April Rinne

April Rinne is an acclaimed international keynote speaker and trusted advisor to start-ups, enterprises, governments and investors worldwide. She is often called a “bumblebee” for her ability to cross-pollinate ideas and innovation across cultures and continents.

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April is an expert on the new economy -- think sharing, collaborative, platform, on-demand, freelance and gig economies -- and the future of work. She loves expanding peoples’ minds to the incredible diversity of how people and organizations are rethinking how we live, work, create value and plan for the future.

In this light, April’s keynotes and presentations focus on how we will work, organize, build business, and how public policy will change in the Day After Tomorrow.

April also speaks together with her husband Jerry Michalski (an expert on emerging technologies, trust and mental models), more than doubling the value they bring to the table. From microfinance to tech booms (and busts), from the sharing economy to automation, and from new business models to trust-driven innovation: together, they are great at trailblazing and helping birth new sustainable, profitable paths.


Work in the Day After Tomorrow

Changes in the workforce are everywhere: shifts from office cubicles to remote work, from fixed to flexible schedules, from lifetime employment to shorter-term engagements and “career portfolios”. These changes are sparking debates, raising unknowns, and presenting both challenges and opportunities within companies and communities worldwide. April speaks about rethinking jobs, careers, offices and HR departments. How do we effectively manage talent and culture in the future of work, and how might this affect our own -- and our children’s -- professional paths?

The notion of “jobs” as the norm/goal is ending. “Jobs” are evolving into a much wider range of workplace arrangements. One of the most significant shifts relates to the rise in freelancing, independent contractors and self-employment. This goes beyond simply the gig economy; from highly skilled professionals to digital nomads, top talent around the world is demanding more flexibility and meaningful connection to what they do.

The assumption that “if you study hard, get good grades and especially if you go to college, you’ll be guaranteed a good job” is dead. The linear study-work-retire trajectory no longer holds; each of these phases is being disrupted, whether by automation, finance or the sheer pace of change. The path is now non-linear, multi-faceted, and often messy. Education will become lifelong learning, career “paths” are already becoming career “portfolios,” and retirement in a world with average lifespans of 90+ years looks and means something quite different than today. As technology and machines are increasingly capable of learning and completing select tasks, it becomes ever more important for workers of all ages to focus on what makes us uniquely human -- and remain “unautomatable.”

Moreover, the office is melting: we see a rise of remote and distributed work globally. In a digital economy, entire companies may have no physical office space, nor one headquarters as the locus of operations.  All of these factors have profound implications for organizations, individuals, and governments alike. They require us to rethink -- and update -- not only HR departments but also economic and workforce development policies and educational institutions, with wide-reaching impacts for society as a whole. April provides insights about how these different stakeholders and priorities will interact in the Day After Tomorrow, and how best to prepare.

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Business Models for the New Economy

We must get better at designing for, and factoring in, unintended consequences and blind spots of innovation. We are in the early stages of a major reckoning, and acknowledgement by business leaders, that it’s time for a shift from shareholder to stakeholder capitalism. Making money is no longer a sufficient corporate purpose; rather, businesses must “share a fundamental commitment to all of their stakeholders,” including customers, workers, suppliers and the broader communities within which they operate. This has a range of ripple effects, including shifting our focus from fast-but-often-unstable-and-unsustainable growth unicorns, to a range of new business models and zebra companies for sustainable, long-term, inclusive growth.

Nevertheless, a still-outstanding question for companies and businesses remains: will these shifts lead to tangible, substantive change? And what does real leadership amidst such transformation look like? On the one hand, there are myriad ways corporations can tweak around the edges to improve their workforce policies, environmental policies and so forth. On the other hand, despite being well-intentioned, such efforts can -- and all too often are -- wiped out by a new CEO or a disappointing financial quarter. What about deeper, more permanent and lasting change at the company DNA level?

April sparks Day After Tomorrow thinking around business models, investment and sustainability. How can we build business for good, from the ground up? What exactly is the new economy? How are the sharing, gig, on-demand, platform economies different? What new models are there, such as B Corps and benefit corporations? Or how about China’s spin on the sharing economy, that is more broadly/differently than anywhere else in the world? And what about the dark side: when is sharing not really sharing?

April is a polymath, and she applies all of her expertise -- whether as a Harvard lawyer, global development expert or certified yoga teacher -- to the questions and challenges at hand. She’s especially interested in connecting dots and gleaning insights between disciplines that have often ignored one another. For example, how can yoga philosophy help us realign the business world with a world in which the goal of profit maximization suddenly looks very small against the challenges of climate change, inequality and the loss of trust?

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Public Policy for the Digital Economy, the Future of Work and Future Cities

The gap between technology and policy today is widening faster than ever before. To some degree this gap has always existed, and this makes sense given that policy is a lagging indicator. However, given the pace of change today, we face a very real risk of hitting a “point of no return” where policy -- whether local, national or global -- simply can’t keep up… with serious implications for society and well-being.

Cities will drive the Day After Tomorrow: cities are networking, collaborating, creating solutions and leading more than ever before. Moreover, many cities are or will be larger than entire countries, in terms of both population and economies. So, they will not only shape our future, they will drive GDP as well (even though GDP is a woefully outdated metric that must be rethought and redesigned in the Day After Tomorrow).

To improve the lives of people who live in cities -- meaning 75% of the entire world’s population by 2050 -- we need to tap into the opportunities presented by a range of new business models, workplaces and work arrangements, and community-driven initiatives. For example, when harnessed responsibly the sharing economy and “access over ownership” models can help the environment, save costs and foster closer community relationships. It is not a panacea, but it is an incredibly powerful tool for cities worldwide, who are waking up to its potential.

At the same time that cities are ascending, and new business models are emerging, there remain obstacles to lasting progress. One of the thorniest challenges in this context are outdated policies. At the municipal (city), national and global level, governments and policy makers are struggling to adjust to new realities: new technologies, products, lifestyles, business models, markets, exchanges, and expectations… all of which are evolving fast and demand appropriate rules.

April has spent the past 10+ years advising governments and policy makers worldwide on exactly these issues: from the sharing economy and economic development, to the future of work and labor regulations. She often serves as a bridge between the public and private sector, translating the business needs of policy and vice-versa.  In this capacity she has had the opportunity to see first-hand how forward-thinking leaders can embrace this new landscape thoughtfully, responsibly and creatively. In her role of advising cities (and countries) of all sizes across developing, growth and developed markets, April has identified steppingstones to successful policy reform.

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