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Finding the Opportunities and Filling the Void

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Futurist Thomas Frey Insights

What things did you do last summer that you can’t do today?

Futurist Thomas Frey Blog: Finding The Opportunities And Filling The Void During Coronavirus

While it’s easy to focus on the negative, the true opportunities lie in the positive side of life!

For most, summer was filled with outdoor activities like going to sporting events, concerts, swimming, parades, festivals, and farmers markets.

Those things won’t be happening this year.

The same goes for all of our nightlife activities like dancing, fireworks displays, nightclubs, family gatherings, going shopping, and dining out.

Virtually every activity that we’ve come to enjoy over our entire lifetime has come to an abrupt stop, and business as usual is no longer business as usual.

So what is it that will fill the void?

We can only watch so much television. Our backyard barbecues lose their appeal when they happen every night. And everything we had planned for summer vacations has been delayed until next year.

While a few things can be delayed, others cannot.

Many churches have begun hosting drive-up church services with pastors, priests, and ministers speaking to the crowds through FM signals going directly to the car radio.

Restaurants in Michigan are experimenting with drive-up fish fry events for Lent.

It will be interesting to see how the Republicans and Democrats manage to host their big election-year conventions in advance of the Presidential Election.

Those of you who still have a job consider yourself either lucky or trapped, or both. Even the work-from-home crowds are hugely distracted by stress and anxiety of their surrounding communities.

For this reason, we’re seeing some great opportunities emerging from the woodwork for people who have the talent and creativity to sync up with the mindset of those needing a lifeline. If we were to make a list of all these opportunities, it would include substitutes for:

  1. Sporting events – baseball, football, soccer, golf, basketball void
  2. Entertainment, movie theater, gambling, trampoline park,
  3. Shopping, farmers market, garage sale, lemonade stand void
  4. Nightclub, dance club, casino, theater void
  5. Concerts, rockfests, musicals, live performance void
  6. Waterpark, playground, miniature golf, carnival, and swimming void
  7. Convention, meeting, grand opening, expo, open house, events void
  8. Parade, festival, street performer, magician, comedian void

Innovative people are now staring at a blank canvas trying to imagine ways to solve a pent up demand for finding new ways to interact with others.

So what does that look like? We’re part of a very creative culture so some of our future thinking involves questions like:

  • Instead of car racing, will people become more interested in drone racing?
  • Instead of boxing matches, will we see a surge in popularity of robot boxing?
  • Instead of video games, will people start playing conspiracy theory games?
  • Instead of fantasy football, will people start playing fantasy politics?

One fascinating example is the Getty Image Art Challenge, which sprung to life when the Getty Museum created a competition where people browse its online collection and recreate famous images, but with a modern day twist!

Futurist Thomas Frey Blog: Opportunities To Reinvent Our World During Coronavirus

Joseph Ducreux, “Self-Portrait, Yawning” (1783), Recreation by Paul Morris
with British redcoat and twisty towel (courtesy the J. Paul Getty Museum)

8 Opportunities to Reinvent our World during the Coronavirus

We’re already seeing examples of virtual birthday parties, virtual funerals, virtual dinner parties, virtual workouts, and virtual happy hours. But each of these are but a stepping stone to what comes next.

1. Drive-Up Events

“Storytelling After Dark” would involve a simple stage, maybe in a shopping center parking lot, with a dramatic reading, comedy show, or theatrical performance, telling ghost stories, melodramatic mysteries, or historical tales to entertain crowds in a new and unusual ways, all transmitted through the FM radio on people’s cars. These could be sponsored by local businesses, libraries, or a city.

A variation might be “drive-up concerts.” With all of the musicians out of work, this becomes an interesting option for them. Once again, these events could be sponsored by neighboring brewpubs, restaurants, cannabis dispensaries, and retail shops. Phone numbers would be posted up front or handed out for people to order. Those attending could listen through open windows, FM radio, and even some strategically placed outside seating.

2. Competitions

When the whole world goes back to normal, many businesses will push hard to regain their customer base. For this reason, finding sponsoring companies willing to offer promotional items as prize packages could be relatively easy. Future events such as gambling weekends, train trips, cruise get-aways, and flight packages are just a few of many possible options. For this reason we will see a wide variety of new competitions ranging from treehouse designs, to pranks, situational photo contests, one-minute comedies, home office design, plant wall design, blank-wall painting, mowed-lawn-messaging, and, of course, a drone-spying competition, just to name a few. The range of these competitions is only limited by our imagination.

