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Two Futurists Discuss Why Your Business Shouldn’t Play It Too Safe in a Pandemic – Inc.

Rebecca Ryan is a futurist, economist, author, and the founder of Futurist Camp. Rohit Bhargavais a futurist, an innovation expert, and the founder of both the Non-Obvious Company and Ideapress Publishing. He spent 15 years as a marketing strategist for Ogilvy and Leo Burnett, is the author of seven business books, and teaches storytelling and marketing at Georgetown University. In Inc.'s special report on the future of business, they each shared predictions about what business owners should expect. --As told to Vickie An

Get Ready for Some Pain.

Ryan:A lot ofcompanies will go out of business because of this downturn, but a good number of those closures will have been avoidable, because they will be caused by fear alone.

I'm a futurist, but I'm a small-business owner, too. Most of us are used to some kind of seasonal planning. Right now, the normal planning cycles for many businesses are ... messed up. Things we thought we could maybe put off, we can't. Decisions that we never felt we would have to make, or felt we wouldn't have to make for a long time, are right up to our noses.

When the human body is going through something like that, we have a very hard time making good decisions--our natural inclination is to hunker and bunker. But when you're hunkered and bunkered, you're not looking up to see what's coming. Right now, a lot of people are hoarding cash and not investing in their businesses. I totally understand why: They are afraid. But they're going to miss opportunities to grow, or just to survive.

We can't treat this recession like every other recession. This is not a structural recession. This is a recession related to a pandemic. We are so much stronger today financially than we were when the Great Depression and the Great Recession happened. Companies should be reducing unnecessary costs. But they should also be investing in areas that are going to help them get to that next place. It's time to get leaner, and also to be really thoughtful about where we can play the biggest role in the lives of our clients and customers. We need to double down in those places and build back our businesses.

The future doesn't just happen to us: We also happen to the future. Now is not the time to keep hoarding nuts in a basement. I'd like to have a strong word with every business owner doing that. Absolutely keep the cash, but not at the expense of growing your business, because it's going to put you a step behind down the line. For some companies, it will mean not making it down the line at all.

Waiting on the other side is opportunity.

Bhargava: There arealways moments in life when we are more inclined to spend--and to spend more money than we need to--because we are emotionally excited. First-time parents, for example, buy all sorts of things they will never use. It's an industry.

The same will hold true for the post-pandemic future. As soon as we come out of this, people are going to travel, go to bars and restaurants--we're going to overdo it. Opportunistic entrepreneurs are preparing for that moment. They are coming up with new ideas and new ways to capitalize--and they are using the lessons learned during the pandemic to inform their choices.

Changes in business models are accelerating. The way we sold things in the past, literally the way we packaged and bundled and delivered things, is changing. So many things, like our notions of business models and industries, are up for grabs right now. The innovation coming out of this period is substantialand the people who successfully adapt, maybe by increasing their portfolio of services, stand to make even more money when the pandemic is behind us.

If you're a business owner, ask yourself a question and answer it honestly: Has the pandemic been good or bad for my business? That may seem like an odd question, but there have been definite benefits and even wins for many companies this year, and we'll continue to see them accrue.

If the answers are mostly negative, it may be time to diversify your portfolio. Maybe there's something that you can be doing that won't make you have to pretend that what's happening right now isn't happening. Wishing that everything goes back to the way it was is not a strategy. If hearing that makes us panic, that's where we need to start. We have to learn to not be afraid.

From the November 2020 issue of Inc. Magazine

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Two Futurists Discuss Why Your Business Shouldn't Play It Too Safe in a Pandemic - Inc.

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All-New 2021 Nissan Note Breaks Cover in Japan With Evolved e-Power Drivetrain – autoevolution

Although its been discontinued from the European and U.S. markets for a while, the Note hatchback (Versa Note in North America) continued a flourishing career at home in Japan, where it has just reached its third, all-new generation. Following todays unveiling, the compact will be heading to dealerships for the first sales, planned to kick off on December 23rd.

We could argue the former MPV turned regular compact doesnt have the same mojo as the European 2021 Qashqai or the U.S.-centered Rogue, but as far as landmarks are concerned, its one of electrifying importance. This is because Nissan has decided to offer the all-new Note exclusively with an electrified powertrain, the companys e-Power solution.

And they are making the move on the companys most popular model in its home market, not a niche vehicle that wasnt going to have an impact on sales. Bold move, some will say, but were probably going to have to grow accustomed to such decisions going forward.

Besides, the brand is gift-wrapping the electrified powertrain with a stylish ribbon, as the 2020 Note is highlighting Nissans modern design direction, dubbed Timeless Japanese Futurism. Its on the same page as the fully electric Ariya, so no complaints about the Note lacking in character.

The interior is said to be as comfortable and spacious as it gets, with Nissan packing in some Zero Gravity seats for good measure, along with a fully digital instrument cluster and a large touchscreen display in the middle of the dashboard.

