For most of us, hindsight is 20/20 … and foresight is a lot less clear.
But Grossman & Partners, authors of the Zeitguide, must be wearing a stronger prescription. The cultural think-tank specializes in analyzing the present to predict the future—and then publishes some of their most noteworthy findings in their guide.
Those of us who don‘t work at a think tank—who aren’t hired to study what happens in every professional sector, from medicine to industry—may wonder why exactly we need to examine the current (and future) “cultural climate.”
We spoke with the company’s founder, Brad Grossman, to find out what exactly the Zeitguide can mean for us—and our money.
LearnVest: Why should we be using a tool like the Zeitguide to keep an eye on cultural trends?
Grossman: The world is changing so quickly, and people tend to get a little nervous: They’re insecure that they aren’t relevant. For instance, they worry that technological progress might interfere with their careers—that their jobs might not even exist in the near future because things are changing so much.
Plus, being financially literate and responsible is about understanding where the jobs are. The guide gives you a granular explanation of how corporate America is changing that’s relevant to anyone in the workforce. In terms of investments, it gives you a big-picture view of what’s happening in every sector, so you can understand why your stocks and mutual funds are behaving the way they are.
How could finance and business trends affect people who don’t work in finance or corporate jobs?
Grossman: In trying to take a big-picture lens to what’s happening in corporate America, we were able to isolate three big trends that affect all of us:
1) It’s becoming more expensive to source labor outside the U.S. (like China, where labor costs are up to five times as high as they once were), so jobs are coming back home—it’s insourcing. Boston Consulting Group predicts that 2 million or more jobs could head back to the U.S., which is an exciting development for people who are nervous about unemployment and the economy.
2) Corporations are changing their environments not only to be more nimble and more relevant in the 21st century, but also to attract people who are more accustomed to technology. We talk about social enterprise, which takes the mechanisms of social media—tweeting, pinning, Instagramming—and brings them into business, like letting employees set up Facebook groups for projects. With these kinds of developments, you can have communication between different departments and ranks. It’s not only exciting for corporations who want to attract recent graduates, but also for the graduates.
3) The new job of the future is the data scientist. We have so much information on the internet that we need really good analysts who understand how to connect the dots among these huge data sets. McKinsey & Co. reports that, by 2018, the U.S. will face a shortage of up to 190,000 people with the necessary deep analytical skills to fill this need.