Blair Sheppard: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions

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What are the world’s biggest priorities today and how can you help? We hooked up with the head of Global Strategy and Leadership at PricewaterHousecoopers who’s leading the charge on this very topic to find out.

Blair Sheppard is the global leader for strategy and leadership at PwC, a network of professional services firms committed to building trust in society and solving important problems. He is also the Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he taught for thirty-three years. He was the principal force behind opening Duke’s campus in China, and the founder and CEO of Duke Corporate Education. Blair is a regular speaker at high-caliber international forums including the Global Solutions Summit, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and Slush. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) and lives in Durham, North Carolina (US).

In his new book, TEN YEARS TO MIDNIGHT: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions, Sheppard sets out why that timeline is so crucial, what the most urgent challenges are and the key elements of a solution.

Adam and Blair discuss the world’s four key crises that must be addressed and the solutions that are necessary to get it done:

  1. A crisis of prosperity, with rising inequality, poor life choices for young people, the squeezed middle class and a mass of people on the brink of retirement but lacking the savings to sustain them; 
  2. A crisis of technology, as our economic system drives innovation but fails to manage unintended negative consequences which pollute key elements of life support, from our atmosphere to our news;
  3. A crisis of institutional legitimacy, as traditional institutions try to maintain their existing structures in the face of major global forces, and find themselves buckling and warping rather than adapting; and,
  4. A crisis of leadership, as those who should help us manage these crises instead focus on narrow priorities rather than leading the world towards holistic solutions.

Learn more about Blair and his work at >

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Transcription of Interview

(Transcribed by, there may be errors)

Adam G. Force 00:03

Welcome to the Change Creator podcast where entrepreneurs come to learn how to live their truth, get rich and make a massive difference in the world. I’m your host Adam forest co founder, Change Creator and co creator of the captivate method. Each week we talk to experts about leadership, digital marketing and sales strategies that you can implement in your business and life to go big visit us at Change Creator comm forward slash growbig to grab awesome resources that will help drive your business forward. All right, what’s going on everybody? Adam forest here Welcome back to the Change Creator podcast. Very excited about today’s conversation. But if you missed last week’s episodes with Corey Lee Coralie, we talked with quarterly we talked about going from idea to selling your company he has now built several businesses and sold several businesses. Lots of good insights there, whether you’re an online entrepreneur, or you have a brick and mortar storefront, which might be quite difficult. These days, but, you know, we get into all those details. Now, today is going to be a little bit different. We’re gonna be talking with Blair Shepherd, where Shepherd is the head of global strategy and leadership for PricewaterhouseCoopers. That is one of the largest global organizations. And so they do a lot of great work and, and the and Blair is putting a bigger emphasis on, you know, local economies and scaling innovative solutions quickly. And these are solutions, like the way he’s emphasizing these things are about his solutions towards these four areas of crises. So he recently wrote a book called 10 years to midnight, for urgent global crises and their strategic solutions. We’re going to talk about the crises. And we’re going to talk about the solutions today. And it’s going to be a really incredible conversation. We’re going to get into a lot of cool stuff. So guys, big picture thinking, where are we putting our energy? What is most important? How did he come up with this information? Why a 10 year timeline, all that stuff. So stay tuned. Now, we’ve had a lot of good content coming out on Change Creator calm, guys, you can get your free assets, downloads and other things we’ll be adding to adding more to this page soon. But you go to Change forward slash go big and you’ll get some stuff there. In the next week or two, we’ll be adding some other pretty cool assets that you guys can get access to. Alright guys, I’m not going to do any further. If you don’t follow us on Facebook, check us out there. That’s our primary spot, our Facebook group, the profitable digital impact entrepreneur. Alright guys, let’s talk to Blair and see what he has. Okay, show me that he Hey, Blair, welcome to the Change Creator podcast show. How are you doing today?

Blair Sheppard 02:48

Great. Thanks, Adam. I’m glad to be on.

Adam G. Force 02:50

Yeah, I appreciate you taking the time. You know, I’m excited to dig into this conversation with you. You obviously have a pretty extensive background and want to hear more More about your book and all the great, great conversations you’ve had, but also just being an entrepreneur yourself and those experiences, I think there’s a lot we can we can cover here in a short period of time. So it would be helpful just to kind of tell us well, I like to start where the drama is like, what, what’s going on in your world these days? Like, what’s the latest? What’s the greatest and then I’ll you know, ask for a little bit of background on how you got there.

