The Wrong Way To Prepare for (An Unpredictable) Future

Kenneth Harry Olsen was born on February 20th, 1926
He began his career working in a machine shop and fixing radios in his basement as a child gave him the reputation of a genius.
Olsen then went to study electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a BS in 1950
In 1957, Olsen and an MIT colleague, Harlan Anderson, decided to start their own company.
They started the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), a business that became one of the most successful companies between the 1960s and 1980s,
I mean, in 1986, Fortune Magazine named Olsen “America’s most successful entrepreneur”, to tell you how successful he was.
And since we all love to listen to successful people, in the year 1977, Ken Olsen was invited to speak at the World Future Society.
While talking, this is what Olsen said about computers………
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”.
Olsen probably thought we’ll never have a future of personal computers but today we have more than 2 BILLION PC in the world.
Though Ken Olsen later alleged that he was quoted out of context but think about this;
One of the ways people prepare for the future is by trying to know what the world would look like, at least in the next 10 years.
That’s why blog posts like these are popular;

After reading the blog posts, we also turn to the geniuses among us.
This guy;×1400/filters:format(jpeg)/ this guy,×720/match/image.jpg or anyone who uses glasses;×396/1400×1050/filters:focal(0x104:438×396):format(jpeg)/
If you think about it, it sounds good.
I mean, if I can know the skills and the businesses that will be in vogue in the next ten years, I can prepare myself and that can make me rich or successful.
Nobody knows what the next 5 years would look like, not even the smartest people among us. (editor should take the images of the above people and cross it X one after another, fast)
Yes, some experts can guess.
They can predict and even sometimes a few of their predictions may come true but that’s because even a broken clock is correct twice every day.
In the real sense of it, none of us knows what the next 10 years would look like, so you can’t prepare for your future by trying to figure out what the world would look like, which technologies would be in use or what people would want to buy in the next 10 years.
Forget all the noise about Bitcoin, Artificial Intelligence, or other technological predictions.
A few legislations, newer technologies, or new inventions can alter anything and everything so it’s not a good idea to plan for your future based on what is likely to change.
Instead, the best way to prepare for your future is to think about things that WILL NOT change in the next 10-20 years.
Every industry has things that would not change and things that are likely to change.
People who are highly skilled in things that would remain constant will always win, regardless of what changes.
I’ll give you some examples.
Because I’ve built one of the most successful YouTube channels in the world and I refuse to use other social networks, one of my friends asked me, “What if YouTube disappears tomorrow?” and that’s a good question.
But this is how I think about it;
In the content creation industry, we have Constants and Variables (if that’s the best way to say it)

I mean, we have things that can change anytime and things that will not change in the next 10 years.
Now, let’s assume that you’re a content creator

This are things that can change anytime;
YouTube, Facebook, or any platform you’re using can die anytime
The quality of content that the audience appreciate can increase overtime
Artificial intelligence or other technologies can change the way we consume content
Now let’s look at the Constants, the things that are not likely to change in the next 10 years.
The democraticalisation of media
By this I mean, we can never go back to the era of TV or state-controlled media (except you relocate to China or North Korea). This means, there will still be a platform for individuals to express themselves in the next 10 years
The ability to communicate effectively will still rank high among the skills any content creator needs
Storytelling will still be a great communication tool
Nigerians would still be stereotyped and nobody would consume their content online. Hahahahaha…
Ok, that was a joke.
You know, I love to let people know that I’m a Nigerian.
Now, this is the point of this article;
If you’re a content creator, for example, it’s useless to wake up in the morning and start worrying about what would change in the next 10 years.
Instead, focus on the Constants, things that will not change.
Improve your communication skills because that will be needed 5 decades from now
Improve your writing skills because every communicator will forever need them.
Practice and master the art of storytelling and it won’t matter if YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook fails, you can always pitch your tent with new technologies.
Let me give you another example.
Let’s say you want to be an entrepreneur and you have concerns about businesses that would be successful in the future.
Well, stop wasting your time because nobody knows.
But there’s a part of this equation that we can both agree that will never change.
Human nature will not change in the next decade because it hasn’t changed in a million years.
How to persuade people to buy or use your product would remain the same in the next 20 years.
The importance of leadership skills will not change forever.
The art of negotiation and marketing would remain the same in the next 20 years even if the technologies and mediums we use change.
For example, this is one of the best books I ever read about marketing;
Guess what?
It was published in the year 1923 (emphasis), almost 100 years ago (emphasis) when there was no internet, no mobile phone, or even Television, and today, the marketing and advertising lessons in this book are still as useful as it was 100 years ago.
This is another book that has helped my career more than most books but it was published in the year 1915, 106 years ago and the lessons in the book are still valid today.
The point I’m making here is simple;
You can’t plan your future on predictions about what skills and products would be needed in the future because no human knows what the next 10 years would look like.
For example, in the year 1881, an electrical exhibition was organized in Paris to display the advances in electrical technology.
Between August 15, 1881, and November 15, 1881 inventors from the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, as well as from France were at the Paris Exhibition to show the power of electricity.
But when a professor heard about that exhibition, this is what he said, “When the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of electricity”
The professor’s name is Erasmus Wilson and he was a professor at the Oxford University

In the year 1895, Lord Kelvin, a British mathematician and physicist who was also the president of the British Royal Society said, “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
In the year 1916, Charlie Chaplin, who was an actor, a producer, director, and studio founder said, “The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.”

In the year 1878, Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer of British Post Office said, “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.”

In the year in 1955, the New York Times published the words of Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp.;
“Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years.”

In the year 1922, a 20th Century celebrity inventor with many inventions and accomplishments to his name, Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske, invented the Fiske Reading Machine×1000/920×0/filters:focal(0x0:1600×1000):format(webp):no_upscale()/ , everybody, including Scientific America thought that invention was going to change the world.
No. it doesn’t because nobody used it.

On December 1, 1903, Captain Charles Williamson’s patented “Apparatus for Submarine Work.”
It was called The submarine tube and many people thought it was a miracle, but it became a failed invention.
Look at this guy;
His name is Dean Kamen and he’s one of the smartest humans ever to live.
If you don’t believe me, check this out….. Kamen holds over 1,000 patents.
He’s a great inventor and when in the year 2001 he invented this machine, , everyone said this is another electricity.
He called it Segway and got even some of the smartest people in our world to approve his idea.
Steve Jobs said, it was as big as the personal computer
Jeff Bezos rode on it And later said, it’s one of the most famous and anticipated product introductions of all time.
But then, the American president wanted to try the product and this happened;×432/skynews-segway-george-w-bush_5021443.jpg?20200624121709
The old man fell.
Then, this , this
and this
An invention that some of the smartest people said would be as big as electricity and the personal computer became a failure.
One simple thing I want to show you with all these stories is that; none of us can predict the future so you can’t plan for the future based on what would change.
The best way to plan for the future is to ask yourself,

“What would remain the same in the next 10 years?” and focus on those.
Study human nature and human psychology because that knowledge would always be useful, regardless of technological changes.
The need for creativity and constant learning will always be useful.
Public speaking is a skill humans will always need to forge ahead regardless of how different the world changes.
Sit down and make a list of 5 things that will remain constant in your industry.
Then learn and practice those skills and you’ll always win, regardless of technological changes.
Peter Drucker said, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights”
Thanks for reading.
I’m Steve Courage

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