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Big Ideas & Bold Predictions for 2024

April 17, 2024 Joe Mechlinski
Screenshot 2024-04-17 at 10.36.18 AM

I don’t know much, but I do know this…history is happening.

In the last 50 years, we’ve made more progress than in the previous 250,000 years, combined. This means that the whirlwind of transformation of just one generation has outpaced the achievements of the last 3000. Read that again.

So here we are standing at the edge of 2024 wondering what this new year will bring. If it’s anything like the past few years, we’re likely in for a ride.

💫2024: A Year for Underdogs to Shine

From sports to technology and politics to business, we’re likely to witness remarkable stories of resilience, innovation, and triumph that shine a bright light on the power of the underdog.

Whether it be countries, companies, individuals, and/or concepts — underdogs are perfectly poised to shape our world. The next great success story that shifts the world’s heartbeat could be unfolding right before our eyes.

So what does this mean for us in terms of big ideas, hopes, and predictions for the year ahead? Let’s dive into the unexpected and embrace the underdog spirit that 2024 is set to unleash.

Upset #1: Majority over the Vocal Minority

Yes, I know this is weird, but in almost all countries, the non-democratic rule is far from a distant memory with more than 70 elections in 2024 in countries that are home to around 4.2B people — for the first time, more than half of the global population. There is no better time to be heard. With nearly one-third of this country not trusting either republicans or democrats my dark horse prediction: This might be time for a 3rd party candidate like, RFK Jr. to win the election in the US.

But what’s the business angle here? It’s time to think like Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s trailblazing Digital Affairs Minister. She’s not just safeguarding democracy against the dark side of AI; she’s flipping the script and using it to power up the democratic process. Enter Alignment Assemblies, her brainchild in collaboration with the Collective Intelligence Project.

Imagine online forums buzzing with citizens, diving into the big questions on ethics, impact, you name it — guided by a ChatGPT-like chatbot. It’s democracy going digital, making sure everyone’s voice is more than just a whisper in the wind.

For leaders, this is a wake-up call to ditch the old once-a-year survey routine. Imagine a continuous conversation, a feedback flywheel that keeps spinning and evolving. It’s about keeping your finger on the pulse, constantly.That’s the kind of dynamic, responsive environment that’s going to thrive in a world where the majority finally overshadows the vocal minority.

🔮Look out for AI-driven and collective decision-making platforms in 2024! Let’s GO Latch!

Upset #2: Less Beats More

In business, “growth at all costs” is no longer a thing which is why we should watch out for the “Ozempic Economy”. Although Marie Kondo had the right idea here, this game-changing drug isn’t just altering waistlines; it’s reshaping entire industries but tricking the brain to want less. Is it time for the US to go on a “less” diet? I am not endorsing this by the way, just reporting on it. And given this idea, I kept this one thin ; )

From a business standpoint, 2023 was the ‘Year of Efficiency’, meaning companies started to subtract vs always adding… and the results were stark. Facebook (not my favorite company) led the way here and posted record profits and performance. It didn’t hurt that they started investing less in VR… and the Metaverse.

All to say, where can you do less in your business? It’s a question rarely asked.

The 4-Day Work Week Revolution.

As AI transforms the workplace, the prospect of a four-day workweek is becoming increasingly feasible, redefining work-life balance.

Here’s the deal: 65% of companies operate on a hybrid model. My crystal ball says about half of them are going to flirt with the 4-day week. And why not? Look at the heavy hitters already rocking this rhythm: Amazon, Basecamp, BigLaw, Buffer, CARFAX, Ecosia, and the list goes on. Each of these brands is a testament to the viability and success of this model.

So, what’s the 4-day work week about? It’s simple yet revolutionary. Employees work four days instead of the typical five, AND their pay stays the same.

It’s all about efficiency — doing the same amount of work, but in less time. Sure, it sounds ambitious, but guess what? Studies show that people aren’t just keeping up, they’re thriving, feeling more productive and even happier. Businesses are seeing the upside too, from soaring revenues to a more harmonious work-life balance for their teams.

The hesitation to jump on this trend is dwindling as more evidence piles up in its favor.

🔮Look out for companies to streamline and focus even more by killing unnecessary meetings, automating tasks, and getting cozy with the word asynchronous.

Upset #3: More Human, Not Less

What if we found that the bigger problem was not having enough humans, which got governments to stop wasting them in wars? I saw this TED talk last year and it floored me. As developed nations grapple with declining birth rates, expect more countries to adopt innovative social welfare and parental leave policies. The magic is in striking a balance between career aspirations and family life.

JUST Capital identified six companies prioritizing paid parental leave for their workers with the leading practice of offering 24 weeks or more of paid parental leave for both primary and secondary caregivers: HPE, S&P Global, Snowflake, Dropbox, Lululemon Athletica, and Zoom.

Another example: Patagonia. Every year Patagonia closes its stores between Christmas and New Year’s, giving every employee the entire week off — paid. Their reason? “Our people need a break.

Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, was known for saying, “Every time I do the right thing, I make money.” (one of my favorite lines)

🔮Look out for evolved leaders who widen their concern for working parents and aren’t afraid to lead with love, outpace and outperform those that don’t.

Upset #4: Humans Beat Time → The Centenarian Boom

Advances in healthcare are pushing the boundaries of human lifespan, with living to 100 becoming increasingly common.

The pandemic pushed over eight million people out of the workforce, many of whom hung up their boots, thinking it was time to call it a career. But the job market’s rebound, the retreat of pandemic fears, and inflation’s nudge, many retirees have reconsidered and are stepping back into the game.

