Friday, January 3, 2014

Smartphone Free Parties Plus 4 More Predictions For 2014

It got a little too noisy out there the last few weeks. Whether it was a Tweet, a Facebook post, an email or a television show it seemed everyone had something to say about the year ending. Best Of This. Worse Of That. To Resolve Or Not To Resolve. The Year In Review. Predictions for 2014. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Every now and then I found something worth reading, but mostly not. So I pretty much shut off my digital interactions, my #jtlunchbreaks not withstanding. I read Gary Vayner's new book about all this noise, binge watched Boardwalk Empire, saw American Hustle and Osage County on the big screen, wrote up a big long list of all I have to be grateful for 2013 and another for what I want 2014 to look like. 

Curbing the amount of time one spends on-line creates a lot of quiet and room to do something rather old-fashioned - it's calling thinking. 

From that experience I came up with my own list of predictions. 

1-The Internet is not going away. This might sound foolish to even suggest but there are still people who think this is all a fad. For real. They yearn for the early '80s before commercial access to the Internet took hold. They think if they engage as little as possible their dream might come true. This news flash is for them - except they are probably not reading this.  We're past the point of dialing it back. A lot more people are on to it now. So with this prediction I expect there will be more people looking for people like me who know how to explain it all.

2-Good story will rule. The idea of storytelling - not just to write a book or develop a movie script - but for business has become very popular. Here's your second news flash. Storytelling has always been important. The best sales people have known this for centuries. Today we are giving it a label. We call it storytelling for business or content marketing.  The reason it's become so trendy is that the noisier our world becomes the more critical it is to tell an engaging, compelling story - whether you are a scriptwriter at HBO or a brand strategist for Mastercard. Lucky for me I know how to write both.

3-More people will overcome their fear of Twitter.  The myth is that Twitter is a place to tell people what you had for dinner. News flash # 3. It's a lot more than that. It's a source of information and a great place to listen and get an unfiltered and uncensored understanding for what is really going on - with your customers and the world. The best thing about it is that unlike Facebook, your personal habits are not dictating what shows up in your newsfeed. You can follow people who have no interest in following you back. That makes the likelihood of stumbling upon something fresh and interesting and out of your comfort zone much more likely. 

4-The In-Person Event will continue to make a comeback. Maybe you didn't know it went away, but maybe you have noticed there are more and more conferences and talks and events being organized. I love that I can work from home. I love that I don't need the excuse of a blizzard to not leave my apartment for two days.  But that gets old quickly. We are not designed to be interacting with technology at the expense of human interaction. We need to be physically seen. We need to smell and to talk and to touch. We need the energy of other people in our physical space to survive.  Give me the option of speaking virtually or in person and I'll always opt for the live event.

5-The more technology complicates our lives, the more we will strive for simplicity. I'm thinking the next trend will be Smartphone free parties. When your host asks you to remove your shoes so the dirt from outside doesn't get on the carpet they will also ask you to put your smartphone right next to it so the noise from it does not infiltrate the fun. Restaurants can have a smartphone check right alongside the coat check. This will encourage people to actually speak to each other instead of their phones.

This one may be a long shot but I do believe we are reaching a tipping point to just how much information and noise we can take in. Forced reprieves might just be the answer.

It also occurs to me that predictions are similar to desires. If you are essentially an optimist as I am, you might slant your predictions to what you would like to happen. I'd like a bit more simplicity. I'd like to speak at more live events this year. And of course I'd like to have more people hire me to help explain how to use all this "digital stuff" to their personal and professional advantage. 

Predictions or desires? We won't know for sure until December. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you predict for 2014.

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