Author and Founder of the Environics Institute
Michael Adams is the president of the Environics group of research and communications consulting companies which he co-founded in 1970 and which today employ over 200 professionals in offices located in seven cities in Canada and the United States.
In addition to numerous articles, frequent commentary in the broadcast media and presentations at conferences, seminars and annual meetings in North America, Europe and Asia, Mr. Adams is also the author of four Canadian best sellers: Sex in the Snow: Canadian Social Values at the End of the Millennium (published in 1997), Better Happy Than Rich? Canadians, Money and the Meaning of Life, (2000) and Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values, (2003), and American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States, (2005). All four books have been published by Penguin.
Fire and Ice won the prestigious 2003/04 Donner Prize for the best book on Canadian public policy and was selected in the fall of 2005 by the Literary Review of Canada as one of the 100 most important books ever published in the country.
His current book project entitled Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism, being published in November 2007, focuses on the promise and challenge of Canadian multiculturalism.
In 2006 he founded the Environics Institute to sponsor survey research that will contribute to the discussion of important public policy issues. To date, the Institute has sponsored a survey of Canadian Muslims as well as a survey of the people of Afghanistan on issues related to the NATO mission in that country. The Institute is currently in the early stages of a research project on aboriginal life in Canada, to be undertaken in partnership with diverse First Nations communities throughout the country.
Michael Adams holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from Queen’s University (1969) and a M.A. in Sociology from the University of Toronto (1970) and was named as one of the 100 most influential people in Canadian communications according to Marketing Magazine’s Power List 2005.
Outside the field of research consulting, Mr. Adams has a variety of other interests including partnership in the Robert Craig Winery in Napa Valley, California, which has been rated by The Wine Spectator as one of the top 25 wineries in California.
- Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism
- American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States
- Fire and Ice: The U.S., Canada and the Myth of Converging Values
- Fire and Ice: The U.S., Canada and the Myth of Converging Values – Focus on the Consumer
- The Shape of Things to Come: An Overview of Thirty Years of Canadian Public Opinion
- The Future of Leadership
- Sex in the Snow: The Changing Social Values of Canadians – From Deference to Autonomy
- Money and the Quest for Trusted Intermediaries
- Philanthropy: The New Motivators for Charitable Giving
- The Green Economy: Are Canadians Ready to Face Those Inconvenient Truths?
- Lifting the Veil: Muslims in Canada
TOPIC DESCRIPTIONS FOR MICHAEL ADAMS’ CURRENT PRESENTATIONS
1. Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism
Canada has the highest immigration rate and the second-largest foreign-born population in the world. With so much internal diversity—and in a world where ethnic and religious strife seems to be proliferating rather than abating over time—is this country on a collision course with social disaster?
In this provocative talk, Michael Adams answers No: Canada’s so-called experiment with diversity is in fact a remarkable success. Using both demographic and public opinion data, Adams shows that the vast majority of newcomers to Canada are ready to integrate into their new society, and the vast majority of “old Canadians” are ready to welcome them. In terms of both social attitudes and economic outcomes, there is plenty of cause for optimism. Accepting a quarter-million newcomers a year is not without challenges, but the anxious headlines in the morning paper are not telling the real story of diversity in Canada. This clear-eyed, data-driven talk will be invaluable to anyone striving to make diversity work in their own organization—and to anyone who dares flirt with optimism about Canada’s future.
2. American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States
Based on Michael Adams’ newest book of the same name, this presentation examines evolving American values in depth, paying special attention to the relationship between social and political change. Mr. Adams’ social values data show that while politically engaged American citizens are overall becoming more traditional in their values (a shift much in evidence in the U.S. political landscape), America’s politics belie the trajectory of its social change. The nearly half of Americans who are disengaged from politics are increasingly adhering to values oriented not to traditionalism and authority, but to brash individualism and hard hedonism. Exploding the accepted wisdom of an America divided bitterly into camps of Red and Blue, Adams’ data show that the values rift between Republicans and Democrats is negligible when compared to the gulf between politically engaged citizens (of either party) and the nearly half of Americans who are politically disaffected.
3. Fire and Ice: The U.S., Canada and the Myth of Converging Values
Based on Michael Adams’ most recent bestseller Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values, this fascinating and important presentation draws upon surveys Environics has conducted in the two countries since the early 1990s. Mr. Adams demonstrates the counter-intuitive thesis that the values of Americans and Canadians are diverging in significant ways, and that these divergences have implications for public policy, consumer marketing and human resources. Audiences are intrigued by Mr. Adams’s values profiles of the regions of Canada and the United States, as well as the trajectories of values evolution among Canadian and American youth.
4. Fire and Ice: The U.S., Canada and the Myth of Converging Values – Focus on the Consumer
In his prize-winning book Fire and Ice, Michael Adams documented important areas of socio-cultural divergence between Canada and the United States. In this presentation, Adams applies his data and insights on Canada-U.S. difference to the consumer marketplace. Although many marketers apply a one-pitch-fits-all strategy when it comes to Canada and the United States, Adams argues that this approach can backfire. While marketers have long recognized the obvious need for linguistic – and even cultural – tailoring for the Quebec market, Environics data shows that multicultural English-speaking Canada is also distinct from the American marketplace. Canadians express greater skepticism of advertising and big business than do Americans, stronger brand loyalty, less price sensitivity, and less enthusiasm about shopping as a leisure activity. Ignoring such differences can carry costs that outweigh the ease of a single continent-wide marketing approach. Highlighting differences in how Canadians and Americans view brands, prices, shopping, and advertising, this presentation contains important information for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of North American consumers and how to communicate with them.
