An interview on Straight Talk Radio with Daniel Burrus one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation.
CHUCK: Hi, this is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. Boy, it’s an exciting day in the life of our listeners, because things are changing. I sit back and I start to think about what’s changed over life and I remember as a kid watching science fiction movies and Star Trek and you see all of the little things. You see the little flip phone and it was like, “Beam me up, Scotty,” and you would see the little button that they would hit on their chest and communicate with people and all kinds of things that seemed at the time to be crazy, except that a lot of what we saw has actually in some form or fashion become real life.
To date this, obviously this week is the big Apple announcement about the iWatch and although there have been wearable devices preceding this announcement, probably, my guess, is Apple will bring this a bit more mainstream. It’s been kind of interesting because I’ve carried on some conversations with people like me who love their iPhones and said, “You know, I’m going to buy an iWatch.” Although they’ve positioned it kind of uniquely, you could get a $10,000 watch, which I don’t know many people are going to go for, but it’s 10,000, the smaller version, that middle version, and my guess is they’ll sell a fair number of them for folks like me who just kind of think, maybe I need to be on that cutting edge, or if nothing else, I’ve got a collectable at some point in time, because in 40 years who knows what those things will be worth.
In any event, the question that a lot of us ask is, where are we going with what’s taking place and the speed at which it’s happening? And my guest is Daniel Burrus. He is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. When you sit back it’s kind of cool to be able to talk with somebody that has the knowledge base to be able to look into the future and to give some guidance.
Several years back I heard Dan speak at an NSA convention and, Dan, I’ve got to say to you it was amazing! You walked out on stage and you began to talk and it was transformative because it really propelled us into the future, talking about things we need to know. So, I don’t need to waste time talking here. I need to say thank you for joining us and I’m so excited to have you as a guest on the show.
DANIEL: Oh, thank you. It’s my pleasure.
CHUCK: I know that you work with Fortune 500 companies, you advise executives, you help them develop game-changing strategies. I understand, at a corporate level, you do a lot of work for a lot of significant companies, but on an individual level, talk with us a little bit about what you see into the future. Take us on a guided tour of what we might be looking at in the next five years or ten years or beyond.
DANIEL: I’d be happy to do that and let me give everyone a little context to that so that they can see that rather than I’m just doing this off the top of my head. I have been doing this for 32 years know and I’ve written six books that have been best sellers and so on and I’ve got a newsletter. I think I publish a little over a hundred articles a year. So, do that times 30–
CHUCK: Oh my goodness!
DANIEL: You’ve got a lot of articles and speaking, I’ve given a couple, close to 3,000 speeches around the world. So, I’ve been doing that for 30-something years. I have a really great track record. Now, let me tell you how I have a good track record before I start talking about it, and that is, I leave out the parts I can be wrong about.[Chuck laughs]
DANIEL: And what is powerful with that statement is how much you can be right about. So, to get the right context, and at heart I’m really a teacher, so then rather than just give our listeners today a bunch of trends and say, “Good luck,” I like to give teach you how to fish a little bit. So, I’m going to actually help them learn how, as I give you some of those, and you as well.
With that said, there are actually two types of trends. There are what I call “hard trends” and “soft trends”. Hard trends will happen and, by the way, if you don’t like them, too bad. Soft trends might happen. Good to know the difference because most people on the planet today think that nothing is predictable other than taxes and death. But I remember a number of years ago I met the former chairman and CEO of GM, before they went bankrupt, Rick Wagoner. When he met and shook my hands knowing I was a futurist, he said what all of us think, and that is, “Well, of course no one can predict the future and be right.” And I responded to him by saying, “Well, let’s see. It’s winter, next it’ll be spring. Hey, I think I’ll be right.”
Of course what I was sharing with Rick is, there’s a science of cycles. There’s over 300 known cycles that allow you to break the future. For example, can an astronomer predict in March of 2030 the exact day there’ll be a full moon? And you know the answer is, “Of course they can.” And do we know when the next and then the next and then the next presidential election will be, the exact date or Father’s Day or anything else? And the answer is, “Well, of course we do.” And do farmers know when they will be harvesting versus planting? Of course they do. In other words, there’s a science in cycles.