Blair Sheppard 03:24

So, um, I actually did stop writing maybe 25 years ago, right? Because I became an administrator and I started my own business. Yeah. And I decided to pick it up again, because I’m really worried. Because the we went around the world and talk to us people across 60 countries and the same worries came up again and again and again. And we would underneath it we dug behind them. They’re real, and they’re at a point where we don’t do something about them. In the next 10 years, the world will go much, much darker. And so I started I decided to write Because I’m actually pretty anxious about the world we’re now living in.

Adam G. Force 04:03

Yeah, I can understand that. So now tell us a little bit about just your background and how you got into the position that you are to be traveling around these countries writing this book. I know, you know, you have a lot going on there.

Blair Sheppard 04:16

So I was originally an academic I taught at Duke for 33 years. form, do corporate education while I was there, so took took time off to be an entrepreneur, then was asked to come back and be Dean. And so I left the organization I created, became Dean and then persuaded Duke to open a campus in China. And we weren’t going to move to China and be part of it, because we’re rooted in North Carolina. So I essentially worked myself out of a job and thought I’d go do the typical thing. I’d be a president somewhere or another Dean. And then this guy was chairman of PwC invited me to do a job that doesn’t usually exist which is help a very large global organization. Create a strategy that’s resilient for today’s world, but also build leaders who can execute the strategy that you almost never get those two together. So yeah, I picked it. And it’s been real fun been really, really fun. I wish I’d learned that you could shift out of the academy and do something like this years ago, because this has been a blast.

Adam G. Force 05:19

What has made it a blast?

Blair Sheppard 05:22

Well, I mean, we’re in virtually every country in the world, right? We’re in 156 countries. And so part of it is that you get to see the whole world. Part of it is that we’re huge. And so the impact we can have is pretty significant. And then the other piece is that it’s a ship that that needs needs to move like all the big ships do. And the challenge of getting the, the Queen Mary to move is is a really interesting challenge. So it’s been fun.

Adam G. Force 05:50

Yeah, yeah. It is. That’s not I mean, I love the idea of just being connected with so many people. So tell me a little bit about the conversations and But what we’re hearing from people around the world?

Blair Sheppard 06:03

Yeah, so this started, we had created a strategy for the firm. And it turns out, you don’t create one other thing like this, you’d negotiate with a lot of people. It had been formed. And then two years in the we had a new chairman. He had both traveled to four continents, and came back and said, Blair’s gotten really gritty, is the strategy still relevant? So what we did was we had conversations with government leaders, leaders, civil society, business people, like our clients, and I just listened in coffee shops and talk to taxi drivers, right. And in every country, there are about 60 countries in total, the same questions and same worries everyone had everywhere in the world. Yeah. And so they were, we coined the phrase adapt, asymmetry meaning disparity between people and between regions and generations, the disruptive effects of technology and the unintended consequence nology polarization and what it was doing to the world. The massively growing distrust in institutions, and then the impact that sort of demography age was having on that. So in old countries, you’d have things like the pressure of health care, and people retiring without support, and putting a burden on those who are still generating taxes and young countries. So the massive need for education and their jobs. Yeah. And and so we started researching that and realize that actually, they weren’t just worried people ahead. They were real crisis. They, they actually were putting the world at serious risk.

Adam G. Force 07:33

Yeah, so maybe dig in a little bit more there. So putting the world at risk. Let’s define that a little bit.

Blair Sheppard 07:40

Yeah. So so let’s use examples from from each of them for a minute, right. So if you take disruption, D and adapt, right, what we mean by that is not what most of the people on this call would think of, which is how technology changing business models. That’s part of it, but what we’re particularly interested in is because technology is everywhere because it’s ubiquitous when it when it has a negative consequence. It’s a population level problem, right? So take it to example. So Industrial Revolution. No one knew when we created the Industrial Revolution, that carbon was going to be a byproduct. Right now, it turns out it is. And we’ve got 10 years before the feedback group start getting bad. And so places like where you live or underwater, right, we got a decade to solve it. Or we’re in trouble. The the, you know, no one knew that 16 year olds 16 year old males are gonna have suicide is one of the primary causes of death or girls would would self harm with cut, right? And it turns out at each of the cases, we looked at them so you take disruption, or you take disparity or you take distrust in institutions. For example, as you look at the anger that’s happening, so you go back to the wall street city, and then me too, then Black Lives Matter, every time it’s hotter, and our senses that you’ve got about a decade before The whole thing blows up on itself. And we’re not good at making massive change at scale in 10 years.

Adam G. Force 09:07

No. And there’s also a lot of resisting forces, I guess, behind that change, for sure, for reasons that, you know, I mean, this is my opinion, this is not i’m not saying these are facts, but I think that there is a lot of resistance. And I think that they’re for short term, unethical reasons as well.

