Speeches

Messages Tailored For Your Company or Event

 

“Climate Change: Natural Cycle or Troubling Trend?”

For over 20 years I’ve been seeing the symptoms of a warmer, wetter, more volatile climate showing up in the weather patterns above Minnesota, the nation and the planet. I started connecting the dots, publicly, in the late 90s, long before Al Gore came out with his documentary on climate change. There is compelling data – multiple strands of evidence – confirming a planetary warming trend is now well underway. CO2 levels are higher than they’ve been in at least 3 million years, a time when sea level was 75 feet higher than today. Rains are falling harder, the growing season consistently longer – new flowers (and pests) that weren’t here a generation ago.

Sea level is rising, winter weather is increasingly erratic – more water vapor in the air flavoring nearly all weather today. The climate is changing, it’s us – and there are solutions – new technologies and strategies that will rejuvenate our economy, add jobs and make us far more resilient, no matter what a more volatile climate throws at us.

“Reinvent Your Business Model, Before Someone Does It For You”

Douglas talks about (what else) the weather. But he uses weather as a metaphor to talk about disruptive storms of change impacting every sector, and the implications for your business. Whether it’s sharing his journey from climate skeptic to accepting the science, or sharing the trials and successes of his entrepreneurial ride, Douglas inspires audiences with a message of curiosity, experimentation and continuous reinvention. The forecast calls for change.

I’ve started 5 companies in Minnesota since the mid-80s, the vast majority of them weather-related. Stick to your passion. Do what you know and love, right? In each of these businesses I drew up a business plan, with what I thought was a sustainable model. In reality not ONE of these companies turned out like I thought it would, through a combination of new competitors, changes in the business landscape, new inventions and things none of us could foresee. I had to adapt, change the model (on the fly) to remain competitive and live to fight another day.

Of all the business attributes that increase the odds of success – the most important, in my humble estimation, is flexibility. Yes, creativity, and an empowered work force, clear-cut goals and incentives are all critical, but the one factor that has emerged above all others in my entrepreneurial walk is the ability to turn on a dime, to adapt, in real-time, to the unforeseen and unpredictable.

Who, in your company, is charged with reinvention, with reimagining what your business will look like 10-20 years from now. Focusing on short-term metrics can be fatal. Who is looking out over the horizon, anticipating change, pushing the boundaries of what is possible? Do you have a skunk works program charged with cannibalizing your own business? If you don’t do it – a competitor will. The reward goes to the nimble, the business owner willing to transform and even eliminate existing lines to meet the needs of future customers.

“Embracing Change”

The only predictable thing about the future is change. All of us have a fear of change, a fear of the unknown. But to be successful in the future, every individual and company will need to embrace change to be successful. Experts estimate half of all current jobs may be disrupted by an inevitable tsunami of change: automation, outsourcing, robotics and artificial intelligence. We’re just now witnessing the tip of the iceberg of what promises to be a fundamental restructuring of the U.S. economy – and all of us need to pay attention.

Today’s graduate may have to navigate as many as 2-4 different careers and 1 to 2 dozen jobs. Like it or not, we are all members of the “Gig Economy”. This calls for a mindset of lifelong learning and retraining; to be ready – in some cases – for jobs that don’t even exist today. We are all entrepreneurs now, but tools are becoming available to ease this rocky transition into the near-future. A willingness to fail, iterate and reinvent is no longer optional. How do we get to a place of embracing change and building flexibility into our career plans as well as business plans? One thing seems certain: what worked in 1995 probably won’t work in 2025. Paul explores the challenges and potential solutions as America charges headlong into a new Information Economy.

Paul’s presentation on climate volatility was well received by employees and company leaders alike.  People valued not only his scientific explanation but also his personal journey in understanding weather trends and their implications for the future.  Paul’s meteorology expertise, combined with his engaging style, make him a strong presenter on what can often be a very complicated and charged topic

Catherine Gunsbury

General Mills

Paul was an energetic and dynamic speaker. Our students enjoyed hearing about his entrepreneurial work.  It was beneficial for students to hear from someone who was able to combine his passion with his career.

Christaine Bartels

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Paul spoke at our annual meeting last week.  He gave an energetic, thought provoking talk.  His upbeat style had us smiling through all points of business. He truly inspired us. Thank you, Paul!

Julie Hirsch

Larson Engineering

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