But here’s now the interesting part, and that is, economists use cyclical change as a way to predict the future. Every one of you listening knows that they’ve been increasingly wrong lately. So, why have they been so wrong? And the answer is there’s another kind of change they have no training in and I’m going to give you how to do that right now, and that is, I call it “linear change”. Linear meaning it’s one way. Cycle goes, it’s like a pendulum, it goes back and forth and back and forth. Stocks go up, stocks go down, the stock market goes up and so on. That’s cycles. But linear changes means once you’ve got a smart phone, you’re not going back to a dumb phone. It means that once the people in China park their bicycle and get a car, they’re not going back to the bike. It means that once people in India get refrigeration for their home, they’re not going to say, “We don’t need refrigeration.” No, no, no. These are linear, one-way changes that have predictable opportunities as well as predictable consequences.
So, with hard trends there’s another element before giving you some, that I want to give you, and that is, we live in an uncertain world. What’s going to happen with our stock in our investments? What’s going to happen with our home values? What’s going to happen with government? Are they ever going to agree on anything? What’s going to happen with Europe? I mean, Greece? Looks like they’re heading for a trouble, again. In a world of uncertainty you have to ask, are you certain of nothing? And obviously I’m telling you, “Actually, you can be certain about a lot,” because personal and business strategy based on uncertainty has high risk. However, business and personal strategy based on certainty has low risk. So, let me just give you a couple of quick examples of predicting the future for you, so you can see how this works.
DANIEL: Let’s talk about, you mentioned Apple. Let’s talk about the iPhone 8. Whoa, wait a minute, they don’t have an iPhone 7 yet. Nobody knows about the iPhone 8. No Apple guy’s left that in the bar. How would we know about that? And the answer is, well, actually, you already know a lot. For example, I’ll ask you and you can be the audience, so you can respond.
DANIEL: All right? Will the iPhone 8, will it have a faster processing chip in it than the iPhone 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1? What do you think?
DANIEL: Yeah! By the way, you certain of that?
DANIEL: Yeah! Absolutely. Okay, good, we got a certainty. After 2G wireless, 3G wireless and 4G wireless, is that it, or do you think there’ll be something else?
CHUCK: Oh, there’ll be something else much faster.
DANIEL: And what will they call it?
CHUCK: 5G or something that is unique.
DANIEL: [chuckles] There you go. Followed by 6G. We’re putting all this stuff up in the Cloud. Well, is the Cloud getting full?
CHUCK: No. Not really.
DANIEL: No. The Cloud’s not full at all. You see where I’m going with that?
DANIEL: So, there’s an amazing amount of predictability that you can cover when you start, actually starting to think about it. Just like with Apple and the iWatch which is coming out. Let’s just do a little predicting on that. A lot of people have said recently about it in the press, even in Wall Street Journal, “Who’s going to want to buy this and own another watch? It’s expensive. It’s tied to your phone. So, you know, I don’t think it’s going to do very well. What are you going to do with it anyway?” A lot of people say, “I don’t what I’d even do with it.”
Of course, if you go back to the articles and the interviews I had when the iPhone first came out and the iPad first came out, you would see that I said, “These are revolutionary.” And by the way, the watch, revolutionary again. Oh yeah, and you’d say, “Well, how can that be?” and the answer is, number one, first on a simple level, why would I want and how would Apple do well? Well, they have such a giant market share. There’s so many people, remember, they’re a seven-hundred-billion-dollar valued company, with only one history. Even if they only sold, in the first year, a small percent of owners, they would have sold so many hundreds of millions that they would have a giant hit. So, they don’t have to sell a lot of people like you and me that already are Apple fans and all the other ones. They just need to sell a small percent and they got a big hit on their hands, which will ignite the entire wearability trend that’s taken place. Secondly, why do you want one? Being an Apple guy, you said were.
DANIEL: And I have Apple stuff. Why would I want one? You know, I don’t like taking my phone out all the time. So, with the watch, simply, one of the things I could do is target and you can identify people that are in a special list that will make that phone buzz. Maybe it’s an important call or your spouse or something. Or maybe it’s your kids, or maybe it’s your boss. So, instead of it ringing, I can have those calls vibrate, I can look down at my watch and I could see, oh, who it is, and I could either take the call or not. More importantly, I’ll at least know who’s there or, if they leave me a voice message, I can give them an answer with my voice because you got voice recognition. Text is the same way. I mean, at times you get an important text message and you want to give them an answer back, but instead of typing, I just talk it. So, those simple things alone makes convenience pretty good. And there’s going to be, of course, far more.
