Programs & Presentations

Presented by Gary Marx, President, Center for Public Outreach

Contact us to schedule programs and discuss rates.

Alternate Titles:

Getting and Staying in Touch…
and Ahead of the Curve

Out of the Trenches…Into the Future
Disruption won’t end.  Let’s make it a friend.

Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century
Out of the Trenches and into the Future


45-Minute to 1 hour Keynote:

Program Description:

Here’s the challenge:  Getting and staying ahead of the curve in a fast-changing world.  What we do in the trenches is important, but, as leaders, so is perspective.  For that, we need to constantly seize higher ground.  Like it or not, we are of this world, not separate from it.

Futurist, author, and education leader Gary Marx, in his latest book, Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century…Out of the Trenches and into the Future, explores massive forces that impact everyone.  Experience how political, economic, social, technological, demographic, and environmental trends are coming together in a perfect storm that can either create havoc or generate energy to invigorate everything we do. The future depends on insightful leadership.

From energy and the environment to technology, identity and privacy, authority, and work-life balance, Marx expands our understanding and curiosity.  These connections are essential to a sustainable future and to an education system that strives for personalization; depth, breadth, and clearer purpose; collaboration and teamwork; the need to cultivate ingenuity, imagination, creativity, and entrepreneurship; and the imperative of finding the excitement and satisfaction of getting better tomorrow, no matter how good we are today.  We exist in a fast-changing world.

In this fast-paced, energetic presentation, you’ll find an external scan and an intelligence report that can inform the decisions we make today and the planning we do to create a future for our schools, our students, and our communities.

Expanded Program Description:  

What can we do to get connected to forces shaping the real world—the one our children will inherit?  How can we get our schools, students, organizations, communities, and nations in touch with the needs and promises of a 24/7/365 world that’s changing exponentially?  Is there a way we can get a handle on the tumult and disruption, maybe even using the challenges to trigger one of the most exciting times in our lives?

In his book, Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century, author, futurist, and education leader Gary Marx lays out an array of powerful trends that have profound implications for all of us, wherever we are.

This powerful, energizing, fast-paced, and revealing presentation puts a brief spotlight on that fast-changing world and its implications for all of us.  What we’re experiencing is not just a subtle adjustment but a society-wide reset.

Before our very eyes, we are seeing massive shifts in what generations expect plus unprecedented changes in other demographic trends, such as aging and diversity.  We are constantly adapting to unprecedented advances in technology coupled with concerns about identity and privacy.  We are pressed to prepare people to become employable and well-adjusted members of civil society.  Most of us are maneuvering through an often strained economy and considering how to settle the competition between our demand for energy and our need for planetary sustainability.

We are living through a revolution in education that often seems like high-stakes personalization, coupled with legitimate demands for depth, breadth, renewed purpose, and what could be a life or death struggle to develop thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills.  At the same time, we are pressed to cultivate curiosity, ingenuity, and imagination.

In one way or another, everyone else in the world has become our neighbor.  We’re becoming more urbanized at the same time our demand is growing for food, fiber, and fresh water.  We’re faced with growing numbers of children living in poverty, a cry for more ethical behavior, and the personal reality that we need to get a grip on work-life balance.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride as Gary Marx becomes the guide for us to explore a world of change.  We have a choice.  We can be thermometers and simply conclude that what’s happening is turbulent and disruptive.  On the other hand, we can be thermostats–consider the realities, take leadership, engage those around us, and decide how we can shape an even brighter future, for ourselves, our children, and generations to come.

Take-Aways:

  • A better understanding of the world in which each of us and our organizations function and the future our children will inherit.
  • Information and processes that can enliven courses and classes and stimulate active learning; project-based education; real-world education; learning through inquiry; and teaching thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills.
  • An external scan to help inform day-to-day decisions and longer-range planning.
  • A greater sense of context and perspective, an ability to further develop insight  and try to understand how disciplines, ideas, and events converge to get us beyond our silos.
  • Increased curiosity about the world around us and an eagerness to engage in continuous learning and improvement.
  • A strengthened understanding that, no matter how good we are today, we need to become even better tomorrow, since we function and lead in a fast-changing world.
  • A renewed realization that all of us must be leaders, each playing a unique set of roles and contributing to the overall well-being of people, the organization, and the community.

Two-Hour, Half-Day, Full Day Presentation and Workshop:

This workshop includes a somewhat more extensive presentation on societal trends followed by activities that tap the ideas, energy, and future-oriented thinking of everyone involved.  The sessions are sometimes offered as Community Conversations or Futures Councils.  The group can be as small as perhaps a leadership team or a faculty and as broad as a diverse cross section of 100 to 250 members of staff and the broader community.  It’s a golden opportunity to emphasize the leadership role of an organization while demonstrating why it should be a convenor and crossroads for the community.

