Episode 106: Alvin Toffler on the Road Race to the 21st Century Economy.
Alvin Toffler rocked the 80's with his futuristic look into the future of the knowledge economy with his international best seller, Future Shock. A global economist, he's predicted the third wave, our Internet world.
Susan and Alvin talk about his life, his work and his latest book, Revolutionary Wealth. Take a road trip to the 21st century economy with Alvin and see who the fastest cars on the road are, and who are the steaming hunks of junk on the side of the road.
Alvin, and his wife and co-author, Heidi, invented the role of the futurist. He's an American legend. And he gets dishy with Suz. Tune in to get your mind expanded.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix, I’m your host Susan Bratton. And on today’s how I have a very, very special guest, a dream come true guest for me personally. It’s Alvin Toffler, and you know that I’ve been talking about him coming on the show, and today is the exciting day that you’re going to get to meet him. He’s a futurist of course and author of many amazing books, they just keep getting better, and an adviser to companies and governments worldwide on advances in economics, technology and social change, and I know that that’s something that you love as much as I do. Alvin and his beautiful wife Heidi of 59 years have written, of course the very well known book, Future Shock, The Third Wave, Power Shift, over ten books now, and his latest Revolutionary Wealth, which you’re really going to like a lot of the things that Alvin’s talking about because you are on the cutting edge of exactly where he says the future is going. So lets get Alvin on the show and welcome him. Welcome, Mr. Toffler.
Alvin Toffler: Hello there.
Susan Bratton: It’s so great to have you here. Thank you so much for doing the show. For people who might be a little bit younger and didn’t kind of grow up in the Future Shock world, Alvin could you just go through a brief overview of some of the highlights of your work and the distinctions that you’ve made in our collective conscious about the evolution of our future.
Alvin Toffler: Well the book that had the biggest bang early on was Future Shock. That was published a long time ago now. What it did was introduce, I think, for the public, it was the smallest best seller all over the world, and what it did was introduce the idea that change is accelerating, that we’re not going to be moving solely through the future, but that in fact we’re going to see faster and faster developments. It was also the place where I talked about the consequences of that, the difficulties that people may face in the life in which they move more often to new places, new homes or something than before, a place where you may change jobs more frequently, a place where human relationships and many of them become temporary and so on. So that’s what Future Shock was about and it talked to, it obviously talked to the moment and people just kept saying, “You’re describing my life”, and I think that, that’s why I think it turned out to be tremendous success as a book.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, you hit a collective cord. We’re all feeling that acceleration and you named it. And The Third Wave was really a big book too and one that was so… I mean, Al Gore may take credit for inventing the internet, but you predicted it. Tell us about that.
Alvin Toffler: Yes. That was the second big book that we did, and what that did was try to put in perspective today’s tremendous changes and point out that we really, if we look back over the years we’ve got essentially two forms of existence prior to the current one. First one was we were, well we were hunter and gatherers - maybe there are three if I count that – we were hunter and gatherers and then somebody discovered, probably a woman, ten thousand years ago discovered that you could actually plant things and make things grow. And out of that came the long, long history of the human race based on survival by agriculture. And that continued to be the central way of life for people all over the world until the industrial revolution came. And roughly speaking you could, there are different dates given to that, but I would say 1650, something like that, you begin to, the very earliest moves toward the beginnings of that. And then you have in Britain the actual development of an industrial economy, and you have all these people moving off the farms into the cities, and with that comes a change in the nature of the family structure, the number of kids you’re going to have, the location and the terrible work, the conditions and circumstances. And then what we did in The Third Wave was say, “Hey, but wait a minute, that’s not the future.” That’s what economists tell poor countries, “You’ve got to industrialize”, but in fact starting earlier – and we wrote this in The Third Wave – there was a third wave of change coming and that was based on knowledge, and that is where we are now and that is where we are going. And that, again, had a, well all of our books from that point on were international books, but that one had a very special impact that Heidi and I didn’t know about until quite recently, and you might find that…
Susan Bratton: What was it? What was the impact?
