounter a company um when you let’s say the first encounter the management of a corporation that you’re going to go be an advisor or trainer for do you do like a little evaluation do you try to assess the client and tell me what that’s like like what do you do what’s your mental checklist when you’re talking to the people that you’re going to be working with

humility and curiosity are the two main ones because those are antidotes to hubris and hubris absolutely is a blind spot yeah so humility and curiosity and are they interested in learning more do uh do they have this niggling self-doubt which is actually a useful thing it doesn’t always have to be a paralyzing thing because the niggling self-doubt Keeps Us humble Keeps Us curious and I think that’s a really important piece so a lot of leaders have come to me and say I want to have more confidence I want to feel more capable and like great let’s work with that because that will serve you so well and they’re like what self-doubt is helpful like absolutely it is so let’s turn it into a superpower by tuning into your curiosity and humility so in terms of prospective clients that’s what I do and then once we start working together I put them through the leadership maturity framework so that gives a detailed map of their perspective where are they sitting in terms of their world view and their values and is this fit for purpose do they need to do do some vertical development in terms of expanding their point of view and their perspective and their ability to navigate complexity and that points us off into horizontal development which is all about what’s in your tool kit what are the skills that you need to develop in order to help progress vertically and horizontally so that you’re you’re able to deal with the context in which you find yourself I do want to get into into the book but this is a very interesting conversation um you know are there any particular characteristics that make for an adaptable leader in your experience

ah characteristics in terms of Virtues I think any of the virtues will serve in terms of Love curiosity humility passion that kind of thing all of them are useful and and helpful in terms of being a good leader in terms of skills and abilities the the primary one to help us unlock any of the leadership abilities is is developing self-awareness and that’s easier said than done you know so understanding who am I being curious about who am I being curious about how am I thinking being able to do some meta thinking about your thinking doing some meta thinking about your values and beliefs is is probably the Keystone one that unlocks a lot of capabilities later because unless you do that work then just picking up and learning new skills not going to really help because you will apply it blindly without being able to explore context and you really need to have blinkers down for that and open-hearted curiosity to handle the context like like you said sometimes it’s scary it’s almost a spiritual quality right that that higher order Consciousness the ability to step outside of yourself and you know examine your your values and your value systems and things like that it’s interesting I do want to get I do want to get into the book um and and then you know because you know we said we’re going to start with the book and here we are we’re just about to get a break but um let me ask you this to frame so we can talk about the book after The Break um when did you decide that um you know being a futurist tactically or you know in terms of day-to-day strategy for businesses and so forth wasn’t enough that you wanted to be a Sci-Fi author uh in 2020 when I was doing a writing course with Stephen Cotler who is co-author of a bunch of amazing books and author of in his own right of both non-fiction and fiction and is done some work with Peter demandis in that field in the non-fiction world and fell in love with the writing process all over again with that writing course called flow for writers and I had a question that was niggling at me I’m like I’m wondering if fiction might be a more powerful way of advancing leadership ideas because story sucks you in it gives you emotional Gump it gets you to kneel away at an issue or an idea in a way that non-fiction doesn’t always and I thought hmm I wonder if this is my next opportunity in terms of helping Advance some of these ideas around leadership and what the world needs for the future of leadership so that was sort of the initiating kernel I was in the middle of writing people stuff my fourth non-fiction leadership book and so it just parked it for a little while but had this kind of idea like I think this might be next and so once people stuff came out I started playing with scenes and writing scenes and then that was the start that’s very cool now we’ll definitely dig more into that in the second half but before we go to our break what we like to do is do a rapid fire question around the lightning round and burnt runs this part of the show I know you’re familiar with this so it’s I’m ready this is much fun as getting a tooth extracted at the dentist’s office is it that bad do I need easier questions anyway all right [Music] um you remember being exposed to on TV or books 2001 A Space Odyssey and I remember watching that going wow cool spaceships and then thinking what the hell what’s the story about what is that