Gary Marx will be pleased to advise on development of these types of workshops and on bringing people and organizations together in common purpose.  The energy, ideas, possibilities, and excitement are invigorating.  Goals can range from energizing all of us and seeking common purpose to kicking off or enriching a more formal planning process.  While sessions such as this can result in actual plans, they are generally advisory, tapping the genius of people to determine possibilities as we look to the future.

What happens at these workshops begins with the presentation of trends.  What else is included depends on time available for the processes.  Generally, these sessions involve a review of challenges facing anyone engaged in 21st century leadership.  That includes nearly everyone, whatever role they play.  Marx devotes time to introducing some key qualities of leaders capable of creating a future.

In this high energy, interactive session, he guides participants, in small groups, using brainstorming techniques and substantive sharing and discussion.  Marx introduces future tools, techniques anyone can use to stay in touch with the internal and external environment and consider sustainable visions of the future.  Among them are trend analysis, issue analysis, gap analysis, flexibility/innovation analysis, and historical/defining moments analysis.  Marx also addresses the development of scenarios.

Just a reminder:  Used in the classroom, any of these processes can provide a platform for active learning, project-based education, learning through inquiry, and learning across disciplines.  They stimulate thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills.

If time is available, participants are engaged in hands-on activities aimed at identifying and sorting issues and conceiving of sustainable futures.  Other program features can include how to deal with pressure groups and criticism, consensus building, creating knowledge/releasing genius, ethics, intellectual leadership, building a case, and how to communicate meaning, not just information.  This program is rich in common sense, on-the-ground, principles of leadership.

Gary Marx tells us…“The future will not necessarily be a linear projection of the present.  It will likely be a series of discontinuities, things we don’t expect.  That’s why we need to constantly look over the horizon.  If we don’t identify and manage the issues, the issues may just end up managing us.  If we understand trends and issues, people are likely to say that we’re in touch.  If we don’t understand trends and issues, what will people likely say about us?”

Take Aways: 

  • A sense that we are “all in this together;” that “someone really is interested in listening to my ideas and cares about them; and that “I’m involved in something that is bigger than myself and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
  • A collection of possibilities as we think about and plan for the future.
  • A better understanding of the probability and potential impact of issues we might face.
  • An even greater sense of how we might become even more flexible and innovative.
  • Shared knowledge, experiences, and insights.
  • A sense that we have done both an external scan and a scan of the genius that surrounds us.  We’re able to connect massive trends that impact everyone, everywhere, with their implications for getting our students, schools, colleges and universities, businesses, governments, and nations prepared for an even more sustainable future.

Future-Focused Leadership…

Scanning the Environment, Considering a Vision, and Exploring the Qualities of Future-Focused Leaders


Keynote Presentation or Breakout Session:

1 to 4 hours (what is included depends on time available)

What are the qualities of leaders who are capable of the constant process of creating a future?  Gary Marx, author of Future-Focused Leadership…Preparing Schools, Students, and Communities for Tomorrow’s Realities, lays out challenges facing all 21st century leaders.  He also draws on research from his book, Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century.  In this motivating, often interactive, session, he engages educators and often other community leaders in exploring “futures tools.”  These are techniques anyone can use to stay in touch with the internal and external environment and consider sustainable visions of the future.  Among them are trend analysis, issue analysis, gap analysis, flexibility/innovation analysis, and historical/defining moments analysis.  Marx also addresses the development of scenarios.  In the classroom, any of these processes can provide a platform for active learning, project-based education, and learning across disciplines.

If time is available, participants are engaged in hands-on activities aimed at identifying and sorting issues and conceiving of a sustainable future.  These are techniques that anyone can use right away.

Other program features can include how to deal with pressure groups and criticism, consensus building, creating knowledge/releasing genius, ethics, intellectual leadership, building a case, and how to communicate meaning, not just information.

This program is rich in common sense, on-the-ground, principles of leadership.  Gary Marx tells us…“The future will not necessarily be a linear projection of the present.  It will likely be a series of discontinuities, things we don’t expect.  That’s why we need to constantly look over the horizon.  If we don’t identify and manage the issues, the issues may just end up managing us.  If we understand trends and issues, people are likely to say that we’re in touch.  If we don’t understand trends and issues, they’ll likely say were “out of touch.”

Take Aways:

  • Get connected to forces impacting a fast-changing world.
  • Review and experience processes that are basic to planning, staying in touch, making day-to-day decisions and recommendation, and planning for the future.
  • Learn from the ideas and experiences of colleagues who are involved in discussions and consensus building activities.
  • Think and share insights about the implications of trends, the probability and potential impact of issues, and the value of flexibility and innovation.
  • Conceive of the future we would like to see, such as describing the schools, school systems, colleges, universities, or education system we might need to prepare our students for the future in a fast-changing world.
  • Be inspired by the genius of those around us, while we are, in turn, inspiring them.