Alvin Toffler: What it was was this: the book was published in 1980. In 1983 the Chinese government… We knew none of this, we knew none of this. We visited China at about that time, but nobody told us anything, had no idea until much, much later. But it turns out that in 1983 the leadership of the Chinese communist party had a big meeting in October, and in that meeting somebody said, “You got to read this book.” Now we also had made, Heidi produced with the help of the Japanese television NHK, the system NHK, an hour long picture, television show, based on The Third Wave. And what happened was without our knowing it the book went to the leadership of the Chinese communist party and they had a big argument about it. And somebody said, “You got to read this book.” And as a result of that, we were subsequently – it was only a few years ago – were told every kid in China had a copy of that book. And recently, I find it very flattering but also slightly amusing that I am on a list of the 50 people who had the greatest 50 foreigners who they say have had the greatest impact on China; it’s a joke. But the book did have a big impact on what’s happening in China today. And the guy who led that was also the guy who stood up for the kids at Tiananmen Square and he died just a couple years ago.
Susan Bratton: Who was that, was that Zhao Ziyang, the Premier?
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, he was.
Susan Bratton: Uh huh.
Alvin Toffler: He was at one time.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. He was the ministry of communism.
Alvin Toffler: Then they just set him aside, he spent the last ten or fifteen years just alone in his house in Beijing.
Susan Bratton: That’s so sad. Well…
Alvin Toffler: Anyway, so that, we had that history and we only found out about it a couple of years after it actually… A little bit of it we found out a couple of years later, and what I said about the impact we just learned in the last couple years.
Susan Bratton: In your latest book Revolutionary Wealth one of the things you talk about is the great circle, which is that China started out as the super power and, in the fifteen hundreds, and that you think that its come back full circle in that China is about to be the next super power again.
Alvin Toffler: Well, that was our plan and clearly it’s moving in that direction. But the problem, not the problem but the reality is that the world is not just going to be made up of nation states. You know, even now of course it has the international corporations and international NGO’s, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Susan Bratton: Did you read that book Jennifer Government?
Alvin Toffler: No.
Susan Bratton: Oh, you’d like that. That’s the book about what if multi national corporations were really the super powers, and it wasn’t governments, it was corporations.
Alvin Toffler: Mm hmm…
Susan Bratton: You’ll like it. It’s kind of satirical, it’s like future satire.
Alvin Toffler: Uh huh.
Susan Bratton: You’d like it.
Alvin Toffler: What’s the title?
Susan Bratton: It’s called Jennifer Government.
Alvin Toffler: Jennifer?
Susan Bratton: Yeah. Like the girls name.
Alvin Toffler: The girls name?
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: Jennifer Government?
Susan Bratton: Uh huh.
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, well I’ll get it.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, you’ll have to check it out. I can send you my copy.
Alvin Toffler: Okay, great.
Susan Bratton: I’ll autograph it for you Alvin.
Alvin Toffler: Oh, terrific.
Susan Bratton: I didn’t write it though. So do you think that there’s a connection between the fact that every child in China had a copy of The Third Wave and knew about the move to the knowledge economy and now that’s why they’re becoming in your esteem the next super power?
Alvin Toffler: Well…
Susan Bratton: I’d be tidy.
Alvin Toffler: I think it had, it had an impact, you know. But of course there are many, many things going on at the same time…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: And I think it’s too much to claim, you know, that we made this all happen; we didn’t. We wrote a book about what was… We wrote a book, and very importantly, did the television version of the book, that was Heidi. Heidi did that in collaboration with NHK, the Japanese, the main Japanese television company. And that was an adventure for us all over the world. But that I think was probably the most impactal in the China situation. Now I don’t know that, I don’t think things are going to move in a straight line just because China’s been going… It has to serve its internal problems, which are greater than I think we tend to recognize.
Susan Bratton: What do you think their biggest greatest internal problems are?
Alvin Toffler: Well there’s a long list. I mean you’ve got environmental problems and so forth, but you also have a lot of unreported outside China…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: and maybe outside, maybe inside China as well, unreported risings, people, you know, violent protests and so forth, and according to the Chinese police themselves they report something on the order of 75-85 thousand of these a year. So there’s a lot of stuff going on. And that’s why the crowning word of the current government there is essentially keep it smooth, keep it smooth, keep it smooth. They use a different term, but that’s what they’re talking about. Because they do have tremendous internal complications as a result of rapid change, which is what we wrote about in the Future Shock.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. Alvin I really want to get to what I saw as the two big pieces to this knowledge economy that you talked about in your latest book Revolutionary Wealth. One was this rise of – and maybe not even rise of the procumer – but this acknowledgement of the procumers contribution to the economy, combined with what you called – and you love to coin terms, I know – you called it K tools, you meant knowledge tools, this coming to the fore of all of this very evolved ways that we’re capturing knowledge and then sharing knowledge in the way that it’s this limitless wealth building opportunity, and the companies and the countries that are ahead of the curve on procumer contribution and knowledge, contribution of knowledge, are the ones that are gaining ground faster. Can you go into a little more detail on that? I just want to set the stage for it and try to stitch it together a bit.
