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Business Transformation Expert, Author and Public Speaker, Daniel Burrus

Enjoy this second episode from RETHINK Retail as we explore how anticipatory organizations stay ahead of the curve in a fast-paced business world.

56m
#
Business Transformation

Join us as we dive into 2 main topics: What it means to be an anticipatory organization, especially in retail and how hard and soft trends can shape the future of your business. You hear from special guest Daniel Burrus, a Global Innovation expert, Leading Futurist and Strategic Adviser. Burrus is the author of seven books, has delivered over 2,800 keynote speeches and serves as a strategic adviser to executives from Fortune 500 companies.

Episode
2
of RETHINK Retail was recorded on
July 13, 2018
TRANSCRIPTION
Paul Lewis:      

Welcome to the show. Today's guest is Daniel Burrus. He's considered one of the world's leading technology forecasters and innovation experts. Over the past 30 years, he has established a worldwide reputation for his exceptional record of accurately predicting the future of technological change, and its direct impact on the business world.

Paul Lewis:       

He's also the author of seven books, and has delivered over 2,800 keynote speeches, and serves as a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies.

Paul Lewis:      

Dan, welcome to the show today.

Daniel Burrus:        

It's a pleasure to be with you.

Paul Lewis:       

I have enjoyed reading your latest book. There's a number of things that have come up, that I wanted to ask you about. Today so many companies are trying to become agile, which I think is clearly important. But in your latest book, The Anticipatory Organization, one of the insights you cover is that agility is a reactive strategy. With the pace of change accelerating exponentially, it's also imperative to become anticipatory.

Paul Lewis:      

Can you elaborate a little bit about the difference between the two, and why you're so passionate about helping leaders become anticipatory?

Daniel Burrus:         

Yes thank you. Well I think I'm very passionate about getting people to be anticipatory because, as you said, the world is not slowing down. The pace of business, and everything else is actually speeding up. It's driven by the exponential changes and growth in technology capabilities, which has been going on for some time. But as you know, in an exponential curve, two becomes four, becomes eight, things start out slow, and then all of a sudden, rapidly accelerate. Well, we're in the rapid acceleration phase now that is creating all of the business transformations today.

Daniel Burrus:         

If you look at agility, and being anticipatory, I'd like our listeners to think of it as two sides to a strategic coin. In other words, you need both. Agility is the ideal strategy for unpredictable change, because you can't predict everything. Also, it gives you the ability to react quickly after a change occurs, to solve problems quickly after they occur. It provides an advantage over slower competitors. A lot of people are moving way too slow.

Daniel Burrus:         

On the other hand, being anticipatory is the ideal strategy to turn change into opportunity. What I'm going to show you in this interview is how you can predict accurately the disruptions that are coming, before they disrupt, how you can predict problems before you have them, so you can pre-solve them.

Daniel Burrus:        

With that context, you can identify and act on change before it occurs. You can identify and solve problems before they occur. You can jump ahead of the competition with low risk, because you know what's going to happen before it happens. You have unpredictable change. Well, you better be agile. Then you have an amazing amount of predictable change and disruption, and that's where that other side comes in, being anticipatory.

Daniel Burrus:         

One other thing on agility I want to point out to all of our listeners. I was just speaking to the top 50 CIOs in the world. All of them have over a billion dollar IT budget. These are the biggest companies.

Daniel Burrus:        

In that CIO meeting of the top 50, I asked for a show of hands. I said, "How many of you already have an agile organization?" They all put their hands up. I said, "Well, that's good. I don't see a lot of competitive advantage, since you're all raising your hand, but I'm glad you're all keeping up."

Daniel Burrus:        

Now the point is, I like keeping up to some degree, but there's no advantage in keeping up. What I want to do is be able to jump ahead, especially if there's a way to do it with lower risk. That's where that other side of the coin comes in. Every year, as change accelerates, just having an agile approach gives you less benefit as each year unfolds.

Paul Lewis:      

That makes perfect sense. But I think one of the questions that come up is, well how do you predict what is going to happen? How do you accurately predict? One of the things that you talk about, in becoming anticipatory, is applying a hard trend methodology. What's your distinction between hard and soft trends, and why is that important to the listeners?

Daniel Burrus:        

Well actually, it's one of the core concepts of this anticipatory business model that I developed over the decades. I didn't say over the years, I said over the decades. This Anticipatory Organization is my seventh book. I've written thousands of articles. I've had a newsletter that's been going on for 35 years. I've had a track record of being right about where things are going.

Daniel Burrus:         

I want to give you one of my secrets. That is, I leave out the parts I can be wrong about. In other words, there's a lot that you can't predict. Okay, well then leave that part out. But what's amazing is how much you can, when you know where to look and how to look.

Daniel Burrus:         

Even though I've started six companies over the years ... I think you know from my earlier conversation, five were profitable in the first year. Four were national leaders in the first year. Obviously these concepts work. I've used them myself. I don't just write books and do consulting. This is teachable. I started out teaching biology and physics. In reality, I'm a teacher at heart.

