A taste of the future

Aug. 29, 2017  |  Stephanie Schmidt

August brings two events that I look forward to every year: the MNCPA’s Executive Exchange and the Minnesota State Fair. While seemingly very different from one another, I found this year’s events provided similar takeaways for me. And no, I’m not talking about walking home with a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies.

Executive Exchange is an annual event where executive-level CPAs focus on the future, disruptive thinking, strategic planning … you get the idea. If you were there at the Golden Valley Country Club, you likely saw me with my jaw on the table. OK, so maybe it wasn’t on the table, but it was definitely hanging open in amazement.

What caused such awe? A glimpse into a substantially different future that’s so much closer than we may think -- a future with driverless cars.

I’ve heard and read a lot about driverless cars, and understand that they already exist. But what I didn’t think of is how driverless vehicles will dramatically change how things, such as infrastructure, are being planned now.

Thomas Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center and the Dayton Hudson Land Grant chair in Urban Design, explained how autonomous vehicles will reduce our need for more lanes. Further, parking structures may be rendered nearly useless unless their owners identify alternative uses for the space. Why? Because people won’t actually own cars; driverless cars will be continuously moving about with little need to park. Did you just ask yourself if you’ll need a garage or insurance? Just think about what you could do with the space and the money.

That leads to the idea that car manufacturers, like Ford and General Motors, will move from being auto manufacturers to mobility service providers, offering mobility options from cars and buses, to bikes and skateboards. What about manufacturing car parts, you ask? Just turn to 3-D printing. And if that’s too hard to believe, there’s actually a fully functioning 3-D printed car sitting at Stratasys in Eden Prairie.

After having my mind blown at Executive Exchange, the following day was the opening of the Great Minnesota Get Together. The State Fair represents familiarity and tradition. I can definitely wrap my mind around the deep-fried food offerings. And yet, I found myself looking most forward to the creative (and crazy) new foods and attractions. Cheesy nacho corn on the cob, anyone?

In the past, when I thought of the future, I was often intimidated. Today, I’m feeling inspired and optimistic. Yes, things will look very different. Jobs won’t all be the same as they are now. But, much like the chili maple bacon donut, just because we can’t imagine it now, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s scary.

From driverless cars to deep-fried avocado, those who open their mind and are willing to embrace the changes coming down the road are in for a tasty treat.

Topics: Leadership, Technology

Stephanie Schmidt

Stephanie Schmidt is the MNCPA’s director of membership and marketing. For more than 10 years, she has expertly managed numerous member programs and events. Her skillset comes in handy when also planning sleepovers and birthday parties for her family. Stephanie has also earned the MNCPA’s unofficial title of office fashionista. Step into her office and you’ll see her knack for fashion, design and décor. She’s also a hugger, which you’ll appreciate if you’re ever trapped in a scary escape room with her. Stephanie can be reached at 952-885-5523 or

Posts by this author

Comment on this post

* Indicates a required field.

Your name*:  

Your website URL: