Episode 0 – An Introduction by Carola and Marco

In this first episode of the new series #21for21 (21 Transformational Leaders for the 21st Century), Your hosts Carola Verschoor and Marco van Hout will share why they started this series and what you can expect in the next episodes.

Your hosts

Carola is founder and chief creative of Transformational Studio, a transformation design agency with the aim of (r)evolutionizing change through design and making transformation irresistible.

Marco is co-founder and creative director of Digital Society School in Amsterdam, a neutral training ground for responsible and sustainable leadership in today’s and tomorrow’s digital society.

Together, they bring new questions for topics that are still largely unanswered. Engaging with thought leaders on transformational topics to open up the conversation and the exploration of what’s next as we navigate the 21st century. So that we can all say: “Dear Future, I’m ready!”

Transcript of full episode:

Voice Over  0:00

Today, the world is transforming at a fast pace. The transformation encompasses technology, sustainability, social systems, culture, healthcare, economics, education, the list goes on and on. This transformation is broad and deep, and it’s disrupting our digital society more profoundly than ever before. Positively for a big part, but concerns are growing about its effects on jobs, inequality, education, health, wellbeing, economic prosperity, and security and safety. In this podcast, we explore more responsible ways to use the global transformation for the benefit of society. As a listener, you’ll hear from 21 transformational leaders about how we might address the challenges of the 21st century? As they share their ideas. You’ll learn about how design, technology and social innovation can help reach the UN sustainable development goals by 2030.

Voice Over  0:56

This is “Dear future I’m ready”. A podcast brought to you from Amsterdam by digital society school and transformational studio. Your host for today are Carola Verschoor and Marco van Hout. Carola is founder and chief creative of transformational studio. A transformation design agency with the aim of revolutionising change through design and making transformation irresistible. Marco is co founder and Creative Director of Digital society school in Amsterdam, a neutral training ground for responsible and sustainable leadership in today’s and tomorrow’s digital society. Together, they bring new questions for topics that are still largely unanswered, engaging with thought leaders on transformational topics that open up the conversation and the exploration of what’s next as we navigate the 21st century so that we can all say, “Dear future, I’m ready”.

Marco van Hout 1:54

Welcome everyone around the world. We are recording from Amsterdam today. And we are recording a very exciting new series of “Dear future I’m ready”. This series is called 21 for 21. I welcome you to look up this hashtag very soon online and join the discussion. We will be interviewing 21 thought leaders on transformation. And as digital society school, we are especially focused on spreading the right mindset knowledge and capabilities in design technology and social innovation across the world. All for the benefit of society and life in general. In that mission, we need like minded creatives that understand the power of design to unleash this transformation. And that is why I’m co hosting this series with my friend Carola of transformational studio. Welcome Carola, and honour to have you also on this show.

Carola Verschoor  2:44

Hi, Marco, and hello everyone. I’m the one who is honoured, it’s super excited to be part of this podcast. Because like you at the digital society school, we also believe in activating people’s potential to positively impact society. And never before has there been such a transformational time is this one. It’s really right now that we need people to stand up, speak up, and to some really help form a new generation of leaders, that through their authenticity are going to help us design for a better kinder and more meaningful future. So it’s so good to be part of this. Thank you.

Marco van Hout 3:17

Yeah, and we will be discussing a lot of topics, you just mentioned authenticity. We will be talking about leadership, transformation, economy, technology of course, health and well being, education and creating a learning society. And of course, sustainability and how to learn from nature. And this list goes on and on. How are we ever going to put that in 21 series?

Carola Verschoor  3:37

That’s a challenge of itself. I fully agree with you. But I think that the time is now. And we’ve put lots of care into selecting the people that we’re going to be talking to, not too much because we want to have an exclusive bunch. But actually, because we want to have a diverse bunch, you know, we’re already 20 years into the 21st century, as a matter of fact, we are in a digital society. And the year 2020 has really put the challenges in our face, hasn’t it? You know, we used to jokingly talk about 2020 hindsight, but by golly, has it become that way? So these challenges are things that we need to start addressing. And, you know, rather playfully, we stopped the list at 21. Who knows maybe by the end of the podcast, we feel we need 23, 24, 32 whatever. So we might keep going. But the intention is to speak to a bunch of people who will help us think differently, who will help us look into the breadth of the issues and deepen out those issues through their expertise by bringing a new lens into the discussion about transformation.

Marco van Hout 4:45

Yeah, that’s exactly what we want to do. We want to unleash this capability of this mindset with our listeners and invite them all to join in the transformation. Yeah, I think we really want to establish this kind learning experience from the podcast. So it’s not just interviewing people, it’s also really creating this kind of learning experience online for people to follow.

Carola Verschoor  5:10

I’m just looking, it’s gonna take all of us. The challenges are very many. They’re very big, we’ve reached a level of complexity that really means that there’s no way back. And by what I mean, by no way back is that we shouldn’t go back to normal. We shouldn’t accept that certain things have just become ordinary, and that we cite the let them become part of the way we do things we need to start looking at, how can we go beyond the way we do things today, into a new way of thinking, a new way of doing. And when I talk about that I refer to the actual word transformation. Unfortunately, it’s a word that’s been misused over the place. And perhaps our audience is thinking, Oh, gosh, we can talk about transformation again. But what we mean here with transformation is really as the word itself suggests, is to look beyond so the first part of the word is trans, right across, beyond.