Daniel Burrus:        

In this interview, and in my books, and in my speeches, I really don't want to tell, I want to teach. With that in mind, let's turn this right now into a good learning session for everyone that's listening, and help you to see why separating trends into hard and soft is so important.

Daniel Burrus:        

You see, there's no shortage of trends. Matter of fact, it's easy to predict when you're going to get the new lists. Right around January 1st, everybody publishes their new list of trends. There's no shortage of them. What's the problem? Well it isn't the quantity, the problem is the quality. Which ones are going to happen, and which ones aren't?

Daniel Burrus:         

What I've done is, I've come up with a very accurate system. I say accurate, heck, the Pentagon is now using this for all their planning. It's been embraced by not only big companies, but one of the very important, and large organizations, and that is there are actually two types of trends. All trends fit into one of these two categories. I call them hard and soft.

Daniel Burrus:

A hard trend is based on a future fact. It will happen, and you can't change it. Whether you're Google, or Apple, seemingly with all the money in the world, or even a military giant like the United States and the Pentagon, you can not change a hard trend. The good news is, you can see it coming before it happens, giving you the ability to see disruptions before they disrupt, allowing you to have a choice to be either the disrupter, or the disrupted.

Daniel Burrus:

They key here is, actually you have a choice. You just didn't know it before, but you will before we're done in this podcast. The other type of trend is a soft trend. It's not based on future facts, it's based on a future assumption. It's based on assumptions about the future. Now, the problem with that is, a lot of companies think those assumptions are facts. Matter of fact, that's why agile is so big. That is, the assumption most people make is, well you can't predict the future. That's impossible, nobody can predict the future, especially with it moving so fast.

Daniel Burrus:

I would say, well let's see, what happens after spring? Of course you already know, that's summer, followed by fall. Can an astronomer accurately predict in the year 2040, January, exactly when we'll have a full moon? The answer is, oh yeah, they can nail that one. 

Daniel Burrus:        

Will stocks go down, if they're going down, will they go down forever? No, they're going to go back up again. And, by the way, they're going to go back down. That's called cycles. There's over 300 known cycles, business cycles.

Daniel Burrus:         

What are the cycles? Biological cycles, and even sales cycles, that allow you to see the future. All of us listening to this, we use cycles all the time. We just don't even realize it.

Daniel Burrus:

Here's an insight. Economists use cyclical change to predict the future. If you've noticed in the last several years, the economists have been increasingly wrong about the future, and have been very shocked and surprised. Why is that? That is because there's another kind of change they have no training in. If you're listening carefully today, you're going to learn about it.

Daniel Burrus:

Unlike cyclical change, this one is linear in that it's one way/exponential, meaning it's growing in an exponential rate. Once you get a smartphone, you're not going to go back to a dumb phone. That's not a cycle. That's a one way/exponential curve.

Daniel Burrus:        

Once people in China park their bicycle and get a car, they're not going back to the bike. Once people in India get refrigeration for their home, or for that matter, a smartphone, they're not going back. These are permanent changes that are going in a linear/exponential direction. They're not a cycle, and they give you amazing predictability for future problems, as well as opportunities.

Daniel Burrus:

The premise is since you can't predict the future, we're going to base all of our strategies on being agile, because it's all predictable. Again, the premise is thought of as a fact, but it's really an assumption.

Daniel Burrus:         

One other thing about soft trends, before we go any further, and that is, I like both hard trends and soft trends. Again, hard trends lets you see what's going to happen before it happens. Soft trends, what do they give you? They let you see the things that you can change. Let me give you some examples, so that we can pull this into reality for all of our listeners.

Daniel Burrus:        

Let's talk about healthcare costs in the United States. Our healthcare costs have been going up for a long, long time. That trend line is going up quite rapidly. It's thought of, by most people, that well, that's a future fact. Everything's going to get more expensive. That's why healthcare reform, so far, has been centered around healthcare payment. How do you pay for that big mess, as it gets worse?

Daniel Burrus:        

In reality, the increasing costs of healthcare is not a hard trend future fact. It's actually based on an assumption. It can be changed. For example, we could use block chain technology right now to transform the healthcare ecosystem, which right now is not very secure. It's based on no transparency at all. That's why when you're in the hospital, you don't know that an aspirin might cost you $20.00. If you knew that, you'd ask your wife or you husband to bring it.

Daniel Burrus:        

In other words, there’s no transparency, not the security that we would like, and of course, prices are going crazy, because we don't even know what the prices are. Well with block chain, mostly you do. If you bring increased security, transparency, which should also give you trust, and you could flush billions of dollars of waste out of the healthcare network.

Daniel Burrus:        

By the way, there's a company that just started, that's got $100 million in start up money to do a block chain for healthcare. It's already beginning.

Daniel Burrus:         

One other quick example, you could use virtualization in the cloud to transform purchasing and logistics within hospitals. That would flush billions of dollars, not millions, billions with a B, of dollars of waste out of the system.

Daniel Burrus:         

My point is, if we assume it's a fact, we don't try to change it. We just try to deal with it. But the reality is, man, that's an assumption. How many assumptions does your organization have? You're thinking they're a future fact, but in reality, you could change it.

