Prediction is a tricky business. And I try not to do too much of it.
But there are some things that I feel incredibly certain about. And when that happens, I don’t hesitate to share.
I still remember when the Euro was being introduced. The timing of my memory was maybe late 1990s, probably 2000s. (Its introduction was in stages, the last of which — physical currency — happened in January 2002.)
I was having a conversation with my dad, and somehow we got to talking about this new currency.
Now, this was before I studied investing, before I understood monetary systems and how currencies worked. (I was a direction-less college kid who up until that point paid very little attention to world economies, currencies, and all that.)
But I told my dad, confidently, that it wouldn’t be long before the Euro would be worth more than the US Dollar.
My assertion, at the time, was that there was so much buying power being integrated under the Euro, that at some point that would overwhelm the buying power of the dollar.
It ignored a lot of things — like the fact that a currency’s value has as much to do with things like monetary policy as it does the strength of an economy.
But nonetheless, my prediction was right.
Here’s a chart showing the exchange rate of the Euro to the Dollar, from the introduction of physical currency in January 2002 until now…
I wish we’d put a little money on my prediction. We could have sold at pretty much any point from that day forward, and come out ahead. We would have nearly doubled our money if we’d sold at the peak.
That was one of those things where I knew what I saw was right — even with my limited knowledge of the situation.
My dad didn’t believe me. And I don’t fault him for it. After all, the Dollar has been the global reserve currency for more than his entire lifetime. It’s been the shining beacon on the hill. It’s hard to believe things like that ever change. (Even though they always eventually do. Not that the Euro’s in any position to knock it off its throne today…)
Chalk up a win for Roy’s ol’ predictive muscle…
I also predicted — by name — what has since been called the “Information Revolution.”
I was on the internet by the mid-1990s. A punk kid at the time, I probably shouldn’t have been. But in between me just being dumb, I spent some time looking around. And I realized we were in a brave new world.
I straddle generations. Born too late to feel like a member of Generation X. Born too early to feel like a Millennial.
I remember life before the internet. But it’s also been an ever-present force in my adult life. (I’ve had cable internet since 2000.)
When I finally figured out there was life online outside of AOL chat rooms, I caught fire.
I realized that worlds of information were at my fingertips. Almost anything I could imagine to look for was online.
And I recognized that this was bound to change EVERYTHING.
I imagine it was like someone who had grown up in a world without books, being shown the printing press. That it was like someone who grew up with a family horse, being given a family car.
I knew that access to all this information represented a total revolution, at least on par with the industrial revolution before it.
That’s when I landed on the “Information Revolution” concept.
Now, I know there were people that wrote about it before I discovered it on my own. But it was certainly not something that was regularly being discussed.
I had come to this “prediction” — or at least, description of a trend in progress — on my own. And ever since then the description has only continued to be proven correct.
Where are we going from here? And what are the implications on your life and business?
At The Titans of Direct Response last year, Perry Marshall started his talk with “the commoditization of direct marketing.”
His assertion — which I largely agree with — is that the entry-level skills that used to make a direct marketer unique and highly-valuable are no longer unique. And thanks to the law of supply and demand, this means these skills no longer make you highly-valuable.
Copywriting? A-Listers are still A-Listers… But the average copywriter can be replaced with a fiverr gig, or even a computer program.
Graphic Design? Why hire ONE high-priced designer, when you can run a contest on 99 designs and get dozens of designers competing on your project?
Testing? There’s software for that — and it even helps with the strategy, high-end statistical analysis, and more.
For example, I talked with Brian Kurtz years ago about the sophisticated response modeling they’d do to try to uncover vast new markets for a working offer. They’d identify sets of characteristics for mailing lists that worked, and go after seemingly unrelated mailing lists matching those characteristics. They “crushed” it, you might say.
Today, Google Display Network does the exact same thing, on the fly, when you have a winning AdWords ad. They know your buyers better than you do, and they can go out to thousands of sites on the internet about totally unrelated things and put your ads in front of only the visitors who are most likely to click (even though your ad has NOTHING to do with the site content).
Today, as the Information Revolution reaches maturity, there’s a new revolution afoot.
The Information Revolution was about quantity. Access to ALL the world’s information, in a few clicks.
The next revolution will be about quality.
How are we able to take all this information out there and sift and sort it and only pay attention to what’s relevant? How are we able to use information without being used by it?
How are we able to leverage all this complexity of having the whole world at our fingertips, without getting lost in the chaos?
The next revolution is the Intelligence Revolution.
The definition of intelligence is “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” Shorter, “the ability to acquire and apply information.”
Like my “prediction” for the Information Revolution, I’m not the first person to use this term. But I guarantee you that I’m at the front of a wave that will grow in size far beyond what anybody imagines today.
Who would have thought, 20 years ago, when we were dialing into AOL from our Pentium 486 personal computers that within two decades we’d have all that and more available on a WATCH? Watches were for calculators!
The value of the last 20 years was getting access to information.
Now, even MIT and Harvard’s curriculum are available to the world.
Information is no longer an advantage.
The advantage of tomorrow is the ability to acquire that information, understand it, and apply it in useful ways. And, especially, to simplify it.
The biggest companies we’ve never heard of yet will take all the information of the world (whether we’re talking health data, GPS data, understanding of human intelligence, or any other catalog of information) and give it back to us in only the most useful ways.
The END of the Intelligence Revolution will be when artificial intelligence hits super-human levels. Then we’ll be on to the next revolution, whatever that may be.
But between now and then, there’s a ton of value to be created, and money to be made, by helping others simplify information. To give order to the chaos and complexity that unlimited information has wrought.
How this impacts us personally…
Just think about this. We’ve become a society absolutely addicted to information-through-technology.
The moment we wake up, we roll over and check our smart phones. Information. Are there news alerts? What emails came in while we slept? What did world markets do? And so on…
We wake and need our hit of information.
Then, every waking moment, we spend our time addicted to the ding or the vibration… Every time our phone goes off, we have to check it, and we have to check it.
We’re addicted to the information.
It’s growing more and more painful. And getting it on our watch, or in our glasses, or eventually implanted isn’t going to make it any better. It’s going to make it worse.
The 4-Hour Work Week… Digital Detox Retreats… No technology days… It’s become the thing to “unplug”…
Because it’s painful…
And yet, when we plug back in, the information resumes just as fast as it was before… And it keeps getting faster, year after year.
The solutions of the future will be similar to what Google Inbox is TRYING to do (although this is by no means an endorsement — I don’t love it!)… They’re trying to take your inbox, understand your priorities based on your email behavior and the contents of the messages, and sort and simplify that information for you.
Google Inbox is to the Intelligence Revolution what steam cars were to automobiles in the Industrial Revolution. An early step in the right direction. And for that, a valiant effort.
What valiant effort are YOU going to make to come out ahead in the Intelligence Revolution?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets
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