CHUCK: So, my guest is Dan Burrus. He is a keynote speaker, business strategist and a global futurist. And we have just scratched the surface of what this show is going to be about. Stick with me. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: Well, we’re back here with Straight Talk Radio with my guest, Dan Burrus, and he is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. His new book Flash Foresight is absolutely an acclaimed book from techno trends. Dan talks about the future of innovation and what we’re going to be expecting in the future.
Dan, in our last segment you were talking a little bit about cyclical trends, which I can understand, and then linear trends. I guess my question to you is, okay, so from a linear trend perspective– Well, let me back up a second. First part, okay, the stock market’s going to go up, the stock market’s going to go down. There’s always going to be some cycle. To me, that’s like the ocean. Comes in, comes out. If you’ve lived long enough, you lived through the Carter years and when interest rates were crazy high, and then through this last recession, which was significant, but for people who haven’t had more experience, it was probably more emotionally significant than perhaps if you’ve been around a while. But how do you start to look at a linear trend? How do you find the linear trend so that if you find out all of a sudden, wow, refrigeration is going to be rampant in India, you get in on the refrigeration bandwagon so you make money, because I sure would have loved to have identified the linear trend of Microsoft and Apple back in the mid to late ‘80s, because [chuckles] I might not be here today.
DANIEL: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. All right. So, first of all, let me talk about time frames and speed to those linear changes, so that you can understand that because that’s, again, I can’t help myself, I’m a teacher.
CHUCK: That’s good.
DANIEL: I want to teach you guys, everyone listening. So, there’s three digital accelerators that are causing all of this acceleration of everything that’s happening. So, there’s not 30 or 40, there’s only 3. Let me tell you what they are very quickly. I identified them way back in the early ‘80s and they’ve been very predictable all the way through.
One of them is processing power and you might have known about the Moore’s Law. Now, I came across Moore’s Law back in 1982. Not a lot of people were paying attention to Moore’s Law in 1982, but I found it and because, before starting my first company, I think, you know, I’ve started six over the years, I actually taught biology and physics, so, I’m a science guy. I came across Moore’s Law and thought, hey, processing power doubles every 18 months as the price drops in half. I think he’s on to something.
With that knowledge in 1982, I would know exactly how expensive a computer would be in the year 2000 and how much power it would have. Well, if I know how expensive it’ll be and how much power it’ll have, I know exactly how you might be using it. So, I could predict a whole bunch of things and be right, which I did.
But I needed two other things other than Moore’s Law. What I did is I created the law of bandwidth and the law of storage and they’ve been accelerating at the same pace. So, we’ve got processing power, bandwidth and storage. Storage meaning how you store your stuff. For example, you can now on Amazon, for about 20 bucks, get a 60-gigabyte thumb drive.
CHUCK: Right, right.
DANIEL: Hey, you didn’t have that big a hard drive not that long ago. If you look back many years ago, there wasn’t even such a thing as a hard drive. So, my point is those things are accelerating. Two becomes four, four becomes eight in an exponential way since way back then. In an exponential acceleration of a linear trend, you’re taking a one-way linear trend and exponentially accelerating it. What that means is, to go from a 5 MHz chip to a 500 took 20 years. To double it took 8 months from that point, and that was years ago.
In other words, right now we’re in the, what I would call the “holy cow” phase. Meaning, whoa! It’s really fast and, predictably, not slowing down at all. So, with that in mind, how do you plan your future and how do you know what bets to place? How do you know if you got kids going to school what they should take? Because you got to ask yourself, are we teaching kids to thrive in the future or the past, in the past? Are we prepared to thrive in the future? And will there be some big brain at some point that just takes over all of our jobs? Well, those are some right questions, so let’s apply the hard trend/soft trend methodology to try to figure that out.
Now, I’ve been just rattling along. Let me just stop at that point, because I just gave you the three accelerators. See if you’ve got any questions for me, otherwise I’ll give a few more predictions.
CHUCK: Well, okay. So, if you take the three accelerators that you were talking about, I guess to some of us, although I’ve seen it and it’s a little odd, it’s like, at some point you start to wonder when does it explode, and I’m going to use a simple example, for me, and the computer that I’m looking into as we record this show, using technology that didn’t exist 10 years ago, when does it get it the place where it no longer becomes the computer? It becomes something that is dramatically different. Does that make sense?