Here’s a nugget for you: the rate of retirees returning to work is hovering around 3.2%, back to pre-pandemic levels, after a dip during the Covid crisis. This insight comes straight from Indeed’s data vaults. Nick Bunker, the economic research director at Indeed for North America, observes this “unretirement trend” as a marker of increasing labor force participation across various age groups.

What does this mean for businesses? It’s an opportunity to tap into a pool of experienced, wise talent that we once thought was out of reach. The wisdom and experience of these seasoned professionals can be a game-changer in many industries where depth of knowledge and expertise are invaluable.

This demographic shift intersects with the burgeoning Global Gig Economy, where traditional 9–5 jobs are giving way to more flexible, project-based roles. The gig economy empowers these experienced professionals to contribute their wisdom while maintaining work-life balance.

🔮Because of the dramatic rise in the global centenarian population and the return to work, look out for the word unretirement and be ready for a new talent pool to emerge.

Upset #5: Mindful > Mind FULL

Or said another way → the psychedelic renaissance wins over big pharma.

Psychedelic Therapy, once the fringe of counterculture, is staging an underdog comeback as powerful tools for mental health treatment. Long stigmatized, these substances are now at the forefront of innovative therapies for depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

Companies like Dr Bronner and SHIFT, with the help of MindBoom, have introduced this as a company benefit.

“I am incredibly proud to partner with employers like SHIFT to increase access to transformative at-home ketamine therapy programs,” said Mindbloom Founder & CEO Dylan Beynon. For millions of Americans, depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges make it difficult just to go to work every day.

Depression alone causes 200 million lost workdays every year, making career advancement difficult and costing employers billions. I’m thrilled that companies like SHIFT are taking steps to prioritize their employees’ mental health and honored to partner with them to transform the future of mental health in the workplace.”

This revolution isn’t just about psychedelics; it’s a holistic approach to mental health, integrating AI-driven decision-making, remote work, and mental health days as standard practice. It’s about embracing a world where businesses prioritize the mental and emotional wellness of their teams, making decisions that not only boost productivity but also enhance the quality of life. In 2024, this could be the underdog success story in business — companies thriving not just financially but in creating a genuinely healthy, balanced, and fulfilling work environment.

🔮 Watch out for a surge in legalized psychedelic therapy clinics leading to breakthroughs in mental health treatments and a societal shift in perceptions of mental wellness.

Upset #6: Morality > Money? AI: Humanity’s Ultimate Moment

As we navigate the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence, it’s becoming increasingly clear that AI is more than a technological marvel; it’s a profound mirror reflecting the essence of our humanity. This mirror shows us not just who we are, but also the trajectory of our collective journey — revealing the heights of our potential and the depths of our limitations.

The prediction for the road ahead is dichotomous. On one path, there are those who, either through recklessness or blind ambition, will continue driving towards the edge, ignoring the warnings reflected in the AI mirror. This path risks leading to a future where unchecked AI exacerbates societal divides, amplifies ethical dilemmas, and accelerates us towards existential threats.

Conversely, there’s a path chosen by those who see the reflection in AI as a call to action — a chance to steer towards a better tomorrow. This group recognizes AI as a tool for unparalleled progress, harnessing its capabilities to solve complex global challenges, drive equitable growth, and foster a more connected and empathetic world.

How this unfolds lies in our collective choice. Will we heed the reflection shown to us by AI, acknowledging our vulnerabilities and acting with foresight and wisdom? Or will we ignore these reflections, continuing unabated towards potential peril?

🔮Expect this to be an ongoing dilemma for humanity to wrestle down.

Want a great interview? Check out Tristan Harris on Joe Rogan.

Upset #7: Work to Live or Live to Work → Redefining Success and a Life Well-Lived

Success is no longer about what you achieve alone; it’s about who you bring along. It’s about evolving from reckless youth to responsible adulthood, being willing to face the invisible forces shaping our actions.

This ball is already rolling — but in the coming year (and beyond!) we’ll see:

🔮A societal shift towards a more holistic understanding of success, focusing on mental health and meaningful relationships, particularly among young men.

🔮AI helping with career pathing, coaching and even more soft skill training.

🔮An awakening of the “sleep economy.” As we get healthier and recognize the importance of sleep, look for a surge of corporate investments in sleep technologies, policies, and tools.

Where the Underdog Loses

Anywhere where we still refuse to look at our shadow, at our past, to learn the lessons of our past. Trevor Noah’s last comedy special nailed the differences between the US and Germany. In Germany, they teach their kids about Hitler without guilt but with the responsibility that now that they know, it may never happen again.

Where aren’t we willing to acknowledge the past or our worst? How might this impact our truth and future moving forward?

“They wander in darkness seeking light, failing to realize that the light is in the heart of the darkness.”- Manly P. Hall

Geeking Out in 2024

There’s so much I’m excited about for 2024 -

🌙 To the Moon and Beyond: Space exploration is taking giant leaps — and this time, we’re not just stopping at the moon. What will we discover out there in the vast expanse of space?

🚢 Maritime Exploration’s New Horizon: Just as we once explored the cosmos, the ocean’s depths are our next frontier. AI and advanced technologies are set to revolutionize maritime exploration and industry.

Side note: did you know Dolphins can communicate, improvise and then coordinate even more with a totally new behavior? It’s wild to think about how AI can help us talk with animals.

👽 Are We Alone?: This might be the year we finally get some answers. With advancements in space tech, the age-old question of extraterrestrial life could move from sci-fi to reality. Maybe they have been here before us. We are the aliens. That would be wild.

In the end, 2023 introduced me to the saddest and happiest versions of myself. I am super inspired to apply this new me, to a new year.

Who is with me?