Carola Verschoor  6:13

And the second part of the word is formation across the structures and the systems and the way we organize society today. And what we’re seeing is that too many things that are reaching a point where we need to change the paradigm, where we need to change the way in which we are organizing ourselves and putting things together. And this is going to take a diversity of points of view, or diversity of opinions or diversity of ways of doing. And what we need in order to face a transformation. Aside from of course, curiosity, courage and good intentions is really to tune in to what other people have to say, and see what might inspire us to bring that into practice in our own place, wherever we are in the world, to help make a positive impact and a positive difference.

Marco van Hout 7:04

Yeah, and I completely agree with that. And I think also, what we try to achieve is that we go beyond this transformation, or at least beyond change, you might say. Where change is really always about fixing things from the past, trying to modify things trying to adapt things. And transformation is really future look, future forward looking. And that’s also what we need to do, I think, and that’s why I think we this podcast will be particularly open to anything that comes our way. And, yeah, I look forward to that openness, as well.

Carola Verschoor  7:37

Absolutely. And we’re looking for people from all walks of life, we’re not going to disclose their names just now. But what I have to say about this thing that you’ve just mentioned is that, as a designer, I think that the time has come for us to deal with entropy. So entropy is simply the fact that when we design for solving problems, we actually create new problems. And the reason why that happens is of course, because we try to frame the design in such a way that it delivers an outcome. And in so doing, looking back relating to this hindsight, we have designed for own comfort. And we’re now in the pragmatic change in which we have to start designing for the better of everyone, as you well said, society and life in general. And this does not mean not being human centric.

Carola Verschoor  8:31

This does mean being inclusive of the broader system, that we are a part of and understanding our place in it. I think that these different people that we’re going to be speaking to, these transformational leaders, as we’ve called them, are leaders for their own sake and of their own right, not so much because of the positions they occupy. But because of the light that they shed to this matter. And so the leadership comes from within, comes from their authenticity, come from their true integral belief in really addressing things in new ways. And there’s much much inspiration to be sought there and to be found there as well. As we start seeing a more coming together of these points of view rather than a fragmentation of these points of view.

Marco van Hout 9:18

Definitely. And I think also, the focus on solutions is something that we also want to stay away from as much as possible that we don’t ask people for their solutions. We want to ask them for new questions that we can actually try to answer and search for the answers there. And these leaders are particularly good at that, I think.

Carola Verschoor  9:37

Yeah, so we get the easy part, don’t we?

Marco van Hout 9:40

Definitely. We just need to ask the right questions.

Carola Verschoor  9:42

That’s right. And even, I take that even a step further. Perhaps even if we ask the wrong questions, we might be provoking them to kind of open up our own minds. So that’s the way that I’m joining this podcast also. So yeah, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s, it’s an marvellous way of kind of define your own assumptions, isn’t it?

Marco van Hout 10:06

Yeah. Okay, so let’s be wrong. As much as possible. It’s all about this transformational journey, I think I would love them to take us upon their journey. And then their story behind it.

Carola Verschoor  10:19

Yeah. And what’s important, as well as to ask our audience to join us in this journey as well. So we’re aiming for 21 interviews with authentic transformational leaders of our time. But using our hashtag, 21 for 21, you know, throwing some questions, throwing and challenges for us to transmit to them or, you know, provoke us to look at what we should be asking what we should be probing, who might we also invite onto this journey and these conversations, because we as much as everyone else, are in a moment in which we need to change the way we do things in which we need to stretch our own boundaries. And, you know, wake up to new ways of looking at the world being in the world and doing in the world. So, as much as we want to bring inspiration to our audience, we hope that you will inspire us right back.

Marco van Hout 11:12

I love that. And obviously, that hashtag is of course open. But and we will be of course, probing our audience, when they can actually join that conversation, because we will be recording bi weekly. And that means we have plenty of time to take in questions and ideas from our audience from you.

Carola Verschoor  11:31

Indeed Marco. So bi weekly, that means every two weeks, we’re not going to make these very long interviews, we’re not looking for length, we’re looking for a multiplicity of perspectives. So what you can expect in terms of the interviews is, and it’s not really an interview is almost a dialogue and a chat, that we can have with these transformational leaders, is that we’re going to talk about the current context, try and bring in their perspective, like, what’s it like from their vantage point? Understand how they’re looking at the transformation? Hear from them. What’s their vision? What’s the thing that we must do now in order to bring that transformation into being? To kind of give us a glimpse of how we might get there? What are the timeframes? What are we talking about? You know, the SDGs are set for 2030. And most of them, we’re not going to reach within that timeframe.

Carola Verschoor  12:19

So what should we be expecting, as we give shape, as we co create and co design that future? And finally, we’re going to ask all of our interviewees to share with us who we need to join in on these quests? Because these are big questions. These are things that will influence our common future, and therefore require a common effort. So expect to have a lot of sources, a lot of inspiration, a lot of things that will inspire you to kind of want to keep track of these things, some topics, my interests are, audience more than others. But I think that the diversity of the topics is what makes it really transformational. Because if this transformation were just about changing one or two things, it will be easy, and we just get going. But actually, we need to start having this dialogue so that we start understanding the contours of the transformation. And how do we make sure that the transformation is systemic and not just simple patches that are going to be perhaps not as durable and not as impactful? As we really need them to be at this point in time.

Marco van Hout 13:26

I would love to Well, I look forward to this conversation with you Carola and I would love to invite everybody to join us for the next episode already. And wishing you inspiring day and have a look at our website @digitalsocietyschool.org future and @transformational.studio and find us also on hashtag 21 for 21. See you soon. This is “Dear future I’m ready”.