3. Parades

The idea of a megaphone parade is rather interesting. With no one on the streets, only people waving from doors and windows, a megaphone parade would involve an endless line of people in cars saying crazy things from their megaphones. Perhaps a variation of this idea would include a kid-and-puppy parade, kazoo-band parade, flashlight parade, or a scarecrow parade.

4. Reinventing Business

For those paying close attention to the changing nuances of human behavior, this is a perfect time to launch a new business. Virtual startup teams are now able to loop in all the top talent from other ventures, most of whom have been recently sidelined or laid off as the dangling carrot of stimulus money makes its way through the pipeline. This is a rare moment in time to think deeply about business models that have the potential to redefine life on planet earth.

5. Reinventing Funerals

– The funeral industry has not been one to instantly jump on the latest craze and experiment. However, with bodies stacking up in makeshift facilities everywhere, and virtually no one interested in traveling cross-country to attend a wake or funeral, we have an instant need for something new. The traditional grieving process has always involved crying, hugging, and human-to-human contact. So is there a way to duplicate this outlet for highly emotional feelings virtually? Keep in mind, it’s not just people dying from COVID-19. It is also people dying of heart attacks, cancer, liver failure, car accidents, domestic violence, gang wars, malaria, suicide, and every other cause imaginable. There’s a huge opportunity waiting for the person who can come up with a good solution.

6. Reinventing Childcare

Until now, most parents have acclimated to their own version of work-life-parenting balance. For many, being thrust back into the role of full-time parenting, coupled with homeschooling, lingering work obligations, phone-calls, Zoom meetings, grocery shopping, paying bills, filing for unemployment, and dealing with heightened levels of media hysteria has most young parent teetering very close to the breaking point. At the same time, virtually every one of them feels they have their hands tied as traditional daycare, babysitters, and grandparent options have disappeared. This is the perfect time for some ingenious person to reinvent child care altogether.

7. Learning New Skills

We’re shifting into an entirely new gear. Society is changing faster today than ever before in history. Once business returns to our next iteration of “normal,” we will find ourselves struggling to keep up. At the moment, it is up to us individually to decide what new skills will make us the most adaptable, resourceful, resilient, and marketable in the future. While others are sleeping in late, playing video games, and binge-watching movies, aggressive people everywhere are choosing this time to leapfrog ahead and become a whole new version of themselves.

8. Storytelling in the Post-Corona Era

Pay close attention. Our definition of heroes, success, and achievement is changing. So are our thoughts on villains, virtue, passion, and our quest for accomplishment. We’re desperately seeking new forms of leadership, decision-making, ways of setting priorities, and ways of getting things done. Our global consciousness has changed, and this is the perfect time for a new breed of storytellers to pave the way. We no longer feel comfortable with our old sense of morality, purpose, pursuits, and relationships. And it will be our next generation of storytellers who guide us towards our next-gen humans and next-gen human nature.

Futurist Thomas Frey Blog: What Kind Of Coronavirus Storytelling Will We Describe After This Covid Era
What stories will we tell to describe the coronavirus era?

Final Thoughts

We live in great fear of the unseeable, unknowable, unmanageable forces of nature.

As a futurist, I’ve spent considerable time thinking about wild card scenarios and all the ways things can go wrong. And yes, the possibility of a global pandemic was certainly on the list.

But the piece that everyone missed was the unusual ruleset that came with this pandemic.

The way a disease is transmitted is hugely important, because there are literally millions of variables that come into play. Is it a sexually transmitted disease? Does it hide out in hair follicles? How does heat, light, and water affect it? How long will it live in our sewer systems? Will it pass from mother to unborn child?

At the same time, there are also millions of possible solutions that need to be considered. Can it survive under water, in ice, acid, mold, or underground? Is it affected by radiation, beams, waves, high frequency and high intensity of sounds,

How many deaths are considered an acceptable loss? Much of the thinking surrounding the actions has to do with the idea of bearable death-rates. How much is a human life worth? When does the death rate from economic loss start to exceed the death rate of the pandemic?

We are a long way from having all the answers. For this reason, I’ve created a new subscription service called “Foresight Journaling – Unlocking the secret truths to your hidden future!” to help you take control of your life during these uncertain times.

As always, please let me know your thoughts.

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