For most of us, our experiences at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic fit into one of several slots: For healthcare workers, those early weeks and months featured seemingly endless days and nights of soul-wearying labor, heartbreak, sacrifice, and vulnerability. For essential retail, transport, and factory and warehouse workers, it was a time of measuring the value of a paycheck and job security versus childcare needs and the heightened risk of contagion. And for millions of others—especially those with young children at home—it was long hours to be filled as best one could. Suddenly, our newsfeeds were brimming with images of freshly baked sourdough bread, backyard tomato plants, drive-by birthday celebrations, and completed jigsaw puzzles. After years of disparate media diets, viewers came together around daily pandemic briefings and series such as The Last Dance and Tiger King. Houseparty became a must-have app for gatherings of friends and family. (Two years later, with the world returning to normal(ish), the app has been discontinued.)
As for me, I was in an in-between slot. My work life has long been largely cloud-based, and so I was able to continue my writing and strategizing and meetings uninterrupted. My partner’s children are grown, so there was no need to segue to homeschooling or activity planning. Between the lockdowns and my multiple quarantines—on top of zero business travel and in-person events—and with very little interest in the antics of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, I found myself with more downtime than I had experienced in decades. And so I did what comes naturally: I began to think deeply about the situation in which we had found ourselves, to dissect which trends had influenced our response to the pandemic, and to divine how current and emerging shifts will likely impact the coming decades.
The result of all that pondering (and tons of research) is my newest book: The New Megatrends: Seeing Clearly in the Age of Disruption (Penguin Random House, May 2022). It is my attempt to figure out what comes next and, critically at a time of multiple existential threats, what we can do today to ensure a better, more equitable future than many of us currently envision.
In this post I share a brief glimpse of 10 megatrends that promise to shape our individual and collective futures. I hope you find the insights of interest and use. They are but a hint of what is contained in the book, which explores a vast array of trends related to culture, business, gender, consumerism, geopolitics, and more.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts.