Ever since she was a child, Julie Friedman Steele has thought… differently. Her outside-the-box thinking has been focused on visions of possible futures and turning them into realities. While that may sound like the start of a promising career in science fiction, Julie believes that we can create the future we envision. She now serves as the CEO and Board Chair of the World Future Society, the largest, most influential, and longest-running community of futurists and visionaries in the world.
Julie wasn’t getting a lot of encouragement for her thinking as a youth, but she loved learning and committed to studying artificial intelligence, bio-chemistry molecular biology, music, comedy, and ultimately being a passionate life-long learner of any and all subjects. She started a 3D printing company because she liked the idea of self-replicating robots. Through this pursuit, she connected with the Smithsonian Institute about designing a factory of the future. She ultimately connected with the World Future Society, where–for the first time–she met other people who thought like her. “It was the first time I felt normal,” says Julie.
A futurist is not a passive observer. Most people don’t really talk about the future, but focus instead on learning history and trying to make it through today. Futurists take in that data and use it to envision possible futures and harness collective voices to co-create a future that’s more than just the status quo. Julie paraphrases Buckminster Fuller, another Futurist, saying, “you can’t fix a broken system. You need to create a new system that makes the old one obsolete.”
Interestingly, that’s also how Julie became a fan of Ministry of Supply. After leaving a retreat and committing herself to better health and personal wellness, Julie found that none of her old clothes fit anymore. She was intrigued by the spaceman in the window of the Ministry of Supply store in Santa Monica, so she went in to learn more. When she came out, she had a complete new wardrobe, and a lot of questions for us about 3D Print-Knit. It was a great match.
We recently caught up with Julie after she had spent a week in Los Angeles shooting a new TV documentary series.
How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?
Authentic. Passionate. I value simplicity. Quirky. Funny. Empathic, and non-judgmental. Futurist.
How do you take your coffee?
I drink tea. Rooibos from South Africa.
What TV shows or movies have you watched recently?
I watch science shows most of the time. I find shows on astrophysics to be calming. I also like “Better Call Saul,” and how it humanizes a darker side of people. I really liked the first several seasons of “Rick and Morty.” I like comedy a lot. Harold Ramis was a mentor to me, and I love George Carlin.
What music do you listen to?
Peter Gabriel. He’s a futurist as well. I like the original Cat Stevens. I like Cirque du Soleil. There is also some really interesting music being created by AI now, which works really well because music is math.
What’s one place you haven’t been?
Japan. I think they have a different societal narrative, and they want to create a future that’s very different.
Anything else we should know?
The future affects everything and everyone, and it isn’t going anywhere. I feel like I’m making a better baton to pass by driving the World Future Society forward.