Vanishing Point

Deb Westphal

As Chairman of the Board for Toffler Associates, Deborah brings skills and insights honed over 30 years working with some of the top minds and leaders of governments and Fortune 100 companies. Deborah has an MBA from Webster University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico, and has completed extensive continuing education with Harvard Business School and Wharton Business School. She is also a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Recent Posts

RAPPORT // The Surprise of Discovering True Leadership on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Posted by Deb Westphal

Apr 10, 2019 8:59:00 AM

 

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

– Ronald Reagan, former U.S. President

 

The early hours of February 13th marked an important personal milestone. I had made it to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.

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RAPPORT // Greta Thunberg is Saving the World with Courage and Connectivity

Posted by Deb Westphal

Mar 21, 2019 8:58:00 AM

One day before #schoolstrike, the biggest day of global action focused on climate change, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In August 2018, she sat every day for three weeks outside the Swedish parliament in an independent protest. By January, she stood courageously before world leaders at Davos 2019 with a call to “hold no bars.” The day of #schoolstrike, an estimated 1.4 million inspired young people in 2,233 towns and cities across 128 countries stepped out of schools and into the streets to add their voices to hers.

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RAPPORT // Are you Making the Most of Your Annual Strategic Planning?

Posted by Deb Westphal

Mar 13, 2019 12:58:00 PM

Its that time of year again. Across thousands of (success-minded, forward-thinking) businesses, teams of people are heads down, working on annual strategic planning activities. As I step away from these types of day-to-day activities, I find myself reflecting on the value of such efforts and what adaptation must be made to serve us better in the future.

 

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RAPPORT // In Praise of Heidi Toffler – a Dream Crazier Paragon

Posted by Deb Westphal

Feb 27, 2019 1:20:00 PM

Nike’s Dream Crazier ad is sweeping its way across social media. Debuted during this week’s 91st Academy Awards, its message of female empowerment is clear and direct. Beautiful visuals of strong and confident female athletes flash, evoking physical and mental accomplishment. Tennis champion Serena Williams narrates.

 

Within a day of its release, the 90-second ad earned five million views on YouTube.

 

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RAPPORT // Greta Thunberg is Proof. World Leaders Need New Mental Models.

Posted by Deb Westphal

Feb 6, 2019 8:59:00 AM

For more than four decades, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting has been a beacon for future-focused leaders. Held amongst the beautiful scenery of Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, the event brings together some of the world’s foremost heads of state, business leaders, policymakers, academics, and societal leaders. Their purpose is to engage in constructive, solutions-focused discourse about global issues and the challenges faced by humanity.

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RAPPORT // Why Antarctica is Vital to the Future of Earth

Posted by Deb Westphal

Jan 23, 2019 9:00:00 AM

People close to me know that travel is my passion. It has been a priority for most of my life. As the number of trips I’ve had the opportunity to take has risen, my destinations have gone farther off the beaten path. In December, a trip to Antarctica pushed the boundaries to their farthest reaches.

 

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RAPPORT // Take a Future-Focused Mindset and be a Change Maker in 2019

Posted by Deb Westphal

Dec 6, 2018 1:30:00 PM

Do you get more reflective at year’s end?

 

Even though time is fundamentally the continual progress of existence, there is something about the end of the calendar year that inspires reflection. Every December brings a flood of publications documenting the year’s end. Reuters, New York Times, and CNN (to name a few) release special edition Year in Pictures, Who We Lost, and Major Events recaps to document the major milestones that affected people and shaped societies. Intentionally or unintentionally, we give mental space to tie up loose ends and consider the hopes, dreams, and failures of the past twelve months. There’s calm in reminiscing and fascination in remembering what we have forgotten in just a short period. As individuals, this process is part of how we translate our accomplishments, missed opportunities and regrets into a new or renewed commitment to “do better next year.”

 

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Discussing Changes at the Intersection of Technology and Humanity

Posted by Deb Westphal

Nov 7, 2018 8:59:00 AM

 

“What's the problem we're trying to solve?

What is the question that we're trying to answer?

The key is getting the question right.”

 

I recently had the opportunity to engage in a fascinating conversation with a fellow life-long learner and high-touch futurist. That discussion with Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, founder of Wild Innovation and Interim Executive Director and Chief Futurist for the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska, was recorded for the Rural Futures Podcast. On a weekly basis, this platform explores rural-urban divide, technology development, and the future of work.

 

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Shocks and Solutions: Future Shock Forum 2018 Event Recap

Posted by Deb Westphal

Oct 17, 2018 10:30:00 AM


I am so energized and full of hope! I’ve just returned from the beautiful city of Chicago where we hosted the 2018 Future Shock Forum. Everyone who joined us shared incredible connections, questions, and perspectives. To be sure, the event exceeded our expectations.

 

This event is part of the Toffler Associates legacy. For many years, our co-founders Alvin and Heidi Toffler would host intimate gatherings of curious, accomplished friends and colleagues. They would gather around the kitchen table of their California home to explore ideas and look at the future. Throughout the evening, everyone openly and respectfully challenged each other’s ideas and views on economic and societal patterns, and the alternate futures they prophesied.

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It’s Change or Lose for Human Resource Executives

Posted by Deb Westphal

Oct 3, 2018 9:00:00 AM


In a crowded conference hall of human resource professionals, the first address of the North Carolina Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) annual conference was high energy, comical at times, and clear in message. The human resource executive needs to “up his or her game” to meet the most demanding challenge today’s organizations are facing – the demand for human talent.

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