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Big Ideas: “A platform to track and reward behaviors like giving parents compliments, eating healthy, picking up trash or stopping bullies” with Futurist Dean Grey

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dean Grey, Best Selling Author, Futurist and Founder of ETT (Economic Transformation Technologies) Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you […]

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dean Grey, Best Selling Author, Futurist and Founder of ETT (Economic Transformation Technologies)


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I realized after speaking around the world that there was a very big gap in everyone’s abilities to keep the conversation going after a live event. We where not able to train, track, recognize or reward the actions and behaviors we valued or required to make a difference.

At one point I was back stage and I realized I could not simply grab my phone and shoot a message to everyone in the audience who were going to go home and do what we asked them to do (yet we put a man on the moon in 1968). This would require a chat app that tracked customized behaviors and this did not exist.

It started to dawn on me that there was a 3rd generation of community building emerging.

  • The 1st generation was location based, and it focused on getting people to show up to your gym, business or concert.
  • Then the 2nd generation of community building was to ask people to follow you after the event on social media, not realizing you just turned your entire community over to another vendor.
  • The 3rd was to drive people onto your own platform where you had the power and freedom to engage with your community as you saw fit without the fear of demonetization or censorship.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

After interviewing over 300 pastors, thought leaders, brands and influencers, I realized that almost all of us where in same business of creating communities. We just called them different names depending on our industry. Most of all we were dealing with many of the same pain points. How do we turn fans, into customers and then into super enthusiast or micro influencers who would help us grow our audiences organically to meet our companies’ mission statements?

Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Apps are the new websites but most of all VRS (value reinforcement systems) is the next step in gamification. Much like how WordPress or Wix created a template to help the world go easily online with a website, ETT created the ability to launch a 5 million dollar platform in minutes vs. years so a brand or influencer could instantly have their own Facebook or Instagram, at a price they could afford.

With VRS you get to shape and reward the behaviors that matter the most to you, while gamification is done to you without your knowledge.

What gets measured gets improved and what get recognized gets repeated so let’s make sure we shape the right things.

Imagine a world where a sponsor can choose a behavior or action that fits their brand and they can partner with a community that drives, tracks and rewards that exact action.

For example we have a cheer app that is for young athletes and it prompts their 20,000 plus users daily to take 3 types of actions each day:

  • Be a better athlete
  • Be a better person
  • Make the world a better place

There are young athletes who have not missed a day for 400 days and they are tracking behaviors like giving their parents compliments, eating healthy, and making the world a better place by picking up trash or stopping bullies. Parents, sponsors and city officials are inspired and so excited to collaborate.

How do you think this will change the world?

Mobile apps have proven that you can shape and drive the actions of a individual. This is often referred to as personal development.

When you can do this for a community of like-minded people it is often called a movement.

But when you do this for a town, city, or entire government it is called Economic Transformation. And there are billion dollar funds allocated to the power of positivity and moving the needle forward. It is time for our technology to not only entertain us but to demonstrate that we have the power to not only help people on an individual level but for our entire country and our planet!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Most people are living life by default vs. life by design. This can be dangerous due to the unintended consequences. This is why people are starting to wake up to the negative side effects of rewarding only the social aspects of life vs. the actions that really matter.

Often today people are programmed to think the lime light of fame is the only light worth seeking. Yet we all know that it is the actions that often occur in the dark that matter the most: self-improvement, acts of courage, and the work required in mastering a craft. Our technologies must start to shine the light on these other types of behaviors as well because they are what create quality individuals.

There is a big difference between the influence that comes from fame vs. the power that comes from respect.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

Specifically I remember being in a 3rd world country at a family’s home that was made of mud and had no door and they where sharing a single fish for dinner. What hit me was despite their lack of money or assets, the one thing they had was a smart phone and it allowed them to stay connected to the world in real time better than a TV or radio. This is when I realized no matter what your goal was, if you intended to effect the world you would need to do it through an app on a phone. Because having an app on the front screen of a person’s phone was becoming the most valuable real estate in the world. If you wanted to train, track, recognize or reward people you would need to do this through a mobile app.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

What ETT requires now is more brands and influencers to use their fame for good and to get behind rewarding the behaviors that matter the most through the 1000’s of apps we are launching for communities and affinity groups.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

#1 Trust Your Inner Voice — I remember listening to people I respected and it hit me that none of them had traveled the world and connected the dots or noticed the patterns or trends that I did. So I had to be okay with realizing I was ahead of them in this area and to not feel arrogant.

#2 Hiring Talent Is Harder Than You Think — I love to see potential in everyone but I discovered that in order to get your passion off the ground you need competent people around you fast vs. people who required too much coaching.

#3 Learn To Anchor A Change — I realized that if I wanted to make a big change I needed to step into the character of the person I wanted to become, much like a method actor. This meant that I had to move to a new city, change the way I dressed and adjust my social circle.

#4 Learn What To Say No To — You will be required to say no to some people and things in order to make space for your new vision. In my case, I had to say no to being so social and I needed to focus and dive deep into learning a new craft. I also needed to inform my friends so they did not take it personally.

#5 Hold Empty Space — In order to put a dent in the universe you will have to hold the empty space long enough for your new vision to fill it. However, as humans we often fill empty spaces as quickly as they open up, especially if you are lonely. I needed to fall in love with my new dream and realize it required my time and to accept it and be okay with that empty space.

The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?

I would suggest becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable because the only thing that is certain is things will evolve or change. So to insure your self a place in the future, stay hungry and curious so it is a fun process for you.

Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?

Funny enough I just did invest exactly one million dollars into Ai with Rob Frederick’s company (Sirqul). He is the co-founder of AWS. We are partnering on combining his artificial intelligence with our community platforms.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

  1. To think outside the box, and to always assume their is better way to accomplish something
  2. To believe there can always be a win/win solution vs. a win/lose
  3. To hold the faith that there are people who value honor and acts of character in the world and we are the ones that stand up when it is time 🙂

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”

1. Stay close to curious people because if someone is successful but not curious they seem to eventually lose what they gained.

2. Reading and elevating your social circles is not a bad thing. Stop using your current friends as a excuse to stay where you are.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?

Apps are the new websites & chat is the new email… When you combine Ai, blockchain, and community platforms, you have the ability to shape and reward the behaviors that matter. Small tribes are worth big money. The world is waking up and realizing a million followers on Instagram is like being a millionaire in Monopoly — it’s nice, but it is not real. OWN YOUR TRIBE! Influencers are here to stay, do you really think they are going to stay on Instagram?

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook — @skylabusa, Dean Grey

Twitter — @skylabusa, @deangreyskylab

Instagram — @skylabusa, @deangrey01

LinkedIn — Skylab, Dean Grey

Website — www.skylab.world

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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