Blair Sheppard 09:28

Yeah, yeah. So I think you’re right, I think there are two sources or three sources of resistance, right. One of them is self interest, which is what you’re describing. Yes, people, people are pushing back or they’re or they’re reframing the debate to something they can keep their arms around, rather than the real issue, right. is a is a subtle way they do it. But the other one is actually, a lot of it has to do with sort of the institutions that make our life work like the legal system or the education system when the tax system or political system it turns out, they’re slow to change and they’re supposed to Right, because we want them to be reliable. But but they’re not. They’re not adapted to the world we live in, and therefore they’re causing more harm than they are good in many cases. And and so we have to figure out how to keep what was good about each of them, and then change everything else. Which is really hard.

Adam G. Force 10:20

It is hard.

Blair Sheppard 10:21

It’s difficult to it’s not it’s not just bad intent. It’s also tough.

Adam G. Force 10:27

Well, yeah, I mean, and I guess the when I, when you say things like that, I say, I’m looking at those systems, right? We have the education system and different systems, and yes, they need to change, but then who are the influencers behind that change? And you know, who’s controlling the money and allowing these things to change? Right.

Blair Sheppard 10:47

Yeah. So I have a bit of sympathy for leaders, right? Because one of the, one of the dilemmas we’re describing is the dilemma of leadership. So think of the following thing, right? Yeah. So a leader in any one of those systems. has an incredibly polarized group they’re trying to bring together and typically the people have completely diametrically opposed views and think the other was completely wrong. Right? So so they got a lot of negotiation to do. Second thing is, they’re starting with a thing that actually has a lot of traditions that doesn’t want to change. The governance model makes it hard to change that. The third is that actually, trusted leadership is at an all time low. And so it’s really hard to do the change and we don’t think they can do it anyway. Right. So the person who can step up and do that thing is actually pretty remarkable. I think. We don’t have many remarkable ones unfortunately. But it’s pretty remarkable.

Adam G. Force 11:41

It is Yeah, I am. Yeah, it’s it’s that’s I feel is a very difficult and slow process because of these, you know, resisting forces that we’re talking about and, and they see it all the time. You know, and I don’t know what to trust anymore. When it comes to politics. You have all these guys making decisions, guys. And girls, and it’s just, it’s kind of scary to see some of the selfishness behind these things. And it’s sad at the same time. And as I just told you earlier, before we started this, you know, I have a three and a half month old boy. And so it really makes you think about the future like you’re looking at a 10 year outlook. I mean, what does that mean for my son, if these types of people are leading us in these directions that really aren’t the right direction? Right. So that’s scary to me.

Blair Sheppard 12:25

Yeah. So that’s why I actually wrote the book is, you know, we have grandkids not too too much older than your than your new son. And I worry about their future. Right. So. So the thing that’s interesting, though, is we’ve shown through COVID, that we can do things massively and quickly. Yeah, we shut entire economy down basically, overnight. Yep. We, we’ve made really big changes really, really quickly. So it’s doable.

Adam G. Force 12:55

I think it’s going to require both leaders who can do it say this is their Going to follow. And then I think that people on this call are particularly important because we’re going to have to kind of innovate and small businesses are way out of a lot of these things. Because that’s where the energy is going to come from. That’s where the solutions are going to come from. And so I think the community of socially minded entrepreneurs are the leading force in getting things to happen. And and if we can get that collective to sort of say, we agree on what the issues are, and we’re going to put our energies against solving them in our own independent ways, we can make a heck of a lot of progress. I love that. And you’re right. So I mean, anybody listening? You know, we can all feel like we’re small potatoes. And we don’t we’re not significant. But, you know, the idea here, like we thrive on the value of collaboration, right? So if we’re all making better decisions, we’re all approaching business with these mindsets of doing something better and doing something ethical that aligns to our values. Then together, it becomes a very strong force. And you know where like what you’re saying. And what I really appreciate is that there is a role for big companies out there, they have certain power and influence. But the small companies can take on more risk, they can be more nimble, they can change faster and adapt to what’s going on in the market. So there’s a lot of change that can come from the young innovation.

