Clicking Safe-Cracking the Future
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."-Eleanor Roosevelt
First, you lightly brush your fingertips against what you're wearing. Then, ever so gently, you turn the dial to the right. With your ear pressed to the surface, you listen as the tumblers slip into place. Next challenge, you move it counter-clockwise, slowly to the left. Finally, you spin it again to the right. All your numbers seem to be on the mark. Have you cracked it? Yes, you can hear the mechanism as it settles into the final groove. Click. Perfect. It opens.
How many times in your life have you Clicked into place? Like opening a safe, it's searching and finding the right combination to Future Fit into a new life. Mastering control, becoming clear. Too many people spend their whole lives feeling slightly off-kilter, slightly out-of-step with their expectations. Something doesn't work-a job, a place, the totality of what you're doing.
Many times, it's not a monumental change that's needed. Often it just takes a minimal adjustment of the parts-until you get to that zoom zone of the all-over Click.
You can describe Clicking as a thunderbolt, a surge. There's a wonderful seismic word, "tsunami," meaning a gigantic ocean wave caused by an underground earthquake or volcano. That's how it feels when you do something that Clicks-like a groundswell is sweeping over you and everything in your sight.
In the dictionary, "to click" literally means "to fit together," to become suddenly clear or intelligible. The slang definition is "to succeed, make a hit," such as when the older Boston Celtics player, Robert Parish, recalled the days when he and teammate Larry Bird "played absolutely effortlessly and clicked on the court." In computer-ese, Clicking is all-powerful: single clicks, double clicks, sending commands, moving icons. Click and a light goes on (or off).
But think of all the controls in modern life that you Click with. Click and your television comes on. Click, Click, you play with your remote to channel-surf when you're restlessly looking for something interesting to watch. You Click your camera every time you want to capture a moment. Click, that's the sound you hear when a phone call gets interrupted; Click, Click, you can switch over and talk to the caller who's waiting.
Click, the very sound, the very word, wakes people up, shakes people up-like snapping your fingers-and makes them aware and alert to the chance for a brave new future.
Clicking, in that sense, is about being ready to be in synch with what's coming tomorrow. To survive now, one has to bend, to be flexible. It sometimes feels like d j vu-only it didn't happen before. Although Clicking can make you feel at ease, it isn't passive. It doesn't revolve around luck (although that helps) or being struck by lightning (that only hurts). Giving you the combination to Safe-Crack the Future is what this book is all about. Think of it as if you're standing at the intersection of who you are and who you want to be. Our goal is to push you in the right direction (only in our book, all arrows point the same way: forward) and provide you with the right tools to Click into Next.
The idea for the book that you hold in your hand grew out of the enormous outpouring in response to our first book, The Popcorn Report. Judging by the 40,000 people responding to the last line, "call me, fax me, write me, beam me up," we recognized that regular people used a "business book" to change their lives.
A similar inkling came from my seminar, TrendView. Although the talk is geared to the business community, most of the audience questions would invariably be personal. "What are the jobs of the future?", "What should my kids be studying?", "Will the economy be kind to small companies?" (usually a disguise for "Should I open . . . ?").
These queries are the modern-day equivalent of the "note in a bottle" that shipwrecked sailors would set adrift. Except these come from average, everyday Americans who are marooned (or stuck) in one phase of their lives-and unsure of what tomorrow will bring. This makes sense. Clearly, it's getting harder to achieve personal and professional success. Too many of us are trapped in dead-end jobs that offer little in the way of financial or emotional rewards. Hundreds of thousands have actually seen their positions callously eliminated by the mergers, acquisitions, and outright closings in the late '80s and early '90s and haven't yet been able to find their personal centers of gravity.
Our answer? To show how to use the BrainReserve Trends as concrete formulas for change. The same Trends that we have successfully applied to hundreds of small and large Fortune 500 companies will work equally well with an individual. The Trends are a way to look at the growth markets of the future and help spark ideas for those legions of people who've created blueprints (on paper or in their dreams) for starting their own business.
It seems as if we hear the same story from every part of society.
- From single-parent households who tell us they have the imagination and energy to make a mark in society-but don't know where to begin.
- From the mislabeled Generation-Xers who tell us they need help getting started on their career paths and are desperate to find a first job. (Did you know that over 50% of the 1993 Ivy Leaguers looking for work were still unemployed six months after they graduated?)
- From a forced-into-early-retirement middle manager who wanted to know, "Where else could my skills be needed?" Or flippantly, "I gave 33 years to a Blue-Chip company and it gave me a Pink Slip in return" (sounds like the title of one of our favorite Country Western songs-"She Got the Gold Mine, I Got the Shaft").
But most of all, we heard from people who wanted confirmation of an idea they'd been grappling with that would either alter-or better-their own future. Such as a nurse and single mother who read the Trends and decided to start a phone service for physicians in her area . . . or a socially conscious grad who didn't want to enter the Jurassic Park of American business, instead starting a reforestation service . . . or a fifty-ish manager, downsized out of his aircraft job, but who has more energy than ever before, and has opened a health-oriented seafood shop.
All these strands of the tapestry of the future began to come together. As divergent as these individuals were, they were linked by common threads: A search for a way to end the frustration, the disappointments. A plan to jump over any personal obstacles and clear any fears. A dedication to seize all new opportunities and see the future clearly. One single word seemed to sum up for us what all these smart men and women are looking to do-and that word is . . . Click.
When we stared at those five letters, we found that they each contributed to a process that described many of the experiences people shared with us. Although we're not great fans of acronyms, this one seemed to work:
C is for Courage.
L is for Letting Go.
I is for Insight.
C is for Commitment.
K is for Know-how.
It's a major theme in all the stories ahead. Very often, the act of Clicking starts out with an act of Courage.
Take Jerry Della Femina, who needed Courage to get out of the rough, tough section of Brooklyn he grew up in (called the #1 "breeding place for crime in the U.S."). He learned about "getting out" in a lesson in life from his mother. She took him along when she paid their monthly rent bill, pointing up to the landlord's big house, saying "Isn't it beautiful? Don't ever hate someone because they have more; just get yourself in a position to get there." Jerry looked for a job in advertising in 1954, landed one in 1961, and started on his star-studded, award-laden career. Then came the Letting Go. He sold his agency, along with the rights to his name. Jerry jokes, "I'm the only Italian who lost his last name without being part of the witness protection program." Insight came with an understanding of his success: "I will it and it has to happen."
The Commitment and Know-how parts are obvious. He plunged back into the advertising world (big-time) with Jerry, Inc., and also plowed that same energy into the still-sleepy Hamptons. Now a local tycoon, Jerry spends his days and nights running from one restaurant, Della Femina's, to the dockside restaurant and marina, East Hampton Point, to a gourmet emporium, Jerry & David's Red Horse Market (with partner David Silver). At this last place, he can be seen on Saturday mornings slicing the smoked salmon. Plus, in whatever spare time is left, he writes a weekly column in his daughter's newspaper, The Independent, in which he alternates blasting the local administration and declaring his love for wife, Judy Licht, and his kids. In a moment of utter contentment (and supreme modesty), Jerry told us, "I feel like I've gone from Cluck to Click."