Thought Leadership

Fresh Reads: The Future of You by Tracey Follows

Maral Kalajian reviews Tracey Follows thought-provoking book as part of the Women in Marketing Fresh Reads series, in partnership with Dentsu Creative

Maral Kalajian

Entrepreneur and Marketing Leader


In 2020 of the top 200 bestselling business books, only 17 were written by women. That’s equal to the number of business bestsellers written by men named John or Jon. A statistic that is a compelling reminder of the importance of widening the lens and bursting the male-dominated bubble of thought leadership in the marketing industry. 

The male bias in marketing thought leadership begins early. Writing in the Harvard Business Review Lesley Symons, Leadership Coach and Mentor, revealed research showing that only 11% of top business school case studies have a female protagonist. 

The Women in Marketing Fresh Reads series, in partnership with Dentsu Creative, aims to challenge the male-dominated narrative of marketing thought leadershipEach month winners and supporters of the Women in Marketing Awards are reviewing and highlighting the most innovative creativity, culture, and marketing books, which also just happen to be primarily written by women. Books that will be welcome additions to the reading lists of progressive marketers. 

This month Maral Kalajian, Entrepreneur and Marketing Leader with a strong voice in the Nordic tech scene has chosen to review The Future of You by Tracey Follows. 

‘The Future of You’ by professional futurist Tracey Follows is a thought-provoking exploration of the evolving landscape of personal identity in the digital age. The book digs into the impact of technology on our sense of self and everyday life. I came away intrigued by the blurred line between the real and the virtual, the references to our growing relationship with digital personas and virtual realities, and the scary but not-so-surprising ways we look at robots and artificial intelligence (AI) as an extension of ourselves.

Published in 2021, I read the book in the summer of 2023. It’s worth noting that the world has already witnessed significant escalations and changes in the realm of technology and identity, further accentuating the urgency and relevance of the themes in the book.

I really appreciated the global perspective - a holistic view of the challenges and opportunities we face, regardless of the different geographical and cultural dimensions.

Maral Kalajian, Entrepreneur and Marketing Leader

What I found truly exceptional is Follows’ concise yet comprehensive writing style, which avoids unnecessary repetitions while providing insightful analysis. She guides readers through complex topics, turning them into easily read insights, ensuring the book remains both informative and engaging.

Furthermore, I really appreciated the global perspective - a holistic view of the challenges and opportunities we face, regardless of the different geographical and cultural dimensions.

Each chapter, smartly named after its content and always with ‘you’ in the centre, feels like a segment on a stage, where great minds, researchers, creators, scientists, and entrepreneurs come together and engage in a dynamic discussion, weighing the pros and cons of each topic, which Follows moderates with wit, as she presents her perspective and opinion.

This approach invites readers into a stimulating conversation with experts from various fields. Follows’ ability to simplify these complex themes makes the book inclusive and accessible to readers from diverse backgrounds.

I loved Chapter 3, “Creating You!” It offers an arousing discourse on the possibilities of technology shaping our multiple identities. It’s here she brilliantly unpacks the seemingly simple yet profoundly challenging concept of a selfie: “The self has given way to the selfie. Today, selfies have become the ultimate expression of how we choose to present ourselves - offering a unique mix of subjectivity, autobiography and self-portraiture… Selfies aren’t simply images of ourselves for others to look at; they are representations of how we see — or want to see — ourselves” . 

Reading the above, I couldn’t help connecting historical dots. I thought of great minds like Da Vinci (futurist should be added to his name, too), who subtly inserted their images into their masterpieces, or authors who weave themselves into their fictional characters. It’s a constant human desire to imprint, to assert, and to mould our identities onto the world.

In today’s world, the act of creating oneself has become easier. Each one of us has turned into a creator, artist, writer, scientist, and technician of our own identities— with multiple versions. We craft ‘us’ and narrate our stories—a truly incredible aspect of the digital age. It’s a testament to human creativity and adaptability.

Was it scary? The good news is that I didn’t feel scared, maybe a little creeped out by the chapter of ‘Destroying You’ but I work in tech, so chances of getting shocked are slim :) I think it was more of a challenge than a shock or scare. I had many ‘moments’ with the book, and here I will share my three takeaways:

  • It is a global issue: We should have a global perspective on identity management. It is not just about one geographical location, tradition, or culture. It is about all of us. Individually and collectively.
  • Challenge yourself with thought-provoking questions: The book inspired me to question more. I felt in awe and pondered on the impact of these technologies in my life, both as an individual, as a marketer and as a member of this rapidly changing society.
  • We are (also) responsible! We play a role in shaping these technologies. We have an ethical responsibility. I think it is easy to point fingers and blame tech, but we are equally responsible, especially when we “mindlessly click ‘agree’”. Personal responsibility and societal consequences intertwine.

While “The Future of You” offers valuable insights, it only provides a glimpse into how these emerging technologies and experiments are reshaping our future, leaving readers wanting more exploration. It is a great starting point for anyone eager to explore the future’s intricacies. I highly recommend the book, a quick read into understanding yourself, the future and yourself in that future.

Guest Author

Maral Kalajian

Entrepreneur and Marketing Leader


Maral is an entrepreneur with a strong voice in the Nordic tech scene. Her background is in marketing, digital, and community. She co-founded SUP46 Femtech, as well as Peppy Pals, where she exited to Lego Ventures. She served as the CMO of Watty, one of the hottest Swedish AI startups, bought by Discovergy GmbH. Committed to nurturing startups and scaleups from the Middle East and Europe, Maral contributes to programs organised by The Swedish Institute and The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Since 2018, she has been engaged with Women in Marketing. Maral lectures at prestigious schools and universities like KTH in the Nordic region and has been a featured speaker at international conferences. She has been named one of the 100 super communicators by Resumé and listed as one of the most impactful and influential individuals in the Nordics by The Nordic Web. At present, Maral is working on a new exciting project in stealth mode.

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