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My Futurist Era: Frank’s Version

Chapter One – I Was a Teenage Sci-Fi Geek

The year was 1979, about 10 years before the birth of Taylor Swift herself, and I was building my own back-yard special effects department (better known as the family garage) where, along with a gang of after-school make-up artists, set designers, monster creators, shoe-string FX developers, and week-end model makers (better known as my elementary school friends), we created the world’s greatest Super-8 sci-fi and horror films (according to the unbiased critique of our parents). We poured over every issue of Starlog, CineMagic, and Analog; we mocked up architecture and devices that we imagined to be a part of the worlds that were shown in Star Trek, The Day The Earth Stood Still, or Starship Troopers. We used spare parts from appliances to build life-size replicas of the B-9 robot from Lost In Space and the service droids from Silent Running. We fashioned blasters from cardboard paper towel rolls, lightsabers from fluorescent bulbs, and laser cannons from the top of L’eggs packages. We each dreamed of spending a lifetime designing these fantastical futures, and I remember thinking to myself, “This is gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames.” Little did I know that what I was doing in the late 70’s and early 80’s would cultivate a passion for creating work that would unearth alternative images for humanity and the planet.

Chapter Two – My Quest for the Sacred

From a young age, I was deeply interested in the mysterious, the awe-inspiring, and the essence of what makes life beautiful. Mix that with religion, and you have a potent elixir. I always considered myself to be an intellectual of sorts, but during my time at university, I felt a strong call to reconnect with my childhood fascination around the spiritual, the mystic, and the divine. One night, I slipped into a church not far from campus, where a very ornate and ceremonial service was taking place. That was it – I spent the next two decades serving as a Christian pastor. This time was initially like recovering an old cardigan from under the bed that made me feel all warm inside, giving me the freedom to seek life beyond numbers, data, and observable facts. Near the end of my time in this chapter, that freedom was all but lost to the black hole of religious rules and regulations. However, that allowed me to switch my focus from after-life fervor to liberation in the here-and-now. I had the incredible fortune to meet my foresight & futures thinking mentor, Dr. Jay Gary, who was launching a new Masters of Strategic Foresight program. The experience of combining my loves of thinking, knowing, sensing, intuiting, and feeling positioned me for an incredible turn of events over a very brief period of time.

Chapter Three – Building Futures Competencies and Cultures Around the World

The year is now 2011 – two years after I founded the foresight firm Kedge – and I was scheduled to run a foresight boot camp alongside Dr. Gary at that year’s World Futures Society conference In Vancouver, Canada. As fate would have it, I didn’t attend much more of the conference due to meeting and hanging out with Disney Futurist Yvette Montero Salvatico. We talked about building a foresight competency within Disney’s Parks and Resorts, and a few short weeks later we were working together to do just that. Fast forward a few more months, and Yvette joined Kedge as Principal and Managing Director. We spent the next five years doing it all over again for Walt Disney International, forming the largest futures team in the world across ~40 countries. We did similar work for many Fortune 100s, public agencies, and nonprofits over the next 12 years, as well as founding the globe’s most prolific foresight learning ecosystem for leaders, executives, change makers, students, and lovers of life – something I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Chapter Four – Unlocking Your Inner Futurist

Recently, we’ve been elevating our goal to democratize foresight around the world so that everyone knows the biological, psychological, and sacred dynamics of futures thinking belongs to them, to all people, and to all living systems. It’s evolutionary, organic, and natural, and allows us to transform and nurture novel realities – one in which we rid ourselves of the linear, mechanistic, and extractive operations through a futures consciousness that empowers us to just “shake it off” and “dream ourselves awake.” Our Transformations of Natural Foresight Retreats are an exciting manifestation of this new growth curve, but we’re taking this way of living to our clients as well – those who have the courage and savviness to both see and build the new world that’s rising.