How I Made It: 'I'm a trends futurist – I know what your life will look like'

Welcome back to How I Made It,’s weekly career journey series.

This week we’re speaking with Daniel Levine, 46, a trends expert based between London and New York.

His life’s work is in looking ahead to see what’s coming up, predicting social and cultural movements for companies, tourism board and consumers.

Daniel splits his time between presenting as a keynote speaker and consulting, which means travelling often and speaking to clients across the world.

His journey started with a fascination in history, but after working for a travel guidebook company, found the future was where he’d make his living.

After nine years of absorbing trends and developing a reputation for always having the best recommendations, he set up his own company as a trends futurist.

Here’s how he made it happen.

Hey, Daniel. How did you become an expert in trends – what training do you need to do?

I read history in university then got my first dream job writing travel guidebooks to cities around the world.

Discovering the latest happenings in global cities allowed me to witness trends emerging in restaurants, hotels, shops and culture.

It’s helpful to have a broad background and be a generalist in a world of specialists.

I was 22 when I started researching and writing travel guidebooks. I stopped doing this at 31 when I set up my own company.

Did you always have a knack for spotting trends?

I’ve always been the go-to guy when friends ask for recommendations.

Speaking of which, you’d love Estonia.

How did you know this is the career for you?

I got hooked the first time I was speaking at a conference and saw proverbial lightbulbs go on over the heads of audience members as they rushed to jot down ideas inspired by the new trends they were discovering.

That’s an endlessly-rewarding dopamine shot for me every time.

So once you started noticing these trends, how did you transition to making that your career and getting a reputation for it?

I put together a team writing and researching trends reports.

Then I picked up the phone, made loads of cold calls, and got some speaking jobs and that led to consultancy work.

I targeted companies and associations that were having events because I knew that they would need speakers.

I realised I had unique skills and knowledge that businesses were willing to pay for.

That’s when I saw a trend for myself and co-created the Avant-Guide Institute, a trends consultancy with a global trend spotting network.

Today, my favorite work is as a keynote speaker, presenting to companies and conferences around the world.

An average day in the working life of Daniel Levine

6am: Wake up, check Wikitrends and do Wordle with coffee.

7am: Digest the latest trends reports.

10am: He’ll then exercise and clear his head before having lunch.

Working as a keynote speaker (Picture: Daniel Levine)

1pm: Meeting with his team.

2pm: Work on upcoming speaking gigs, from rehearsing to writing.

6pm: The work day is over and it’s time to make dinner.

 What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

You need to show up – and it’s so true.

Most people don’t put in the work. Show up and be someone who can be relied upon.

What do you love most about your job?

I love learning about all the cool things people are doing.

Then I get to put it in context to help people be creative and anticipate what’s next.

What do you like the least?
When traveling, I miss my wife.

How I Made It

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