Daniel Burrus:         

I like soft trends, and I like hard trends. If I don't like a soft trend, I can change it. If I see a hard trend, I can know what's going to happen before it occurs, and take advantage from it.

Paul Lewis:      

Got it. No, that makes sense. Are there examples, when you think of anticipatory organizations, are there companies that come to mind that are doing something different today to accelerate innovation and drive new experiences?

Daniel Burrus:         

Absolutely. First of all, let's talk about some very big companies that have had difficulty. Why, because they were great at execution. You know Paul, a lot of people think it's all about execution. Just like a lot of people think it's all about agility.

Daniel Burrus:         

What I would say is, actually Research in Motion, that's the company for BlackBerry, they were really good at execution. By the way, they were really good at being agile. It didn't help. So was Blockbuster, actually, so was HP, so was Dell, so was Sony, and many other companies that have been struggling, trying to move quickly as change accelerated. In other words, you know what, even if the biggest are struggling, the smallest are going to as well.

Daniel Burrus:         

Let's just talk about agile companies. Do you think Amazon is a fast reactor, reacting to change, or in disruption? Or do you think Amazon is an anticipatory company that sees where the future is going before others, by the way, using hard trends, and then innovates around that with low risk because they know, if they don't do it, someone else will?

Daniel Burrus:         

In other words, is Bezos reactionary, or anticipatory? I know you already know the answer Paul, they're a poster child for an anticipatory organization.

Paul Lewis:       

Absolutely.

Daniel Burrus:         

Let's take a couple of other examples.

Daniel Burrus:         

Well absolutely, they're not fast reactors. They're not ... Agile doesn't help them out at all. All of their competitors that are struggling are trying to be agile, and frankly, finding it difficult to get it to work.

Daniel Burrus:         

Let's talk about another one. How about the people that wanted to come up with the idea, the innovators around, how about Airbnb? Or, how about the people that came up with the multi-billion dollar idea for Uber? Were they using agility and execution? No, they were anticipatory. They could see the direction things were going, and again, developed solutions around where the future was headed with certainty.

Daniel Burrus:        

I just brought up a very important word, certainty. Let's take just a second to talk about that. We live in an amazingly uncertain world. What's going to happen with the Stock Market? What's going to happen with all of the things that are going on with North Korea? What's going to happen with Greece? Do they have their act together? What's going to happen with Europe and the Union, is that breaking apart?

Daniel Burrus:         

Uncertainty does not empower you. If you think of it in strategic terms, strategy based on uncertainty has high risk. On the other hand, in an uncertain world, I've got to ask myself, am I certain of anything? As I've already said in this interview, I can be certain of a lot.

Daniel Burrus:

Just like after 4G wireless comes 5G. By the way, is that it, or could you predict what will be next? The answer is, sure, it's going to be 6, followed by 7. Do we know how powerful 6 and 7 will be? Yeah. Matter of fact, if you go back ... I've been doing this for 35 years. When we were at onesie, it was easy to predict two, three, four, five, six, and say exactly what year they would come out, and how much more powerful they would be. It's following a predictable exponential curve, getting closer and closer, and faster and faster, because it's exponential as every year unfolds.

Daniel Burrus:        

Instead of being blindsided by these things, like 4G, 5G, or is the cloud getting full, or are we going to be putting more in the cloud? You already know the answer. We're putting more in the cloud. That's not a here today, gone tomorrow trend. It's a hard trend that will continue to grow, just like mobility, just like AI. Is AI going to go away? No, that's a hard trend getting better every year.

Daniel Burrus:        

If we understand, again, the portions that are shaping the future, you can do quite well with it. That includes, of course, the world of retail. We can get more into retail through our discussion of this. But one thing I want to mention, because retail does involve marketing, and does involve, of course, sales. Let me just stay with certainty just a minute, from the selling standpoint. Nothing better than a confused, uncertain customer. That uncertainty opens the door to a sale every time. Matter of fact, the more uncertain they are, the better chance you have of selling them even more.

Daniel Burrus:         

On the other hand, what is the ultimate closing tool in a sale? The answer is, certainty. You see, if I'm uncertain, and you do your best closing job, I'm going to say, well thank you. Then I'll go look somewhere else. But, if you give me a high level of confidence and certainty, I'll write the check. I'll say, yes. For all of us that are leaders, listen to this. You're trying to get your people to make bold moves in your organization as you deal with the disruptions and changes that are taking place. How do you get your people to embrace the new realities, and move forward faster? The answer is, not uncertainty, it is certainty.

Daniel Burrus:        

Faster, and the answer is not uncertainty. It is certainty, because when you are certain you have the confidence to make bold moves. So, really what I'm teaching you and the anticipatory organization and what I've been helping organizations do is to understand the science and power of certainty.

Paul Lewis:       

That leads me to another question that I had is, you mentioned in the book "Your Future View Will Determine Your Future You". What do you mean by that and how does that apply maybe specifically to retailers?