Blair Sheppard 14:23

Yeah. And it also relates to they’re also central to the argument about what I think we need to do. So let me let me do that in income. Yeah. Right. So So if you think about how we got here, right, we got here because we had 70 year run and success, amazing success, right? We repair the Second World War damage. We created massive wealth, we brought 2 billion people out of poverty. We integrated whole economies like China and India into the market economy and amazing success. The reason we did is we focus on three two simple ideas right, overly simplistic ideas global ization is great. Technology is only good and simple measures of success are all that matter, GDP and shareholder value. Yeah, yeah, that turns out those are really good when you’re trying to drive economic growth period. But if what you’re trying to do is ensure that you’re bringing well being with you, and you’re distributing that growth evenly, it doesn’t work. Right. So because globalization will happen is they’ll take a job away from somewhere, I’ll destroy a little cow city for the interest of the shareholder and I won’t see it because I’m measuring overall economic wealth for the entire country. I’ll miss it whole parts of the country are getting harmed. Yeah, so that’s the base. That’s what started the crisis was essentially 70 years of success and the unintended downside, right. So is it go to the solutions and and say, how do you solve it? Well, first of all, you got to say, globalization only works if you have thriving local economy. So local first, right? globalization, technology only works if we actually think about the unintended consequences that human beings As a technology and and simple measures don’t work unless they’re complemented with things that are more inclusive. Now ask yourself, who’s going to drive local growth and thriving global economies? Who’s going to worry about things like the social consequences of business, not just profit and loss? And who’s gonna worry about the unintended consequence of technology that people on this call? Because that’s where they start. Right? So. So the point is, it’s a clarion call for the social entrepreneur. Yeah, there. They are the solution to the challenges of the next 10 years. And they’re also the ones who can challenge the institutions and make them adapt to their needs, right.

Adam G. Force 16:41

Yeah, I think I mean, I it’s a very important message that you’re saying right there and I want to drop a little bit of a bomb on you right now and ask a big question. Okay. The big question is, we’re talking about the 70 year winning streak. You know, the Industrial Revolution or The stuff that’s happened, which is great. It got us where we are today, but not without a cost, right? Yes. And so we look at Okay, why why did our behaviors actually shift into those with those unintentional costs right now we see them. But I think we’re we have these worldviews where it’s still how we operate, because that is the nature of the system. And this leads me to the question about your thoughts on capitalism, and can we make the necessary changes through that system?

Blair Sheppard 17:37

Yeah, so I think we have to because it turns out that there isn’t a better answer. Right. Um, so it and two pieces here first is we took capitalism, which which was essentially always the ascension of capitalism, that would be regular taury control that made it work, right. And that it was local. So to go back to the father of capitalism, he wrote in Edinburgh, right? If I was an entrepreneur in Edinburgh, I went to church with I went to the market with I walked down town with everyone in that town, I couldn’t be a person who was purely self interested because I’d be running out of town. So I worried about my labor force, I worried about what I was doing to the environment, I worried about what I was doing to the, to the consumer, I worried about what I was doing to the city. And so we took an idea that worked because it was based on people living in a community and building your business community, and generalized it. And then what we did is essentially we allowed a few schools, most particularly University Chicago, build an economic an assumption that everything in life was a market and everything in life was self interest. Yeah, that turns out that was never the intent of a capitalist model. Right? The notion was that you would you start a private enterprise, you’d make it work, you’d add to the society, you’d pay taxes, you’d help the society you donate, and you’d be a thriving member of that community. We pulled the notion of well being, and an economic success away from each other. When a colleague of mine calls uncoupling a social well being and economic success, and so it doesn’t have to be we just have to sort of rethink capitalism and say, I’m in business for a purpose and to make money and the reason I’m in business to make money is I can’t sustain my business if I don’t make money, but it’s not the only reason I’m doing it. Right. It’s not a hard change, by the way, but but a big one because we’ve had 70 years of doctrine. It says, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong. So we have to rethink. Yeah, I come back to the people who are already doing it like your audience.

Adam G. Force 19:52

Right. And that does put a lot on the the entrepreneur, the entrepreneurs shoulder To, for us to rely on them to be a good decision maker when times get tough. So that would mean that when you have a large company, you go public and you have to appeal to a shareholder, we have to hope that when it comes down to the bottom, their bottom line each quarter that they were reporting or monthly reporting, that they are making decisions. So what if they’re faced with a decision that says, Well, you know, you can get rid of this materials that’s hazardous to the environment, but it’s going to it’s going to decrease your bottom line for the quarter versus increase? Can we really rely on them in those big situations to make those decisions?

Blair Sheppard 20:38

Well, actually, so there’s a second group we have to affect right, but they’re already going here, by the way, which is the investor. Okay, what is prior prior to the advent of COVID there was a massive movement among the major investors to say you’ve got to worry about it. You got to worry about social issues and environment and governance. Not just Not just profit loss. And actually, some of the bigger funds and funding groups had taken essentially, you said they weren’t going to invest unless you’ve met a certain set of criteria. Now it was it was nascent, but it was really growing. Right. And I think the reason was growing is that people were starting to see the unintended consequences of climate in particular, right. And so I think if we can get the investment community and the entrepreneurial community to both recognize there’s a bigger story here, we could make a lot of impact and that and then what we have to do is have both of them put pressure on the institutions as you start having earlier. So go to the education system and give us the right kids give us the right graduates go to the legal system and say, fix the legal system, go to the political system and say fix it. But those two working together are massively powerful entrepreneurs without the investors behind them get put in a real bind. Right. And but I think the investors are coming. I really do.

