New technologies are changing the world faster than ever, says respected author and lecturer Stefan Hyttfors. According to him, there is no point in trying to predict change, you need to make it happen yourself.
Stefan Hyttfors, a popular Swedish speaker, likes to talk to his audiences about technologies that are set to revolutionise our future.
During his childhood in the 1970s, smartphones and the internet were the stuff of science fiction. Back then, the speed of change was slow and life was relatively stable, whereas today we face development that is taking place at an unprecedented pace.
“We have no idea what the future has in store for us. It might be human-computer hybrids, microchips monitoring our physical and mental well-being and constant smartphone access via contact lens screens.” It is also unlikely that humans will be driving cars, as such difficult and dangerous tasks will have been entrusted to artificial intelligence instead, Hyttfors believes.
The way Hyttfors sees it, trying to predict the future is a risky undertaking as it might lead us to overlook what really matters: that it is up to us to create the future.
“Instead of making predictions, we need to start shaping the world with our actions. That includes everything from voting to the purchases we make and how we treat and value other people,” he says.
The changes taking place now, Hyttfors says, are a global phenomenon. The days of nationalism and protectionism are over. We have evolved from tribal and village cultures to city-states and nation states and have now become one global community.
“The really big issues, like climate change, artificial intelligence and cyber security, affect all of us. No one single nation can hope to have the answers to these challenges on their own.
Trying to predict the future is a risky undertaking as it might lead us to overlook what really matters: that it is up to us to create the future.
Instead of competing against each other, we need to establish shared, global values.
“The opposite ends of the world are like your right and left hand. Your right hand isn’t trying to get one over on your left hand. Collaboration, working together, is the only option we have,” Hyttfors says, adding that although he talks in global terms, change always starts with the individual. It might be very easy to point your finger at others, but, ultimately, the only choices you have any influence over are your own.
Stefan Hyttfors appeared at Fennovoima’s 10th anniversary celebration at the beginning of June. An engaging, award-winning speaker, he specialises in future trends and new technologies. His work takes him around the world, and in the course of his career, he has addressed many different audiences in many different venues from small tents to big stadiums.
”I never set out to become a public speaker, but at some point I realised that this was something you could actually do for a living. I have a keen sense of curiosity and I’m always eager to learn. Now I get to meet new people and businesses all the time, and I’m constantly learning,” he explains.
When he was younger, Hyttfors worked as a photographer, a childhood dream come true. He spent a few years living in New York before ending up back in his native Sweden working as a photo editor. It was a post he took on during an economic downturn and was soon forced to lay off his colleagues. Growing increasingly anxious, he eventually tendered his own resignation.
Hyttfors then got together with three of his friends to set up Wendefalck, a PR agency. Within just a couple of years, they were an industry prize winning outfit with twenty employees and an office in a skyscraper. In the end, he realised he did not enjoy being a manager and consultant and, again, resigned.
Hyttfors has now been working as a professional speaker for five and a half years and still wakes up each morning feeling inspired and full of enthusiasm.
“Initially, my speeches were about communications and media relations. Then people started asking me more and more about HR issues and digitalisation, and I ended up talking about trends, technologies and the future instead of just communications,” Hyttfors explains.
In his talks, he emphasises the need to embrace change, the importance of which he himself has experienced first-hand over the course of his career.
“I genuinely want to believe that there is permanence in life. That things like our work, our home, our family and our friends will always be there. But I know it’s an illusion because the world is in a constant state of flux and nothing is forever. Even our bodies are constantly changing,” he points out.
Hyttfors wants us to jump, not fall, and to take control over our own lives.
“Jumping into something new is exciting, it’s a thrill. By jumping, you are making a choice and saying that you are ready for change. And if you jump again and again, you slowly start to trust yourself more and more,” Hyttfors says.
“Often, what it boils down to is timing, luck and being willing to take a risk. I have always found new job opportunities by leaving old ones behind. For me, jumping has been worth it.”
Hyttfors takes a dim view of plans and goals because as you strive towards them, you are at risk of overlooking everything else. What matters to him is the here and now.
“I believe in openness and curiosity, not plans that only serve to constrict and limit us.” Our plans might give us a sense of our own importance, but they are very restrictive, he argues.
“If we continue to single-mindedly push towards our goals, we fail to live in the moment. It’s an illusion to say that we achieve happiness by meeting our goals. In actual fact, that is often not the case, and whilst we’ve been busy achieving, we’ve neglected our loved ones and many other things in our lives for many years.
When it comes to his own future, Hyttfors looks towards it with curiosity and no urge to formulate a grand plan. For him, the best way to start the day is with eager anticipation at what the day holds.
In his free time, he likes to head out into the great outdoors for hillwalking or skiing. He is at his happiest when out of his comfort zone.
“When I’d had enough of marathons and ultra marathons, I sought out a new challenge and entered a silent retreat for ten days. That was truly scary, as ten days is a long time for a professional speaker to spend with their own thoughts,” he says laughing.
Hyttfors’s two children are now both approaching adulthood. Does he have no plans for them either?
“I try not to give too much advice as I can’t possibly know what their lives are about. What I have done is encourage them to pursue what they enjoy. People are good at the things they like doing.