innovation

Harnessing the Power of Innovation

“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
—Walter Gretzky’s advice to his son, Wayne.

My husband, Todd Langford (creator of Truth Concepts financial software) and I have recently learned about some amazing game-changing technologies. We have been exposed to ideas and inventions that have literally shifted our thinking of what is possible!

In this post, we’ll share some of our favorite technologies and resources to improve the quality of your life. We’ll also relate a bigger-picture framework that can help you embrace change with less overwhelm. And finally, we’ll look at how you can profit from innovation!

In January, we attended two events that immersed us in cutting edge technologies. First, we attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas in early January. As a software developer and lover of high-tech gadgets, this event is something Todd especially enjoys attending! (I often tag along to hang out with my sister for a few days… and I also enjoy seeing and sampling amazing new technologies.) Following that, we attended Peter Diamandis’s Abundance 360 program virtually. I have had the amazing opportunity to attend in person before, but this year, we attended from home. It was super fun to be able to talk about the presentations with Todd in real-time—from the comfort and convenience of our living room!

You’ll find cool websites, resources and ideas sprinkled below within a conversation about the challenges and opportunities of innovation. We urge you to follow the links and explore with curiosity—even if you don’t yet see how you might implement these technologies. Also, keep in mind the five keys to navigating change:

1. Learn to EMBRACE change rather than resist it…

We found our two-week “tech immersion” both exhausting and enlightening. That’s a pretty a natural reaction to the rise of technological change.

We all resist change to some degree. It pulls us out of our comfort zone and thrusts us into our “challenge zone.” Our brains tend to like a more predictable world. That’s what feels “safe” to us. However, clinging to the past is anything but “safe”! Those who do not adapt will soon find themselves irrelevant.

Those who embrace change are today’s—and tomorrow’s—leaders. Companies that embrace change can capitalize on it. Want to succeed in a competitive world? Embrace change.

Kodak didn’t adequately respond to the challenges of simple digital cameras and the rise of online sharing platforms. Once a behemoth, they declared bankruptcy in 2012, re-emerging later as a substantially smaller company. Just before the fall of Kodak, Blockbuster Video and Borders Books suffered similar fates, unprepared for the market challenges of the digital age.

Younger generations have adapted to new technologies readily, sometimes with surprising results. When 23-year old Enzo Bonito beat Lucas di Grassi, a Formula E and Formula 1 driver on a winding race track in Mexico last month, commentators were shocked.  Why did it matter? Because di Grassi had been winning car races for 15 years. Bonito had learned to race in a simulator, competing in “eSports,” or, as some might describe it—video games.

The rise of esports is rapidly changing the face of sports entertainment. While just 16 percent of adults overall report playing games themselves, according to a 2018 Washington Post-University of Massachusetts Lowell poll, 58 percent of 14- to 21-year-olds said they watched videos of people playing competitive video games, with a similar percentage reporting that they play such games themselves.

Most commonly, high profile esports games take the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players (some who earn well over 6 figures per year) and teams. Although the revenues are still modest compared to more established sports, audiences are growing rapidly and esports events are poised to compete with traditional sports.

2. Expect the RATE of change to keep increasing.

If you grew up with rotary phones that were attached to the wall (or at least anchored with a wire) that you had to physically dial… you’ve seen a lot of change. You may have even grown up with a black-and-white television—or no TV at all! Most people reading this did not grow up with personal computers, much less devices like smart-phones that give the average American more computing power than a president had only a generation ago.

Peter Diamandis said more than once at Abundance 360, “The only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.” Our picture of the future is changing at a rapid rate as human ingenuity continues to expand. What was seen as impossible yesterday, becomes a normal way of life tomorrow. Tools we cannot even imagine are possible become a “necessity” for normal life. This, in itself, is not a new phenomena (electricity, light bulbs, radio, modern engines, cell phones, etc.) and has happened since the beginning of our existence, but the rate of change is definitely new.

To drive this point home, Peter compared numerous technological advances of 2018 in fields such as technology, AI and healthcare with the biggest invention he could find from 1918: the humble toaster.

One of our favorite technologies of recent years is that of 3D printing. 3D printers are used heavily in prototyping and custom/small batch manufacturing. Often used for small objects such as jewelry and medical devices, now 3D printing can build a modest home in only a day or two.

We saw a 3D printer at CES that we would like to share. It is a Kickstarter startup 3D printer company we feel has a lot of potential. They have a working prototype that needs funding for mass production. As you know, philosophy and principals are important to us and in conversations with the one of the owners, we felt they had that down.

If you use our personal link to check them out and sign up, I will benefit for extras when production starts. (Signing up doesn’t commit you to anything other than being notified about their progress and giving you the opportunity to sign other people up so you receive extras as well if you decide to purchase.) It is just in the pre-Kickstarter phase right now (they have not started collecting money) but early birds may have an opportunity to get a home 3D printer at an amazing price!

3. Let go of preconceived limitations.

If we are going to thrive (rather than just survive) through this evolution of technology, we should understand what is on the horizon so we can be open-minded to embrace and optimize it when it arrives.

Financial advising used to only be done “face to face.” When I started in this business, it was assumed my clients would be locals or people who would travel to meet with me (or vice versa).

When I launched my own firm, Partners for Prosperity, we did business virtually in all 50 states. This is not so unusual now, but it was very unusual twenty years ago! Although many of our meetings are simply done by phone, we use conferencing platforms as needed to share computer screens or gather groups of people face-to-face… virtually!