DANIEL: Absolutely. Again, processing power, storage and bandwidth have given us– They’re coming together in a way right now that is finally, after all these decades, allowing us to get to that point. You mentioned Star Trek right in the beginning of this.
DANIEL: And you mentioned they touched their chest and could talk to the computer. Right? Well, actually, we’re about to get that exact device because of the fact that we’ve got Siri, which is Apple’s version of an ultra intelligent agent, kind of like the computer that Spock and all those guys talked to.
DANIEL: As well as we’ve got Google’s version, Google Now, as well as we’ve got Microsoft’s version, and let’s also just think about, do we need a phone with a screen all the time? And the answer is, well, I need a screen. We will continue to have screens, but I don’t always need a screen. Actually, I just need information.
So, let’s imagine that your phone, without a screen, doesn’t need much of a battery, does it? And the answer is, well, no. Actually, how small could you make that? Well, you could make it so small that it looks like something you wear, kind of like the Spock and Kirk device. if I want to access it, what do I do? Well, I could just say “Computer” if I wanted to or maybe it’s Siri or some other name I want to give it, and it can talk to me and I can talk to it. So, I might just say, “What’s the stock market doing today? How’s Apple doing?” Well, they can tell me. I don’t have to look at a screen. I can say, “Where’s the cheapest gas?” and if I’m driving and instead of showing me a screen, it could just say, “Well, take the next right and then a block up is the cheapest gas within three miles.” You see? So, we will have that, we’ll still have our screens by the way, but I’m just saying that’s because of processing power, bandwidth, storage, we’re getting to that point. So, it’s been a while. It’s taken a long time, but we’re kind of getting into that where the device is less.
One other thing that you didn’t ask me that was around what you were about or thinking in your mind to ask me, and here’s what I’m getting at. You’re about to buy another computer and your question is, that you didn’t ask me, but this is what you’re thinking, and that is, well, man, it’s going to be obsolete, like in a month. I mean, wow! And it’s getting so fast. What do I do? Because I know you’ve been thinking about that if you’re thinking about buying something.[Chuck chuckles]
DANIEL: So, let me help you all with that question, and that is obsolescence is a nonissue. Heck, if it works, it’s obsolete. What is the real point? And the point is, are you getting advantage from it or are you just keeping up with it? A lot of people are struggling, trying to keep up, which is of course a fool’s game. What’s the advantage of keeping up? And frankly there isn’t one. But, you’re keeping up and it’s kind of expensive. I want advantage. Let me give you one quick example that I know everyone could relate to. We all probably use Microsoft Word.
CHUCK: Right. Sure.
DANIEL: How many selectable features, you could actually select a feature, are there in Microsoft Word? I know the answer. The answer is 4,000! Now, let me ask you how many do you use on a regular basis? What? Eight? Ten?
CHUCK: Yeah. No clue.
DANIEL: No, probably about eight or ten.
CHUCK: Not many, of course.
DANIEL: Not many, of course. By the way, now, let me ask you another question. How many did you pay for?
CHUCK: We pay for all 4,000.
DANIEL: You paid for 4,000.
DANIEL: You don’t even know what they are. And, by the way, if you’re competing with somebody in business, you’re probably using the same features as they’re using and when you’re getting the new version of Word, what do you say to yourself? How do I find the classic view?
CHUCK: [chuckles] Right. Absolutely. That’s true.
DANIEL: In other words, you’re not getting any advantage from that. You’re just spending money trying to keep up. So, here’s an insight for everyone because I don’t want to just give you a bunch of trends. I want to give you some insights to help you shape your future, and that is, keeping up is a fool’s game and rapid obsolescence is a nonissue. Seek advantage. How can I get advantage from this thing? Is it giving me an advantage personally, professionally, that I can use? Then, now you’re talking.
CHUCK: You know, Dan, I hear that and that’s a true statement because so many people, and I’m one of them, will keep up or we will get the latest trend. The challenge becomes understanding or even comprehending what that advantage might be. You use Word, and we’ve got two minutes before our next break, but you use Word as an example. Well, obviously Word is word processing and yes, there are some really, really neat and cool features that can be done with it. The thing that I’m finding personally fascinating is, when I go to the app store it seems like someone will create an app that says, “Here’s what we’ll give you in advantage that works with Word,” not that, by the way, Word doesn’t use it, they just don’t exploit or teach me how to get that advantage.
