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Adapt or Die: Moving Into the Age of the Consumer

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Resistance is futile.

We are moving into the age of the consumer. They are driving the bus. And because voters are also consumers, they are influencing public policy. (If you don’t believe me, take a look at Cannabis.) Except Corporate America is trying to hold on to the reigns. They like the status quo. They want to keep making the rules.

But they can’t. The Internet and lately social media for all of its faults, has opened up our world. There are no more secrets. Sharing is in. That means that pricing and service are more transparent than ever. Authenticity is in. Cover-ups are out. Strategy is making a come back because organizations are realizing that they have to change to survive.

Disruption is everywhere. Some of our biggest companies (at least in valuation) have upended traditional industries. Legacy companies can no longer count on longevity as a barometer for future success. It’s about survival.

I like to use animal analogies. As we move into 2019, are you an owl or an ostrich? Do you look around you and make smart decisions about what you see or do you bury your head in the sand and hope for the best?

Related: The Lessons I Learned from Falling on My Face

Related: How to Deal With the Quest for Perfect

The GM story in the news is mind-boggling.

The CEO of a public company looked ahead and read the tea leaves. Consumer habits are changing. Electric cars and autonomous vehicles are coming. This is not a guess but a fact. She decided to take steps now to be ready for the new world of transportation in 2025 and beyond. Is it unfortunate that 5,000 people are losing their jobs? Of course it is. But that’s our reality. Change is coming for every industry and the companies that are looking ahead and planning now have the best chances for success.

The debate over technology – is it good or bad – is over.

It has entered every part of our lives and adoption will only accelerate. Tech companies are being started at record speed. And yes, some are failing (that’s a whole other issue) but many are trying to solve consumer problems. We live at a time where we want WHAT we want, WHEN, WHERE and HOW we want it. Frictionless experiences and convenience are the answer. If legacy companies don’t heed the call and adapt, there are startups ready and waiting to deliver.

AI, robots, and the data revolution are here.

Consumers are slowly adjusting. Corporate America will as well, either by innovating from within or investing in the startups that are attuned to market needs. We should focus our attention on helping employees adapt. This is going to be our biggest challenge. What will humans’ lives look like in 10 years? 20 years? In a world where many tasks will be automated. What will work look like? What about free time? That’s the conversation we should be having instead of lamenting about change that is inevitable. While it’s scary, all this change will lead to new opportunities. New industries. Seriously, if you want to thrive — be an owl!

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