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Riding the Rogue Waves of Disruption with Eric Pilon-Bignell
Episode 1630th September 2021 • Before It Happened • Donna Loughlin
00:00:00 00:39:14

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Over the last couple of decades, humanity has experienced a tremendous rate of disruption. How can we understand and adapt to the ever-changing world we live in? In this episode of Before IT Happened, Donna talks to Eric Pilon-Bignell, an engineer and author whose ideas are revolutionizing both the present and the future. Eric, an expert on change and how we respond to it, is the author of the book Surfing Rogue Waves, a doctoral thesis turned into a best-selling manuscript on adapting to the waves of change and learning to surf through disruption. Listen now to hear about what keeps this thought-leader up at night. 

Before any world-changing innovation, there was a moment, an event, a realization that sparked the idea before it happened. This is a podcast about that moment — about that idea. Before IT Happened takes you on a journey with the innovators who imagined — and are still imagining — our future. Join host Donna Loughlin as her guests tell their stories of how they brought their visions to life. 


(01:47) - Who is Eric Pilon-Bignell? A pragmatic futurist who is looking to explain the world’s wave of change - “We've got this robust pipeline of disruption and it's going to make for some of the craziest surfing conditions we've ever faced.”

(05:45) - Eric’s academic path and his discovery of knowledge - “I got some great advice from my dad, he said you can always go be an engineer and then decided to go into business later.” 

(09:55) - The entrepreneurial years, Indiana Institute of Technology, and a newfound love for surfing  - “There's this constant parallel that I was starting to pull together between surfing in life and surfing in business.”

(13:36) - Eric’s doctoral thesis and how it turned into a best-seller about surfing - “I wanted to make it digestible, I don't want it to be an academic read. I don't want it to be boring. So I found that the parallels of surfing were really perfect.”

(20:32) - The complexity of today’s problems and how we can understand disruption - “Look into the impossible problems of today and what they're going to look like tomorrow… The future generations are going to fix the impossible problems of today with ease.”

(25:48) - The process of writing and rewriting the book - “I had a bit more fun because I could put in much more real-world examples of where we're seeing this happen. Whereas you can't give a great everyday example in your dissertation.”

(28:49) - The fourth industrial revolution: Can we know when the next wave is coming? - “We have to start talking about it now. It's not all developers or academics or theorists. It's you, me, and anyone else.”


Connect with Eric through Twitter, Instagram and

Get Eric’s book Surfing Rogue Waves: How to paddle out into the 21st Century

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Before IT Happened is produced by Donna Loughlin and StudioPod Media with additional editing and sound design by Nodalab. The Executive Producer is Katie Sunku Wood and all episodes are written by Jack Buehrer.