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19 Startling Covid Trends and 19 Golden Covid Opportunities Emerging from the Chaos

by | Mar 20, 2020 | Futurist Thomas Frey Insights

Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Coronavirus Trends And Covid Opportunities Emerging From The ChaosAs Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once said, “You should never let a serious crisis go to waste!”

We’re entering unprecedented times, and yes, the coronavirus will go down in the history books as the most expensive crisis in all history…. so far! Perhaps WWI and WWII were more expensive, but we’re not done yet!

We are witnessing the black swan of all black swans.

As a futurist, I view my role as being a diligent observer, an analyzer of trends, and researcher of signals in uncovering important shifts amidst the chaos.

I’ve been watching the coronavirus as it moves around the world, as public health officials have put together a patchwork of quarantines, travel bans, and social isolation measures. The disruption in events, travel, manufacturing, and trade has had a range of unintended consequences — not all of them good, and certainly not all of them bad.

Ironically, we’re about to discover we’ve never been more emotionally connected while being so physically distant.

Here are 19 of the COVID-19 trend-lines we’re currently watching.

1. Most expensive crisis in all history.

No, we’re nowhere close to putting together a final tally for this but rest assured it will be massive. It is both global in nature and massively debilitating to close so many businesses all at once.

2. Rewriting the rulebook for dealing with future crises.

We now have a new rulebook in place for dealing with future contagions. At the same time, setting the stage for future problems. Even though 887,000 people die each year from Hepatitis B, and 730,000 die from Malaria, and 450,000 from the Rotavirus, every new virus will prompt a similar groan as people say, “Here-we-go-again!”

3. Hitting a giant reset button for planet earth.

We are now in the “pause” phase of effectively resetting life on planet earth. The implications of this “reset” will be felt for years to come as people begin to ask, “what things have changed, and what things remain the same?”

4. The economic pandemic will be far more painful than the virus pandemic.

To be sure, the coronavirus is more economically contagious than it is medically contagious. Death rates from a bad economy can easily make virus death rates look like a walk in the park. Bankruptcies, homelessness, suicides, scammer-campaigns, burglaries, petty theft, and other criminal activity will skyrocket.

One person’s spending is another person’s income. That’s how an economy works and what our $87 trillion global economy is all about. The domino effect fallout that happens when one segment of society stops spending is quickly multiplied, affecting people in every other country.

5. Shaking hands has suddenly become a symbol for “you’re an idiot.”

One of our most sacred business practices, of “sealing a deal with a handshake,” has been permanently tarnished.

6. Sweeping new powers for elected officials.

If you haven’t been paying attention, our wings of independence as workers and businesses have been permanently clipped. This is the first time in history governments have told private business to close. They are now exerting far more power and control than anytime in history.

Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Biggest Business Interruptions And Layoffs Are Mounting
Your reality is being reimagined as you’re reading this!

7. The biggest job transition in all history.

Business interruptions are extremely messy, and layoffs are mounting. Some will view this as a great time to switch careers, while others will think about starting their own business. In general, companies launched during a downturn tend to be far more durable and resilient than those started in better economies. I think it’s safe to say that this round of job losses followed by reemployment trends will be far different than anything in the past.

8. Handicapped by the hiring process.

With HR departments mushrooming in size and countless new hiring laws taking effect over the past decade, most businesses are gun-shy about streamlining the process. This will be an ongoing impediment during a time of recovery.

9. Our increasing awareness of the world means we may have to play by someone else’s rules.

Once China got their teams focused on dealing with the coronavirus, they formulated a game-plan that would be replayed in every other country around the world. If the virus had started in Japan, Brazil, or India, we might be taking a radically different approach.

10. The coming reinvention of healthcare.

Just as the bubonic plague ushered in an era of labor reforms and improvements in medicine in the Middle Ages, the coronavirus will force a number of major improvements in healthcare. Since it’s still too early to accurately predict how post-coronavirus healthcare will differ from pre-coronavirus healthcare, this is an area I’m monitoring closely.