5. The Shape of Things to Come: An Overview of Thirty Years of Canadian Public Opinion
This presentation offers a long-range look at evolving Canadian public opinion, and offers insights into how existing trends are likely to play out in the future. Michael Adams offers his analysis of national, regional, and provincial polling data on matters ranging from health care and taxes to immigration, Quebec sovereignty, and Canada’s role in the world. Among the presentation’s most provocative predictions is that the next referendum on Quebec sovereignty could well see Quebeckers vote Yes to secession from Canada. This talk offers an immense repository of information on Canadian public opinion, combined with Mr. Adams’ insightful and humourous take on the nation’s enduring quirks—and its urgent dilemmas.
6. The Future of Leadership
Based on thousands of interviews his company, Environics, has conducted in North America since 1983, Michael Adams in his presentation entitled The Future of Leadership outlines the revolution in social values that has altered individuals’ relationships with each other and with the institutions in their societies over the 20th century, most notably the decline in deference to institutional authority. Building upon the revolutionary changes in the structure of authority within the family and the radical changes in the roles and status of women in western societies, he shows how fundamental changes in social values when combined with other key drivers of social change such as ethno-cultural diversity and ubiquitous information technology will change the way organizations attract, motivate and retain the best and brightest knowledge workers needed in the increasingly competitive and globalized economy of the 21st century. Mr. Adams reflects on the implications of long-term trends for the traditional challenges facing human resource professionals: recruitment, compensation, organizational structure, labour and employee relations, productivity, training and development.
7. Sex in the Snow: The Changing Social Values of Canadians – From Deference to Autonomy
Drawing on Environics surveys conducted annually in Canada for the past twenty years, Michael Adams describes the evolution of Canadian social values. Canadians have grown from deference to traditional institutional authority and belief in deferred gratification to personal autonomy and hedonism. In this presentation, Mr. Adams describes Canada’s thirteen social values tribes and shows how Canadians in this first decade of the new century are developing new personal strategies to cope with complexity, change and stress. These strategies include the use of new information technologies, as well as a renewed emphasis on meaningful connections to family and friends facilitated by shared experiences rather than materialistic consumption. This presentation draws upon and updates Mr. Adams’s 1996 bestseller Sex in the Snow: Canadian Social Values at the End of the Millennium.
8. Money and the Quest for Trusted Intermediaries
Drawing upon his 2000 bestseller Better Happy than Rich? Canadians, Money and the Meaning of Life, Michael Adams presents ten empirically-based insights on Canadians’ orientation to money: making it, spending it, saving/investing it, and giving it away. He shows how Canadians have become less deferential to traditional financial institutions and advisors, and how they have begun to conduct their financial affairs through trusted and carefully selected intermediaries. Mr. Adams will also discuss the phenomenon of disintermediation, driven by a small number of Canadians extremely autonomous in their values. For each of the ten insights, Mr. Adams explains the implications for financial advisors and others who wish to gain the trust of high-net-worth and average Canadians. Mr. Adams has delivered this presentation to numerous audiences composed of financial advisors and those employed in the mutual funds and banking sectors.
9. Philanthropy: The New Motivators for Charitable Giving
Drawing upon his 2000 bestseller Better Happy than Rich? Canadians, Money and the Meaning of Life, Michael Adams shows the evolution of Canadians’ attitudes toward money with an extended analysis of their orientation to philanthropy and the idea of legacy. Mr. Adams presents portraits of Canada’s thirteen social values tribes, and elaborates their distinct orientations to money and charitable giving. Mr. Adams also shows how charitable giving in Canada, once motivated by a Judeo-Christian sense of duty, guilt and noblesse oblige, is now driven by Canadians’ wish to effect measurable change in people ‘s lives, and their desire to be involved in philanthropic projects that are less ostentatious, more fun and more personally meaningful to donors.
10. The Green Economy: Are Canadians Ready to Face Those Inconvenient Truths?
In this presentation, Michael Adams examines Canadian public opinion on such environmental issues as climate change, pollution, and the ecological responsibilities of governments, corporations, and private citizens. With over two decades of tracking data on Canadian attitudes about environmental and economic issues, Adams shows how Canadians have arrived at their current sense of urgency about ecological sustainability. As voters, consumers, parents, and citizens, Canadians believe more strongly than ever that their country should lead the world in initiatives such as emissions reduction, responsible management of natural resources, and thoughtful attention to populations elsewhere in the world who are vulnerable to environmental catastrophes. This presentation will help governments, businesses, greens, and anyone interested in sustainability understand Canadians’ thinking about what ails the planet and what has to change.
11. Lifting the Veil: Muslims in Canada
Muslims are Canada’s fastest-growing religious minority, immigrating here from dozens of countries around the world. The past several years have found other Western countries deeply concerned about the integration of minority Muslim populations; from riots in the suburbs of Paris to ethnic clashes in Australia to the rise of “homegrown terror” in Great Britain, the signs from abroad sometimes seem ominous. Presenting the results of the first-ever survey of Muslim Canadians, as well as a major survey of the Canadian public on their attitudes toward the Muslim minority in this country, Michael Adams reveals a picture of Muslim integration in Canada that is both unique and optimistic. Insisting that Canadians must resist the temptation to assume that foreign experience is indicative of Canadian trends, Adams shows the Canadian numbers and tells the uniquely Canadian story. This presentation offers essential information for anyone concerned with migration, multiculturalism, security, or religious minorities in liberal-democratic societies.