By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Friday, September 21, 2018The annual U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention kicks off Sept. 25 in Jacksonville, Fla., where world-renowned speaker Rishad Tobaccowala, who has worked with a host of major companies like Amazon and Facebook, will give a keynote speech to the aquatics world about adapting to change. Tobaccowala gives us a small preview of what’s to come in what will be his first sports-oriented convention.
1. Can you explain a little bit about what you do?
What I do is help try to explain trends in the present, and try to anticipate the future. I try to make sense of what’s going on in the world today, whether it’s demographic, or globalization, for example. I try to anticipate these changes that may be coming in the future and then help organizations, companies and people prepare and adapt to those changes.
2. How do you think your experience can tie into an organization like USA Swimming?
My sense is that every organization is undergoing significant change because of what’s happening in the world. USA Swimming has new leadership and a new board of directors and is reemphasizing its safety measures and other key criteria – so what you have is that the organization is changing and the world around it is changing. But equally as important is that the people within USA Swimming – the swimmers themselves – are changing, with different outside pressures and interests. The overall theme of the conference is navigating change and one of my focal points is doing just that.
3. What advice would you give to USA Swimming’s member clubs on navigating change?
There are two parts. First, I try to have people recognize that they aren’t alone and their organization isn’t the only one undergoing change. You are not alone. You can learn and pay attention to what’s around you. Secondly, the only way to adapt to change is to change yourself. People can improve and invest time and effort in themselves so they can navigate change, and find ways to make change less difficult.
4. What are some of the organizations you’ve worked with and how have your strategies helped them navigate change?
I’ve worked with many companies and my own. I’ve helped them decide what their overall strategies are – what is their future competitive advantage? I get the companies to develop strategies that are relevant to the future. In one case, I met with a company where the web could be a big source of information and would allow people to better connect with each other. We’ve worked with companies like United Airlines to get on the web. Companies need to think about how to change the way they operate. A lot of what we do is just provide an outside perspective; when you’re in an organization, you don’t always see things from an outside view. We help provide an outside perspective.
5. What are you most looking forward to about the convention?
Learning more about USA Swimming – I’ve never been involved in something like this. This is completely new – it’s the first sports-oriented convention I’ll have been to. Second, I’m interested to see how what I speak about will resonate with the audience. I’ve never spoken to a sports body before. I’m hoping that this succeeds.
Rishad Tobaccowala will give his keynote address, Thriving in Transformational Times, Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the U.S. Aquatics Sports Convention in Jacksonville, Fla. Read more about Tobaccowala here, and for more information about convention, click here.
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