DANIEL: Yeah. What I want to do is ask myself, is it allowing me, that tool, that new technology or that feature or function, to do something that I couldn’t do that I would really want to do? Back about 2010, when apps were still kind of new, and the apps were like how to make your phone look like a bear can, if you held it up and that kind of thing? I decided, I was actually writing a book and I decided to challenge myself and use the principles of [23:23] foresight as I was writing it to see how good the book is by starting a company during a recession. I could see that mobile apps was part of the future and what I did was I created the first national real estate apps. Why? They didn’t exist, but I knew that they would, because I predicted it. I knew if I don’t do it, someone else will.
Let me put that principle, knowing we have less than a minute to go before the break, and we’ll come back on it, and that is, if it can be done, it will be done. If you don’t do it, someone else will. Once I realized that apps was not a soft trend, it was a hard trend, I could see that they were going to be many, many, many more. What hasn’t been made into an app? And I saw, well, I went online and there are no apps for real estate. Good! We need a national real estate app, which was amazing, and then some other things that I did.
CHUCK: Dan, I think it’s interesting. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and I’m so excited to come back and talk about it because some of the trends that we’re talking about, some of them I have to say boggle my mind, in terms of the how and the why and the where. So, my guest is Dan Burrus, one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and we’ll be back in just a moment.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: What would you say if you could go back to the ‘80s, to the 1980s, and predict the future with reasonable certainty? My guest is Daniel Burrus and he has had and does have accurate predictions that date back to the ‘80s. It’s really, really neat to be able to talk, Dan, to you and to get a feel for how you look into the future.
You said back in our last segment that during the recession you decided you would challenge yourself because you were writing the book at the time Flash Foresight, to create a new company because you discovered that there were no national real estate apps so, in the midst of a major recession, when realestate was tanking, you created that! Tell me about that. That’s interesting.
DANIEL: Yeah. Well, you know, I’ll just take a few minutes to stimulate all of those people out there that are listening right now with what I did. First of all, I could see that the day that I started that business, there was a CNN report that said, “There’s almost a 100,000 apps already in the Apple store. So, if you’re thinking of getting into the app business, it’s too late,” and I knew right away that, good. It’ll eliminate the riff-raff, because we were at the base of a mountain of transformational change. This was not an “if” or a “maybe”. It was a new form of software that is going to be a hard trend. The only soft trend is, am I going to take advantage of it?, that I can’t predict, or, are you?
So, what I did Google Analytics, which are free, and I used Google to see a number of phrases, because, again, I’d asked myself, what kind of apps don’t exist that will exist? And I generated a list of about 50, 60 apps that I liked: purchasing logistics, remote disease monitoring, remote diagnostics. Again, if I didn’t do them, somebody would. Finding a lost dog, using your phone with an app, you know, all of that kind of stuff. Because, again, this would happen. So, I just brainstormed it and then, using Google Analytics, what jumped out was foreclosed homes because we were in a recession. That was getting such a big hit, so many people, that I thought, wow! At 99 cents an app, that would be a big winner. So, then I looked. Nobody was doing any real estate apps of any kind at that time, so, I actually created three apps. And, by the way, I did it with no employees and I was also speaking and writing my book and consulting and doing everything that I do. This is a little side project. What I did was, I got a kid to do the programing. Now, not a very young kid, he was actually in college in Computer Science.
DANIEL: But I got him to do it on the side. What we did was created three apps because they weren’t the same. I came out with one called “Complete Homes”, which were the non-foreclosed in the nation, “Complete Foreclosures”, which were all the foreclosed homes in the nation, the third one was “Complete Rentals”, which were all the rentals in the nation. They took five months to do. I had to find the databases and connect it all up.
I was about to charge 99 cents a piece for those, but then, once again, what I wrote about in Flash Foresight is to be a re-definer, to not compete. So, I decided I’ll make the apps free, so that I can get a lot of users quick. What I did was, I came up with the first way to do recurring revenue in the app store, as there was no recurring revenue. You pay 99 cents and that’s it. You don’t make any more money. So, what I did is I charged real estate agents $24.95 a month to have an exclusive zip code. So, if he was in your area, only they would be in that app and no other real estate agents because they are paying for that zip code, 24.95 a month, recurring revenue.
