To better prepare for our future, we must first look to our past. Throughout history, there are patterns of innovation and growth that repeat themselves over centuries. Understanding these patterns is key to success in the future of work.
“The biggest challenge humans face,” says business and technology visionary Leonard Brody, “is that we are historically naïve.” We tend to think that whatever’s happening to us is unique, he continued, but it’s not. There are cyclical patterns at play throughout history that, when understood, can help us better navigate today’s trends for tomorrow’s success.
In his newest keynote, “The Next 730 Days”, Leonard takes audiences on a data-driven and research-informed deep dive into the historical patterns that drive innovation, while also highlighting the technological, economic, and future of work trends shaping our near future. It’s an in-depth roadmap to the next 730 days, or two years, which history has shown is the only amount of time we can accurately predict.
“Two years in modern economic times is very long,” Leonard said. “A lot can happen with the speed of tech.” The exponential growth brought on by tech makes any prediction beyond two years essentially science fiction, he continues. So, while many are sharing their 5, 10, 15, 20-year forecasts, sometimes with conflicting ideas and notions, Leonard calls his keynote the antidote — a clear, narrow-focused exploration of our near future and how leaders and organizations can better prepare for it.
We recently spoke with Leonard about his new keynote, exploring trends to watch over the next 730 days, as well as historical patterns that leaders can capitalize on today to fuel long-term growth. Contact us to learn more about Leonard and how to book him for your next event!
The Historical Patterns Shaping Our Future
For the past three centuries, Leonard said, there have been cyclical patterns of growth and innovation on repeat. It is a distinct replication where a causation will create a big bang — whether it be a medical disaster, war, economic crisis, etc. — and spark an economic devaluation that then leads to a period of growth, he said. If you get on the right side of that pattern, you will always be better off than the people who are stuck in the moment.
We’re seeing it in action today in Silicon Valley — people are lamenting about the ridiculous valuations in tech that are causing companies to crash, Leonard said. But this has happened six times in the last 30 years, and is a pattern essential to tech advancement. The more money you throw at it, the more innovation that occurs, he said.
We wouldn’t advance without that expenditure; we wouldn’t advance without failure. It’s all part of a very long innovation advancement cycle. People get stuck in the moment and pull out, instead of looking at the picture as a whole.
How Economic Busts Yield Growth
Another example is the 2007-08 recession, Leonard said, where an incredible amount of capital was put into the real estate market. It was all based on new AI-driven risk adjustment software. Machine learning allowed us to use risk formulas in ways that humans couldn’t. This new tech got out of control and caused the market to crash; a financial reset that lasted the typical length of 2-4 years, Leonard said. The market corrected itself and then we saw the longest economic growth cycle in a century — 12-13 years of pure growth. Part of that was because of new economic policies put in place by governments, Leonard added. With each cycle we get better at solving problems and smarter with our money.
More recently, we’ve seen this play out with the pandemic. In 2020, Leonard said, anxiety rose and everyone started running for the hills. Now we’re seeing the market correct itself. There is zero historical precedence where a bust doesn’t end in economic growth, Leonard said. The question we have to ask ourselves, is how do we behave in a temporary bust when growth is inevitable? What does that look like for you, Leonard said, are you going to cut costs or use this as an opportunity for growth?
Trends to Watch: Technology, the Economy, and the Future of Work
The big ones to watch are blockchain and AI. As we continue to see the practical applications of AI, Leonard said, we’re getting a sense of the upsides and downsides to it. Over the next two years, we should be thinking about how it’s going to affect us and what the real applications of it look like within your industry.
When it comes to blockchain, this is a piece of tech that completely changes transactional behaviour permanently and efficiently. It can’t be ignored. Leaders need to start asking themselves, what they are doing to manage these changing environments.
Inflation and recession are top of mind. Leonard is not convinced that we’re headed for a recession, as the indicators are not clear, but if there is one, he says, it will be a soft recession and the markets have already reacted to it.
There is a lot of disagreement when it comes to inflation, Leonard continued, with some saying we aren’t done with spiking interest rates and others saying the opposite. Whatever happens will depend on how quickly the US and Canadian governments pull trillions of dollars out of the economy, originally put in there to manage the pandemic.
We have to be careful about what we’re reading, Leonard added, as we can read ourselves into a recession even when it’s not clear that we’re in one. What is clear is that people are acting differently than they would be if there was a recession with inflation. We had one of the biggest Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays in 30 years in the middle of interest rate hikes.
The Future of Work
Most likely outcome is that common sense wins the day, Leonard said. People who don’t require an office, won’t be in an office. If companies want to recruit good people and talent, he continued, they will have to grow with what work-life scenario is best for their teams.
If we look at the office, and why it existed in the first place, Leonard said, it’s attached to an old model of the industrial revolution. It was a factory of paper, and it’s not required anymore. Home, or elsewhere, is where you work and the office is for human interaction, he said, whether it’s a social situation, group meeting, etc. It’s more efficient from a time and cost perspective, to have people working from home or within a blended model.
Secondly, the Great Resignation is a myth, Leonard said. It came because there was a big push around a class of people that were voluntarily quitting the workforce, augmented by cheques coming in from the government. But, today, voluntary quit rates are back to the same trend line since 2009. COVID was actually outside of this trend line with fewer people leaving the workforce.
The one thing that is different, Leonard said, is that people are leaving low-paying jobs, such as service and food and beverage. The remedy to that is clear, he continued. Look to McDonald’s and Walmart — they changed their salaries and now McDonald’s has more staff today than they did in 2019. It’s simple, give people better conditions and money and they’ll work.
Called “a leader of the new world order, Leonard Brody is an award-winning entrepreneur, venture capitalist, bestselling author, and a two-time Emmy-nominated media visionary. In his compelling, customized keynotes, he addresses the rapid page of change and shares proven best practices to help audiences better navigate what’s next.
Contact us to learn more about Leonard and to book him for your next event.