big Obelisk thing yeah and that movie for years and years and with the monkeys monkeys Obelisk what the hell so that was my first exposure and I think even though I was a Star Wars fan immediately as soon as it came out as I was a little kid then I didn’t really see that as science fiction that was just fun it didn’t stimulate the thinking brain the way that 2001 Space Odyssey did so that was my first exposure and then the first time oh he’s amazing and then the other one was Dune I read that early as a teenager and loved the story and thought woohoo sand worms cool and then my immature brain was sort of percolating on the bigger picture stuff didn’t really get it of course in terms of environmentalism and social uh progress and all that kind of bigger leadership stuff but those two things were probably the two big forces that guarded me name a futurist or entrepreneur that has influenced you and why oh David Matton I love his work he writes a Blog called New World same humans it’s fabulous he picks up all the really interesting news tidbits around what’s happening around the world and answers the question so what about this what does this mean so that’s my my rest must read blog every week Joanna Penn who has a podcast called the creative pen she’s a writer and a writing futurist and she’s always ahead of the curve in terms of what’s coming in publication of books and lastly author slash entrepreneur Peter diamandis can’t go past him and he’s a good guy oh my God and Elon of course and why those two because they get stuff done they talk about the future but they do stuff and I think they’re boundless optimism and energy is something that I really admire yeah we’re gonna get Peter on the show at one point um he’s been on he’s been on breaking Banks before so hopefully yeah we’ll get him on this fairly soon what’s the best prediction an entrepreneur or a futurist or a science fiction author has made in your opinion I think anything by Jules Verne has been pretty interesting over the time um yeah yeah and Leonardo a few a few of your past guests have mentioned Leonardo da Vinci and I think yeah awesome those early ones are are pretty prophetic and is there a science fiction story or world that most is most representative of the future you hope for no because largely they’re pretty dystopian and you know sci-fi and my own sci-fi is a little bit like that way too is is cautionary tale though more recently what I really have enjoyed it’s been a series out on on God I can’t remember which platform For All Mankind I think this is an amazing retelling like a history revisionist and I really enjoyed that show in terms of why I find it inspiring about the future is that yes we’ve committed to going to the moon and to Mars and and I’m exploring all the challenges that come with that from a human point of view as well as a tech point of view so that’s probably my inspirational vision of the future shows you what we could have done you know yes and what we might still yet do yes absolutely fantastic well let’s take a quick break you’re listening to the futurist with myself uh Brett King and Rob turcek Our Guest this week sorry Ralph and uh we’ll be back right after this break

provoked media is proud to sponsor produce and support the futurist podcast is a global podcast Network and content creation company with the world’s leading fintech podcast and radio show Breaking Banks and of course it’s spin-off podcast breaking Bank to Europe breaking Banks Asia Pacific and the fintech 5. but we also produce the official phenovate podcast Tech on reg emerge everywhere the podcast of the Financial Health Network and next-gen Banker from fishing about all our podcasts go to or check out breaking Banks the world’s number one fintech podcast and radio show

welcome back to the futurists and uh I’m your host Brett King and Robert turczak and uh you’re you know this part of the show we like to do a bit of a deep dive so I’m going to hand over to Rob what can you tell us about the world of industrial robotics Rob well some more news from the future uh this week I’m going to talk a little bit about Robotics and breakthroughs in robotics uh in the context for it is that last week uh Tesla’s AI day Elon Musk made some big pronouncements so he’s always in the news and you know he’s going to keep turning up on this show from time to time what I thought I’d do is put some of those announcements in context because uh whenever he makes an announcement people pay attention but they may not have the full context of what’s happening in the robotics field and there’s a lot of news there so uh what happened is uh at the AI day at Tesla um mosque unveiled a new robot a humanoid robot called Optimus and this is a kind of payoff to something he teased last year at the 2021 AI day he mentioned that Tesla was building a robot and then they had a guy in a body suit come out and pretend to be robot it’s a bit of a goof and in a way that’s set up an expectation that’s really quite dangerous because um in the field of Robotics they always want to avoid comparisons to human beings because humans are capable so much robots candidly aren’t that graceful and so in a way some people thought oh that’s kind of a backfire you know that’s not my backfire on him so anyway this was his chance to show their humanoid robots and really it’s a remarkable progress for just under