Adam G. Force 21:56

Yeah, I mean, I think there’s been a pretty big growth spike in In investors who are looking to invest in the socially conscious sector, even you know, our mutual funds are all Sri socially responsible investments. So there’s investments from investors who are in supporting the entrepreneurs, but even from the consumers who are just playing mutual funds or stock markets, they can also be investing in companies ethically, right? Yeah,

Blair Sheppard 22:22

yeah. I think that the heart the real measure for me is whereas private equity, right, because you think of them as sort of the ones who are the toughest minded The, the really sort of the ones who are going to focus on on short term success. So it turns out that actually, most of the private equity funds were beginning to take a pretty serious focus on ESG. Now, the problem right now is that a lot of the firms have invested in had some pretty bloody balance sheets and so they’ve got to repair that, but I think you’re going to see because of COVID or multiple have consequences COVID that environment will come back and ESG generally will come back as with a vengeance in about four or five or six months. And so I think the the investor winds are behind the entrepreneur. They were their social entrepreneur was fighting an uphill battle. I think the winds are going to be to their back. The old Irish saw it made the Sunday on your face and the wind at your back. I think it will be for the next. Yeah, fortunately, because we need it.

Adam G. Force 23:25

Yeah, I agree. It’s interesting, huh? Yeah. So it’s nice to see a lot of this is scaling. You know, like social entrepreneurship, for example, was when I started Change Creator several years ago, there was nothing out there about it. I couldn’t find anything about it. There was maybe one book it was called make good by a couple young guys and I read that book and inspired me, but nothing else was available today. It’s in the top universities around the world. You know, it’s like, that’s something

Blair Sheppard 23:54

I remember one of the founders of social entrepreneurship actually came to Fuca… It, there was a lot of snubbing going on at the time, and now the he actually unfortunately died. But but his legacy is incredibly powerful now, right. And so I do think though the problem is that we need to sort of understand the depths of the issues we’re grappling with, and have a kind of consensual agreement on what they are. Because one of the dangers with 1000 points of light or a million points of light is that each point goes in a different direction. And so you have entropy. Yeah, right. And so we need essentially for the community you’re part of to actually talk to itself and agree on what what it thinks is most important, allow all sorts of innovation and entrepreneurial activity, but at least have some sense of direction. So that we make progress because the risk is everyone goes into something really cool, but it doesn’t add up. Yeah, it’s also why we need the institutions to be there. We need To be reinvented, that’s that’s the thing who’s going to be hardest are going to see need some heroic leader in those institutions?

Adam G. Force 25:07

Yeah, those are great points. And I see it a lot actually with some of the entrepreneurs we’ve spoken to who are working in, you know, areas like Cambodia and other countries. And it’s all from the ground up, starting with the community working outwards and pulling in these institutions that support and already know the community well, so everyone works in collaboration. The community is educated, informed, and we get all their insights because they’re close. They’re living their day to day, so it has to come for them.

Blair Sheppard 25:37

Yeah, exactly. It has to happen to scale. So an example, there’s a guy in India who left the second largest national bank, been very, very successful business leader, and essentially said, this is the wrong answer. We need massive entrepreneurship. So he created this thing called the Global line. So massive entrepreneurship. Here’s the story. He’s talking about, he believes that in the next decade, India needs a minimum minimum of 10 million new businesses that are successful, not started successful. Wow. That’s a tall order. That’s a big order. Right. But so so the thing that’s important here is that the other thing we need is not just a general sense of direction, and I and you’re right, it’s going to come from being embedded in the community because it will tell you what’s needed. But we needed at massive scale. We need way more listeners than you now have, like orders of magnitude 10 times greater. Yeah, yeah, for this to work.

Adam G. Force 26:39

That’s that that is the challenge. I mean, and the key is, you know, can we can we shift how people are thinking about business fast enough, and get enough successful businesses off the ground?

Blair Sheppard 26:53

Well, I think that, you know, in a sense, we’re gonna have a whole new group that will have to So, so if you think about the number of people who are made career and know a lot about something that are going to lose a job to technology, and you think about the number of people who actually are going to be out of work as a result of COVID versus staying period of time. Yeah, we have to get a huge percentage of that group to actually think of themselves as social entrepreneurs, not people looking for a job.

