Hello and welcome back to the Foresight Strategy show with your host, Dr. Nilda Perez and cohost Rachel Calderon. Today we are interviewing Dr. Verne Wheelwright. Dr. Verne is an internationally recognized professional in the field of foresight and future studies. He is the author of the award winning book Your Future Make it a Good one and also the personal futures workbook. He has published articles in a number of professional journals and other publications. Dr. Wheelwright, has conducted workshops and he has addressed audiences in major cities in the US and internationally in areas such as Turkey, Denmark, India, Australia, Japan, Canada, and many, many more. Welcome with me Dr. Verne Wheelwright. Dr. Verne my first question to you is how did you even get involved in personal futures? Let’s take a step back. Explain, because a lot of the audience we’ve been familiarized and they’ve discovered that futures is definitely something that they’re interested in, so they know what foresight and futures and futurist are. Now, my question to you is you have a niche and the niche is personal futures. Can you explain what that is and how you got involved in it?
Well, I got started while I was still in school at the University of Houston. This was almost 20 years ago and I learned all of these wonderful message. I was absolutely sold. I’ve been in small business of my own for quite a few years before that and I loved the message I was really sold, but in my final semester Dr. Bishop gave us an assignment and he said, I want each of you to create a 10 year plan for yourself. I knew that was going to be a piece of cake in studying these methods for two years. It was not easy. And I didn’t understand why, but I created a plan. I got a good grade on it and I still use the plan. I went on and started research at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK and did five years of research and finally finished up with a dissertation on personal futures. That dissertation included a small workbook in the appendix. I took that appendix. I did a couple of workshops at World Future Society and then published the workbook on my website. It’s a free download and then I wrote a book.
Okay. Fantastic. So can you give me a little bit more information about what exactly personal futures is up and how is it effective in ones life?
It does the same thing for people that future studies does for corporations. The difference is that I found that the steep forces that we use in business don’t work for individuals. What’s important are the forces within that individual’s life, their health, their friends and family, their finances, all of those things that are personal to them and you build a plan based on those forces. Sure you’re still aware of steep, but it’s not the driving forces in your life, your family, your finances, your health is a driving force in your life.
Well, what I find interesting is that I think this is definitely beneficial because you see like you’re saying that the driving forces from within or us personally, it does affect us in our business and our planning, what we’re to do even as far as tomorrow or next week, and we can attest to this as our mother had gotten sick and everything just kind of stopped, literally it went into a halt. So it’s like, but we didn’t plan that. So I think it’s great that it’s something that we can also plan for the future of how we kind of. Cause now I’m thinking if this were to happen again or something like this how can we do something that will prevent us from coming from our business coming to a complete halt.
Okay, I’m going to back up a step in addition to the forces, there are the stages of life now in the futures. There’s nothing you can really know about what’s going to happen in the future. In personal futures is the stages of life. I didn’t invent these, the Greeks have written about him centuries ago. They had seven stages of life and it’s just like almost anything in biology. It goes through stages. A butterfly starts out as a caterpillar and becomes eventually a butterfly and a person starts out as a baby and becomes a teenager and adult, a middle aged person, and finally an older person. And those stages, understanding those stages for yourself and your family members helps you plan ahead for you and for them. Now, you can see I’m at a stage of life where I’m starting to plan for the inevitable so I have to think differently about life than I did when I was in my twenties.
So here’s the thing. I can see I’m sitting here and I’m like, okay. I could see were steep also works in your personal life because you in your personal life there are impacts that are external that we have no control over. Rachel mentioned something that was super pointed, which was when my mom got sick, those were, there were external, even though that was a family, but there were external things that we had no control over. For instance, we took her to the hospital twice and they wouldn’t admit her. And My mother’s health was declining fast and furious. So we go back to. I go back to the steep. Social is something that even in our personal life any social environment affects us, technology if you’re not up with technology nowadays, you can’t even bank. So that’s when we talk about the economy, the economy is external, but it definitely affects the personal. The environment also affects the personal. So one of the things that I wrote in the magazine last month was about we have a CP, they had a new CPV, a plant put on, a few miles away, maybe like 10, 15 miles away from our home. So the reality is that that affects the entire county. And the surrounding counties, so that’s external, but that affects our personal health and our personal drinking water that of course the political. We all know so. So why do you feel that that’s not like a part of this where I could so see the connection?
