The Times, They Are ‘A Changing’

 

Are you prepared?

I’ve been thinking very deeply about Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods and what it means to the marketplace as a whole. What does is mean for those of us who have businesses or jobs? Marcus Aurelius writes:
“We have but one job, to be good people.”
While this is true, we all have another job– to meet and actually exceed the demand of the marketplace. The market is the greatest human invention ever. It is essentially voluntary cooperation between people and that is a beautiful thing. It gives us unlimited choices in entertainment, food, travel, occupation, knowledge. However, the marketplace is also highly demanding and can be very very cruel. It often has no regard for whether you have a good product or not. The market doesn’t care whether you’re too tired to make cold- calls that day. The market doesn’t care if you’re having a bad day and it takes too much energy to smile to a customer. It doesn’t care if you’ve been in business for a month or for a decade. All of us must meet the demands of the marketplace EVERY SINGLE DAY if we are to thrive. In fact, we all have one boss– and that’s the market.

The market determines the type of people we hire, the type of customers attracted to us, the types of products and services we offer, the hours of operation. As seen with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, the marketplace is changing and we all must be vigilant about keeping very high standards and delivering an incredible experience EVERY SINGLE shift, month, week, day and year. I realize sometimes people may see me as a demanding boss and fairly high strung, but the truth is I understand what it takes to make it in the marketplace today and it’s very different than 5, 10, and especially 50 years ago. During these hot summer months, (and really all months to come )the marketplace will demand even higher standards– more energy, world-class products , great marketing, energetic workforces, and obviously 10x clean facilities. In other words, both the marketplace and employers will be looking for producers- people that don’t just go the first mile, but go the extra mile, to meet the demands of the rapidly changing market. Are you going the extra mile? How has your industry changed or how will it change? Are you doing whatever it takes to thrive?

In health,

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Be Disgusted

Disgust is a negative emotion, but it can be a very positive, powerful force if used properly. The moment when “enough is enough” is evident throughout human history. Disgust has been a turning point for change since the beginning of modern man. Humans had enough of lifting heavy objects, resulting in the use of the wheel. We were disgusted with being at the mercy of the elements, resulting in shelter and the use of fire. A revolution came about by colonists being disgusted by taxes. The world would not be what it is today without people saying, “That’s it. I’ve had enough.” Disgust, like all emotions, can be useful if harnessed for positive action.

I’ve been disgusted with myself various times throughout my life. My regular use of ibuprofen to combat my pain was certainly one. I was taking so much I couldn’t function without it. Another moment of disgust was when I realized I wasn’t making nearly what I had the potential to make in income. I’ve been disgusted in how I have acted towards others. I have been disgusted in how I gave up on something or someone I cared about. Come to think of it, by writing this, I’m becoming disgusted by how I’ve often failed to live up to my potential. I’m disgusted that I may never fulfill what I’m capable of…

Moving on, I’ll ask, what are you disgusted by? When is enough going to be enough? Is it a dependency on something or someone? Is it your body?   Are you tired of being sick? Are you disgusted with being tired all the time? Are you disgusted with yourself for always being sad? Are you disgusted by how weak or frail you are? Are you disgusted in how you’ve treated others or failed in some endeavor? What are you going to do about it? When is enough, enough? Don’t be afraid of disgust. Don’t block the feeling. Harness it to learn and promote positive change.

The Power of Anticipation

One of the most powerful forces in life and one of the most difficult to master is the power of anticipation. What does the future hold? It’s always impossible to be completely certain, and that uncertainty leads to a great deal of fear for many people, especially parents, business owners and investors. Trying to predict the future is nearly always a futile attempt, but without the ability to anticipate what is likely to happen, we are at a clear disadvantage—often leading people to inaction due to analysis paralysis. When the future is unclear, it is difficult to maintain a positive outlook and hope. Fear takes over in this situation.

This year happens to be a presidential election year in the United States. This always leads to a great deal of uncertainty as people from differing political viewpoints struggle to grapple with the outcomes of a new presidency. Will there be more war? More taxes? Perhaps, more freedom? It’s impossible to know for sure, and that causes entrepreneurs like myself to be very apprehensive about making more investments, especially in areas where increased regulations are almost guaranteed because of state pension liabilities and politicians who pride themselves on passing new laws, regardless of whether they are needed.

Business owners must run two businesses—the business as it is today and the one they believe they will have to run in the future. The greats had the power of anticipation. Bill Gates anticipated the rise of the PC. Henry Ford anticipated the automobile for every working family. The best in the world at what they do have the power to anticipate what is coming. Change is inevitable. How to adapt to the change is what is difficult. The answer to the future nearly always lies in the past.

Looking at trends, the assumptions that a group or groups of people make, as well as the underlying fundamentals behind their assumptions are, I believe, the best predictors of the future. Clearly, not all trends last or even make an impact on society, but an investor only needs to get a few trends right to be massively successful. Most investments do not work out, but a few “unicorns” can more than make up for the bad bets. Trends in business and government in the last 20 years leads to a fairly clear picture of the future. With all this in mind, here is what I anticipate in the next 10 years for the United States:

-Increased surveillance of the populace

-Increased taxation of regulation

-Insolvency for certain government departments and financial institutions

-Less overall employment

-The ubiquity of self-driving cars

-Student loans being defaulted on by millions of students, leading to lower credit scores and less consumer spending

-The disruption of many industries due to artificial intelligence

-Labor will be less important, due to increased use of robotics

Change is inevitable. Are you ready for what is coming?