Daniel Burrus:         

Well, thank you. It is, actually when I first started 35 years ago is when one of my first concepts that I was teaching. So here's the idea. How you view the future, and I'm talking about you, your employees, your customers, your kids, your family. How you view the future, to a great extent shapes how you act in the present. For example, right now people might be buying Apple, getting excited about their next iPhone. Other people are selling Apple? Why? Well, they both have different views of the future of Apple. Some of your customers right now are thinking of leaving. Why? They're future view of staying with you has changed. In other words, how you view the future, to great extent shapes how you act in the present, and by the way, how you act in the present will inevitably shape your future.

Daniel Burrus:         

In other words, your future view will determine the future you. So, let's apply this to retail right now. A lot of retailers, I'm talking brick and mortar retailers, right now are looking at the future and they think the good old days of retail are behind them. Their future view looks bleak, and if you're the CEO of a large retail chain, and that's you're view, what might you do?

Daniel Burrus:        

Well, you might close over 120 stores, by the way, Sears is doing that right as we speak, ad we can guess what that means to the company and what that future will be for those employees. On the other hand, if your future view is, "Wow, actually the good old days of retail are ahead of us, they just don't look like the days behind us." What might you do? Well, instead of closing stores, you might buy whole foods. You might be Amazon, which started virtual books, and what are they doing now?

Daniel Burrus:         

They're actually opening over 100 brick and mortar bookstores all over the country. Obviously they're seeing a little different future for retail than many others, and by the way there's dozens of e-commerce retailers. They started out in e-commerce, whether it's selling sunglasses or whatever else, they were selling, and now what are they doing? Like Waverley Parker and so on. You know what they're doing? They're opening up brick and mortar retail all over the country, and by the way, they're doing well.

Daniel Burrus:         

Because they're not trying to reinvent the past. Instead, they're realizing we need to redefine and reinvent the customer experience. We need to combine e-commerce with brick and mortar in a new combination that is better than either one would be by themselves. So, all of a sudden your future view comes into light. So, I would put this question now to those that are listening to this right now.

Daniel Burrus:

What is your, what are your employees? What are your strategic partners? What are your customer future views of your organization or your future? By the way, if it looks bleak, you're in trouble, because you're going to play that out, because the human mind is that powerful. I suggest your future view, now here's the big one for everyone, let's listen. I believe your view of the future is based on a rear view mirror. You're not looking through the windshield. You see, you're looking at, everything you're seeing is based on everything you've experienced in your past and the way things have happened up until now, which by the way is much slower. Remember, we're doing things today that were impossible just two years ago. Just think about the Apple App Store. Yesterday, the day before we started recording this session, was the 10 year anniversary of the first app store. Apple's opening app store.

Daniel Burrus:

That was only 10 years ago, and it seems like that has been around forever. You know, it's only been a short 10 years, and we could go back another bunch of surprises to you that would shock you as to how quickly things are redefining and reinventing. That's why, again I want to be anticipatory, and start seeing how we can redefine and reinvent the customer experience in so many amazing ways that we get people to come into our stores.

Daniel Burrus:        

By the way, the stores that are closing, you know what? They're all boring. Take a look at them. When's the last time you went in them? You go in them because you have to, not because you want to, and I just said something important. You go in because you have to, not because you want to, but what if we redefine the experience instead of just closing stores and laying all those people off? One of the little elements I mentioned laying people off that I think is important to address. We live in a technology world. Yes, true there is a lot of technology, but I want everyone to remember that's listening to this, we live in a human world, and it's all based on relationships and there are of course good and bad relationships. Good relationships are based on trust. How do you get trust? Well, you earn trust. Honesty, integrity, delivering on promises, and the brands that have done really well and have paid attention to that and have earned the customer's trust, and that's why they have repeat customers.

Daniel Burrus:

So, are there ways that we can use that as a guide post in shaping the retail experience of the future, which is not just about wowing them with new customer experiences, but it's also about establishing a relationship with them that looks spread not only in the store, but online outside the store through their increasingly connected world. I'm excited about the future retail, but that's because I'm looking through the windshield. I'm not looking through the rear view mirror.

Daniel Burrus:         

I think we ought to just change how look at it, and how do you get that windshield view? Well, start looking at the hard trends that are shaping the future, and all of a sudden you'll start to see the future very clearly.

Paul Lewis:      

Let's dwell on that for just a second. Let's have you look through the windshield. What are some of the trends that either are currently or soon might be game changers to the people in retail, whether their brands are beginning to sell directly, or whether they're traditional retailers. What are some of those trends that they should be looking through their windshield and hopefully spotting.

Daniel Burrus:

First of all, in a brick and mortar retail shop, let's say, you don't have infinite inventory and infinite items, all you have is what you have shelf space for. Wait a minute, that's not actually true, is it? No, it isn't, because if I have flat panel displays, perhaps turned instead of horizontally, vertically and they're a fairly good size, and in those I have all of the items that I don't have in inventory, or I don't have.

Daniel Burrus: 

I could have almost infinite inventory right there, and so if I don't have that pair of shoes, or the size you want, or whatever it is, or that dress that you're looking for, but whatever item it is, you could go over to a flat panel and you could not just have to push buttons, you could talk to it too, if you want to. As a matter of fact, thanks to facial recognition that's coming on strong, you could even know, that's one of our repeat customers, and bring up the things very quickly that you might be interested in, and you could have it delivered same day or next day thanks to new delivery services that we're putting into place right now.