11. The entire airline industry is about to be reborn as something new.

For most companies moving forward, travel expenses will be dramatically lower. Once businesses realize they can survive with a lot fewer face-to-face interactions, any proposed travel expenses will receive far more scrutiny. Keep in mind, the original sales pitch for video conferencing was based on dramatic travel savings.

12. Education is about to undergo radical changes.

We are now seeing the digital classroom being implemented on a global scale. Every teacher that has resisted this approach in the past is being told to get over it because there are no other options. Remote and digital education is certainly not new. Programs like Khan Academy have been around for more than a decade. How long before we are constantly switching between digital and physical classrooms? As Peter Diamandis likes to say, this will be the perfect time to digitize, dematerialize, demonetize and democratize education.

13. Transformation of retail.

Large stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco have become panic zone central as shelves are wiped clean by people going into survival mode. On the other side of the equation, are stores that are either ghost towns or closed completely. Moving forward, traditional retail storefronts will be even more challenged in competing with their online counterparts.

14. Delivery business’s opportunity to shine.

Within just the past few weeks, virtually everyone in the country has had to learn how to use some new delivery app. Companies like DoorDash, Grubhub, Instacart, and Uber Eats are getting swamped with orders. Delivery people are in huge demand, and the entire delivery industry is one of the few bright spots in the freelance and employment world.

15. Rethinking storytelling on a global scale.

From here on out, all of Hollywood’s movie and television scripts will be separated into pre-corona and post-corona era material. Handshakes, hugs, and personal meetings are out. Washing hands, wearing masks, and buying toilet paper are in. And our lexicon is changing to include phrases like “flattening the curve,” “social distancing,” “self-quarantining,” and “shelter in place.”

16. Coming age of flexibility, adaptability, and resilience.

As we dip into survival mode, we will all need to hone our skills in the area of flexibility, adaptability, and resilience. No, they’re not easy to teach nor easy to learn! Future employers will prioritize them as some of the key skill sets their hiring for.

17. The coming baby boom.

Brace yourself for an explosion of Christmas and New Years babies. Many of us have wondered what we will call those who follow Gen-Z, and now it is clear that they’ll be called the Corona Generation.

18. Cocoon of isolation and the loneliness epidemic.

Virtual friends are not a substitute for human contact. While the implementation of social distancing is crucial to preventing the coronavirus pandemic from spreading, the practice is also causing a “social recession,” a collapse in social contact that especially affects populations who are most susceptible to loneliness and isolation. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to loneliness at a time where the CDC is basically placing seniors in solitary confinement. Even a week in solitary will cause muscles to atrophy and many to lose their health and mobility.

19. The unintended consequences of COVID-19 will be epic.

When dystopian thinking and transformational thinking collide, great things can happen.

We are about to enter the most innovative period in all history. When people have time to think and reflect, they also have time to innovate. Millions of new businesses will be created, millions of new products launched, millions of new services transformed.

But for those who cannot adapt to the new realities of life, the COVID-19 downside will manifest itself in many stress-related ways including a ramp up in things like domestic violence, child abuse, suicides, drugs, alcohol, and spousal abuse. We may also see protests, riots, and fighting, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Unintended Consequences of Covid 19 will be Epic
Stop focusing on what you can’t do and reimagine a world of possibilities!

19 Silver Linings and the New Age of Opportunity

Take a deep breath. Now exhale. Do it again, maybe 200 times.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We’re all in this together. The entire world has been put on hold, so stop focusing on what you can’t do and instead, think of your life as a blank slate and start imagining how you can create the life you’ve always wanted.

