i3 | February 04, 2019

Ninja CEO: A Conversation with Gary Shapiro About His New Book

Curtis Kincaid

Building on the success of his last two bestsellers – 2011’s The Comeback and 2013’s Ninja Innovation – Gary Shapiro offers readers a roadmap for the future in CTA’s new book Ninja Future: How to Thrive in the New World of Innovation. By combining years of experience as head of the Consumer Technology Association with the most cutting-edge research and analysis, he empowers readers to confront the future with confidence, creativity and clarity. 

The book gives an overview of three key topics. First, innovation past and future – how evolving technology has changed our world and how the innovative technologies in development will impact our future. It moves on to discuss the large-scale conditions we must implement to bring about this future. Lastly, the book off ers concrete advice to companies and individuals that seek to thrive in the ninja future. By highlighting the core values and strategies that power innovation, readers will gain insights into what they can do to succeed amid rapid change. 

Shapiro is an ideal guide in this transient, transformative age. His humor and candor make even the most complex ideas accessible and the wildest ideas seem possible. We sat down with him to get a little more perspective on the book and why he wrote it. 

This book shares a theme with your last book – the ninja. Why did you come back to this idea?

In my last book, I outlined the qualities of ninja innovators – their flexibility, fearlessness and love of freedom. But as I continued to observe, read and think, I realized these qualities wouldn’t be necessary for only the innovators we support at CTA – they’re the qualities that will drive our global future. I wanted to expand the ninja model beyond the tech industry to include individuals and organizations of all diff erent shapes and sizes.

What made you think this was the moment for the insights in this book?

With every year, the pace of innovation accelerates. Five years ago, we couldn’t have imagined the connectivity provided by smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or the Apple HomePod. Ten years ago, ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft were in their infancy. Twenty years ago, only 41 percent of American adults were online – and now, smartphones are integral to our lives, connecting us to news and information anywhere, anytime.

And innovations in technology don’t show any sign of slowing down. Selfdriving vehicles, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, digital health –  these trends will power our future and change our lives for the better, along with dozens more we haven’t even imagined yet. Waiting for the right moment, for stability, for technology to settle into place – it’s just not going to happen. We have to accept we’re in a moving, mobile moment and go with it. The longer we wait, the more likely it is that we’ll fall behind and other nations will speed on ahead. When it comes to technology, there’s no time like the present. 

What’s your favorite part of the book?

That’s a tough one – I tried to make every word count! One thing I’m particularly proud of is the section that gives an overview of the countries that are most innovation-friendly. At CTA, we’ve developed a unique tool – the International Innovation Scorecard – that allows you to click on a country and find out how welcoming it is to innovation. Each country is unique, and no one country is doing it perfectly. I really enjoyed being able to build on this research and give readers a concrete sense of how countries around the world are getting ready for a global ninja future. 

January/February 2019 i3 Cover Issue

Subscribe to i3 Magazine

 i3, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry. Subscriptions to i3 are available free to qualified participants in the consumer electronics industry.