Daniel Burrus:        

As a matter of fact, in many cases it could be delivered to my home before I get home from the retail shop that I'm shopping in, because we're going that direction, too, getting to be able to deliver things that fast. My point is, I turn a finite store into an infinite store right on the spot, and I'm just giving a quick example, but that's already happening, or I could even if I had a vending machine. Let's face it. I've got a smart vending machine. Those are already starting to happen.

Daniel Burrus:        

So, in the vending machine, when you walk up in front of the vending machine, thanks to a camera, it knows whether you're Hispanic, or whether you're white, male, female, it knows if you're pregnant, knows if you have some kids next to you, how old the kids are. It knows if you're wearing a suit and have a tie on. It knows all that just by you walking up in front of the vending machines, and it of course is only a few things in that vending machine, but on the other hand there is a screen there and it could give you offers based on what it knows your trying to buy in that vending machine as well as what it just learned from just looking at you, and knowing more than you had realized.

Daniel Burrus:        

It can give you offers right there, again inventory that it doesn't have in the vending machine, and it could have it to you within either 24 hours or even less, allowing you to buy. You see what I did? I just took a vending machine and made it much bigger, and I'm using the vending machine as an example of a simple static device that all of a sudden has become much bigger. Well, we could go into how about augmented reality? Augmented reality is about to splash in really big, and instead of having to use a phone, actually you're going to be getting glasses that look like your glasses, but not Google glasses, the glasses you've go now, except you'll be able to overlay data over it.

Daniel Burrus:         

You know, between the glass and the earpiece, there's that little piece that connects the glasses in the front to the ear in the back so that the glasses stays on your head. That's the rheostat. In other words, when you move your finger back towards your ear, you've got no data. As you slide it towards your glasses, the glass part of your glasses, all of a sudden you'll have full data. So, somewhere in there you can overlay data.

Daniel Burrus:         

So, you can say, "I'm in New York right now, walking down Fifth Avenue and I want to buy some Cohan and shoes, and I'd really like to take a look at those right now." So, I can bring some of that data up, and I can just look around and say, "Oh, there's a store right over there that has Cohan. Not just Cohan shoes, but has the size that I'm looking for as well." So, I can just walk right over to it. Imagine being in a big store like a Walmart or a Kmart or whatever, and I'm trying to find things, and I can just see where they are, because sometimes it's hard to get a customer service person when you need them.

Daniel Burrus:         

Well, you can do it that way. I'm just giving a couple of very small quick examples of how tools both just about to come out, they're emerging, and will, these are hard trends, or some things that are already there today are redefining retail and the experience and of course there's far more that is coming out. Better yet, if anybody is interested in finding out more about that, I'll just let you know you can go to my website. Burrus B-U-R-R-U-S dot com, and I have a technology trends list that will give you all of these hard trends that are shaping the future and can be used for retail.

Daniel Burrus:        

I'm not selling it to you, I'm giving you something right now. You can go there and just download it and take a look at it, and that will give you some good food for thought.

Paul Lewis:       

Awesome. Yeah that's a lot to take in right now. In fact, as I think of our listeners and the rapid transformation in the retail industry that they're facing, what's your advice on, what do companies need to do to start keeping up and start to become anticipatory?

Daniel Burrus:        

Well, there is a couple of things. First of all, we've got to ask ourselves, "Why didn't a cab driver think of Uber? Why didn't Mariot think of Air B&B?" And I know exactly why they didn't. They were too busy. They were so busy doing what they've always done. Executing the current strategy that they didn't take the time necessary to redefine and reinvent their entire business and see the new opportunities that are there right before their eyes.

Daniel Burrus:        

What I'm getting at is, it starts with realizing today you can busy yourselves right out of business and everybody that is listening to this right now regardless of your position, you're all way too busy putting our fires, crisis managing, dealing with the latest issue, or trying to meat the quarterly expectation instead of spending some quality time stepping back, looking at the hard trends that have been defined. The hard trends that are shaping the future and the related opportunities, and then taking action.

Daniel Burrus:         

Picking one and taking action. So, I just gave actually a homework assignment to everyone. Let me step back and slow it down, and let me restate it for you. What I would like you to do when you're done with this, first of all, obviously I would love for you to pick up a copy of the "Anticipatory Organization." It's already been a number one bestseller on Amazon.

Daniel Burrus:         

I think you'll enjoy it, and that could help you, but here's what I'd like you to do. I would like you to spend one hour a week, by the way that's doable. That's only one hour. We are talking about your future. It's where you're going to spend the rest of your life. You better think about it, and I would like you to block it off in your calendar ahead of time, because if you don't, you'll just be putting out another fire, crisis managing, and never do it.

Daniel Burrus:        

But if you block it out as important strategic imperative time, in that hour, instead of looking at all the things you're uncertain about, why don't you do the opposite, which is another principle I tach in the book, because opposites work better. In this case, what I would like you to do is to ask yourself, "What am I certain about? What are the hard trends that are shaping the future and the related opportunity?" I just want to point out, never ever look at a trend from now on without a related opportunity to it, because a trend by itself has no power.

