At a Glance
Thomas Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group
Focus Areas: Core competencies in the areas of Innovation, the Future of Technology, Business Strategy, Leadership, Organizational Behavior, Generational Issues, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Autonomous Devices/Vehicles
Thinkers360 Profile & Portfolio: Thinkers360
Thought Leadership Points on Thinkers360: 498 (as of 12/14/18)
Overall Global Ranking: #20 (as of 12/14/18)
Thought Leader Q&A
Thinkers360 Q&A’s profile prominent members of the Thinkers360 community who embody the power of ideas in their work. In this edition, we speak with Thomas Koulopoulos, President and co-founder of Delphi Group, a Boston-based think tank and technology management advisory firm.
Thinkers360: Tell us a bit about your background
TK: My original ambition was to go into engineering. Having grown up with my dad working on some of the earliest computers I was constantly being exposed leading edge technology. After bouncing around from engineering to business and then accounting I was lucky enough to take a course on comparative programming languages. I fell in love with programming, stayed to get a second degree in computer science, and started my first job with a relational database startup; I thought I’d ended up in paradise.
That startup experience early in my career fueled an innate desire towards entrepreneurship and in my mid-twenties I decided to start Delphi Group with my friend Carl Frappaolo. The objective was to make leading edge technology understandable to business leaders. We grew Delphi to #243 on the Inc list of the fastest growing US private companies, with offices across the globe. We sold the business to Perot Systems in 2003 where I was in charge of building their global innovation and thought leadership practice. I left Perot in 2007 and bought back the rights to Delphi Group which continues to operate as a think tank on the future of digital technology.
I’d love to say I planned each step of that journey, but the reality is that serendipity and the constant focus on thought leadership played a big role. In fact, in 1995 I sent my first book to Jim Champy, who I’d never met, but would go one to become a lifelong mentor. Jim is the person who introduced me to the term thought leader. Eight years later, Jim would help me orchestrate the sale of Delphi group.
Thinkers360: What are your current responsibilities and what’s a typical day look like?
TK: My current role is leading Delphi’s ongoing research into leading edge technology and business trends. We have always been very narrowly focused on specific areas in order to develop deep expertise and insight. Much of my work now is in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the evolution of new mechanisms to store the incredible amount of data that we will be dealing with over the coming decades.
There is no typical day! But on most days you’ll find me dividing up my time between writing my column for Inc magazine or my next book, reviewing travel plans and upcoming keynotes, surfing the myriad resources we use to keep up with developments in technology/business/economics, talking to clients and companies I advise or have investments in, mentoring, and always scanning the horizon to spot new trends that may represent the next “Big Thing.”
Thinkers360: What’s the favorite part of your current role?
TK: Without a doubt, it’s a combination of the diversity of what I’m involved in, the opportunities I’m afforded to influence the trajectory of companies and individuals through my writing and speaking, and the excitement of being constantly on the go.
Thinkers360: How do you utilize Thinkers360?
TK: I’ve been a huge proponent of Thinkers360 since well before I first talked to founder, Nicholas Evans about it. One of the unfortunate byproducts of fast change is the plethora of self-professed pundits that swoop in to feed off the confusion. When I was running the Center for Business Innovation at Babson I was regularly being approached by opportunistic consultants with the latest and greatest new tool or methodology for innovation. Inevitably I’d find myself unimpressed. Trying to weed out those thought leaders who actually had the ability and the knowledge to share and influence trends was always challenging. Thinkers360 finally has put in place the foundation for doing that in an objective, credibly, and thorough manner. For me, it’s the modern day Who’s Who of thought leadership.
Thinkers360: What’s your main advice for upcoming thought leaders?
TK: Never get comfortable with what you know or think you know. Thought leadership is as much about your experience and pedigree as it is about the constant desire and discipline to learn more. I’m often asked how I possibly could have written 11 books, with my 12th coming out next January. The truth is, I do it so that I am constantly in learning mode. If you’re comfortable, you’re not learning. End of story. In order to have the confidence and credibility to speak, advise, and influence you have to hold your feet to the fire and be relentless in your own education.