  1. Just do nothing. Imagine what it feels like to do nothing.
  2. Catch up on your sleep.
  3. Reintroduce yourself to your family.
  4. Learn to be a good parent. Listen to your children. Calm their fears. They will love you forever if you seriously listen to what they have to say. Meaningful conversations are a fine art and practice makes perfect.
  5. Learn to cook. Stop complaining about the restaurants you can’t go to anyway, and do it yourself.
  6. Plan your next vacation. Spin the globe and see where it will take you.
  7. A time for introspection. Learn to meditate, or yoga, or just sit quietly and listen to the sounds of life.
  8. Go on a hike. While most gyms are closed, this is a great time to improve yourself physically and emotionally.
  9. Volunteer to help a friend, or a nonprofit, or a community group.
  10. Take an online course, or two, or twelve.
  11. Take up gardening.
  12. Create an online business.
  13. Launch a movement, a cause, and learn the tools for making it happen.
  14. Pick up a new hobby.
  15. Write the book you’ve always wanted to write.
  16. Write a movie script, a Broadway play, lyrics for a song, a business plan, or your own memoirs. But whatever niche you choose, just keep writing.
  17. Create your own channel. Whether it’s a YouTube channel, TikTok channel, Instagram channel, Patreon channel or something else, your legacy is calling you.
  18. Make a conscious effort to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
  19. Plan something big. Don’t let the walls that held you captive in the past determine the freedom you have to work with in the future.
  20. Catch up on old episodes of the Futurati Podcast.
Futurist Speaker Thomas Frey Blog: Coronavirus Opportunity To Reinvent Yourself
This is a golden opportunity to reinvent yourself. How will the “new you” be different from the “old you?”

Final Thoughts

As a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s virtually everyone knew about quicksand. For filmmakers it was the perfect recipe for excitement. Create a pool of water, thicken it with oatmeal, and add pieces of floating cork

Viewers were instantly gripped by the panic of “we’re sinking!” Can our heroes possibly escape this life-threatening situation before it’s too late?

Nearly every movie and television show during my childhood had a scene where someone important ran into quicksand, and we all got to know the rules for surviving it quite well.

But quicksand is far less of a threat than we were led to believe. Studies have found it is impossible to be completely submerged in quicksand because humans are less dense than quicksand and a person will only sink to their waist or chest before they begin to float.

For most kids, quicksand was a source of ongoing nightmares because it occupied a disproportionate chuck of our brain power.

Quicksand is an interesting analogy for what the coronavirus hysteria has been feeling like. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We are entering the golden age of opportunity. This will become a turning point in everyone’s lives.

COVID-19 will accelerate our digital lives, so we should begin to think in terms of unlimited possibilities. It’s offering us time to seriously reinvent every aspect of modern living.

It’s our time to help those in need, connect with old friends, forge new relationships, and clean up old to-do lists.

Knowing this, how will you use this opportunity to change your life and the lives of others?

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19 Startling Covid Trends and 19 Golden Covid Opportunities Emerging from the Chaos

by | Mar 20, 2020 | Futurist Thomas Frey Insights

I was thoroughly intrigued when I found out the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado was offering a degree in asteroid mining.

Yes, the idea of extracting water, oxygen, minerals, and metals from an asteroid sounds like science fiction to most people, but it’s not that far away.  In fact, Colorado School of Mines’ newly launched “Space Resources” program will help people get in on the ground floor.

After thinking about the proactive nature of this approach, it became abundantly clear how backward thinking most colleges have become.

When colleges decide on a new degree program, they must first recruit instructors, create a new curriculum, and attract students. As a result, the talent churned out of these newly minted programs is the product of a 6-7 year pipeline.

For this reason, anticipatory-thinking institutions really need to be setting their sights on what business and industries will need 7-10 years from now.

The Risk-Averse Nature of Education

When Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen released his best-selling book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, his core message that disruptive change is the path to success, was only partially embraced by higher education.

While many were experimenting with MOOCs and smart whiteboards, changes in the subject matter of their courses still evolved at the traditional pace of discovery.

This is not to say colleges are not innovative. Rather, the demands of today’s emerging tech environment are forcing business and industries to shift into an entirely new gear. And that most definitely includes our academic institutions.

From a management perspective, it’s far easier to oversee a contained system where all variables are constrained. But during times of change, we tend to give far more power to the “unleashers,” who are determined to test the status quo and release ideas and trial balloons to see what works.

For this reason, managers and creatives often find themselves on opposing sides, and the winners of these warring factions often determine what we as consumers see as the resulting ripples of change.

Offering Pilot Programs

When Facebook bought Oculus Rift in March 2014 for $2 billion, the job boards went crazy, as there was an instant uptick in the demand for VR designers, engineers, and experience creators. But no one was teaching VR, and certainly not the Oculus Rift version of it.