Daniel Burrus:         

It isn't until you define the opportunity for you, that the trend represents that it bursts into actionable life. So, I just gave you a big one right there. So, in that list, look at the hard trends that are shaping the future and the related opportunity, and then resign in a way from the, get the could do's out of here, get the should dos out of here. You don't have time for those, and pick one or two must dos and then make them happen, and all of a sudden, you'll realize that trying to keep up is actually a fool's game.

Daniel Burrus:         

What's the advantage of keeping up? You're still keeping up, but somebody else is better than you. I would rather jump ahead, but how do you do that? You do it with hard trends, because that allows you to jump ahead with the low risk that certainty provides, and it glitz risk. Now the risk is not doing it. What's the cost of not doing it? That actually is the question you should be asking instead of the cost of doing it, because you're going to see the cost of not jumping ahead before everyone else jumps ahead is actually going to be far bigger than the cost of just doing it and being a low risk innovator.

Paul Lewis:       

Right, yeah. I've heard the expression that safe is the new risky, and I think that you definitely have to be in this game. You have to recognize with this pace of change that you need to be making plans for the future, and thinking about the future for retailers specifically, you mentioned Amazon, which is a little bit of an obvious innovator who is setting the pace, but are there other retail brands that you see are at least making some forays in the right direction?

Daniel Burrus:        

Sure. First of all, again, take a look at the e-commerce only brands that have started out as e-commerce only, have done well, and now are opening up chains, brick and mortar chains, all over the country and you'll get a pretty good list there, and what they're doing is, they're again being, they're realizing the future there, the future view of brick and mortar has changed, and it's changed in a very substantial way, and here's the change that I want to us to see what they're doing, and what others are not doing.

Daniel Burrus:        

When we see disruption happening, we as human beings, fall into a protect and defend mode. So now, what I would like you to do is ask yourself what are the retailers that are protecting and defending the way they've always done it, and they're brand the way it's always been. They are the ones that are struggling and will continue to struggle, because protect and defend doesn't work over the long run when you have predictable transformation taking place.

Daniel Burrus:        

Secondly, ask yourself, "What are the brands that are not protecting and defending and instead are, and here's the new one I want to give you, are going to embrace and extend. Embracing the hard trends that are shaping the future and extending their reach. They're the ones that are thriving. So, when [inaudible 00:37:34] gets whole foods, what's he doing? Well, he's doing what whole foods didn't do. Instead of protecting and defending whole foods they way it was, he's going and looking, "How can we take that customer experience and redefine it, and get rid of all of the sticky points? All the things that are slowing people up, all the things that people don't like.

Daniel Burrus:         

By the way, what's something that we don't like in a food store? That is lines. We say, "Okay. Well, let's get rid of lines. Let's use new technology so you can just pick out what you want on the shelf

Daniel Burrus:         

So let's use new technology, so you just pick out what you want on the shelf and walk out of the store, and as you walk out your phone will come up with exactly what you purchased and let you see the prices, and there it is. In other words, that's just one of the innovations he's putting into place. The point I'm making is, you all out there can look for yourself and see who's on a protect and defend mode, ala Sears and many of the others, and who is in embrace and extend mode, and all of a sudden you'll start to see the ones that are being anticipatory, because they're going in the direction the future is going.

Daniel Burrus:        

Let me talk about one other thing around hard trends and soft trends. Let me talk about hard trends just a little more, because I know we only have so much time, and again I'm a teacher at heart. So let me dig a little deeper into that, because I've said I want you to spend an hour looking at the hard trends. Let me help you with understanding what those are just a little better, and again you can find more on the website, and of course you can learn far more getting the book.

Daniel Burrus:        

Here's what I'm getting at. This is not that hard. Hard trends. There's three categories. Aren't you glad I didn't say 30? No, there's only three. And they are powerful. One category of hard trends is demographics. For example, in the United States there's 78 million baby boomers and hard trends, they're going to get older. They're not going to get magically younger, they're going to continue to age. And that represents an amazing number of predictable problems and opportunities. And now again, I'm just picking on baby boomers now. We could also look at generation Z, or Y, or the millennials, but this case we'll stay with baby boomers. If you've got a retail brick and mortar facility and you know that your main clients are baby boomers what does that mean? You better have a lot of comfortable chairs. You better have some really nice bathrooms. If your primary customer is Gen Y, Gen Z, you don't need chairs, and you don't even need bathrooms. All of a sudden everything changes. They expect technology in a different way. So you can customize what you do once you realize who's your target customer just by that alone. Not to mention the fact that you can see future innovations that you could put into place that would have the low risk of working. So first of all, so there's demographics.

