I’m in midtown Manhattan… on my way to a roundtable discussion about innovation. I pick up an espresso at a local coffee place, which I pay for with Apple-pay on my phone. I order a car with my Uber app and check my email during the ride.
After a 15 minute drive I exit the car and check the address of my meeting again on Google maps. “347 Madison Avenue…” This avenue has some of the world’s most upscale boutiques… and is of course famous because of the American television series about the advertisement industry. The phrase “Mad Men” is a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves.
While crossing the street, Igor Beuker comes to mind… with his presentation ‘From Mad Men to Math Men’.
I recently learned that his talk has transformed into a TV show, with Igor as the host. Add to that that he writes for Business Insider and that he regularly sees trends that he ‘spotted’, become real.
“Why don’t I give him a call,” I think to myself, “maybe he can give me some insights.”
Google Hangouts puts me in direct contact with Igor.
“Great to hear from you, I’m actually invited to speak at a marketing conference in New York next month,” Igor says, “so, what’s up?”
“Well, I’m on my way to attend a discussion about innovation in business, and I would like your view on some statements. Do you have a few minutes?”
“Sure, sounds like fun, shoot!” Igor replies.
“Okay here we go,” I say, “let’s start with one of your own phrases, just to get you going. Mad Men vs Math Men… what can you say about that?”
“Here is the short version,” Igor starts. “Mad Men are the people who have become world players based on advertising and old business models. The Math Men are strategic thinkers and entrepreneurs who believe innovation is the way to survival and growth. They believe in the power of digital transformation, which will create new opportunities for your business.”
“Great…,” I say, “and what about Digital Darwinism?”
“Survival of the fittest… adapt or die!” Igor exclaims. “Large companies underestimate the impact and pace with which this digital revolution is taking place. The companies that think that a new commercial or a new website will do the job, will not survive.
“Interesting, here’s another one: The fourth industrial revolution.”
Igor waits a few seconds before answering. “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another,” he says with a serious voice. “In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.
“I see it as my duty to challenge companies, provide them with a forecast of where their company will be in 5 years from now, a realistic scenario. The first reaction is disbelief and denial. But after I show them numbers, facts and examples of their peers….they slowly get on board and realize the sense of urgency.”
“Do you see yourself as a ‘Rebel with a Cause’?”
“My way of working is challenging,” Igor replies, “confronting – saving nothing and nobody. I share my knowledge and experience to help companies to prevent them from catastrophe. To achieve this goal, I can not be Mr. Nice Guy. I have to be bold and direct.
”The main message I want to convey is that ‘everyone wants to innovate , but nobody wants to change’.
“We all know that human beings are change averse. However, in this time of the 4th industrial revolution, there simply is no way to avoid change. And if you keep resisting, you resist progress, innovation and hence you endanger your own survival.”
“Now taking a helicopter view, why are you doing all this? You have made your success, you have earned your stripes, what drives you?“
“Great question, thought you’d never ask,” Igor says with a big smile. “Actually, everything I have done and will do, finds its origin in my deeply rooted belief in the power of education. I believe that education breeds progress.
People like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai inspire me to do my part, to learn and share what I’ve learned. That’s what will bring the world to the next level.”
“Cool,” I say, “thanks for sharing these insights and your purpose with me. If you don’t mind, I’ll use the insights in my next meeting.”
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