Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Cultivate non-obvious trends for a business boost"/ Asheesh Avandi

Jan. 9, 2017 "Cultivate non-obvious trends for a business boost": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:


If you like poking around to find interesting ideas that might offer business opportunities, this may be the time to try your hand at trend curation.

Rohit Bhargava, a Washingtonbased marketing consultant who began publishing a list of important trends in 2011, starts his annual search about now, systematically tracking signals that can help illuminate the currents around us.

It may seem easy when you get started, since there are lots of obvious trends. But he considers cataloguing those as lazy. He urges you to join him in finding nonobvious trends, things that aren’t being noticed and can only be pieced together through creative detective work.

He points to virtual reality, which is often cited as a trend. But he insists it’s actually not a trend – it exists. Instead, he built on that to focus attention on a trend he calls virtual empathy: The improved quality and lower costs for virtual reality allows creators to tell more immersive stories and see the world from another point of view. Mobility is a commonly cited trend these days, thanks to technology. “That’s so obvious. And it’s not particularly useful. I look at how a trend will change things tomorrow,” he says in an interview. In his book Non Obvious 2017: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future, he says “a great trend is a unique curated observation about the accelerating present.”

He notes that collecting is a common human activity. Collecting and, more importantly, curating ideas, adds meaning to the noise around us just as museum curators through their themes and insight “add meaning to isolated beautiful things.”

He outlines five habits of trend curators: being curious, observant, fickle, thoughtful and elegant.

Of course, being curious, observant and thoughtful are obvious. But fickle? “That’s not generally seen as positive. But the key is not to dwell on things too long. Capture ideas, but be willing to move on and let the connections come with time,” he advises in the interview. That requires being disciplined, keeping records of all the snippets you notice, so you can return to them. As for elegance, he traces that back to his years as an English major, studying poetry. You want to say what you mean in a simple but understandable (and catchy) way. He follows what he calls “The Haystack Method.”

But you are not searching for the needle in the haystack. Instead, you are gathering the hay – ideas and stories – and then using them to define a trend, the needle, which gives meaning to them collectively. You gather the hay and create the needle. There are five steps:

Gathering: You want to save interesting ideas. This sounds effortless – haphazard browsing. But he found it requires great discipline. He is constantly putting stickies on good ideas in books, ripping out magazine pages to put in files and printing out what he sees on the Web. As a keynote speaker, he takes notes on the interesting ideas in the other talks at the gatherings he attends;

Aggregating: You now need to curate those ideas into clusters of bigger themes after you have a substantial collection. What is the underlying human need they point to? How is this same phenomenon affecting multiple different industries? He’ll usually come up with 60 to 70 topics before whittling them down to his annual 15 trends;

Elevating: This is the most difficult, but vital, step – making the broader connections that allow for non-obvious insights. His house has a room the family calls the “Thanksgiving Room,” since it’s primarily used by everyone on that day, but when curating he creates piles for his material on the long table and does his sorting and thinking there. His wife will find him staring at the piles for hours, pondering. “It’s creativity. But it’s trying to have enough discipline to combine and simplify. It’s easy to combine and make things more complex. But making it simpler is tough,” he says;

Naming: The poetry buff urges you to create elegant descriptions. Unexpected connections help, as in this year’s “authentic fame-seekers,” which jolts since we don’t think of those notions going together;

Proving: Maybe you have some trends, maybe not. Validate before telling the world. He tests them on colleagues and friends. If the trends are solid, it also should be easy to find more examples as you now check around, conducting further research. If he can’t find it, the notion is dropped.

Give it a try. Who knows what you will unearth? If it’s nonobvious, it could be very helpful. In the meantime, we’ll look at his 2017 trends next week.


The Ladder: Asheesh Avandi: Today I found this in the Globe and Mail:

Asheesh Advani, 45, is president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement Worldwide, one of the largest NGOs in the world, dedicated to educating young people about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work-force readiness.

I was born in India and spent my first six years there. My father worked for IBM and applied for a transfer to Canada. We came as a family and settled in Toronto. I think the fact that I was born in India has always made me interested in global affairs. In my current role, I travel globally because we provide programs to students and young entrepreneurs in over 100 countries.


When I was in school, being an entrepreneur wasn’t a popular thing to do. It was more popular to be interested in law and politics. I attended the University of Toronto Schools (UTS), and was naturally drawn to things which allowed me to do debate and public speaking in school. But I ended up doing some creative projects and programs like Junior Achievement, which got me interested in the idea of entrepreneurship.

I believe anybody can be an entrepreneur. I genuinely believe that. In my current role, I see so many young people who may not have the natural skill set or risk profile to forgo a steady income, yet – either by necessity or by genuine desire about an idea – they pursue it. Particularly in Western Europe and in North America, being a social entrepreneur – someone who is building products and businesses to solve social problems – is not only popular but deeply motivating. Young people are gravitating towards social entrepreneurship.

When I was younger, I had a major stutter. When I moved from India to Canada, I literally couldn’t get a sentence out without stuttering. So every Wednesday after school I went to speech therapy at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto. I did it for many years, and one of the exercises that the therapists made me practise was impromptu speaking. It made me focus on how you can change words very rapidly in your mind if you know you’re going to stutter on the next word. I think that skill set has been so valuable to me over the years. In retrospect, I’m bizarrely happy I went through that experience.

I’m really excited about the ability we have to impact as many young people as we do. It’s a very motivating, powerful thing. There is nothing more empowering than meeting young people who are building businesses and social enterprises. It gives you hope for the future and takes away any shred of pessimism that you have.

The way we think of jobs has been redefined. You may choose to do something entrepreneurial, fail at that – or succeed in a modest way – and then you’ll still be hired elsewhere based on the skills that you bring to the table. And then you might get tired of that job, or just find something better. Hopping around with a portable skill set is the future.

One of the most critical skills that young people need for the work force of the future is learnability – the ability and willingness to learn new things. There will be so much change and many of the jobs of the future have not been created yet. For most people, the idea of a job for life is gone. The average young person today will have up to 20 jobs over the course of their career. I think this fact is underappreciated in today’s education system.

I feel very Canadian. I think you can tell someone’s true loyalty based on who they root for in the Olympics. I’ve been living in the U.S. for over 15 years now, but for winter Olympic hockey there is no doubt that my loyalties are Canadian.

My 11-year-old twin boys are very sporty. They play soccer on three teams and have games on both days of the weekend. So come what may, I’m home every weekend. One way to maintain work-life balance is to try to really be present when you’re home.

When I meet someone new, I like to ask about their family. I’m actually really interested in people’s family life. You learn so much about a person by how they talk about their family. You learn about their values and can see their eyes light up when they talk about some element they’re really proud of. So it’s an important part of how I connect with people.


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