Alvin Toffler: Are you ready?
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I’m ready for you.
Alvin Toffler: Okay.
Susan Bratton: We’re all ready for you.
Alvin Toffler: Well obviously ever since the Future Shock we’ve been writing about the rise of knowledge as a fundamental component of economics, and that in fact we are moving away from the industrial order that we still have remnants of, but basically we’re moving, as we said earlier, toward a knowledge based economy, and that changes everything in the social order and in the way, and in the politics, although it is not properly recognized in politics, and even in our American politics, less so in other countries and so on, to this third wave of change, which is an historical event. For me and for Heidi and our readers perhaps, this is the future. And we’re talking now about the future, futures that arrive more rapidly than ever before. And so, I mean, I’m not about to say that what we’re doing is creating a civilization that’s going to last ten thousand years, but my guess is at least for the next fifty years that’s what we’re going to be living with, and that is countries and economies that are going to be more and more dependent on knowledge, which is intangible. And that knocks the, all kinds of props out from traditional economics. And in fact the really disturbing thing to me about the recent election is the infrequency with which even our current president, who is surely smart and I think understands some of this, with very little reference to the fact that we’re moving beyond the industrial age. And so what you hear the politicians talking about today is, you know, we need more jobs, we need… We’re talking about infrastructure, for example putting up huge sums of money for interest, which is great, was wonderful, but you almost hear nothing about a computer. And the image I have is we have more traditional roads, more traditional this, more traditional that. And in fact the infrastructure’s going to be dramatically different 50 years from now, 20 years from now and so forth. But the political order here in this country doesn’t recognize publicly any of this stuff. Another example is the emphasis on manufacturing. Now most people don’t know, but in Revolutionary Wealth we point out that manufacturing, which was the source and the key to the economy, up until some point, when was that? When did that stop being the central factor in the economy? And the answer is roughly 1956.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, it was earlier than I imagined.
Alvin Toffler: Yes. From ’56 on, services and knowledge functions were the biggest part – two-thirds roughly speaking – of the economy. You don’t hear that at all. It’s as though none of this existed. And as well it suggests the same as a traditional industrial economy, which it’s not. And so I find it disappointing, as I say, to hear the political talk continue to go on and on and on as though we were moving further into the factory based economy, which we’re not.
Susan Bratton: You have a really fun analogy; I call it the Road Race to the 21st Century Economy. And we’re going to go to a break and when we come back I want you to take us on that super highway to the future and tell us who’s going to win and how’s going to fall off on the side of the road in a heap of flaming mildering mess. So we’ll go for a break. I have to thank my sponsors, and we’ll come back and we’ll talk to Alvin Toffler, futurist and author of his latest book Revolutionary Wealth. I’m your host Susan Bratton. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.
Susan Bratton: We’re back with Alvin Toffler. And Alvin I promised everyone that you would talk about this road race, this story that you tell about who the fast cars and the slow cars are, because it really does point out what’s wrong with the system today, and then I want to move to some little hopeful things that you offer as possibilities of the way we can move in the future. So tell us who are the fastest and slowest cars on the proverbial road?
Alvin Toffler: What you have, things are happening in our society, every society, but particularly now in our society. Things are happening at different speeds. Economists who are, you know, desperately trying to fix this crisis that we have pay zero attention as far as, for all practical purposes, to that fact that different parts of the economy and different parts of the social system operate at different speeds. For example, imagine that, if you’re looking down a highway, there’s a cop with a radar gun, and along comes a car going at a hundred miles an hour. And lets say that car is just a symbol of business. Businesses have to operate rapidly, more and more rapidly, because of competition. Not only traditional competition from your own country, but from all over the world. And so what you see is an acceleration taking place among businesses, companies, and indeed in production as well. Then so, lets just count the first car going down the road that the cop is watching that is moving at a hundred miles an hour, it’s a symbol of business. What’s going fast after that? Another car comes along and it’s just crowded with people in it, and those people are in effect symbols of NGO’s. NGO’s are growing at an extremely rapid pace, multiplying, spreading and so on.