I have no disagreement with what you’ve just said it all, but my point is that for individuals we have to think on a personal level. We think of health is our health. We don’t think so much about touring polio in South Africa. A large organizations are working with a much bigger canvas. We have to narrow our perspective and understand our lives as well as what’s going on in the world around us, like I journal every day because I like to keep up on what’s happening in the news its a little confusing some times. At the same time, what’s happening in the health world out there is not helping me with my health problems here in my family. These are the ones I have to deal with. In impersonal futures. I’m saying focus on your life and on your world and then learn about the rest of the world and steep, but still you’ve got to take care of yourself. Same thing applies in small business and I don’t know if you noticed, but I wrote a book for Small Business and it’s the same thing. It brings it down to a small business owner and tells him or her to focus on getting your business started, keeping it running, keeping the cash flow going during the marketing, all the things that have to be done in a small business. If you spend your time worrying about what’s happening on the other side of the world, you won’t be able to keep your business going and unless you’re doing business on the far side.
That’s fair to say because you know what? Before you begin to think out of your box you could say it’s kind of good to see internally and of course, even as a two man operation even we have to take care of our health because we can be running and working like hours and hours without even, skipping a beat. And then sometimes we’re like, oh my gosh, it then hits us and I’m like, we can’t operate like this. I remember the first couple of days we were like that, the first couple of years and I said, no, we can’t do this. I said, we need our rest because we then want to be able to put out our best. We want to put out excellence. So if that’s what we want to put out, we have to sleep.
So. But yeah that’s true. So is that more or less what we’re talking about Dr. Verne is that pretty much what you try to explain when you’re talking about personal futures?
Yes. I just go into a whole lot more detail and all of the same things that you go through from you’re doing futures for incorporation, we go through but on a different scale on a personal basis and that’s really about it. All those same steps except on a personal basis and realized when I started on this that I wanted the information about personal futures to go to everybody and so I put it on my website now I realized that there are people who don’t have access to a website, but by putting the personal futures workbook on the website along with some basic information about foresight in future studies. I’ve had well over 100,000 downloads of the workbooks and that was a couple of years ago. My website is kind of in disrepair right now. I’m starting to updated, but my statistics are out of date, but two years ago when we’d passed 100,000 downloads.
Well I’m right in the. Although that’s awesome. It would be great if people would actually use it because I got introduced to futures about 10 years ago and I have found it to be the most fascinating thing and not just because, I’m definitely passionate about it, but, it was really kind of haphazard the way that I got involved in futures. I thought I was interviewing for an MBA program and little did I know that Dr. Bruce thought that this was the perfect program for me and it basically kind of steered me that way. They said, oh yeah, that’s new. I love anything that’s new. I love new technology. I love anything that’s new. So I said, Oh yeah, that’s good. And I was in the, the brunt of it and didn’t realize. I was like, oh my goodness, this is a monster, but the truth be told it has been to me life changing and it’s that way in whether it’s personal or business futures or any industry that you’re in. Understanding the future, having an idea, having a compass is very important. People do this all of the time when they planned for their weddings, when they planned for, to have children, children’s birthdays. We’re always planning for the future, but a lot of times we’re navigating this with very little to no information. Would you agree?
I’m going to go back into what you said for a small coalition. I was in the University of Houston Mba program in my first semester and I took a course in rural futures and changed my major.
I’m telling you, it is like a drug. I have not met one person that has gotten involved in futures and doesn’t feel the same identical way because it really is fascinating to be able to have to process and to be able to research and learn things that really take. It just gives you such a different perspective. I really believe that future has never see the world the same way ever again. You would agree? When we take off those roads, colored glasses and we see that reality and all of the possibilities and that that’s fascinating. The possibilities, the opportunities, the threats, and so in personal futures, how do people cease opportunities or avoid threats?