a year uh since the time when they teased it last year um at this time they showed a walking humanoid robot in the in terms of the form factor there’s nothing new about this uh this form factor of like a robot that sort of shaped like a human being that’s been visualized by a number of Robotics companies since 2015. so in that sense uh the Tesla is not really breaking any new ground uh and as usual with everything musk related there’s a whole bunch of blather that’s you know Pie in the Sky talk about General artificial intelligence and changing the world and so forth I think we can set that stuff aside because that remains to be seen what we’re seeing right now is a prototype and so what’s really newsworthy and I think worth paying attention to is to things first is the price performance promise musk’s goal is to sell millions of these robots at a price of twenty thousand dollars and he said it’s specifically less than the price of a car that’s really a an incredible price point to shoot for and to support the the Optimus robot is being designed for manufacturing at scale which is clearly something that Tesla knows a few things about the goal is to drive the price point down to less than like the cost of a car and what you’ll get for that is a um a robot with a 2.3 kilowatt hour 52 volt battery pack which is sufficient for a full day of work so what they’ve done is set out some specs that are truly awesome if they can get this they can deliver that for twenty thousand dollars and of course uh Tesla knows a lot about battery management Power Systems right now at this point so that seems like it might be plausible we shall see the second big takeaway for me is real world use cases and so one of the demonstrators not musk mentioned that Tesla Engineers were able to Port over the autonomous navigation system the autopilot navigation system that is used in the cars and they’re using that for the robot it’s not entirely clear if like an automotive collision avoidance system is going to be useful for a robot that’s meant to be handling machines and we’re working close up lifting and handling other things so it’s not so clear that that’s an advantage but if it is well obviously Tesla has 10 years of learning on those on those Auto navigation systems and so that could be if that’s easy to Port over and they claim it is that will be a tremendous Advantage so those are two big advantages um and the key thing there that they’re taking away there is that they’re saying that they’re going to start to use this robot in the production lines at the Tesla Factory so they have a built-in use this case a real world use case because at the end of the day all these announcements that you hear about robots the one thing to be listening for is what is the real world use case we see demo after demo you know things like Boston robotics of like you know walking dogs and walking horses and walking people and so on but they don’t ever show them doing anything useful so you really need to ask that question because otherwise what you’re looking at is basically a glorified Tech demo so we’re going to find out soon enough uh how they’re using this Optimus robot in the Tesla case in these two areas I think Tesla has some great advantages but Tesla is going to face stiff competition uh this is not like you know electric cars and going up against old world Automotive companies in Japan you’ve got FANUC um yasukawa electric Mitsubishi Electric Kawasaki heavy Industries Seiko Epson nachi fujikoshi and den suit so like Japan has a whole Suite of really Advanced industrial robot manufacturers and in Switzerland there’s ABB and German of course has Kuka which is very well known in the in a manufacturing world and another firm called doer so there are quite a few competitors now the background on this why Tesla is interested in getting into this space and why they’re making noise about it is that it’s growing remarkably fast so as I mentioned we’ve been hearing about these kinds of humanoid robots since 2015. during the last four years particularly during the pandemic when factories were continuing to try to run the population of industrial robots has skyrocketed it’s doubled in size and the market is growing at a remarkable rate a compound annual growth rate of about 15 percent 20 20 35 is the year that um it’s the robots will overtake humans in terms of population oh that’s interesting already the population of human so be kind of robots you never know what’s going to happen in the future and that that population has increased by 34 in the last four four years so it’s growing very very quickly um so that market will grow the industrial robot Market will grow from about 16 billion uh this year to about 30 billion in the next five years so it’s going to double in size so that’s the Target that uh that uh Tesla’s shooting for interesting and this information comes from a new report from the International Federation of robots robotics IFR so last year some 500 000 industrial robots were added to the global Workforce and that brings the total figure to about 3.5 million uh that’s from that IFR report the industrial the International Federation of Robotics um now one of the areas is really growing in you probably noticed different examples of companies I mentioned a minute ago is Asia and in particular in Japan and in China and that is directly related to a