The Future is Now!

By George Foster, CEO of Foster Marketing

Since 1985, I’ve been a member of a small group of ad agency principals who meet twice a year to discuss their individual businesses. It’s called the Innisbrook Group, after Innisbrook, Fla., where the first meeting was held in 1982. We share financials (balance sheets and income statements), operational and personnel issues, creative and personal stuff and usually have several speakers.

I’m hosting this spring’s meeting in Lafayette and the theme of the April meeting is “Looking to the Future.” For this meeting we’ll have a CPA discussing financial planning; a senior intelligence analyst for Blue Cross discussing healthcare (our biggest business unknown); and Andy Hines, a Lecturer and Executive-in-Residence at the University of Houston’s Graduate Program in Futures Studies, and a Futurist.

He heads Hinesight (great name for a Futurist) and has written several books on the future. His website is www.andyhinesight.com (more about Andy and the April meeting in the March Fostering Ideas newsletter.

I’ve always looked to the future and never been one to dwell on the past. However, I have a healthy respect for history. As the Spanish American philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

My first awareness that there were people who would predict the future, or “Futurists”, was in the early ’90s when I discovered Faith Popcorn’s book, The Popcorn Report. First published in 1991, some of her predictions are rather remarkable now 20 years later.

Ms. Popcorn (www.faithpopcorn.com) very presciently describes email and e-commerce, calling them “screenmail” and “infobuying” though neither had yet been invented and it would be three years after her book was published before anyone was even talking about “The Information Super-Highway.”

Her predictions for 2011 are interesting as well as she predicts that we will enter an unprecedented period marked by the end of our traditional gender divide, or as she calls it EN-GEN.

Women are becoming more influential, powerful and in control of the culture. And, men are becoming more sensitive, collaborative and connected. As Mars becomes more Venus like — and Venus-versa — we’re far less combat ready.

Consider some of the numbers about women:

• Women hold 51% of managerial and professional jobs

• Four in 10 mothers are primary breadwinners; working wives are coming close to bringing in half of household income

• Single, childless women under 30 earn 8% more than their male peers

• The number of women earning six figure salaries has increased 14% in the last two years

This is certainly true in the marketing communication industry where women are growing in numbers and responsibility. Bright, talented and tenacious young women have been vital to Foster Marketing’s success.

And, how about these male patterns (in my case, not baldness):

• The emergence of the stay-at-home-dad, which according to the most recent U.S. Census (2008), had increased by 62% from 2003

• 40% increase in male time devoted to household chores

• A three-fold increase in average male time devoted to cooking

I can relate to all of the above. Although the sad state of male employment is well-known, what haven’t been analyzed are the gender impacts of this “forced feminization.” Economic pressures are acting as an accelerator to the En-Gendering of America.

There’s a lot more. For the whole picture, go to Ms. Popcorn’s website for not only this year’s predictions but also previous efforts (www.faithpopcorn.com/ContentFiles/PDF/FPBR_2011 Predictions.pdf). More next month.

Let us help you plan for 2011 and beyond. Email Jamie Efurd or call 281-448-3435 or 337-235-1848 to schedule a meeting with Foster Marketing to discuss how we can help integrate and enhance your marketing efforts.

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