In the same way that an organization does, you look at your life and you start thinking about, okay, what are the things that can happen? I’ve got children. Children break things themselves included, and so you have to anticipate, okay, if something happens to my child, what do I do? How do I deal with this? If I have children, how am I going to help them with their education? Am I going to send them to college? Am I going to send them to a technical education to learn to work with their hands? Am I going to have them learn how to work with computers? What are the jobs going to be? And that education is just one fashion of life. That’s the big one. And we have people who have gone in a direction where they won’t have their children immunized because of fears and there’s a responsibility to explore those fears, not only for your own children, but the children who are being exposed to diseases that your children are carrying if you don’t get them immunized. So it’s planning for a family, planning for the adults, the parents of the adults. I’m working on a book now about aging, which is actually where I started my work in personal future that I’m writing about an example of a lady who is just starting to lose her memory, starting to lose her mind slipping into dementia and eventually into Alzheimer’s and the terrible thing of this story is that people start coming in, they see her failing and they are anxious to get her money, her house, anything she owned and it’s a little startling because I’ve talked to people about so many instances where a family member has stolen from them. Other people are trying to find ways to get their money. We get it online every day. I have mail that is trying to figure out a way to trick me into giving them money or doing something. That’s what individual is it’s anticipating these problems. If you understand that most of the mail coming into your mailbox is jibberish well then you can lock it out one email at a time that you can lock it out so it can’t come back again. If you understand that your parents are at risk, then you can help them prepare before they start having mental problems of their own. And that’s probably the key if you can get them to make decisions about what they want to and if you stick to it those desires are fulfilled. But when I was doing my research with my very initial research, I did a set up questionnaires to several hundred people in their sixties and over, and one man on his questionnaire wrote in the comments, my nephew stole my farm and I had no way of contacting the man. But if I had, I really don’t know what I could have done anyway. But that’s me thinking about financial abuse of elders. I’ve talked to her attorneys, I’ve talked to doctors, I’ve talked to other elders. It’s everywhere in this country. There are people who are trying to steal the money, the homes, whatever from them.
Okay. So was it fair to say then that personal futures helps you prepare against those things happening?
Yes. It’s helped me and my family and friends and it’s how I got into this book, because relatives that were involved.
Right. Because if everything is pre organized or pre done, then it’s impossible for anybody to steal from you because everything is done. When you’re of sound mind, is that accurate?
Yes, the concept. Someone can always find a way to steal from them.
Especially from the elderly. They can always forged things, but again, if they have everything in place is much more difficult, if they’re going to do it, just make it hard for them. Right. If they’re going to do it anyway, just make it as difficult as possible. So a lot of these decisions have to be made when you’re younger and when you’re of sound mind.
You need to write a will If its both husband and wife that the wills work with each other. They are both happy with it. Then have it signed notarized and copied with the attorneys so that somebody can’t change it. Somebody can’t come in and just talk you out of it, and there are lots of ways that people can protect themselves, but they’ve got to figure out who they can actually trust who’s going to carry through for them.
Right. So if you’re younger, let’s say you’re a young couple, your in your late twenties, early thirties lets say, how would you suggest that they begin to plan planning out 10 years, planning out 25 years, 30 years? How do you suggest that they planned for their personal future?
Well, they need to think about their own lives, what they enjoy, what are their career’s going to be. Do they have a career path? Do they have order? Are they going to have children? Do they want to live in the city? Do they want to live in the country? How are they going to educate their children? What are they going to do when they get to mid life and the children start moving out and they have grandchildren to deal with. How are they going to contribute to the grandchildren? If at all, when they get older than that, where are they going to live? Are they going to just stay in the home they’ve raised their family in, which is usually a fairly large place. Go into a smaller place if they’re going to move from that neighborhood, are they’re going to leave most of their social connections behind if they move to a new place, they’ve got to recognize that they’ve got to build a new social network to fit that area. With computers, you can carry your friends anywhere you go. And that’s a marvelous thing. It also lets people become detached from each other. They’ve got that artificial space between their computer and the other computer. And so people aren’t, don’t feel quite so close is that used to,
So they can actually use this even younger Nilda they can use this. This is basically like personal planning, they can really plan out for the future and if you can hit a younger, audience because a younger generation, because I know like the millennials for example, like the twenties or you know, 18, 19, they’re still like kind of trying to figure life out, but if you can give them some kind of guideline and scenarios they can kind of come out of school or college, kind of understanding, well you know, what if I do this, this’ll happen. If I do that, that’ll happen. But even before getting to college because you don’t want it to get into the wrong field either because there are some fields nowadays that they’re so offering in college that the future is already saying that those careers may not even exist. It’s good to make them aware even earlier.