topic we’ve covered on the show in the past which is aging populations the population starts to get older and older if you don’t have immigration and you don’t have another way to replace that population then you’re going to have to turn to automation the Japanese uh for a long time had the you know the biggest problem with aging that’s they no longer have that they’re no longer the suffering but from that alone uh South Korea and China on the same track but for that reason the Japanese are very far ahead in robotics that’s their plan um the uh so that’s why this industrial robot field is growing now there’s a distinction I should make which is really important the differences between industrial robots and service robots industrial robots are nothing new we’ve had those since the 1980s every Auto Factory is full of them you know if you go to the auto plant the the body not the body part where they’re putting on the finishing touches uh yeah you see the giant mechanical arms those are industrial robots and they are lethal they will kill you that’s why they’re usually in a cage humans are kept out of the area you’re not allowed to get anywhere near those robots because they’re moving at high speed and it’s this big gigantic arm that could crush you and it has uh a factory worker in Japan one in Europe and one in the United States have been killed in automotive plants in industrial accidents with those big robotic arms that’s because those robotic arms are deaf dumb and blind they can do one thing it’s like a big arm but it can’t see it’s not aware of you it has no sense of you the distinction of drawing is between industrial robots like that and service robots and you’re going to start to hear this term service robots more and more service robots can move around uh so it’s that machine but now it can move around and once it can move around it has to have vision and it’s got to have some sense of other things including people that’s why Tesla’s Collision detection Vehicles drones that deliver Amazon packages will be service robots yeah you got it that’s the connection Tesla’s trying to make in their favor is to say well we know a lot about autonomous driving so therefore we’re going to know a lot about robotics that’s a bit of a leap but they do know the part about the autonomous driving and um now the biggest sectors for this of course are automotive that’s that’s always been the case that will remain the case and the second biggest sector is electronics and generally the electrics industry those are two big and growing sectors in Asia so no wonder that’s an area that this is being used what’s interesting about service robots is that they can do things what they call handling activities like pick and place palletizing putting items on a pallet packaging things loading up shipments unloading shipments even very specific things like bin picking which is really important for e-commerce fulfillment you know they use human workers to do this today in say you know an Amazon just so destroying jobs as well yeah it’s a terrible job it’s like using a human as a robot you’re doing this incredibly repetitive work that work can be done better by robots for a longer period of time so we’re seeing that grow and grow and this idea of service robots is expected to grow at 45 to be 45 of this uh of this industrial robot sector so it’s going to grow very quickly so that’s a bit of an update from the world of Robotics a topic we’ve covered before on the show with Harry klore and we’ll certainly haven’t been well we’ve got been good it’s all coming up so Ben and Ben will be great talking about this stuff one of the things notice also is the intersection of AI and Robotics yeah you know actually when you talk to AI researchers they use the two terms interchangeably for most of us when we think of a robot we think of a machine that’s out in the world and we think of automation as software where that exists on a network or on a computer the combination of those two things using artificial intelligence in a robot is what makes it possible for it to humiliate and operate in the world around us and respond to people it gives it autonomy yeah yeah yeah well that and so that’s and it’s not but it’s not just AI in sort of a general sense in terms of programming it’s things like image recognition right you know which is yeah you know so anyway let’s dive back in Zoe into uh the the Olympus project um now um you know one of the things that I I do notice about when you when you start with this it it it it feels it feels achievable this future you know you start off with VR you’ve got elements of climate um you you talk about rolling pandemics which again as futurists we know that um because of glacial melt and climate change we know there’s going to be more pandemics so you’ve pulled a lot of these elements into the story but tell us a little bit about the uh you know how the book came about and and um you know what it is you’re trying to to say with it thanks um it’s a near future science fiction one so I haven’t projected out thousands of years into the future it’s it’s more like in the next 30 to 50 years in terms of uh projections about some of the existing Trends and how they might play out the Genesis of the book I mentioned earlier was around how might a story be more impactful and then specifically I started thinking about power as a theme