So, the first real estate agent to see it bought 20 zip codes, the next one bought 15 zip codes, the next one bought 10 zip codes. By the way, when all the zip codes are gone, that’s 1.1 million a month in recurring revenue. When I launched the app, it became the 17th most downloaded app in the first five days. By the next week, I was on national television because I was disrupting the entire world of real estate. It took about another three months to make it international. So, if you wanted to buy a home in Beijing or rent a home in Moscow, our stuff would do it. And, again, this was on the side with no employees. I ended up getting way too busy. I didn’t want to really be in the real estate business or the app business. That’s not what I was put on the planet to do. So, I licensed that software off to the companies now that are doing it.
DANIEL: But my point is we’re all going so fast. To go fast, are you willing to slow down and think? And here’s a real important point I want to get across to all of us. Right now there has never been more opportunity on the planet Earth than there is right now. So, those three accelerators are creating insane opportunity. I work with IBM executives; 43% of their revenue last year came from products and services that were impossible to do two years ago.
CHUCK: Oh, wow.
DANIEL: In other words, we’re doing things today that were impossible two years ago. Now, using hard trends, two years from now we’ll be doing things that are impossible today. Why don’t you start thinking about those things and start doing a little creating? To help everyone, I think we’ve got, we have at least a minute left before, in this segment?
CHUCK: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
DANIEL: All right. I put something together just for this audience. Two things.
Number one, if you have a smartphone and at some point you would want to text to 99000, that’s the number, and the message is just my name, b-u-r-r-u-s, you’ll get two links sent back to you. One link is a list of 25 technology-driven hard trends that you can forward to your computer and open up on your smartphone and there you go. I’ve been publishing those for over 30 years. There you go, you got it.
And the other thing is, you get a little app that you can either have, if you want, or not have, and it’ll give you access to all of my blogs. I’ve got over four million monthly readers. It gives you access to my different social media sites, like on LinkedIn. I’ve got 650,000 followers just on LinkedIn. So, you know, there’s a resource, it’s free, you can have it and, by the way, if you don’t have texts or something like that, you can also just go to burrus.com. There’s a lot of free resources for you there, as well as some things you can buy, if you want to.
CHUCK: Dan, let me ask you a couple of questions. There’s one thing that you said in that story about the real estate app, and it really hits me and I don’t know that there is a futuristic solution for this, but you used the word “think”. It appears to me that there are, and this is a real simplistic way of looking at it, but there are two kinds of people. There are the people who accept what is presented and respond to it, and there are people who actually think, like you did about, well, Gosh, I wonder what hasn’t been created, and then think about, well, how would I? I guess I have to say that there are a lot of very smart people in the world and there are a lot of people that think, but it appears that a lot of folks listening to this would say, “Well, you know, that Dan guy, he sure is smart. That was pretty smart of him to think of that,” but I wonder how many people sit back and choose to think.
DANIEL: All right. So, let me give you a quick one on that. I’m going to give you my biggest worry for everyone listening right now, my biggest fear for you. My biggest fear is, first of all, you’re all really busy and that is my worry because you’re too busy to think, you’re too busy to plan your future, you’re too busy to shape it. You’re too busy doing what? Crisis management, putting out fires, reacting and responding. So, what I’m talking about is a new, let’s call it a new competency, and that is anticipation.
For example, we react, we respond, we’re good at agility. The best companies are good at planning, they’re also good at Six Sigma, that means zero defects, they’re also really good at execution of a strategy. By the way, none of that helped Blackberry, Blockbuster, Sony, Dell, Microsoft and a host of others. What are they missing? The ability to anticipate. Anticipate what? Problems before you have them, customer changes before they change, disruptions before they disrupt. Well, you can do that. It’s all there, it can. My last book was called Flash Foresight for a reason. There’s a reason I did not call it Flash Hindsight.
DANIEL: I’m already good at that. Should’ve bought Google long ago, should’ve bought Apple stock about five years ago or two years ago or one year ago. Should’ve done this, should’ve done that. Now, here’s the insight, you can’t change the past, it’s locked in stone, it’s called history. The only thing you can change is your future, and that is powerful, my friend. You can change your future, you can’t change your past, based on the actions you take today.
So, I’m suggesting being busy is your biggest problem. Take at least one hour a week, make it a discipline, unplug from the present and all the crisis and reacting, and plug into your future. That’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life, maybe you ought to think about it. And then that hour, instead of being plagued with all the things you’re uncertain about, why don’t you ask yourself, what am I certain about? Instead of all the things you can’t do, why don’t you make a list of all the things you can do? Pick one or two and get moving.