Susan Bratton: Now make sure that people know what an NGO is.
Alvin Toffler: Oh, a non governmental…
Susan Bratton: Organization.
Alvin Toffler: organization.
Susan Bratton: Like what? What are good examples of NGO’s?
Alvin Toffler: Oh, well when you want one, there are hundreds of them. When you want one, you have to stop and think. Go ahead, you can probably answer that question quickly.
Susan Bratton: Well I always think not for profits are NGO’s.
Alvin Toffler: Well that’s what it is, yeah.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: Exactly.
Susan Bratton: Not for profits that are trying to change the world, but they are doing often philanthropic work.
Alvin Toffler: But they, but it also can be other kinds of institutions. But the point is that they are non governmental and they’re not ordinary businesses. They may be operating for purposes other than profit. Then you have… And so that car is, that’s growing very rapidly. So if business is moving at a hundred miles an hour, the NGO, the growth of NGO’s and the increasing significance of NGO’s, lets say that’s going 90 miles an hour. Then you start looking at other institutions in society, and you’re looking at government agencies. Have you tried to deal with one lately?
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I try not to, no one… No one tries to Alvin, do they?
Alvin Toffler: They’re the slowest thing you can imagine.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, why do we put up with that?
Alvin Toffler: So we have in effect business moving at a hundred miles an hour, NGO’s growing and moving at 90 miles an hour, and governments plodding along at 25 miles an hour. Then we get to education.
Susan Bratton: The worst.
Alvin Toffler: The worst. And that’s doing maybe 10 miles an hour and change. And then you have other, you know, you have other players in the system as well. Then you got, then you come down to finance and the crisis that we’re in. One of the reasons given for this crisis is precisely the fact, and is frequently overlooked…. We wrote some stuff about this recently, and that is you have a de-synchronization here as well, and you’ve got new technologies coming into… First of all, you’ve got a bunch of people from Silicon Valley, otherwise known as Quants, turning up on Wall Street, 10, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. And out of that came the invention of new kinds of financial instruments and new kinds of deals that could be cut and so forth and so on, and that was all done very rapidly, and not only here but spread around the world. On the other hand, what happened to regulation and, you know, watching the store. The answer is very little. And it moved at instead of a hundred miles an hour, 20 miles an hour or if that. And of course you also had political presidencies that reduced regulation on the financial structure. So what you had was new technologies, new markets outside the US, new techniques, new forms of investment and basically nobody keeping up with that change. None of the regulatory forces were able to keep up with that change. So one of the crises, one of the reasons for the crises that we’re having, has to do with time and timing, and there’s almost no attention paid to that by economists. And then the other part, which is almost as important and perhaps even more so but is also ignored, is the increase, the accelerated increase of complexity. Now it used to be that there were certain kinds of deals that you could make, but as I said a moment ago given the computer and given the speed up of everything, you can now turn out all kinds of new forms of investment that people even didn’t understand. I spent ten and a half, twelve hours on an airplane flying to Korea not so long ago, and a guy sitting next to me, I said, “What do you?” He said, “Well I’m in finance and we do this and that and we sell these instruments.” He said, “But just between us, I don’t understand how they work.” So what you have are two forces at work that are very important and are not adequately understood; acceleration, the de-synchronization of activities and growing complexity at the same time.
Susan Bratton: I want to go back to the last car on the road, education.
Alvin Toffler: Mm hmm, yeah.
Susan Bratton: You’ve said that industrial America, built on fossil fuels, is now rushing to build an advanced knowledge based economy but saddled with a legacy system. That’s our education system, essentially our Achilles heel.