Daniel Burrus:        

Second category would be, and this will shock people listening right now, government regulations, and that is indeed a hard trend generator. And you might say well, you surely can't predict the future of regulations. Matter of fact, we have an administration right now that is deregulating, doesn't even like regulations. And I would say oh, that's not true, you can predict the future of regulations. You can't predict all regulations. You see, uncertainty doesn't empower me, so I want to look at, so what can I predict? For example, let's just ... I'll just ask you, the listener, and you call right now. Are we going to get more regulations around cyber security? You all know the answer is of course, absolutely. Why? Because there's some hard trends at play here, that even if you're a government that doesn't like regulations you gotta deal with these future realities anyway. Point is, we could spend more of this interview time and go through dozens of regulations that are going to happen because we got hard trends at play. And so it's amazingly more predictable than you might think. Secondly, we gotta think differently about regulations. When we as retailers, or any other business, we don't like regulation.

Daniel Burrus:         

So one of the principles I teach is opposites work better. I mentioned that earlier. In this case, instead of looking at all the things you don't like when you get a new regulation, why don't you start looking at the things you like, because the list of things you won't like is so big you'll never get to anything that you like. Do the opposite, start with what you like and all of a sudden you'll find amazing opportunities. You know we all admire Elon Musk for all of the innovation that he's done, but if you look at every single company he's ever started they're actually based on government regulations and he has found ways of funding his organizations, every company he's started, through regulations. That works to his advantage.

Daniel Burrus:        

All right, let me give you one example. I lived in San Diego, and in California there was 1000 new laws that went into place, which is not unusual for a big state like California in January. A law that went into place actually almost two years ago now, and this is just California law, said that within three years every kindergartner and first grader in the state of California, half of their reading has to be nonfiction. Half of it. And of course when you hear that, and you realize that all of their reading today is fiction, you start thinking, don't these lawmakers have something important to do? Why are they doing that, and you get all upset.

Daniel Burrus:         

But there was a 28-year-old teacher in San Diego that did read the book and decided to do the opposite and she made three phone calls. She called the San Diego school district, the San Francisco school district, the LA school district, they're all very large, and she said, you've got three years to get half of the books those little kids read to be nonfiction. If I provided those books would you be interested? And they said yeah, we didn't know how we were gonna do that. They said wow, we gotta do it. To make a long story short Paul, what did she do? She ended up getting those companies to underwrite her business and become guaranteed customers and she didn't have to go on Shark Tank. Why? Because she was using opposites and hard trends, and looking at regulations in a different way. So being anticipatory is much more than just hard and soft trends.

Daniel Burrus:         

Actually in the book, and I think there's an online learning system that I have that is, I'm happy to say, an award-winner used by major companies including the Pentagon to transform public plan using hard and soft trends, but there are other elements in it that I want to make sure our people know is part of it. There's a way to transform how you innovate and develop opportunities, how you can do every day innovation and exponential innovation with low risk because of those hard trends, and how to transform culture and do that by elevating their relevancy based on where the future is going, and there's a way to accelerate results that really transforms how your results happen by learning how to skip problems so you can move forward faster, and many other strategies. So the whole anticipatory framework is based on hard trend/soft trend, but as I'm suggesting, there's far more strategies in there than just that, and again that's why I'm so excited about what this is all doing, and what it can do for you.

Paul Lewis:       

Awesome. You know, Daniel, I'm sure as our listeners are going through this and hopefully going to take some time to think about the trends that they want to focus on and create an action plan around, but you probably see farther through the front windshield because you've been staring out there for a little bit longer than most of the listeners. What are some of the trends, you know you had so many historically accurate predictions over the years, what do you think this retail industry might look like in 10 years?

Daniel Burrus:        

Oh, the retail industry that survives, because there's a lot that you know are going away, the numbers that faded away in 2017 were huge and the numbers that are going to fade away in 2018 are going to be huge and so on, because instead of having a future view based on the windshield are using the rear view mirror and baling out. They are not moving fast enough. By the way, let's listen to what I just said there everyone. You are moving too slow. I'm talking to you now, whoever's listening to us. You think you're moving fast, no, you're moving too slow. This is an exponential change curve we're in. Things are accelerating and you need to spend time thinking about it and taking action. A wait and see approach is not gonna work.

Daniel Burrus:         

So as I look 10 years out the landscape of retail, oh there is retail and it's thriving, but they have realized that you can combine technology and humans in a way to create an amazing experience. A whole new type of experience that is not just customized, but better yet, personalized for the individual shopper, with their permission rather than doing things secretly, like we're kinda doing now as we see Facebook and others getting caught up in. We're going to see much more permission-based work as we go forward because of a new focus on gaining trust rather than losing trust. Because again, that's a key to longterm relationships.

Daniel Burrus:        

So I see we will be looking forward to going to retail wherever we are because the retailers that survive 10 years from now are going to be not just creating a boring, it's the same time, every time you see it, every time you come in, but rather there will be brand consistency based around pleasant surprises, and positive changes, changes that keep it exciting and getting me to want to go to the store, boy I can't wait to go and see what they got now. And again you can change the color of a wall just by the push of a button. You can change the floor just by the push of a button. You can do so many things that we'll be able to do going forward that I see retail thriving, and we're going from, whether it's groceries to anything else.

