“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

It’s an oft-quoted saying, and for good reason – we need to set our GPS to the direction we intend to go in. If you’re heading west to California, don’t point your car at the Jersey Shore. That’s not your destination.

That’s the way it is in business also. We need to see, not just where the market has come from historically, but where it is going over the next 5-10 years.

Right now would not be a good time to invest in a manufacturer of FAX machines, or steam locomotives. That’s where the puck was. But, Artificial Intelligence (AI)? That’s going to shape virtually every aspect of the future. Billions of dollars are flowing there.

Picture yourself standing at a fast-flowing river, ready to launch your canoe. Do you think you’ll get somewhere faster heading downstream with the current, or do you want to go upstream against the flow?

The best opportunities in business are those that align with larger scale trends already at work. I call those big-picture movements trend currents, as opposed to the smaller-scale current trends.

(from the book Influence Marketing, by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella)

Trend currents are like the moving walkways in airport terminals. You go much faster if you are carried along by something already heading in your direction.

Trend currents are like the moving walkways in airport terminals. You go much faster if you are carried along by something already heading in your direction.

Years ago, in the earliest days of the public world wide web, I saw the future. I intuitively understand that this was going to be big. But what I didn’t grasp was the virtual “land grab” of claiming domains (URLs) for a few bucks, which could then be re-sold for thousands or even millions of dollars.

I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere if I’d just grabbed www.travel.com, or www.money.com, or a thousand other virtual WWW destinations that suddenly grew in value exponentially. Other more visionary people figured out the impending value of virtual real estate in the internet world that was coming fast.

In recent years, Jess Ostroff launched Don’t Panic Management, offering virtual assistant services. This type of business became possible because of the conjunction of web technology (work from anywhere), collaborative software (work with others), and a move toward part-time, “gig economy” services.

These trend currents have led to the creation of a whole new areas of value-adding efficiency (contracted, fractional expertise and service). New niche business like this pop up daily. It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur!

Alexa, Siri, and Echo are showing us how voice-activated computing will re-make the way we find information and trigger actions. They are all part of something larger – ubiquitous connectivity using simpler, more human-ish interfaces.

Amazon, combined with Whole Foods and delivery services, is demonstrating what the future of instant gratification looks like. The merger of on-line convenience, brick-and-mortar presence, and speed of delivery is creating a whole new trend current in retail.

Uber (and similar services) popped up due to the conjunction of mobile computing, virtual payments, and the need for flexible part-time work.

As we consider new business opportunities, we, like surfers, want to catch waves that are already moving toward the shore. Don’t just think about what’s always worked in the past. Consider how major changes in the world around us will re-shape in the future what we offer and how we offer it.


Further reading, about the trend current of affective computing: The Heart of the Machine

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