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, what you have is, as I say, is a system, which is going faster and faster and faster and is no longer an industrial society. You have a school system however which remains in the past and early discussions about what kinds of changes should be made, but a question that should be asked, which I never hear anybody ask, is when kids, little kids, grow up what is this world going to look like. And if you look at the education system and the history of it in the United States, back in the 1800’s there was a tremendous political struggle that went on for 20 or 50 years between those who said we should have public education and others who said no, and then the guys who said “Lets have it” decide and won that, and we created a very effective education system that was geared to the rise of industrialism. That’s why your schools are factories, where you do the same stuff over and over again and you come, you have to come on time. You know what’s important to that not going late to school? What’s important is industrialism. Back before the industrial revolution in the United States, the kids and the family worked in the fields. If somebody, if Uncle Charlie showed up a little late or the kids showed up late, so Mary would pluck a few more plants, didn’t matter. But once you had industrial production, you had assembly lines. If you show up late for the assembly line, you hold up maybe a thousand people downstream from you. So you’d have to show up on time. Everything had to be exact. And what you had in the factory, you’re producing multiple, multiple, multiple copies, and in the schools you’re hearing the same thing, multiple, multiple, multiple stories, again and again and again.
Susan Bratton: So what’s the solution? What do you think are the basic tenets of a knowledge based economy education system, a system that can support the future of our economy?
Alvin Toffler: Well, so the, well the first step is to ask ourselves what is some of the characteristics of the future that these kids are going to live with. And again, one of these is precisely what I’m talking about; their life is going to move at a faster pace, they’re online, they’re not taking big, big heavy textbooks around anymore – I just had a conversation about that with Heidi, my wife yesterday. And by the time you’ve learned something it may be obsolete. So what you need to do is learn to learn, and there are just a whole lot of… We have to take the factory apart. But when I hear discussions with a need for an improvement in education, you can’t improve the education system, you got to kill it. And I’m not the guy who actually said that. He said it, I thought, too many decades late, but he said it, and that’s our friend who started Microsoft. What we’re going to need is… And the other key thing, that what’s it going to be like, the answer is they should never, we should not have uniform schools. We should have multiple different kinds of schools; different times of day, different times of the evening, different types of topics, all kinds of variation because that’s the kind of world we’re going to be living in and do live in already, highly diverse with lots and lots of things going on at the same time, and fewer and fewer people working on an assembly line except our children. They are on an assembly line.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. They feel like they are too. I can tell you that the worlds are colliding for the kids today, where they live in this information and knowledge economy and the access to the internet and all of the media and the freedom of world travel, yet they’re stuffed into these little warrens of schools.
Alvin Toffler: Exactly…
Susan Bratton: They know it.
Alvin Toffler: And factories, they’re school factories, yeah. And, you know, it’s not the teachers fault. My sister’s a teacher. But she’s locked in that system like everybody else. And so, this is, this is going to explode and it’s not just in the US, it’s all over the world, the same problem at different speeds. You know, different countries are moving at different speeds, but this is the direction it’s going to have to take. We’re going to have to blow up the existing system. We’re often, we also did a column a couple of months ago with toying with the idea of keeping the schools open but not to kids. For the elderly to relearn what needs to be relearned in order to be at home…
Susan Bratton: Vital.
Alvin Toffler: in this new kind of society.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. That’s right, because they do get disenfranchised. When the technology moves so fast beyond them…
Alvin Toffler: Yeah.
Susan Bratton: it’s very difficult. Yeah, everything’s becoming operationalized on the internet, and if you’re not comfortable with that, it’s difficult to go get your drivers license renewed and things like that now.
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, yeah.
Susan Bratton: I want to switch gears a little bit ‘cause I want to make sure I get a couple, I have two more kind of burning questions for you before the end of the show, and the first one is a listener question, a Dishy Mix fan question for you. He knew you were coming on the show. His name is David LaPlant and he runs a very smart advertising agency out of Reno Nevada called Twelve Horses. And here is his question… He actually had three for you, but that’s too many, I’m only giving you one. So I’m going to read it and then you’ll just take this all in. “Science fiction has told us future war is to be fought by computers and nano technology. However, as much as that sci-fi is coming true, it is perhaps not a greater chance that our wars, particularly wars, that are rooted in cultural difference and inequity, are better fought in today’s and tomorrows brand marketers. That is to say would we have been better off spending a billion dollars dropping culture bombs, putting 50 inch high def TV’s in every home, hooking up every household to broadband internet, distributing Mac Books to every Iraqi citizen, hiring defense contractors like Disney, Dreamworks and Pixar to make war creative in the form of information entertainment that transforms a culture? Are Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Simon Cowell and Zac Efron our most tactical weapons? I can’t help but think of the transformation of Japan and the western influence in Tokyo and the command of the brand when I contemplate this.”
Alvin Toffler: Wow!