Adam G. Force 27:26

Exactly, exactly that. And that is, that’s it. We see that now to like more people who had been in business and they’re not there, they lost their jobs, like they’re trying to get online now. And they’re trying to start their own businesses. And I think the opportunity is more ripe than it ever has been. It’s just, and that’s where we step in. And we have programs where we’re helping people understand how to get there faster, and do take the right steps, right, because we all need a community of support and these things. So there’s more and more of this happening, and I’d be curious to understand like Where did you get 10 years from? Like, why do you say 10 years?

Blair Sheppard 28:04

Well, it wasn’t. We came to it on happily but grudgingly right? Because I’m an optimist. Actually, you wouldn’t tell it by the title of the book. I’m an optimist. And so it actually, it’s what happened is when we looked at what we call the crisis, prosperity, so the people who think the future is going to be worse than than the current reality, and therefore Why bother? Right? Right. Turns out that as we looked at the data that all comes to life in 10 years, so let me give you two groups. 50% of Americans ready to retire from the private sector ready to retire have less than $10,000 saved? Wow, there’s no way they can survive retirement on $10,000. No, right. Now, now then flip it and go to Africa and say there are 28 countries with an average age under 20. total population of those countries at 885 million people, which means there’s a half a billion kids that need an education a job in the next decade. So their retirement, the retirement crunch in United States is going to happen in the next 10 years. The education job crunch in Africa is going to happen the next 10 years. Climate if you take the unintended consequences of technology and carbon. Turns out that all the experts say that if we don’t get our arms around it in 10 years, the feedback loops make it turn much worse. Right if you if you take a look at the trust issues, trust in institutions have been inclined to declining steadily year after year after year after year. Harvard’s trust index that basically said we’re getting to a point where we’re not that far from revolution, right and and if the thing continues at the pace of Tat, what occurs is the whole thing blows up, right? It looks like in about 10 years, it gets to a point where you’ll have irreversible so what happened is is Every time we look at one of these crises, what we discovered is there’s a decade to solve it. Now, here’s the thing, Adam, right? You’ve got to understand the answer to the problem, you got to begin solving it, you have to start really having an impact by 10 years, don’t you don’t just have to start focusing on 10 years, you actually have to have it, at least largely, but gun to be solved a big task.

Adam G. Force 30:23

Well, and it requires immediate attention. And you hear a lot of companies who say, well, we’re going to shift to this sustainable format over the next 10 years or get there and Mike, okay, that’s not gonna help.

Blair Sheppard 30:34

Exactly. It’s too late. This is the part of the other reason we wrote the book. And the reason for the title. If you look at it, it’s a pretty dark title.

Adam G. Force 30:40

Right? And we Let’s read, let’s read the title real quick for everybody. So 10 years to midnight, for urgent global crises and their strategic solutions. So let me just tell everybody, make sure we’ve been talking about them. But let me be clear on what those four things are. We have the crisis of prosperity, technology, institutional legitimacy, and leadership. These are the key Exactly. Okay.

Blair Sheppard 31:01

Exactly, exactly. If our, if we don’t have leaders we need in 10 years, we will get the problem solved. If we don’t have the institution’s repaired in 10 years, it’s too late. If we don’t solve the consequences of technology on climate and honor society, it’s too late. And if we don’t solve the disparity problem, and therefore the sense of lack of prosperity, then it’s too late. Right? So yeah, and the book is a black cover. It’s got a clock on the front, right. So so it’s meant to scare people. And I don’t like scaring people. But the thing I want to emphasize for everyone is, we really only have a decade people, right? And so we got to get to it. And and we can’t and so I think, Adam, part of the point you’re raising is even the well intended people. And there’s a lot of them don’t have the sense of urgency. Yeah.

Adam G. Force 31:51

Yeah, exactly. And we see it all the time. And you have to scratch your head and wonder, you know, like, Is that is that going to be helpful to accomplish that by 2050. So…

Blair Sheppard 32:05

By that time your kids are going adult and they’re living in a world you don’t want them living in.

Adam G. Force 32:08

well, right because I always think of, I can’t I always mix these up Murphy’s Law, Moore’s law, which one is the compounding effect

Blair Sheppard 32:15

Uh…Moore’s Law. Murphy’s laws what bad, what could happen bad will happen. Right, Moore’s laws is a compounding effect.

