It looks like fortune tellers aren't the only ones interested in crystal ball gazing these days. Yesterday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s Nerd (we're not kidding) Tod Maffin delivered a 80-minute afternoon presentation to around 300 provincial bureaucrats on...cue 2001 drumroll...the future! And for this speech, which was proudly introduced by public service agency deputy minister Diane Rabbani, the government paid the Nerd $7,500. But, in an interview, British Columbia Leadership and Training Centre assistant deputy minister Liz Gilland maintains the agency got value for its money.
According to Ms. Gilland, government "looked at a series of speakers and (the Nerd) was able to talk most compelling about the changes that we're going to face in people managing and hiring people in the future," pointing out Mr. Maffin had given a similar presentation to the Human Resource Managers Association of Canada last year.
Ms. Gilland said the Nerd also talked about "the impact that technology is going to have in our workplaces and the very big need for finding a way to have balance in our lives. So he covered those three topics."
And why was the Nerd qualified to do that? Ms. Gilland told us Mr. Maffin "started up a number of high-tech companies. I think he continues to hold onto one today. And he's had to go out and hire the best and brightest in order to launch successfully a number of new high-tech products."
Ms. Gilland added, "I think he's got a good handle on hiring what everyone refers to as millennials - the people who are 20 right now or younger that we are going to have to hire in our workplace. They have different values and different things drive them."
According to a CanWest newspaper archive search, Mr. Maffin, a grade-eight drop-out who has been referred to as one of North America's leading futurists, was co-founder and chief strategist for Mindfuleye.com Systems Inc., a publicly-traded artificial intelligence company setup in 1999 and reportedly worth $60 million in 2000, according to the National Post. The firm has not been mentioned in the newspapers since 2002, its Website address has expired and its phone number is not in service.
He was also the founder of Tod Maffin Consulting Inc., which started business in 1999 with two employees. The consulting company did work for Honeywell Corp. the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and Westpro Benefit Solutions Inc. (of Doug Walls fame).
Before founding that consulting firm, Mr. Maffin was vice-president of marketing for Imediat Digital Creations Inc. and senior strategist for Emerge Online Inc., two Vancouver-based Internet firms. He edits the FutureFile.com newsletter, is a producer for two Canadian Broadcasting Corp. shows and an in-demand speaker.
Mr. Maffin's presentation, delivered at the Victoria Conference Centre, was part of the first annual Premier's Innovation and Excellence Awards ceremony. The premier didn't attend that ceremony because he was in Ottawa.