CHUCK: Dan, we’re pushing a break and I want to say I love this conversation, Actually, I love what you’ve got to say. I don’t need to say a whole lot in this, but when we get back from the break, there are a couple of things I really want us to talk about. Number one, a lot of things that we see are free, which is a paradigm shift for an old baby boomer like me. Then I think about things like chip a child and I know that this is a bizarre thing to hear, but we chip our pets, realizing if they get lost, well Gosh, we can identify and find them, and yet, we could probably eliminate the majority of child abductions if we knew that a child could always be found. Yet, that creates such controversy.
This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Dan Burrus, author of Flash Foresight. He is a global futurist and I am looking forward to being back right after this message.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Dan Burrus, author of Flash Foresight. I have read Dan’s book. I would highly recommend it. Go to amazon.com or go to burrus.com, where you can read Dan’s blog, download a host of information and pick up a copy of his book and others that he has written.
Before our last break I threw two things out that I’m just kind of a little bit baffled by, as a baby boomer when I thought of creating things, I think you create it and you sell it. It’s just mind boggling today that there’s this massive proliferation of incredible creation. YouTube, to me, is one perfect example of totally disruptive technology. And I’m thrilled! I can put my videos out there and it costs me nothing, it’s free, and it’s almost like the generation beneath me and beneath that, just kind of expects stuff to be free. I’m baffled by that. Of course, the other thing I mentioned was chip a child. So, let’s address free first and then let’s [laughs] go to that controversial, kind of crazy idea.
DANIEL: Yeah. Well, first of all, free is a great frontend to a profitable backend. So, even though it’s free to view all those YouTube videos, there’s advertisements in all of those and there’s enough people that click on those advertisements to bring in many, many millions of dollars. So, free seems free, but isn’t free, so there’s an element there.
CHUCK: Dan, I got a quick question. I don’t want to interrupt you, but I do have a question, because I see the ads on YouTube and I get it, but the cool part, depending upon the way you look at it is, but you don’t have to click on them and it doesn’t disrupt your experience, generally speaking. So, the question then is, as an advertiser, am I getting my bang for the buck as compared to the more traditional forms of advertising in a paper or magazine or the old things that are now being disruptively replaced?
DANIEL: Great question. Let me give you a perfect example. A lot of people know Monty Python and may be old Monty Python fans. So, they were selling DVDs on Amazon and doing okay, but then they started taking little snippets of those programs and putting them for free on YouTube. Within two months, sales of the DVDs on Amazon went up 29,000%.
CHUCK: Good Gosh!
DANIEL: Now, you’re asking me how to make money by putting things free? Bingo! I just gave you a fantastic example. So, they didn’t put all the DVDs on there and they put enough in there so that you, “Wow! I love these guys! These are funny. Where can I get them?”
CHUCK: Got you.
DANIEL: That’s what I meant. It’s a free frontend to an expensive backend.
CHUCK: Got you.
DANIEL: Now, let me give you another one. Years ago, this is probably about six, seven years ago, I noticed a lot of people like me, had free newsletters. And I’ve had newsletter, The Technotrends Newsletter is over 32 years old and we’ve been charging for it all along. We still charge for it and get to have many, many, many thousands of subscribers. But I also thought, all right, well, I’m going to do a both end. Instead of an either this or that, I’m going to do a both this and that. So, I decided to put out a second newsletter that was free to get people into what I do. But the third thing I did was, I put out a super expensive newsletter. By the way, how expensive? I charge 120,000 a year for it.
CHUCK: Oh! Oh.
DANIEL: Yeah. Now, when you’re going to charge 120,000 a year per a newsletter, you have to ask yourself, “Well, it’s got to be different than the one that’s free. So, what kind of a newsletter would somebody pay 120,000 for?” Well, by asking questions like that, you’ll start to get answers. If you never asked a question like that, you won’t have any answers. You see, I ask better questions, I get better answers. So, I came up with something and a different way to market.