Adam G. Force 32:21

Right I think of Moore’s law. And I think that you know, as we have certain traditional, I call it a traditional mindset, these old school mindsets like these people have worldviews on, oh, that’s not gonna happen. Oh, and we’re so manipulated, easily manipulated and stuff like that through these commentaries and narratives and stories. These are the Moore’s Law effects. So if we’re waiting another 10 years, like how much deeper in this hole Are we going to be because as the population grows, and we’re straining the resources and all these things are happening, it’s just gonna keep compounding year after year. saquon. Oh, it stresses me out.

Blair Sheppard 32:57

Yeah, no, I do think I do think actually in a way It’s a terrible thing that happened. But actually, the silver lining in COVID is I think it it’s a wake up call. Right? You don’t you can’t you can’t possibly miss the fact that there’s a bunch of people being left behind by our economic model. Yes. You can’t miss it today, right? You can’t miss. So you take any of the crisis we were describing, you can’t miss the leadership challenges, right? You, you can’t you can’t miss the unintended consequence with technology. And so I think in a sense, it raises the urgency and you know, we’re muddling through. I agree that one other words after muddling through, but I do think people are waking up to this is pretty serious stuff.

Adam G. Force 33:42

There is I think there is there’s definitely a shift but you would, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I have been shocked by it. You know, one of the things we teach is storytelling for marketing. Blair, you know, how storytelling has created all social progress throughout history, right. This is how we communicate as human beings And the fact of the matter is factual information is not what changes minds, unfortunately, right, so you have these old worldviews that are very, very difficult to change. And despite how bad leadership is today, I won’t point out Donald Trump or any of those guys, but it is so bad, but people will still find a way to only see what they want to see. Right. And they continue to support someone who’s potentially leading them to a very bad place. And this is what blows my mind. So you’re, when you mentioned that people are shifting and I think some are, but there’s still a lot of people who no matter what you show them, like factually about something, it’s not changing their mind.

Blair Sheppard 34:47

So I think we have to tell good stories. Right. And I think I think we have to highlight is it’s a collective leadership problem. You can’t just point to one person say they’re the problem. Of course, it’s a it’s a collective leadership problem, right. So so I think that the thing we have I have to do is we have to start crafting two kinds of stories, right? So, in a way, we tried to do this, and I don’t know if you succeeded, but we tried, which is we, and we tried to create a two act book or two act play that was pretty dark. Just say, look, it’s urgent. It’s important now, but there’s actually a lot of hope, if we do something about it. Right. And I and and I think we just have to get a lot of people to do the same thing. And, and so I agree that, that in a sense, at the heart of your point, though, is that unless we add leaders we need none of the other stuff will occur. Right. And we talked a bit about that’s a it’s a different kind of leader, right? I mean, so that’s the key issue, in part is we prepared leaders. Remember I created a business whose job was to actually create leaders in the world right, and it was a pretty successful business. You can blame me for the proper

Adam G. Force 35:53

What did you do?

Blair Sheppard 35:55

You know, Blair, You’re writing a book as a guilt thing. So, but the thing is we’re preparing people for the world I described now. Now, here’s the challenge of leader today, they essentially have to reconcile things that are inherently paradoxical. Let me give you three examples. Right? So one of the things we talked about in the crisis of technology is actually the technology, the people who built technology because it didn’t understand people well, and human systems, well build technology, they had these very negative consequences for society and individuals. So you know, one example is that mobile telephony is taking the executional part of the brain and making it dumber. Right? They didn’t mean to do that. I promise. They didn’t mean to do that. Right. And so but the issue is they had they didn’t know enough about psychology or sociology or political science, right. And so what you need is a leader who’s really technically capable, because if they don’t, it’s not technically capable. They’re irrelevant today, but understands people and human systems. To help people work, right? You need a leader who can bring people with very divergent factions together, but actually has massive integrity. Now ask yourself, just take those two examples. How many who are computer scientists? You know, studies, psychology, sociology, political science as well. How many sociologists and psychologists studied double E. Right? Right? How many? And if you say how many people you know that you think it was really good political, do you think of integrity, right? And so what you have to do is we have to take another example, think about people have to fix institutions. They can’t just break it and throw it away. They actually have to recognize what’s central to the thing, its core traditions, and then innovate around everything else. Yeah. So the job of a police force is to make us feel safe.

