Wednesday, July 27, 2011

9 Business Trends That Aren't Going Away

Last time I was in Florida, I passed a woman on the beach wearing a shirt that read:

“Pregnant is the new skinny.”

I was beside myself. Not just because of the shirt itself, but because of the overall ridiculousness of the fashion industry.

HERE’S THE REALITY: Fashion isn’t about your appearance – it’s about your approach to life.

Straight from my monthly column at American Express Open Forum, today we’re going to explore a collection of trends that aren’t going away:
1. Inspire is the new motivate. You can’t motivate anybody to do anything. All you can do is inspire them to motivate themselves. Find out what fuels people – then fill the tank.

Like the Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley. He convinced us that a boisterous man in a plaid blazer, hopped up on twelve cups of coffee – who lived in a van down by the river – could motivate another human being. Yeah no. Who are you inviting to do something great?

2. Join is the new buy. Este Lauder once said, “Women don't buy brands, they join them.” When I first heard that quotation, my inner geography changed forever. And I eventually came to a conclusion that has yet to be disputed: Good brands are bought, great brands are joined.

Otherwise, people are just giving you money. And I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in making money – I want to make history. If you want your brand to last, it has to connect on visceral level, engage on a human level and unite with it on a personal level. How joinable are you?

3. Judgment is the new access. When information is infinite, people don’t need information, they need people who can explain the information they’ve already found.

The point is: Curators aren’t just for museums. In an increasingly commoditized marketplace, service is the key differentiator. And if you can make your customers smarter by explaining the world to them, you win. Can you interpret and translate better than anyone?

4. Love is the new black. As long as you’re unfair about it. As long as you find the people who don’t deserve and offer to them freely and fully when they least expect it. Like the Sofitel. When I arrived last month at their New York property, their system showed no record of my reservation.

A bit annoyed, I ended up staying across the street at a competing hotel. No problem. But when I got my credit card statement, Sofitel still billed me. Later, after speaking with his reservations manager, he decided to refund the charge immediately. The Sofitel earned a fan for life from a guest who never even stayed there. They rewarded my mistake. Are you loving people don’t deserve it?

5. Naked is the new uniform. Wearing a nametag twenty-four seven is a risk. But it’s also good practice. Practice being vulnerable, that is. And as I continue to reflect on the past ten years of adhesive adventures, I’m slowly starting to realize the connection between vulnerability, approachability and profitability.

But when you open yourself to the world, the world will opens its wallet to you. But only if you’re willing to strip away the superficialities and occupy your vulnerability. Are you willing to lay it bare?

6. Offline is the new online. Although Watson the computer not only won Jeopardy – but, was the first to buzz in on twenty-five out of thirty answers – he did manage to answer one question wrong: The question about art.

Lesson learned: Having access to two hundred million pages of content still doesn’t mean you know how to feel. The heartbeat of the human experience is a function of emotion – not information.

Face to face is making a comeback. And we can’t solely filter our lives through pixels. Not if we want those lives to matter. Are you talking to people with your mouth or your thumbs?

7. Playful is the new professional. Retaining childlikeness makes you more approachable, more relaxing to be around and more relatable to all ages. That's what my nametag does: It makes this moment, right now, a more humane, pleasant passing of time.

From my handwritten nametag to my trademark philosophy card to my daily fill in the blank exercise, my goal is create simultaneous engagement and entertainment, both online and off.

What does your brand do for people? And do those people care enough about your brand to take a moment, take a picture and make a memory? I hope so. Because you have to let people into the moment.

Induce participation. And intuitively respond to the human thirst for connection. People won't just buy you -- they'll join you. Forever. Are you providing an opportunity for people to participate in a way that speaks to their individual needs?

8. Transience is the new permanence. The Internet is forever. Every tiny moment now lasts forever. Better be careful what you publish. Dishonesty has a limited shelf life. According to a recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, eighty percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating.

Still, this problem isn’t the computer – the problem is the character of the person using it. People don’t get divorced because of Facebook – they get divorced because dishonesty is written all over their face. Employees don’t get fired for blogging – they get fired for being stupid.

Organizational leaders don’t go to jail because some intern squealed – they go to jail because they’re morally bankrupt cracker-honkeys.

If you choose to live a dishonest life offline – there’s going to be a huge echo online. And your digital footprint will slip on the technological banana peel and destroy the things that matter most in your life. Do you want to become known for what you’re about to do?

9. Waiting is the new working. I love waiting in lines. I’ve accepted the reality that: Life is the line. There's nowhere to get to. There's no future. All you have is right now. And I don't know about you, but if I’m waiting, I’m writing. Even if only for twenty seconds at a time.

You’d be amazed how easily a year of lines turns into a box of books. Instead of looking at your watch, huffing and puffing and trying to enlist the other people in line to join your pity party, make love to the present moment. Then take notes. Because if you don’t write it down, it never happened.

If you build portable creative environments for yourself; you can leverage every micromoment that presents itself. And I guarantee you’ll triple your output. Are trying to find time, make time or steal time?

REMEMBER: The trends that have nothing to do with clothes are the ones that matter most.

Keep these new fashions in the front of your mind.

Stick yourself out there today.

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What trends do you think aren't going away?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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