Colleges have a long history of being blindsided by new technologies:

  • When eBay launched, no one was teaching ecommerce strategies
  • When Myspace launched, no one was teaching social networking
  • When Google launched, no one was teaching online search engine strategies
  • When Uber launched, no one was teaching sharing economy business models
  • When Apple first opened their App Store, no one was teaching smart phone app design
  • When Amazon first allowed online storefronts, no one was teaching the Amazon business model
  • When YouTube first offered ways to monetize videos, no one was teaching it

Since most academic institutions are only willing to put their name on programs with long-term viability, the endorsement of half-baked agendas does not come easy. However, that is exactly what needs to be done.

Colleges can no longer afford to remain comfortably behind the curve.

52 Future College Degrees

As a way of priming your thinking on this matter, here are 52 future degrees that forward-thinking colleges could start offering today:

  1. Space Exploration – space tourism planning and management
  2. Space Exploration – planetary colony design and operation
  3.  Space Exploration – next generation space infrastructure
  4. Space Exploration – advanced cosmology and non-earth human habitats
  5. Bioengineering with CRISPR – policy and procedural strategies
  6. Bioengineering with CRISPR – advanced genetic engineering systems
  7. Bioengineering with CRISPR – operational implementations and system engineering
  8. Bioengineering with CRISPR – ethical regulation and oversight
  9. Smart City – autonomous traffic integration
  10. Smart City – mixed reality modeling
  11. Smart City – autonomous construction integration
  12. Smart City – next generation municipal planning and strategy
  13. Autonomous Agriculture – robotic systems
  14. Autonomous Agriculture – drone systems
  15. Autonomous Agriculture – supply chain management
  16. Autonomous Agriculture – systems theory and integration
  17. Swarmbot – design, theory, and management
  18. Swarmbot – system engineering and oversight
  19. Swarmbot – municipal system design
  20. Swarmbot – law enforcement and advanced criminology systems
  21. Cryptocurrency – digital coin economics
  22. Cryptocurrency – crypto-banking system design
  23. Cryptocurrency – regulatory systems and oversight
  24. Cryptocurrency – forensic accounting strategies
  25. Blockchain – design, systems, and applications
  26. Blockchain – blockchain for biological systems
  27. Blockchain – large-scale integration structures
  28. Blockchain – municipal system design strategies
  29. Global Systems – system planning, architecture, and design
  30. Global Systems – large-scale integration strategies
  31. Global Systems – operational systems checks and balance
  32. Global Systems – governmental systems in a borderless digital world
  33. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - drone film making
  34. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – command center operations
  35. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – municipal modeling and planning systems
  36. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – emergency response systems
  37. Mixed Reality - experiential retail
  38. Mixed Reality – three-dimensional storytelling
  39. Mixed Reality – game design
  40. Mixed Reality – therapeutic systems and design
  41. Advanced Reproductive Systems – designer baby strategies, planning, and ethics
  42. Advanced Reproductive Systems – surrogate parenting policy and approaches
  43. Advanced Reproductive Systems – organic nano structures
  44. Advanced Reproductive Systems – clone engineering and advanced processes
  45. Artificial Intelligence – data management in an AI environment
  46. Artificial Intelligence – advanced human-AI integration
  47. Artificial Intelligence – streaming AI data services
  48. Artificial Intelligence – advanced marketing with AI
  49. Quantum Computing – data strategies in a quantum-connected world
  50. Quantum Computing – quantum-level encryption and security
  51. Quantum Computing – quantum computing implementation strategies
  52. Quantum Computing – AI-quantum system integration

Final Thought

More so than any time in history, we have a clear view of next generation technologies. Naturally, we’re still a long way from 100% clarity, but for most of the technologies listed above, the shifting tectonic plates of change can be felt around the world.

Without taking decisive action, colleges run the risk of being circumvented by new types of training systems that can meet market demands in a fraction of the time it takes traditional academia to react.

The ideas I’ve listed are a tiny fraction of what’s possible when it comes to emerging tech degrees. Should colleges stick their neck out like Colorado School of Mines and offer degrees that may not be immediately useful? Adding to that question, how many college degrees are immediately useful today?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

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