Adam G. Force 37:48

Yep. And remember

Blair Sheppard 37:50

that and cherish that and then innovate massively right. And so that’s hard. So now we have we said to a leader, look, you’re living in a world where people People just can’t get together, living in a world with a massive need for change immediately. They don’t trust you. And by the way, your job is harder than there’s ever been before. Because you got to put things that are inherently at odds with each other together in yourself. Yeah, that’s tough. Yeah. And so it’s my only point is that the day a couple things in that first people are going to have we’re going to accept that people are imperfect. But the other point is leaders probably gonna have to surround themselves with others who have the compliment to themselves, right? If I’m great at technology, I better have a psychologist is my number two, right? If I’m really political, I bet every person who’s sitting as my conscience on my shoulder, if I’m really willing to take tough, courageous actions, it’s better to have one who’s pretty inclusive and remind me this mistakes I make right on a regular basis. Right. So but but we’d never prepared leaders for that world. So I think we got to give them a bit of a break and say, Let’s help you But But you know, it’s not their fault. It’s It’s It’s our collective fault that we are the leaders we ask for Really?

Adam G. Force 39:06

Yeah, I mean, that, that there’s so much truth to that. I mean, everything that the world is presenting us right now is just the result of our own collective thinking, right? Mm hmm. I mean, that.

Blair Sheppard 39:18

Here’s another example of why you should be really mad at me. You know, I was the Dean of a business school, we taught the stuff you said was the problem for 70 years, right? And so we have to essentially unlearn all the stuff we were teaching his professors and teach a different model. That’s not easy, by the way, right? So but the thing that’s important to recognize at the time, it was right. It’s wrong now. It’s, it was right for the moment, the moments a different moment now. And so we need a different worldview, a more complicated one. And I’m just

Adam G. Force 39:49

happy that people like you are acknowledging it and taking action and you know, like I, the younger the generations get, I see that they’re more and more geared up towards this stuff and Now obviously the older generations have older traditional thought processes that are those worldviews that are tough to change, but with the right stories and the right people, you know, it I don’t know, there was a documentary on Netflix about some like religious group and stuff, but their key strategy was to be very close to all the the leadership like in government and politics, because they had the most influence and we kind of are in the same place where these people of influence have to be sharing the right messages.

Blair Sheppard 40:29

I agree. I mean, I agree that essentially, the people who succeeded in the world I described are the ones are going to have to provide the resources at least, and facilitate us going where you need to go. So sort of what we need is the energy of the use, and the resource and the support of those old like me, right. And, yeah, I think we put those two things together. It’s unbeatable. It’s, it’s that’s the American story. By the way.

Adam G. Force 40:53

It is the it is the American story. I will let you know. I heard from someone who’s associate engineer And he’s like, he’s like, Listen, unfortunately, the way this is gonna work is we’re gonna have to face a complete catastrophe and breakdown before everyone bounces back. But, you know, the question is, we usually do bounce back, we usually do innovate, and we come through at the last minute. Unfortunately, it is always the 11th hour that we respond and make things happen. But I’m putting my my faith in the fact that we are resilient as a species and that we can figure this thing out.

Blair Sheppard 41:29

Yeah, and you know, there’s an important point, right, which if you go back through history, we have confronted times like this before. Yeah, it turns out, it goes one of two directions. We either create the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, or we have warm revolution.

Adam G. Force 41:46

We have plenty of that’s for sure. That’s an ongoing so

Blair Sheppard 41:49

Soo we could use another enlightenment another….

Adam G. Force 41:53

We could use another enlightenment. Please, let’s change gears. Exactly.

Blair Sheppard 41:55

And And to your point that those were created by people who took stories and people who are willing to do massively entrepreneurial things.

Adam G. Force 42:04

Yes, right. Yeah. You know what, Blair, that’s a great note. Let’s end with the push for enlightenment and inspiring entrepreneurs who are listening today to be conscious of these four key areas of crisis and how we’re addressing them through our efforts and businesses.

Blair Sheppard 42:23

Great. I enjoyed the conversation a lot. It was it. He took me someplace that I haven’t thought about for a while. It was really fun. Thanks.

Adam G. Force 42:30

Now I tend to get that a lot. Listen, let’s give everybody a shout out where do they find your book? I mean, obviously, Amazon probably just like where do they connect and learn more all that stuff?

Blair Sheppard 42:41

Well, a couple things. So the book is 10 years to midnight. And it’s on it’s it’s available everywhere, including independent bookstores. And if you look at 10 years, midnight Blair Shepard, it’ll take you to the website and PwC has a bunch of background material. Cool and and I hope you did. Again and if anyone has a question, I’m easy to find. There’s only one person that you’ll get when you when you click on that information.

Adam G. Force 43:08

I appreciate it. That is awesome. Well, thanks so much for your time and your expertise and all the great work that you’re doing.

Blair Sheppard 43:14

Thanks, man. Keep going. We need you.

Adam G. Force 43:20

Thanks for tuning into the Change Creator podcast. Visit us at Change forward slash go big to get access to free downloads and other great resources that will drive your business forward.

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