David Zach

One of the few professionally trained futurists in the US, David Zach – through his company, Innovative Futures – works with businesses, universities, and associations to help them understand how to think about the future, change, and continuity – and how to make choices about them. He gathers his information and ideas through extensive research, and a daily study of books, magazines, discussions, and online explorations. In his thought-provoking presentations, he takes his audiences on a tour of key trends and current issues in technology, business, education, and society.

Spotting the trends is not enough. Knowing what they mean is what people really need from a futurist. With Zach’s (rhymes with Bach) degree in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, he’s got the credentials to spot the trends along with their long and short–term implications for your work, life, and community. He spends a lot of time looking back at the traditions that have proven themselves over time, which helps his audiences think across time so they can learn how to choose between change and tradition. When they do that they can even start to see the implications of the implications, going beyond just strategies and tactics to help build a sense of mission and vision.

Anyone who knows Zach knows that he doesn’t take the future or himself too seriously. Combining a professional–level wit with small town, Midwestern charm, he takes an important subject and gets your audience to laugh, talk, and reflect. The future isn’t what it used to be. The more uncertain we are about today, the more opportunities there are for explorations, innovations, and commitments. Times like these are ideal for remembering, connecting, and asking the question, “Where do we go from here?”

He previously worked at Johnson Controls and Northwestern Mutual Life in the areas of environmental scanning and strategic planning. He has also taught future studies in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


An Owner’s Guide to the Future
An Owner’s Guide to the Future is entertaining and thought-provoking, and is typically positioned to launch the conference by getting people laughing, thinking and talking. Do we really want vacuum cleaners that can argue with us? Will the automation of health care lead to the automation of caring? And, how come teenagers can pay attention to ten things at once and still be, like, bored? David Zach asks some funny questions. In his thought-provoking tour of modern times he’ll offer some useful answers that will get people talking. With a friendly style and a little bit of midwestern charm, he’ll help you face the future with a solid sense of hope and inspiration.

As one of the very few professionally trained futurists on the planet, David Zach blends the funny with the profound in this surprisingly practical keynote to help you decide what really matters. You’ll rethink the balance between change and tradition – and the need to hold on to that which shouldn’t change. At the end, you’ll find yourself either thoughtfully quiet or engaged in some of the best conversations you’ve ever had at a meeting. Dave may not be the futurist you expected, but he is the one you’ll remember.

Fads, Trends & Principles
Play with Fads, Work with Trends, Live by Principles. That’s what we should do, but unfortunately mostly we are Seduced by Fads, Ignorant of Trends and in Denial of Principles. In an age of information, which is really an age of communication, which is really an age of attention – meaning that what you pay attention to becomes what you are. In this presentation (which can also be presented as a three hour interactive keynote or as a follow-up workshop) you’ll learn the strategic and tactical differences between Fads, Trends and Principles and how to protect and direct that most valuable of resources – your attention.

Designs on the Future
The future depends upon design and architects need to understand how important their role is in building that future. Some have said that the future requires us to be open to change, but futurist David Zach disagrees. It’s not that simple. In order to build a good future we must know how to hold on to the best of the past and make sure we learn from the lessons of history.

It should be clear that not all change is progress and not all tradition is outdated. Survival and progress depend on our ability to choose between change and tradition. Again, architects are some of the best prepared to make those choices clear for others. It’s time that they regained leadership positions for shaping the choices we must make.

This presentation is a fascinating (and rather irreverent) look at the trends and traditions affecting design and the roles that architects, designers and planners can have over the next ten years.

Strategic Futures – Thinking about the bottom line & the horizon
strategic Futures is packed with more practical content for those needing to think about the bottom line as well as the horizon. Whether you’re an owner, a free agent, a manager or just somebody who likes to think a lot about the future, you need to pay attention to both the bottom line and the horizon. With a focus on the practical and the possible, this is a down-to-earth look at key strategic trends: from the rise of intelligent money to the fall of national borders, from virtual workplaces to virtually unlimited information, and even from the automation of health care to the automation of things you’ve never believed possible. If you need to do some deep thinking about choices, forecasts and how you’ll navigate tomorrow, let internationally renowned futurist David Zach be your guide.

An Educator’s Guide to the Future
It’s been said that “First we shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” As a futurist, David Zach will offer some insights on what those tools are that are just over the horizon (or behind closed doors) and how they might be both used for good as well as for harm – affecting everything they encounter.

So what will students be facing when school ends and their work futures begin? (Or will School be an endless process?) Will the work they imagine be outsourced to China or India or be down sourced into machines that will be in their neighborhoods? What new inventions will let them do so much more than they can do today? Why is there such an explosion of innovation and will it continue?

Will the students (and their teachers and parents) be so distracted that they might not even notice? Will we lose the ability and the appreciation for eloquence, let alone for face to face communication? What’s the future of multitasking? Are we retraining our brains to successfully pay attention to many things at once — or as author Maggie Jackson suggests, is the erosion of attention bringing on the new Dark Ages? How come kids can be doing ten things at once and still be, like, bored? David Zach asks a lot of interesting questions, and when cornered on stage, he’s been known to give some funny answers. With a focus on both the practical, possible and preferable, he’ll share with you a down-to-earth look at what’s going on today and where it seems to be going. When he’s finished with the talk, you still won’t know tomorrow’s lottery numbers, but you might just have a better idea of where to invest your time, attention and attitudes about the future. Let internationally renowned futurist David Zach be your guide to the not too distant future.

Full Biography

David Zach is one of the few professionally trained futurists on this planet, having earned a master’s degree in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Of course, this was way back in the 1980s, so it’s pretty much history by now. Since then, Dave has worked with over 1400 associations, corporations and colleges offering insights on the personal and professional impact of strategic trends. In other words, he gives funny and thought-provoking keynote speeches on the future of technology, economics, business, education, demographics and society.

He reads a lot – and he reads a lot more about the past than he does about the future. He knows that change is vital but it’s also overrated and in this time of tumultuous change, it’s far more important that we find the things that don’t change and shouldn’t change. Tradition and change are really choices, and we are only prepared to choose wisely when we look far and wide for causes, implications and lasting value.

Dave has only had two real jobs; one with Northwestern Mutual and the other with Johnson Controls in the roles of environmental scanning and strategic planning. Along the way, he taught Future Studies in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Since 1987, he mostly sits and read everything he can and then designs fascinating presentations that leave people either engaged in vivid conversations or quietly reflecting on what it all means. He gives talks about 50 times a year and really wishes he would write more. He is the author of two books, so far.

Dave is on the board of the American Institute of Architects and on the board of the American Chesterton Society. Past activities include: Wisconsin Small Business Development Center Advisory Council, AIA-WI Board, Future Milwaukee Advisory Board, Community Advisory Board for NPR station WUWM, board member of eInnovate, member of the downtown Rotary Club of Milwaukee, and chairman of the Goals for Greater Milwaukee 2000 Education Committee.

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