Planning, you appreciate the planning with the exploration of the future and then you’ll make a plan to get where you want to go. I went to college thinking I’m going to be a chemist in industry. That’s because I’d taken a course with chemistry and I loved it. When I got to college in the registration line, I found out how much math was going to be involved and I’m not very good at math, but I changed my major to business and in the first day on the campus you can see how much planning I had done and so hoping that other people will do better than I did.
Again, for me, I feel like I was a futurist since I was a child because I always researched the courses when I decided to go back to school because I went back to school later. I was in my mid to late twenties when I decided to go back to school. What I did was that I was in the workforce for quite some time and I figured out what I didn’t like and so that was a process of elimination and one of the things that I recognized was that I was working the same hours as a lot of professionals around me and they will make you three times what I was making. So with that said, I started planning my future and said, okay, so if that’s the case and the only difference between them and myself is that they have a degree, I guess I have to go get one of those. And from there it’s been quite a journey, but I also know that nowadays our kids, they’re not thinking the same, they’re very confused. There in school. So I think personal futures is very important to them because they’re very confused. They don’t know what way to go. Their fear is that they’re going to finish school and then they’re still not going to have a job. And so there’s a lot for them to think about and I think their concerns are very valid.
Their concerns are very valid because you have to understand, they see our grandparents, okay. They’ve experienced a lot of our or our parents’ experiences. Okay. And then they see us with these jobs and then a lot of our generation has lost jobs, because the crash of the economy and all these. So they’re like, okay, so what am I going to do next? So neither example, like my mom talks about the depression and what she went through and they’re like, okay we’re not going to go into that already. Then we, we tell them about our experiences. So they’re really fearful, like, what do we do now? Is there a future? That’s how they think.
Exactly. So in a case like that Dr. Verne how would you work with really with the millennials?
I worked with millennials all the time at the university in Mexico. I was teaching millennials. They’re smart kids probably smarter than my generation. They are starting to grasp the things that I didn’t understand at the time they tend to think more about the future than I think my generation did. So there’s evolution is working on our side. When I was at the University of Houston, I graduated in 2000 the word future with very seldom seen on a publication. We celebrated it, some magazines, had an article about the future. Now I pick up the newspaper and magazine and we’ll have some kind of an article with future in the title so we’ve made some progress.
So Dr. Verne I would definitely want to continue this conversation at a later time because it’s definitely interesting. Oh, you have you have a workbook, right? We’re going to have all of your information. You have a workbook that you’re, that you give out, right? It’s free on your site.
It’s on my website. PersonalFutures.net
Okay. So we will refer them there and they can download the workbook and there’s also a book. We’re going to have all of the information about the book, where to get the book at the bottom of this interview, so we do definitely want to check in and look into that because when we’re talking personal futures, this is really big in the future, honestly. Is right now. The future is tomorrow morning. The future is 30 years from now. The more prepared you are, the better you’re going to land on your feet and that’s, that’s just a short of it. You have to be ready for change because the future is going to change whether you’re ready or not. Right. Okay. So awesome. Thank you so much Dr. Verne for being here with us. And again, we look forward to seeing you very soon coming back with more information on personal futures, so we look forward to seeing you very soon. Okay. And to the audience, I’ll see you guys next week. Next week we’ll have another futurist and more information for you. All right. Until then, goodbye.
Verne Wheelwright, PhD. is an internationally recognized professional in the field of Foresight/Futures Studies. He is the author of the award-winning book It’s Your Future… Make it a Good One! and The Personal Futures Workbook, and has published articles in a number of professional journals and other publications.
Dr. Wheelwright has conducted workshops and addressed audiences in major cities across the U.S. and audiences internationally, including Turkey, Denmark, India, Australia, Japan, Canada and many more.
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