how does power play out uh how how does power affect our leadership and I started with sort of toying around with that idea you know how are we going to manage power in a future which is very volatile and uncertain with all these potential challenges ahead of us and can we overcome some of the traps of power which show up in the earlier stages of leadership maturity so that was sort of like the starting point in terms of the scene setting and then the and then the concept and theme I wanted to explore and that evolved a little bit too so from power we also started looking at had his leadership maturity affect people’s ability to come together as a cohort and deal with these challenges and probably the third piece which came out as the characters unfolded was how do our relationships affect our leadership goals and all those three factors sort of came out as I wrote the book so it’s fairly organic process I’m not a detailed planner I tend to take a journal ask questions of myself and then come up with ideas as a result scenes pop into my imagination I write those out and then the and then threading it all together is one of the things I worked with extensively with my editor in terms of the overarching pace of the book and the structure and so on so that was sort of the origins for me asking big questions which I think what futurists do right they ask really good questions and that generates insights hopefully or curiosity to explore new insights and the book is called the Olympus project tell us what you mean by that what does that refer to in the story well originally I was going to call it World Builders and uh my name yeah um yeah that’s right my editor said um too jarring because in in science fiction tropes we there’s a whole thing about World building about creating new places and so on he’s like I can’t do it it’s it’s just it brings up too much of that so I had to let that baby drop and he said it sounds a lot like uh young adult fiction too I’m like it’s not a young adult fiction so that was the original title that got tossed out the Olympus project um he said maybe you need to have something more aspirational and like a lot of Science Fiction uh and even NASA named a lot of their projects about ancient Roman gods you know with the Apollo project and Artemis and so on so I’m like okay so I did a bit of research and Googling around themes in space and um and Olympus actually is home of the Gods in both Greek mythology and Roman mythology I’m like that’s perfect because the old idea is about Community design World design so change from World Builders to World design and in the future we will have to design communities and housing differently in order to contend with the volatility of the climate factor and if we’re going to be building on the moon and on Mars then how are we going to design these places and how will these places affect how we interact as humans and can we build places that actually accelerate human development that was one of the interesting ideas I wanted to explore as well so the Olympus project is is the concept in terms of what it means in the book it’s essential to the lunar commission which is putting out a tender or asking for people to pitch to build the first community on the moon and that is the the plot storyline so guy Enterprise is one of lead World designers and they are putting together a cohort of designers and other Specialists they’ve never built off planet to put together a prototype as part of the bit and it’s a competitive story that has a resolution in the end nice so there’s a little bit of space drama there a little bit of interpersonal action going on some tough decisions and I gather there’s some corporate ruthlessness there’s sort of like a you know skullduggery I suppose that’s that’s a foot as well in your story to keep it exciting

do you see this as a as like an alternate um reality or like an alternate universe or are you trying to write it in our universe it’s not an alternative Universe I think it sails pretty close to the wind in terms of taking elements from existing oh corporations politics all that kind of stuff the human drama is very much immersed in this world is it an alternative Universe I I don’t know in terms of I believe we’re going to end up on the moon pretty quickly so I think that’s definitely coming to fruition it’s alternative in terms of offering hey hang on a minute we need to consider the the human the human element around this because I look at the for example whenever they have International Space Station pictures I’m like did they think about the interior design of this place like it’s pretty awful in terms of yeah it’s interesting yeah ISS with the Chinese space station you know the ISS looks so cluttered and so but you know you think about it you know this is one of the things of the with the you know you’ve got Prime real estate you don’t have a lot of space so you use every surface and that’s the thing with zero g or microgravity is that you can store stuff anywhere right as long as you can you can tie it down so is that designed for comfort those are not luxurious no although we having said that you know you’ve got space hotels and stuff coming up where that’s going to be an argument for alternative designs right yeah the issue though is every additional pound of the luxury that you put in space you have to justify the cost of