Newly Corporate

Work, life and the pursuit of happiness for the young professional.

Accelerate Your Career: Be a Futurist

Futurist Architecture I just finished a meeting with one of the executives for the company I work for and her direct staff. I helped present next generation collaboration solutions with a team of leadership program participants and a recent graduate. How did I gain the exciting opportunity to be part of such a group? By working in my current position with the mindset of a futurist.

…the term futurist most commonly describes authors, consultants, organizational leaders and others who engage in interdisciplinary and systems thinking to advise private and public organizations on such matters as diverse global trends, plausible scenarios, emerging market opportunities, and risk management.

Alright, maybe my focus is quite as grandiose as some of the professional futurists out there who predict vast “global trends” but, engaging in “interdisciplinary and systems thinking” is crucial to anyone looking to make progress in their chosen career.

It’s not enough to just think like a futurist however, you must be one in the workplace. Our career development is directly related to how others (peers and superiors) perceive us, it is critical that our behavior and activity within the workforce reflect how we want to be branded. Here are four ways I develop and portray myself as a futurist:

Discuss… This may seem simple but, get together groups of coworkers for discussions about the future of your company, your team or any other project. Talk through the hypothetical questions with reckless abandon in the way that just does not happen at work. When you take the lead in these discussions, people begin to see you in the light of a futurist and will be comfortable bringing you in to the most exciting, cutting edge projects at work.

Embrace Idealism Anyone looking to be a forward-looking leader needs a certain tolerance for idealism. Yes, it should be countered with a healthy dose of pragmatism but, we all need an ideal state to pragmatically work towards.

Dare to Beta What technology is closest to future technology? Beta products. If you want to be a futurist, get out and try the products of the future. A good place to start looking for beta invites is InviteShare or TechCrunch.

Execute towards the Future This is something most professional futurist-consultants don’t do but, it can be an invaluable for a young professional early in their career. Find a project that is cutting edge/future centric and drive that change!

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  1. Wow, this is a great coincidence. Futurist is one of the dream jobs profiled in my new book, How’d You Score That Gig?, and it’s the one that I say I want when people ask me what I’d like to do if I wasn’t an author. Thanks for getting the info on this fascinating profession out there.


    Alexandra Levit
    Author, How’d You Score That Gig?
    Blogger, Water Cooler Wisdom

  2. Part of being a futurist is not always being first to market, but best to market. Signing up for beta testing and gaining access to things before they become mainstream, and then using that technology better than your competition is key in today’s fast paced world.

    Be a leader in a new field before it is cool to be that leader. People like to follow, but are sometimes scared to be a futurist.

  3. Speaking to Alexandra’s comment, it seems that a Futurist is not a specific career per se, but a mode of professionalism one can adopt in any field. How do you define it, Brandon?

    You touched on this and I’ll back it up: positivity is a crucial characteristic of the successful Futurist. People are hesitant to follow a leader into an unfamiliar fray. A smile and a sincere belief in success goes a long way in coaxing people to support you.

  4. Very interesting. After reading this post, I picked up an old book and looked for a related paragraph I’d underlined months earlier:

    “Our information society operates as a series of concentric rings, with the original and outlandish ideas on the outside. By the time something works its say into Newsweek or onto CNN, it’s moved to the center of the system, acquiring legitimacy and respectability as it goes. But out on the edges are the small-scale information sources that operate as gateways to the larger system…. If it’s truly different, it’s by definition marginalized. You look for it in the back alleys, not on Main Street.” (Jack Hart in A Writer’s Coach)

  5. My absolute dream job. I’m more on the cutting edge of our energy independence and see a HUGE potential to be a futurist in my company. Glad to know I’m not the only one that thinks like this. Great post!


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