Riding on a new platform probably the Alliances CMF-B architecture the 2021 Note will be sold in Japan exclusively with the second evolution of the e-Power electrified powertrain. According to Nissan, its 6% more powerful and 10% more torquey, though were not being given the exact figures.

We do know the local pricing, with the 2020 Note e-Power kicking off at 2,029,500 JPY ($19,462 at the current exchange rates). More importantly, the automaker is teasing the arrival of a fully electric dual-motor AWD version later on next month.

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UN: Despite the Pandemic, Greenhouse Gases Are at an All-Time High – Futurism

Flatten The Curve

During the pandemic, when people stayed inside and traveled less by car or plane, greenhouse gas emissions slowed down. But despite that, were still facing record-breaking concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) chief Petteri Taalas warned that we cant rely on the lockdown-related dip in emissions to save the world from climate change, according to Agence France-Presse. In other words, itll take more than a pandemic to reverse climate change.

Greenhouse gases persist in the atmosphere for centuries,Taalas said a claim backed up by institutions including NASA. Yes, we burned smaller quantities of fossil fuels over the course of the past eight months, but that just slowed the rate at which atmospheric CO2 continues to climb.

The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph, Taalas said. We need a sustained flattening of the curve.

In fact, the amount to which emissions dropped during the pandemic falls easily within typical year-to-year fluctuations, Taalas said at the press conference. Compared to the rate at which carbon has been pumped into the atmosphere over the last five years, in other words, the lockdown didnt improve the environment so much as it was less actively harmful.

READ MORE: Greenhouse gas levels at new high, despite Covid-19 measures [Agence France-Presse]

More on climate change: Biden Says Hell Rejoin Paris Climate Accord on First Day of Presidency

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UN: Despite the Pandemic, Greenhouse Gases Are at an All-Time High - Futurism

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To Our Readers: On the Future of Futurism – Futurism

Futurism Readers

Weve got some news. Like the rest of the writing on this site, were giving you the need-to-know, sharp and succinct:

We need your help to survive.

Heres the deal: When the future comes, you gotta adapt, or get relegated to the dustbin of history. Yet the economic realities of both 2020 and the media industry have spelled out, ultimately, a need for us to appeal to our readers for support. Because we dont plan on going anywhere.

And about our community? As a Futurism reader, youre among a global crowd that constitutes engineers, scientists, physicists, entrepreneurs, industrialists, students, teachers, journalists, and of course, Joe Rogan.

Were hoping youll stick with us, and support us in our work: The feature writing of Futurism.com, the market-moving news digest of The Byte, the latest in cutting-edge medical science technology of Neoscope; interviews, trendpieces, and reported investigative features, from a qualified team of career journalists. Weve also been polling you all, to see what youd like to hear more about from us, and well be responding in kind, giving you the latest news and discoveries shaping the world of tomorrow, today.

Which brings us to some exciting news:IdeaFront, the new video platform from our partners at SU. Itll be launching with an original library of shows and features, built for those who want to get closer to the precipice of what comes next. Youll be watching interviews with earthmovers, the most innovative minds in the world, speaking from just over the horizons of technology and science. From artificial intelligence to automated travel, from quantum computing to quark collisions, from machine learning to Mars terraforming, IdeaFront will deliver critical insights and intelligence from the leaders building the next technological paradigms by which well live.

Were excited to take the next step of our journey, with the involvement of you the readership and community of future-forward thinkers, movers, and shakers more central to our mandate than ever before. Subscribe to Futurism today. Together, well continue to shed light on the stories of the technological and scientific news shaping the universe to come, reporting live from the horizons of innovations, and theres nobody wed rather share a seat with it on than than you.

To tomorrow, today,

Team Futurism

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To Our Readers: On the Future of Futurism - Futurism

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"New Futurists" have the talent and drive to make their visions a reality – The Philadelphia Citizen

In an attempt to take a break from the endless chatter around the 2020 election and its ongoing fallout last week, I started tuning into sports talk radio for some endless chatter around the NBA draft season now underway.

It didnt work. As I listened to various basketball pundits wax interminably about the leagues general managers hunt for the next great rebounderthe next Chamberlain, Barkley or Rodmanmy thoughts were cast back to the yawning gap between the pollsters prediction of a blue wave on Election Day, and the stunning reality that Joe Biden merely eked out slim victories in states that were projected to be cakewalks, and decisively lost in others that he was projected to narrowly win.

So why did talk about Dennis Rodman and his ilk get me thinking about Nate Silver and his ilk? Well, in an abstract but very real sense, both men made careers out of predicting the future.