Susan Bratton: That was a good one, huh?
Alvin Toffler: That was a good one.
Susan Bratton: Take it where you want to Alvin. Whatever you want to do with it. You just go.
Alvin Toffler: That is a good one. Well first, as we know, the outside world is finding out more and more about all of this, and it’s not going to stay bottled up forever and we’re going to be, we’re going to see changes on that level, and we’re not, and to those of us that can’t keep up, and that includes me, are going to be, find ourselves increasingly left behind, and I think that we… What you’re really saying is, it’s been called soft power. That we should be, you know, instead of fighting, literally fighting wars, that we should be fighting cultural wars.
Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.
Alvin Toffler: And thereby hopefully avoiding actual wars. And there was, you know, quite a bit of discussion about it as you probably know in Washington under different names and titles and so on. But the bureaucracies stay the same. And so this is I think, it’s a long way before we, before our government actually comes to understand and make use of even simplified versions of what you’re talking about.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, so if they’re the third fastest car, they need to take something from the playbook of the first fastest car, which is corporations and their brands, their products, the ideals of their society.
Alvin Toffler: They don’t want companies moving so fast that they dread dealing with the government. If for no other reason… I mean, they may want to buy contracts of course, but to deal with a government, to deal with bureaucracy, which is a tremendous second wave industrial phenomena, the complexity of the bureaucracy, the growth… Yeah we have, we’ve got this agency for fighting terrorism with a giant bureaucracy. The people they’re fighting are not bureaucrats, they’re small groups of terrorists. So why would we expect to be able to do something about it using that form of organization. I think that we’re going to have to invent a whole lot of new, not just new businesses, but also new hospitals, new schools, new everything. And that’s challenge for the years from now until say the middle of the century.
Susan Bratton: I want to ask you a last question and it’s more of a personal question. You’ve told me that your greatest achievement is being married for 59 years. I can’t wait ‘til next year when it can be 60, ‘cause that’s amazing number two. Heidi’s been your partner in the work that you do and this is your greatest achievement. Tell us about your relationship with your wife and your life partner and your business partner and how you’ve made that work for so many years.
Alvin Toffler: Well it’s funny, I’m just, we’re writing that story in our next book. But lets, the story goes this way: In 1948, which is ancient history, there was an election, a presidential election coming up. I was a college kid, and I went with a small group of blacks and whites from New York, where we came from, down to North Carolina, to help register black voters. This was not a very popular thing to do in North Carolina at the time. But in any event, we did do some of that and we slept in black homes and we knocked on a lot of doors and encouraged people to register to vote. And then I suddenly discovered that there’s a weekend coming. You know what, I could go home for the weekend and then come back. And so I headed home, and I came to… I was a student at NYU, and NYU for those of you who know New York has a park in front of it, which is in effect its campus. And I found myself checking in and saying, “Oh, I see some of my buddies.” And I crossed the park and there was a girl from a class that I knew and sitting next to her was a gorgeous Hollywood like blonde. And that was Heidi.
Susan Bratton: She is so beautiful, still, yeah.
Alvin Toffler: And from that day, we have been one. And she is smarter than I am about most things, not everything.
Susan Bratton: That’s pretty common with a husband and wife I’ve heard.
Alvin Toffler: Now wait a minute…
Susan Bratton: It’s the same in our family.
Alvin Toffler: She is, she is a fabulous lady. She has strong opinions. We work together. I write, I do the actual word snipping, but the words, the ideas behind them are jointly ours. And she is, she’s filled with ideas, and she is, she’s very strong willed, she knows a lot, an enormous amount about things I don’t know anything about, she knows medicine inside out. And her life has been, it’s really interesting. She was, she wanted to be a doctor. And she was told in her youth, “You can’t be a doctor. First of all, you’re poor. And second of all, you’re female.” Well what Heidi has done is make herself, she’s not a doctor, but we have one library here at home, which is entirely filled with medical text which she has read from cover to cover. And everybody we know, who when they go to the doctor, come to Heidi for a second opinion. And she is a frustrated doctor is what she is. And she’s been just incredible.
Susan Bratton: Well she’s obviously taking good care of you….
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, we both…
Susan Bratton: You’re 81 this year, right?