that pillow yeah but so Zoe you know you are an optimist do your person who is thinking is encouraging uh other people to think in a positive way about the future formula future you know future plans that are optimistic yeah and yet you’ve written this book that’s full of uh this sort of dark vision and you know the funny thing we just had this conversation with ramaz Nam who is very similar in the respect that he’s trying to encourage people to think about renewable energy in positive ways and he’s very optimistic he’s unabashedly optimistic and yet he writes these stories that are about dark dystopian future so what’s going on with you writers tell me what the story is yeah why can’t you write utopian stuff man uh okay so great question you know why why be so all dark and I don’t think my book is all dark actually I think like a lot of sci-fi writers it’s all about the cautionary tale we present a future I think every leader is aspiring to a better future and yet when we try and create those things there’s always things that hold us back and I think in thinking about this I like what hansi freynocht says and he’s got two books out which I recommend when we’re talking about leadership maturity and future of societies he’s got listening society and Nordic ideology and he talks about relative Utopia and I think this is a really useful Paradigm for us to think about and it’s where we find ourselves now is Utopia compared to what has been previously so if we look 100 years ago the world that we’re living in now is a relative Utopia it’s fan bloody tastic and yet we are we are full of problems that generated or had Genesis 100 years ago

well it’s not that we’re not we’re not never happy it’s that as we create new opportunities and new situations and new technologies they come with drawbacks and it’s the same as we evolved it’s it’s complex and there’s always upsides and downsides and it’s the same in leadership maturity framework as we grow and evolve there’s absolutely new benefits into seeing the world from a more complex inclusive place and yet there are blind sides or blind spots and downsides to each of those stages and so that’s sort of what I Breathe Into the book as well it’s like yes we are aspiring to this and there are things that we still have to continue to contend with it’s not always going to be rose rose colored glasses and everything’s going to be solved into the future I think we have to have that as a picture and move towards that and deal with Legacy issues as well as new challenges that show up hansi talks about you know in terms of one of the challenges that we face now with all this burgeoning technology liberating us from all sorts of mechanical um awful jobs as you mentioned previously is the growing challenge in our community and we’ve seen this through the pandemic is isolationism and people feeling lonely and the real huge need for dealing with mental health and emotional intelligence so this is rising to the top is one of the thicknesses or illnesses that we have to contend with in this relative Utopia that we’ve created and there’ll always be something if we clear that up we move into the next stage of humanities society and civilization there’ll be stuff that we need to deal with then that is a unintended possibly consequence of these advancements so that’s what I believe you know relative Utopia is what we contend with and that’s why my book isn’t like rah-rah this is what we need to do and this will solve everything because I think that’s naive and I’ve experienced that as I mentioned previously with the experience of the pandemic that this naivety of like yes this will be the thing that changes everything and it doesn’t so your book is like a thought experiment uh thinking about this possibility opening up to the possibility now would you say it’s more didactic and learning oriented or is it more entertainment and excitement oriented is it you know where do you fall on that Spectrum [Music] um I think it’s more on the entertainment side of things it’s meant to be an emotional journey through there I’ve seated in different ideas in terms of the quotes at the beginning of the chapter for people to kind of chew on if they want to so at the beginning of each chapter there’s a quote from either the guy is Code of Conduct or the world design Manifesto or from one of the characters about one of their principles and values and practice and it’s meant to be seeding thoughts about what we could be working with into the future that also serves a story so some people may gloss over those and just keep going the story so it’s a little bit of that I’d say it might be 10 15 didactic it’s definitely not a fable or a parable God I I really don’t like those kinds of stories so it’s definitely not that all right let me sift gears here a little bit I want to bring us back down the planet Earth uh so we’re living at a time where leadership has become kind of contentious styles of leadership have become kind of contentious around the world we’re seeing the rise of these authoritarian leaders in some cases straight up dictators uh you know in China president XI is now president for life and he’s reverse policies that were set in place after Mount seitung uh died where they were trying to prevent the possibility of anyone taking on a Rolex that he seems to have recreated that possibility for China um and of