In Silvers case, its predicting who will win a presidential election based on information gleaned from dozens of polls. In Rodmans, it was predicting where and when to seize a rebounding basketball based on its spin, trajectory and velocity. After the twin polling debacles of 2016 and 2020, I anticipate history may look more favorably on Rodmans approach to prognostication.

Be it in sports, business and politics, the New Futurists know better than to tinker with improvements on a horse and buggy when a car is roaring down the road.

A great rebounder like Dennis Rodman honed a trigonometric sense through which he could anticipate the deflective arc and angle of a basketball before it collided with the backboard and move accordingly, just as a few other great visionaries have done in their respective mtiers:

Where the rest of the world saw books as the static repositories of discrete chunks of information, as they had always been regarded, Jeff Bezos saw them as a means to pry open and eventually blow off the doors of online commerce.

Mark Zuckerberg saw the internets capacity for changing the pace and dynamics of social interaction, and proceeded not just to reshape the way we receive and share information, but to turn human eyeballs into real-time generators of billions in ad revenue.

Elon Musk (pictured above) observed that the mid-century future of flying cars and robot butlers hadnt yet come to pass, so he set out to create it, grounding his fancies in the environmental anxiety that now motivates so many consumers.

A few days ago, the world learned of Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. zlem Treci, of BioNtech, whose happening upon a medical journal article about the coronavirus led to their development of what may be our most promising vaccine for the disease.

And, 2016 Donald Trump is also a member of this exclusive club. His apparently intuitive recognition four years ago that the American public had become embittered with the sunny, vacuous promises of Obamas hope and change, and Clintons forward together slogans, paid off handsomely with his grim invocation of American carnage.

In 2016, Trump saw the spin of the zeitgeist, timed his golden escalator descent to a tee, and landedimprobably, it seemed at the timein the White House. It turned out, Trumps tune was one the country didnt want to hear again, preferring (narrowly) Joe Bidens rope-a-dope approach of strategic passivity and measured realism.

What these seemingly disparate actors, lets call them the New Futurists, have in common, and what the pollsters lack, is an ability to observe and analyze phenomena in motion, to see real-time mutations and cross-connections across data sets, and the tools to exploit and scale insights toward their own ends.

The New Futurists may be good, bad or some combination thereof, because what they have in common is not a code of ethics but a cohort of skills, talent and a compulsion to turn the conceptual into the concrete.

Be it in sports, business or politics, the New Futurists know better than to tinker with improvements on a horse and buggy when a car is roaring down the road. These individuals recognize the imperative to either jump behind the wheel or at least get out of the way, while pundits, pollsters and talking heads are flattened into roadkill.

And lets get real with ourselves, too; the New Futurists, those who have mastered the triumvirate of social mutation, timing of action, and scope of scale and execution, are the rulers of the road to tomorrow. And the fact is, the possession of those traits are not linked to any particular moral orientation.

The New Futurists may be good, bad or some combination thereof, because what they have in common is not a code of ethics but a cohort of skills, talent and a compulsion to turn the conceptual into the concrete.

To be at the mercy of the inclination of this elite cadre renders the rest of us, effectively, sheep. The New Futurists are both shepherds and foxes; on the one hand offering protection, and on the other, threatening to eat us.

From the vantage point of either, we are their subjects, at the mercy of their interests, divided among ourselves and theirs for the conquering. And we dont need a poll to tell us thats a recipe for disaster.

Ajay Raju, an attorney and philanthropist, is co-founder of The Citizen.

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Here’s How Kids Are Meeting Santa in the Age of the Coronavirus – Futurism

This year, sitting on Santas lap could get you a deadly virus for Christmas.

But to make sure kids get the same mall Santa tradition thats continued for decades or at least something resembling it some companies have adapted to the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic to find a safe alternative. That means video calls with AI Santas, and for those who would venture out to the mall, lots of protective barriers between them and Saint Nick.

Take, for instance, the AI media company StoryFile, which just launched AskSanta.com. On it, kids can sign up to talk to a digital avatar version of Santa in the form of a Zoom-like video call to his putative workshop at the North Pole, during which Santa might putter around or answer questions.

The StoryFile team decided to bring AI Santa to every child for the holiday season, since they wouldnt be able to visit him in person this year, StoryFile CEO Heather Smith said in a press release. I am very excited to announce that AI Santa is here and ready to talk to you all!

Other options for families who absolutely must risk life and limb to meet Santa this year are decidedly less high-tech but perhaps more of a reminder of the dystopia we all find ourselves in this year.

For instance, the Associated Press reports that stores are plopping a mall Santa a real one this time inside a plexiglass box so that kids can approach but not contaminate the performer.

A Bass Pro Shop in Connecticut put its face shield-wearing Santa inside a plexiglass box that kids can approach, the AP reports.

The Capital City Mall in Pennsylvania spruced it up even further by turning the plexiglass cage into a sort of giant picture frame, giving families more of a staged photo op, even if the kids have to keep their distance.

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