Today, AI, VR and AR (virtual and augmented realities—sometimes referred to as XR combined) do away with limitations we once assumed to be “facts.” Limitations of time and space are continuing to fade.

This year, we attended Abundance 360 virtually. In a previous year, Tony Robbins spoke onstage virtually—as a (very lifelike) hologram! In the future, we hope to create virtual experiences for advisors as well as clients.

Companies must now consider their “spatial strategy.” Similar to how online strategies built for computers (websites) are morphing to mobile apps, personal interactions have new spatial possibilities.

Education is embracing online and virtual learning. Southern New Hampshire University now offers all of their programs virtually, as does Capella University and other institutions. And while online learning has been around for some time, the technology is becoming more interactive and social than in the past.

VirBELA.com is creating “online rooms” that help connect teams of people who work virtually from different locations. Companies such as the innovative EXPrealty.com operate virtually, using VirBELA’s technology.

New technologies are also revolutionizing travel and adventure. RealityVirtual.co and other companies are employing a combination of AR and VR—Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies. High Fidelity, Magic Leap and HoloLens out later this year with almost zero latency (the delay between speaking and hearing/seeing).

Not everyone can travel to see Queen Nefertari’s tomb in Egypt. However, nearly anyone can now take a 15-minute educational virtual reality tour of the tomb—compliments of RealityVirtual. It’s free (although a virtual reality headset such as occulus is required—not free) and highly recommended!

4. We can still keep “the best” of the past.

Don’t yearn for “the good old days” because yesterday is gone! But we can still embrace some old-fashioned VALUES such as hard work and discipline. Embrace new technologies—but don’t neglect tech-free days. Remember to leave the office and enjoy your loved ones and the timeless beauty and healing properties of nature. And never forget the value of ancient practices such as prayer, meditation, and the meaningful traditions of your spiritual heritage.

There is MUCH to be learned from time-tested wisdom. And as technological change is here to stay, let’s apply that wisdom to the world we live in now. After all, even Pope Francis uses Instagram to communicate with his nearly 6 million followers on that platform, and the Dalai Lama launched an iPhone app at the end of 2017—at the age of 82!

We think the real news of technology is not how it might replace jobs, but how it can enhance human potential. Diamandis is always asking Abundance 360 participants to think about a world in which we don’t need to work 40-hour per week jobs—thanks to technological advancements that can increase productivity and lower the cost of many necessities.

Getting better as we age

There is another very important way that technology is preserving the best of the past. Imagine a world in which we don’t lose the wise presence of our elders to heart attacks and strokes, but rather saw our seniors thrive well into their second century?

In 2015, a Time Magazine cover pictured a baby with the headline, “This baby could live to be 142 years old.” Perhaps the headline will prove to be correct! Research in stem cells, medicine, nutrition, human physiology and even psychology are giving us new possibilities for longer, healthier lives. Physicist Laurance Doyle has said, “…there has never been a connective force discovered between the orbit of the earth around the sun and the aging of the human body. There’s no reason why that should occur, it’s just something people believe.”

Diamandis points out in an article on Awaken.com, “Age is the single leading risk factor for virtually every significant disease including cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological and other degenerative diseases… But what if you could add 30+ healthy years to your lifespan? …How would that change your life? Your plans? How much impact you could create in the world?”

We have up-leveled our health habits through new technologies and understandings of how the body works. We love simple health hacks such as making “bulletproof coffee” or tea at home. Tools like the OuraRing (which Todd wears) can help improve your sleep and track important data points in your body. Even simple technology such as elevation masks (that mimic high elevations) can improve the strength and endurance of your respiratory system.

5. Up-level your own prosperity through emerging technologies.

There are two ways to take advantage of disruptive technologies. One way is to invest in them. Another way is to USE them! We think the latter may be the most powerful way to benefit… and it doesn’t generally involve much risk, either!

One way we benefit from technology is by our ability to be more productive. Some cool tools we have learned about include:

Focus at Will provides “background music” that is scientifically optimized to help increase your focus.

Lumen5 uses AI to help you turn articles into videos without hiring a video producer.

Otter.ai is an app that helps you record, review and transcribe meetings, lectures or conversations. (And it transcribes up to 600 minutes per month free!)

Flipsnack.com makes digital flip-books from PDFs, converting content and images into interactive online magazines or brochures.

Should you invest in emerging technologies?

New technology can represent huge opportunities—but with any startup, it is important to remember the saying, “Invest only what you can afford to lose.” Consider investing only IF you enjoy it and can afford to sustain losses in more volatile investments. (And as everyone learned recently with Theranos, sometimes things that “sound too good to be true” actually are just that.)

Too often, when we hear about new technology in the context of investing, it’s in a hyped-up way. “Invest in this breaking new technology to turn $10k into a million!” We have resisted recommending such investments because we are well aware of the risks involved. As Spencer and I discussed recently in a podcast, there are really four kinds of investments:

  • Cash (not an investment, but savings!)
  • Growth investments
  • Income investments
  • Momentum investing (higher risk, higher return, more speculative investments)

Emerging technologies represent the last kind of investments: momentum investing. It can be extremely profitable, but you never know when another company is going to present even newer technology to disrupt the emerging market leader!

We think the whole “hot stock pick” culture that dominates the financial media is fundamentally broken. It plays on the temptation to place bets when, in reality, following the sometimes-boring basics of Prosperity Economics is a more sound strategy.

How we help clients: Find out more about our investment philosophy with these free resources.

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