Daniel Burrus:         

So will it all be just delivered to us by the giant Amazon, and the answer is, a lot of things will be delivered to us, yes indeed, but we're going to be going out and shopping as well for many reasons including the fact that it's a social experience for many, and I don't know about you, but I go to stores where somebody asks me what am I looking for, and I say, I don't know. I'll know it when I see it. Well, I don't browse online like that, but in a store I do. If it's a really cool store, and I just was in one not long ago, I was walking around and I ended up buying a whole bunch of things I didn't even know I needed. That's retail at its best.

Paul Lewis:      

Well, it does paint an exciting picture. It's interesting the dichotomy of the two of yes, there are going to be those that can evolve and keep up, but it also is an exciting world of opportunities for those that can anticipate the future and react ahead of time. Well, I wonder if-

Daniel Burrus:        

Yeah. And let me just tweak that. Just a minute.

Paul Lewis:      

Okay.

Daniel Burrus:        

Instead of react, you heard the word be proactive, which is the opposite, it's kind of like the counter to being reactive. But let me give you a new one, because proactive, if you really break down to what does it mean, it means taking positive action now. But that's kind of like being agile. How do you know it's gonna be positive? Well, you have to wait and see. Frankly, that's still got high risk to it. What I'm doing in the anticipatory organization is teaching people how to lower their risk tremendously as they take advantage of disruption and change. In other words, making disruption and change your best friend. So here's the new phrase I want to give you, and that is I'd like us to be preactive to future known events. So it's not about reactive, it's not about proactive, because again the payoff there has too much risk, I want us to be preactive to future known events, and all of a sudden you will see yourself doing extremely well.

Paul Lewis:       

Awesome. You know, as we wrap this up I wonder if there's anything else that you'd like to share that leaders should do now that would help them the most. You've talked about thinking about what the trends are, creating a plan of action around that. Is there anything else that leaders should be doing right now to get ready for this?

Daniel Burrus:         

Well, first of all I'm really not telling you to throw out your strategic plan, because every company has one. The problem is, there are elements to it that are becoming irrelevant, because every day we've got so much disruption and change taking place. Many of us have created a static plan versus a dynamic plan. What I would like us to do instead is to use these hard trends and opportunities, and soft trends that we can change if we don't like them, and use those to elevate our current plans to increasing relevancy based on the direction the future is going. What I want us to do is not just change but really to transform where we're going. Because the two things are different. Let's face it, change, Barnes and Nobles changed how you buy books by putting pianos in there and making superstores. Sony changed how you listen to music. Blockbuster changed how you watch movies. Blackberry changed how you do your email. But on the other hand, Kickstarter transformed startup funding. GPS transformed agriculture, golf, and everything else. Laser transformed surgery. Tesla transformed the driving experience. Amazon transformed retail. Apple transformed the phone. My point is, change is not good enough anymore. I would like us to be focusing on transforming with low risk, which is using these hard trends.

Daniel Burrus:         

So the big message I'm giving to leaders now is, this is the time to take action, to realize yes, agility is good. You probably already are fairly agile, and you should get better at it. There are things you can't predict. Good, that's why you're agile. But I want you to be focusing on the other side of this coin, anticipating problems before you have them so you can pre-solve them. Anticipating the disruptions before they disrupt you. Do I want to be disrupted, or do I want to be the disruptor. The disrupted, or disruptor, you do have a choice.

Daniel Burrus:         

And third, by doing what I'm talking about you can see these game changing opportunities before your competitors, giving you an advantage. So to do that, again I would suggest you could ... Matter of fact, let me give everyone in this room, or everybody that's listening to us in this virtual radio room, or this podcast room we have right now, I believe in this book so much here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna give every listener a free hardcover copy of this book. You can go to Amazon and buy it if you want, it's a best seller there, but here's what you do. I'm gonna give you a copy. Now you're gonna have to pay for shipping, and by the way I'm not making money on the shipping. I just believe that if you got this book you're gonna like it so much you're gonna recommend it to a friend and I'll end up doing fine. So if you go to this website, the, t-h-e-a-o-book, theaobook.com you can sign up there and get a free copy of the book. Again, you gotta pay for shipping, but it's only a few bucks. You're gonna end up getting it FedEx'd right to you or UPS'd right to you and there you go. So I believe in it so much I'm gonna give you a copy of it.

Daniel Burrus:         

And I'd also suggest you go to burrus.com, b-u-r-r-u-s.com, and there's a lot of great resources on there.

Daniel Burrus:         

And third, my anticipatory organization learning system, it's a video-based learning system, it's a product of the year award winner being used by companies right now that are becoming, not agile anymore, they're shifting over to being much more anticipatory and getting amazing results. You can find more on that by going to our website, or by going to the anticipatoryorganization.com, and you can find information on the learning system and our new anticipatory leader system. So I've got plenty of ways that I can help you stay on the journey and once again, one hour a week. Don't forget. You're gonna spend the rest of your life in the future, you oughta be thinking about it now.

Paul Lewis:       

Well that is some great advice, Daniel. Thank you so much for being on the show. It's been really insightful to hear this perspective and we appreciate your time.

Daniel Burrus:        

You're more than welcome. Thank you.

Paul Lewis:      

All right, well that wraps up this show. We look forward to seeing you on future episodes. Thank you very much.