For example, the newsletter is delivered in Excel. Why? Because I’m targeting corporate buyers. Obviously they’re the ones that are going to spend this money, individuals aren’t, and they’ve got firewalls that don’t let you bring new software past the firewall. So, what I did is, what I talked to about with Word. Turns out most people underuse Excel. So, I got some young guys that knew how to push the limits of Excel, getting it to do things most people didn’t even know it could do, wrapped the newsletter in that, so they didn’t have to buy software. They just opened it and it was something they already owned. The first guy to subscribe to it was the chief marketing officer of Walmart. Now, probably no one else in Walmart would get it. I don’t care. Second one that subscribed was an executive in American Express. Now, admittedly, 120,000 a year probably no one else in American Express will get it. I don’t care! See, it’s a different kind of marketing.
DANIEL: All I need is one per Fortune 50 company at 120,000 a year, I am a happy camper.
DANIEL: And so, now, you see how I applied some of the things I’m already teaching you. I did a free one, but I also did a really expensive one! And did well on both. Matter of fact, a lot of people from the free one, that were the right people, said, “Hey, our company needs that expensive one.” Bingo! See what I mean? Frontend and backend.
CHUCK: Absolutely. Absolutely. It is fascinating to see the application of that. Where do you think that, well, I still want to get to chip a child, but where do you think that goes when you look at the traditional models of Apple and Microsoft? Because it seems like Microsoft was smart. They sell their product and they continually upgrade and you’re continually having to re-buy software, but doesn’t it get to the point where it just becomes a free operating system for some other benefit that is larger than the initial concept?
DANIEL: Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, we’re heading very closely to you don’t even realize there is an operating system, it’s completely invisible.
CHUCK: That would make sense. Yes.
DANIEL: Yeah. We won’t be using the words “operating system” in a little while. So, with that kind of a future that was visible long ago, here’s the difference between like an Apple and a Microsoft. If you look at the history, they’ve both been around for a similar length of time. Microsoft tended to be in a “protect and defend” mode. “We protect and defend our core products and we do whatever we can to protect and defend them.” Apple has been looking at the three accelerators and the predictable hard trends and have been in an “embrace and extend the new”. So, “when something new comes, let’s embrace it and look how we can extend its use,” instead of let’s protect against that new thing because it’s harming our cash cow. So, we can protect and defend the cash cow or, what I like people to do is, create bouncing baby new cash cows, A, and B, use the direction the hard trends are going to redefine your old cash cow and give it new life.
CHUCK: Got you. Now, we’ve got two minutes left and I want to go here, as bizarre as it is to me, it just absolutely makes sense that when a child is born, you put a chip in the child because then, if someone ever decided that they wanted to steal your kid, or whatever the circumstance is, instantly found, which would eliminate that fear that so many parents have as our population expands. Yet, there are people that talk about, “Oh my goodness, it’s privacy.”
CHUCK: That just makes sense to me!
DANIEL: So, one of the principles that I teach in Flash Foresight I’ll apply here.
DANIEL: And that is to take your biggest problem and skip it. So, the biggest problem with chip a child is, you’ve got to put it in the child. So, let’s skip that problem and put it on the child. We don’t have to put it in. We can put it on. Now, how do you put it on? There already is a chip that’s been invented that is so small you can’t even see it with beholding it there like that and it is practically invisible already. It’s a real chip that transmits wirelessly and it sticks on the skin. Now, let’s just be futurists a minute. Do you think we could get that to be actually skin colored and completely invisible that you could put on, not in, a child and accomplish exactly what you want to accomplish?
CHUCK: You know, that would make absolutely perfect sense.
DANIEL: As a matter of fact, here’s something I’d like you to think about. Maybe you want to go and do that, because it hasn’t been done yet. And by the way, if it can be done, it will be done, if you don’t do it, someone else will. You see how this works?
DANIEL: You see how you can develop opportunities that are overwhelming if you aren’t too busy?
CHUCK: So, my guest is Dan Burrus. We’re at the end of the show and it just breaks my heart. But, if you text 99000 and put in the word “burrus”, Dan will be delighted to send you some information so that you can with him and sign up for the newsletter, whether it’s 120,000 or the free one, maybe the free one, but sign up for the newsletter because, Dan, you are a wealth of information. The one thing of everything that I think came out of this show is thinking and taking the time to slow down and understand how we might take advantage of what we know will be taking place in the future.
This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. Again, my guest has been Daniel Burrus. Thank you so much for being here. And remember, to those listening, every choice we make has a consequence. So, let’s think about making positive, empowered choices. Until next week on Straight Talk Radio.
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