An Interview with Anne Lise Kjaer – LEAF Resident Futurist
Meet Anne Lisa Kjaer – Keynote speaker for LEAF 2020 Launch
LEAF is all about innovation and maximising the future as well as the products and talent of the future. So we thought of nobody better than futurist and regular keynote speaker Anne Lise Kjaer to launch LEAF with us. Anne Lisa Kjaer is an author and founder of Kjaer Global – a company that aids businesses and individuals in navigating the future of their discipline. Anne Lise is well-known and respected in the global forecasting community with over 30 years in trend management. She has delivered talks to over 50,000 people since 1999 and holds the honorary title of Copenhagen Goodwill Ambassador. Anne Lise’s insight reaches into every aspect of the future – from food to fashion, cars and electronics, to the next big thing in retail. It has given her a worldwide client base and a unique ability to engage and inspire her audiences. As she says: “The future is not somewhere we go; we create the future.”We caught up with Anne Lise ahead of the launch of LEAF to find out more about what keeps her ticking and striving for success.
- You’re a specialist in the game of futurism, how did such a passion first start out?
‘“I have always been a very curious person and feel privileged to have made a living out of that. Art has always inspired me ever since I started out as a designer over 3 decades ago. My career as a futurist began when I started exploring the world of trends. I wanted to know:
· WHAT happens before we start to design?
· WHERE does inspiration come from?
· WHO shapes the trends we follow?
· HOW do we choose the right direction? And
· WHY are some companies ahead and others not?
There wasn’t much competition back then; so I decided to make my own trend book. I travelled to Paris to look for a trend forecaster job. But when I showed my book, interviewers would say: “You are our competitor” And I then went back to London and thought: What do I do next?
One day, when visiting TATE art gallery I literally saw the writing on the wall. A quote by artist William Blake caught my eye. It said: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s” And it was there and then I had my Big Idea: I wanted to create my own trend system to understand the future.”
3) LEAF is all about electronic arts and how businesses, creatives etc use them, as a futurist and someone who owns a business do you have one tip for those starting out in the world of electronic arts to help them progress?
“All it takes is ONE IDEA. I made a slow start – but am still in business 30 years later – but seeing the bigger picture is a good way to start.
· Think of WHAT you want to do.
· Imagine HOW you want to go about it. Make a mental map and then start sketching it – a prototype so to speak – Rome wasn’t built overnight – so any great idea must undergo an iterative process – it’s like life – you will figure it out as you go along.
· BUT most crucial of all:
· WHY do you want to pursue that idea? What’s your mission and purpose beyond making money? I guess when your mission is fuelled by an inner drive where you would do it even if you didn’t make money from it – then you have found your purpose and passion.”
2) You have so many projects on the go, do you have a routine or ritual each day that you use to keep you motivated?
“Great question. I am working on a FUTURIST HABITS list for my online Kjaer Academy – so very happy to share some of mine. I guess most people have rituals/routines – for me, it’s all about getting a good start to my day. To me ‘rituals’ sounds more inspiring.
I believe that “Everything is attitude – so why not start the day with a good one”
My core rituals/habits can be done anywhere – so no excuses for not doing them!
1) I meditate every day – often wake before 6am in the morning – so rather than being stressed about not having had enough sleep – I meditate in bed for 30-40 minutes. That gives me energy and inspired thoughts. I then shower and get ready – the usual.
2) I start my day with 2 big glass of water and a cup of coffee – that refreshes me and lands me in the real world.
3) I write my ideas down over coffee while they are fresh in my memory. In my meditation I sometimes get a theme or a topic I want to explore or look into. Or I have a project or a challenge I need inspiration for. I read a lot and listen to lectures or take online courses as part of my work. Often I do listen to things while walking. In fact, setting aside time to think is essential to anyone – it’s crucial for any futurist or leader who wants to think new thoughts.
4) I walk to get to stimulate my brain. I once read that walking in nature increases your creativity by 60% – so the business case for rendezvous with nature is clear. Often just a brisk walk but when I walk longer than 45 minutes I always listen to a book, a lecture or a course.
5) Mornings are the most valuable time of my day – I cannot tell you how much it gives me. It’s all about energy in and energy out – my morning investment is worth 3-4 hours of good work.
These rituals have become a core part of my life – during a busy week I am usually back in the office before 9 am. I work from home so have the freedom to shape my day just the way I want to.
6) I write my to-do-list from the day before to get urgent things out of the way.
7) I then check my e-mails (but after 11 am as I refuse to let emails dictate my day). I scan from the top-down – deleting spam and then from the bottom up I respond to all ‘short reply’ mails and file the ‘long reply’ ones for later.
8) Lunch at 1 pm is crucial – good fuel is needed to do good work. I usually have 20 minutes and a huge cup of coffee.
9) Afternoon work is always efficient because of good rituals. It’s independent of travel, meetings or whatever my agenda is – I always look for balance and inner silence to stay centred.
10) 4:30 pm mediation If time allows I usually take a small break from myself and busy thoughts – that is particularly important when I have deadlines. Often if I am stuck or a bit exhausted it’s the best way to quickly recharge.
11) I check my mails around 5 pm and get ‘long reply’ ones out.
12) Finally, I make my to-do-list for the next day.
4) You’re an incredibly inspiring individual and a regular keynote speaker, do you have anyone who particularly inspires you?
“My futurist lens is wide – I think it’s essential to being a good futurist as you need to approach the future with an open mind really – also seeing things that worry you.
As a futurist I inspire and teach organisations How to Think, Work and Play like a Futurist – curiosity is a crucial skill.
Naturally arts to culture, great writers, films, food, music, architecture, travelling and meeting new people inspires me in particular – but many things inspire me to look at things in a whole new way. I scan wide using my Trend Atlas exploring the scientific, social, emotional and spiritual landscape of society.
I guess I am a future narrator – like an arachnologist finds artefacts from the past and then make stories up about a time gone by – my artefacts are present snapshots and soundbites – I guess I take the best/worst from everything – then mash these impressions up and use them to storytelling the future in scenarios.
I call my stories postcards from the future and in my scenarios, I often feature people, companies, events etc. that made an impression on me – but more so – the impression I feel will shape our common future.”
5) What would you say your biggest challenge is in your industry?
“Short-termism may be the greatest threat our species is facing this century. As we redefine prosperity, new leadership models will emerge to cultivate a much more meaningful approach to business and life. I like how business guru Peter Drucker put it: “Management is doing things right, but leadership is doing the right things.”
Organisations tend to measure everything (value) – except what counts (values). Why? Numbers give an illusion of control – but a critical factor for success or failure is culture. However culture is complex because it’s Beyond Measure.
The fact that something is hard to quantify doesn’t make it any less important. On the contrary, we have to approach the future with a holistic mind. In the past business, the focus was pretty much just on P for Profit – but in the 21st century, Multidimensional Thinking is needed to offer a much wider definition of progress.
I call this the 4P Business and Innovation Model and this is also how I scan trends. The principles are simple: Once we balance People and Planet with a Purposeful ethos to match – we cultivate an inclusive culture and that leads to sustainable Performance.”
6) What is your favourite part of your job?
“Well, where do I start? There are so many inspiring things in my daily life and work. Because once you have trained how to apply a whole-brain outlook – then you will forever approach the future with hope rather than fear and that is really powerful.
I would say that being invited to sit at the table with very powerful people from around the world – joining them in open dialogue about how best to actively shape the future by inspiring new thinking to help solve current challenges – well that’s a real privilege that I am very grateful about.
I guess live my motto every day: “The future is not just somewhere we go – we create the future.”