course in Russia we’re seeing President Putin behave in a similar fashion and one thing we know about autocrats is uh as they isolate themselves and try to assume more and more power and keep other people out of power structure they start to make bad decisions uh I think certainly we can all agree that the decision to invade the Ukraine was one of the epically bad decisions of the 21st Century tell us what you see happening what’s your perspective on the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world because you’ve been here in the United States that’s becoming a big theme oh yeah so there’s two ways to answer this uh one is I turned to the work of Moises name I’m not even sure if that’s how you pronounce his name but his two books on power the latest one revenge of power talks about the rise of autocracy around the planet and it’s incredibly instructive in terms of looking at the Playbook that the each of the autocrats is used to get there and polarization is one destruction of Truth is another or two of the tactics that they use and populism is the third strategy in terms of how they actually get to power do they hang onto power history has shown that no they usually things that usually end badly for autocrats and yet I’m really I if anything makes me nervous it’s what’s happening in Russia and China because the difference in China say for example and actually to Russia to a lesser extent is the command of um I.T and electronic surveillance that each of those com each of those countries has and that’s a really big difference to historical despots in the past and so the ability to manipulate mindset and attitudes is really really powerful there and this is the the technocratic control of the population that China is going for is terrifying in fact David Matton who I mentioned uh earlier is showing up on my leadership podcast in a week or so and we had a conversation about this I’m like that is terrifying what can we do and a lot of it is about this whole idea of how do we disseminate truth how do we actually filter truth is one of the things that we we need to deal with what’s causing the rise of the deaf spots around the world some of it is is the pendulum swing backwards you know as we have a more um prosperous Society in some ways that division between rich and poor has accelerated and so that is causing a lot of distress uh for people and so people tend to turn to strong men leaders and include strong women leaders in that as well who say this is the way it is that black and white thinking is the way to go it’s Us Versus Them There is a comfort to that even though it’s an earlier stage of leadership maturity it actually doesn’t serve the context in which we find ourselves globally it does serve those who are under duress to believe in a future where certainty which is being flanked and shopped around by the autocrats is the way forward so that is how they’re growing in in popularity and that’s one of the reasons why Trump is so popular as well because he’s like nah this is the way it is black and white thinking you’re with us or against us they’re right we’re sorry we’re right there wrong and that is that’s a comforting blank to put on when you’re having trouble feeding yourself you don’t know what your future is going to hold here’s somebody saying we can fix it it’s true a lot of times people don’t want freedom of choice they want freedom from choice and if anything right now we live in a world of of really complex choices and decisions and cascading consequences and it’s very difficult to think through those cascading consequences that’s that’s why we run the program here because we’re trying to get more and more people to think like a futurist so that they can develop that muscle a little bit you know project forward consider scenarios think about the consequences of those scenarios but admittedly that’s a tough skill to build a lot of people want to avoid it one way to avoid it is to Simply to listen to that strong man who’s got an answer for everything even if it’s not right who makes the decision for you and then therefore you don’t have the freedom of choice you’ve got freedom from choice that that that element of economic uncertainty though I think cannot be and and uh emphasized you know um if you look at AI climate change the pandemic what uncertainty did it create uncertainty about the economic future you know so you know this this is where these these guys capitalize on this because they’re like we’re going to solve this problem we’re going to solve all of these problems but the reality is um rarely do they talk about the systemic um breakdowns the functional issues you know um if they talk about inequality They Don’t Really offer a solution to inequality demonize a group that’s how they always do it and also with every autocrat you get a rise in corruption and inefficiency that’s part of the poor decision-making process okay so we’re delving into kind of the gram reality of today we love to do in this show is thinking about a future think about a different future and this the part of the show Zoe we love you to put on your futurist thinking cap for a second big picture stuff give us some far-range Visions it’s not just about populating the moon or maybe travel to Mars where do you see things 10 years 20 years 30 years down the road and if you can tie that into your practice uh of leadership