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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Nov 7, 2018

Futurist and Executive Director of DaVinci Institute, Thomas Frey, tell us how to prepare for a completely different type of workforce. He discusses the key characteristics leaders of the future will need to succeed, the emergence of micro-industries and mega projects, what AI really means for leaders. Finally, he explains why a career of “robot technician,” or “Smart Shoe influencer” may not be so far off.


Key Takeaways

[3:27] The healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transition from an industry based on pharmaceuticals to one based in data. As this happens, it will open up a frontier of opportunities, and deeper understanding of the human body.

[7:35] America has the most complicated health care system in the world, and Thomas sees a possible more affordable and sustainable model in the future using technology.

[8:59] One of the big changes will be driverless technology. With 38,000 deaths a year and 4.4 million injuries, we spend half a trillion a year repairing people after car accidents. The airlines is a safety metric to model after.  

[11:32] We don’t advance as fast as the world advances around us, and education is one example where we need to catch up.

[14:15] We are starting to see more “mega projects” that employee more people.

[14:46] Thomas refers to AI as augmented intelligence rather than artificial intelligence. Beyond seeing AI as something that is an “us vs them” or “humans vs. robots”, he sees it as a tool to expand our capabilities.

[18:17] By 2030, the average person entering the workforce will reboot their career 8-10 times throughout their work life. This shows us that future leaders and workers must be flexible, adaptable, and open to learning new skills almost overnight. Thomas sees this shifting both the one size fits all approach to education, and the path offered through traditional colleges.

[21:58] The most important skills needed to be a leader are ones learned from experience. You can read it in a textbook or study it, but there is no substitute for learning how to develop grit, fortitude and the ability to get up once you’ve been knocked down.

[23:52] Thomas shares the idea of a Freelance Academy, where freelancers could find a place to network with successful entrepreneurs. Here, they would have a tangible place to learn the fundamentals of everything it takes to succeed as a freelancer including accounting, insurance, how to network and acquiring new sales.

[25:09] There’s 1.3 million people in the United States making over $100,000 a year as a freelancer. Good leaders surround themselves with winners, and are curious to learn from their successes and challenges.

[27:51] Over the next two decades, we are going to see over 100,000 new micro industries spring to life.

[28:50] Emerging technology is giving us the tools of creation, yet it also has created the need to manage distractions. A large part of being a leader in today’s society is to practice the skill of focusing and navigating distractions.

[38:13] The skills Thomas feels are most needed for success in the future are: resourcefulness, flexibility and the ability to take risks and be okay with setbacks.

[49:34] Technology won’t replace us (unless you are an elevator operator) but instead will require the human support in many aspects. Technicians will be needed in support drones, AI, 3D Printing, etc.  

[55:04] Think shopping for sneakers are fun now? Thomas gives us some insight that “smart shoes” will soon kick down the door of micro industries with their hyper individualized and intuitive technology.



  • “In the future, everything will operate to get us even above the normal.”
  • “It’s not easy to train someone to have the emotional fortitude of an entrepreneur.”
  • “We have a lot of people who anticipate failure too early”
  • We will start learning new skills overnight.
  • “I don’t know anyone that ends up doing the type of work they were trained for.”
  • “Having the ability to adapt and shift gears is really important.”


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

TLP 121: Jeffrey Pfeffer Challenges Our Assumptions About Leadership

Bunker Labs

Engaging Your Contract Employees

11 critical skills for the future that aren’t taught in school

20 Common Jobs in 2040

Epiphany Z: Eight Radical Visions For Transforming Your Future  by Thomas Frey


Thank you to our sponsor: Combat Flip Flops - use code WESTUDYLEADERS for 20% discount


Twitter: @ThomasFrey

Facebook: @Futurist Speaker - Thomas Frey