Alvin Toffler: Well also no line of my books goes past Heidi, she’s got to approve it, and she, and what happens, you know, I reach a rough point and then I come back and I say, you know, “What’s the next thing we need to include in this chapter or take out or what have you?” So we’re very, very close. Well we’re close on everything, and it’s just been a wonderful, what’s been this way has been a wonderful 60 years with one horrifying part, and that is we lost our daughter.
Susan Bratton: Oh my god.
Alvin Toffler: She died of an illness.
Susan Bratton: Was she your only child?
Alvin Toffler: Our only child, yeah.
Susan Bratton: Oh, that’s heartbreaking.
Alvin Toffler: But I’m grateful for the day I met Heidi.
Susan Bratton: What is it about, what is about what you two do that creates that level of intimacy?
Alvin Toffler: Well we argue constantly.
Susan Bratton: Do you? So it’s not friction free.
Alvin Toffler: No, no.
Susan Bratton: Uh huh.
Alvin Toffler: No, argument is good, given some rules of the game, you know.
Susan Bratton: What are those rules?
Alvin Toffler: Well they’re not formalized here, I can’t list them for you, but we don’t… We know that, we know we love each other. We tell each other that ten times a day.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: We kiss each other.
Susan Bratton: Nice.
Alvin Toffler: We’re in love and, but that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: And indeed we do. And we’ll disagree on some article on politics we read in the paper or we’ll disagree about what to have for dinner.
Susan Bratton: You want to have a hamburger and she says you need to eat fish.
Alvin Toffler: It’s the other way around.
Susan Bratton: Oh, is it? That’s funny. Well I can’t wait to read your new book. I have to say… How long did it take you two to write Revolutionary Wealth? It is a densely packed book. It’s a tome.
Alvin Toffler: It took eleven years.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I felt like it took me almost that long to read it. I was real, it’s a lot. There’s a lot there, I mean on so many different levels. You’re talking about world economics, you’re talking about the infrastructure of countries, you’re talking about cultural shifts. I mean it’s like such an amazing amalgum of your life learning and access that you’ve had to so many amazing people and the information that you’re pulling in and putting together. I’m not surprised it took eleven years. It’s a, it must… How good did it feel when you shipped that manuscript off? Did you do a little jig?
Alvin Toffler: You can imagine.
Susan Bratton: Oh, my god, that really was a life work right there, just that one book, wasn’t it?
Alvin Toffler: It was.
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Alvin Toffler: And of course it incorporates the ideas that we had previously.
Susan Bratton: Yes. You pulled it all in, you pulled it all in together. Yeah, if you’re going to read any one book, that’s probably, that’s the book to read now. I can’t wait to read you’re book, the new book is more like a memoir or a life story or an autobiography, right?
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, it would probably be a memoir.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. Oh, that sounds terrific.
Alvin Toffler: Yeah, we’ve had some really incredible adventures that we would never have anticipated in our youth, I mean around the world, the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met, and its just been very remarkable, unusual.
Susan Bratton: Future Shock opened up the doors of the world for you.
Alvin Toffler: Yes, that did happen.
Susan Bratton: And you took advantage of it. You know, one of the things that I would like to have you write about in a memoir, if you don’t have this on your chart already, here’s a request from me, and that is that you’ve met so many amazing people, you know, from Queen Beatrix to King Juan Carlos of Spain to, I mean, world leaders, economic leaders, you know, just the most amazing people all your life, and not all of us get the opportunity to meet even one of those luminaries, those dignitaries, those thought leaders but sometimes we do, and it would be really great for you to talk about not just who you’ve met, but when you met them how did you create the highest and best opportunity for both of you in that meeting.
Alvin Toffler: Well, like, I’m going to leave you with one sentence.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’d be good. Perfect.
Alvin Toffler: One sentence. This was in Belgium and we met the King and Queen. We were taken in, we walked in. I came to him. He approached me. He put his arms around me, and he said, “Love your wife.” And that was the entire conversation.
Susan Bratton: You’ve done that very well. Alvin thank you so much for being on Dishy Mix. It’s really been a pleasure and an honor to have time to talk to you today and thanks for the amazing work that you and Heidi have given to the world.
Alvin Toffler: Well thank you for the opportunity to talk about it.
Susan Bratton: It’s my pleasure.
Alvin Toffler: Be good.
Susan Bratton: Alright. I’m your host Susan Bratton. I hope you’ve enjoyed your time with Alvin and I look forward to connecting with you next week. Have a great day.