training I’d love to hear about the future of leadership 10 20 years from now okay uh right so I think the one that’s sort of burning into my skull right now is biotech and it’s probably because I have a injury on my knee I’m like oh God if technology was a little bit more advanced we’d fix this really quickly and rather having to struggle and suffer with it and I think about that sort of led to thinking about um our bodies Our human bodies are limiting factors in terms of how we can continue to evolve and contribute and if we can sustain our bodies through biotech and Amplified biology like computer brain interface I think that will be a massive step forward in terms of helping us accelerate solutions to our complex challenges so I think there’s that in terms of the future of leadership 30 50 years into the future I think you mentioned one of the things I wanted to pick up on that you talked about you know Futures thinking is so important to help us navigate uncertainty and complexity this is the number one thing that we need as Leaders to evolve to and it’s sort of at the Tipping Point into conventional leadership thinking which is uh linear based A to B planning project planning in terms of one to three year time frames that’s characteristics of earlier stages of leadership maturity we need to nudge people into the systems thinking that’s required to navigate complexity and futurist thinking is is an aspect to that and so in order to move towards a future where we are dealing with setting up energy so that it’s sustainable and not Planet destroying and decentralization of our systems like our Health Care system for example um and our supply of food production systems then we need leaders who can actually understand as you mentioned previously like the whole systems aspect of this and so we tweak one thing what’s ripple effect so these are skills that we need now that leaders need to embrace systematically and systemically across their organizations and and industries so that we contend with the stuff and I think interesting I do a lot of work in agriculture and in some ways they’re quite advanced in terms of considering this I mean farmers are so embedded in the in the earth so they understand ecosystems and long-term thinking because that’s the world in which they navigate and they’re pretty advanced in their technology and they’ve been hit pretty hard with a lot of the crises lately in terms of Supply chains so they’re already set up in a context in which they need to think that way otherwise they their businesses won’t survive they can’t actually get a lettuce off their off their Farm out to out the door and into consumers houses and so on so uh long-winded question the answer is complexity is the thing that we need to navigate we need to learn how to understand systems and we need to learn how to do projections and we need to know emotionally the emotional Mastery control this is the other leadership skill that we need how we can actually sit with the the physical the physiological reactions to uncertainty which is a biochemical thing and that’s the same biological equipment we’ve had for a hundred thousand years so we need to learn how uh deep emotional self-mastery piece is part of it so that’s that’s what I think is in the future of leadership that was a sweet thing sweeping response to that question thanks for such a thorough response so thanks for being so prepared for this show you’ve you’ve filled our heads with lots of good ideas about leadership in the future I think if we could just do three things you know it which is look for go deep be wide as a starting point

yeah I love it and read science fiction that’s the that’s probably the fourth one the world would be a far better place if everyone traveled and read science fiction that’s my view

the author of the of the Olympus project and Leadership trainer and Coach advisor and podcaster thank you so much for joining us this week on the futurist we’ve enjoyed this conversation immensely how can people find more about the Olympus project and um the work you do Zoe uh well they can find it online uh the book The Olympus project if you Google it it’ll be on Amazon and the other Distributors it’s also you can get a personally signed copy uh from me from my website

I’m on all the social platforms on Twitter LinkedIn insta YouTube awesome thanks very much um so that’s it for the futurist this week if you like the show don’t forget what to do tweet us out to let people know about the uh the show give us a five star rating um you know whatever you can do to help we’d appreciate it because that helps us in turn monetize the show and keep it going um we want we want to reach out and thank the team from provoke media help us put together the show this week including Elizabeth Severance Uh Kevin hersham and on the social media side uh Sylvie Johnson and Carla Navara but that’s it for us this week we will be back next week with another uh imaginative futurist thinking guest until then we’ll see you in the future [Music] well that’s it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don’t forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on Instagram and Twitter at futuristpodcast for the folks that you’d like to see on the show or the questions that you’d like us to ask thanks for joining and as always we’ll see you in the future [Music] foreign