Future forecasts are vital to staying current in the digital marketing world, and even staying ahead of the game completely. I sat down with Rohit Bhargava, author of “Non Obvious” to discuss his unique approach to future forecasting.
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Shama: Hey guys. Shama here. We’re with Rohit Bhargava today, author of the lastest, “Non Obvious.” We catch up with Rohit as he’s during Dallas to deal with keynote. Rohit, thanks so much for joining us on Shama TV.
Rohit: Thank you. Long awaited, so I’m glad I’m finally here.
Shama: Let’s talk about one topic that I’m really interested in that I know you’ve been telling people about and it’s about future forecasting. Right?
Shama: You seem to think that anybody can do it. Anybody can predict the future, which is a little non obvious. So talk to me about that.
Rohit: A lot of times people that do futurist work, or talk about the future, they do the opposite. They say that it takes of years of research. I’ve actually read in books: you have to be an academic and study this for awhile. My philosophy is a lot like the movie Ratitui. I think anybody can do it. Anybody can cook, anybody can learn to do this, but you have to adopt specific habits. I talk a lot about in the book like what are some of the habits we need to adopt that are a little bit different than what we’re used to doing.
Rohit: One of them for example is being observant. But not just like, I saw somebody making a lot of noise. It’s like watching the things that we don’t usually pay attention to. And I think that’s a skill that we have to learn to teach ourselves to pick ourselves up out of our phone, what the world, see why people are doing what they’re doing, and we pick up on so much more if we just do that.
Shama: So you’re saying that anybody can be good at predicting the future. One of things we have to do is learn to be better observers.
Shama: So maybe put down the phone and stop looking at everything for …
Rohit: That would help. Yes.
Shama: It helps if it’s not always in selfie mood I guess.
Shama: Then you’re actually interacting with the world. What else can one do to become better at predicting the future?
Rohit: A lot of predicting the future is seeing patterns. Right? It’s pattern recognition.
Rohit: In order to see a pattern, you have to be able to collect examples of what’s happening right now, otherwise you have nothing to try and pattern match with.
Rohit: One of the things I do a lot is I buy magazines at airports that are not targeted towards me. The reason I do that is because I’m trying to step into somebody else’s shoes and somebody else’s mindset
Shama: You wouldn’t get weird looks at the airport, but you’re carrying …
Rohit: Weird looks. I’ve bought all kinds of magazines. I’ve bought like Seventeen magazine or Modern Farmer, or Guns and Knives …
Shama: “Children’s Highlights” magazine.
Rohit: Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. Everything. Everything. What ends up happening is I get this perspective of all of these things that are happening in the world that are outside of my industry, my space, my vertical. I think also right now in media it’s so easy to just read stuff that you agree with …
Rohit: … or just pay attention to stuff in your industry and just block yourself out from everything else and just literally only pay attention to a small amount of stuff.
Rohit: I think being more observant and being curious is broadening that, so that now you have more examples of things. It’s kind of like the second step towards being able to predict the future, because now you have more input from different places.
Shama: To summarize, very quickly. If you want to become a better predictor of the future. A couple of things: you learn to be more observant.
Shama: You learn to pattern match to start to look for patterns where you hadn’t seen them before.
Shama: Thirdly, find input that’s beyond your ordinary right?
Shama: If you’re always watching the same channels, reading the same things, expose yourself, or broaden your horizons, literally.
Rohit: Yes. That’s right.
Shama: To be able to have your mind to think differently. Maybe I’ll start seeing those patterns where I didn’t see them before.
Rohit: Yes. The last piece that pulls it all together, is to spot where it intersects.
Rohit: To see where something happening over here is interesting because it’s happening over here in a slightly different way and when you put those two things together, then it’s like, okay this could be a trend.
Shama: Is that like the cooper of?
Rohit: Yeah. Sort of. We use that to describe apps, Hollywood films use it. It’s like jaws, but on a skateboard.
Rohit: People are like, I kind of get it.
Shama: That sounds great!
Rohit: It’s weird, but I kind of get it.
Rohit: Part of it is that intersections and part of it the way we describe it. I talk a lot about the language that we use and being intentional with the language that we use. I studied English for a long time, I was into poetry, and screen writing. All of these things use very intentional language. Screen writing is how people talk. Poetry is the most beautiful elegant way of saying something. I think we can use more of that to describe what these trends are in a way that elevates them to something that’s not just like, “3-D printing must be a trend”, like something that isn’t quite there that elevates it to something big and something that hopefully can be elegant as a way of describing the world.
Rohit: I think that’s what we want to try and do.
Shama: I think it sounds like you’re saying there’s a discover-ability part which you get by doing all of these different things and then you add the intentional part of making sure you have language in a way that conveys the way you want it to and that way it goes from becoming just this thing you notice to actually being something that people can now grasp and hold on to.
Rohit: Yeah. I think you’ll appreciate the best trends are the ones that have a brand built into them, so that people understand based on how you described it: “Oh, I get what that is.”
Shama: So like the Uber of or something that’s easy to understand, or easy to make up.
Shama: Very cool. Well thank you so much Rohit. I love these tips on how you too can become better at predicting the future. Be sure to subscribe, so you can keep up with all our great content, and talk to you soon.