Kai Gondlach – the “5 Premium Speakers Questions”

25. November 2020 – Oliver Stoldt

The futurologist Kai Gondlach grew up in the north of Germany. After his school career, high school graduation and bachelor’s degree in sociology and political/administrative sciences in Potsdam, he gained his first professional experience in PR, CSR and political consulting companies. He wrote his master’s thesis at Deutsche Bahn AG on “free public transport”. After four years as a Senior Research Fellow at 2b AHEAD ThinkTank GmbH, setting up the scientific futurology department, consulting mandates with well-known companies, including Daimler, Siemens, EON, TÜV Nord and TÜV Süd, he has been a keynote speaker on various stages since 2016. Today he travels mostly from his adopted home city Leipzig to his performance venues.

We talked to futurologist Kai Gondlach about what distinguishes him as a speaker and keynote speaker and on which topics he speaks.


1. What are the core subjects of your keynote speeches?

Kai Gondlach:

My central theme is always a look into the future. After all, I am one of the first futurologists in Germany who can call himself an academic futurologist (Master of Arts Futurology, Free Universität Berlin). As a digital native and with experience as a keynote speaker, consultant and employee in a DAX30 company, I understand the needs of my customers and create individual experiences. I combine scientific findings with practical application examples and exciting future scenarios. The core topics range from digitization (exponential growth, artificial intelligence, digital business models, global race and the silken AI curtain between China and the rest of the world), working models (new work, organizational models such as holacracy, leadership skills) to sustainability issues (ecological footprint, social entrepreneurship) and generational discourses (Generation X, Y, Z, Alpha etc.). Furthermore, I teach the most important future competencies for organizations and individuals.

2. Which audiance or which branch do you reach with your speech?

Kai Gondlach:

The average is formed by company events of all industries with employees or customers with 100-500 participants. Downward outliers usually take place in management board, supervisory board or managing director meetings with something between 10 and 30 participants. Upwards, mainly trade fairs, conferences or onboarding events such as Bearing Point with approx. 1500 people (see Youtube). The average age of my listeners is around the beginning of their 40’s. Younger target groups and larger stages should be addressed more strongly with the relatively new positioning.

3. Are you a PREMIUM SPEAKER? Where do you get your insights from?

Kai Gondlach:

In March 2016 I stood on a small stage for the first time as a keynote speaker. Despite the lack of publicity I was invited 24 times that year, the next 59 times, in 2018 there were over 70. This trend has continued so far. On the one hand I lack the stage fright gene, on the other hand I have a strong sense of mission for content. My audience appreciates my relaxed yet serious, convincing and entertaining manner with intelligent, profound punch lines. I do not play a fictional role on stage, but convey content, concepts and methods in a way that every listener / spectator can take something for herself. In addition to the content, this includes above all new ideas and trains of thought, often aha-experiences. In my Bachelor’s degree in sociology and political/administrative science I sharpened my eye for social and political change. My focus on digitization goes back to my youthful preoccupation with computers and programming as well as some trips to the remotest corners of the then young Internet. In addition, I spent four years in a think tank advising large corporations (including Daimler, Siemens, EON, TÜV) on digitization. I deepened my knowledge of future topics, especially during my master’s degree, and put them on a strong foundation; as a board member of the Alumni Association of Futurology, an active part of the German-speaking academic network of futurology as well as the International Association of Futurology (WFSF), and finally, as a volunteer at UNESCO, the Technical University of Berlin and other educational institutions, I am used to heterogeneous and international audiences.

4. What will be in the future? Does «time» play an important role in your work?

Kai Gondlach:

Time is the biggest uncertainty factor in my profession. However, as a scientific futurologist I am also on a mission to teach people that no one can predict the future – no matter how good the method. Rather, the aim of futurology is to teach people how a) to deal with uncertainty and other VUCA dimensions and b) to become better at anticipating uncertain future developments. I also see myself as a link between a) different generations and b) the overzealous innovators in Silicon Valley etc. and the more sluggish innovation culture in the German-speaking countries. Both have their advantages, but especially in the two most important megatrends digitization and sustainability, we must not make any more mistakes, but quickly rethink, translate the brilliant basic research into attractive business models and monetize it. After all, we are in the process of making our home planet uninhabitable and every person and every company bears a heavy burden and a great responsibility to future generations not to destroy our habitat.

5. Tell us your life motto? What do you want to give your listeners to take with them?

Kai Gondlach:

The perspective guides our thinking and acting. And: we determine the perspective ourselves. If we want to assume that “business as usual” is a good idea, we will hardly change anything. We are full! But if we take the challenges of the 21st century seriously and question the status quo, great initiatives and truly effective change processes will emerge. And please do all this with scientific evidence, because if the last decades are not lacking in one thing, it is this: groundbreaking findings in economics, psychology, sociology, biology and many more. We only have to (want to) perceive the signals.

"Future is a question of perspective! "

Kai Gondlach

Futurologist for Digitization, Sustainability, New Work, Resilience