Want to Predict the Future?

As the manager of a blog that publishes things encouraging people to read other things, I like hearing what authors are reading. But even better is when an author has a list of things you should read if you want to accomplish something.

Ryan McGuire/Bell Design

Ryan McGuire/Bell Design

Back when I interviewed Rohit Bhargava in 2012, I could tell he was a curious guy. This was both because I’d read his latest book at the time, Likeonomics, and it was also evident in the way he talked. Each time I asked him a question, he usually ended up folding in some recent research or personal observation in his answer. But he wasn’t doing it for the reason that most people do (to validate their point or win over converts). He seemed to be mentioning these points because he found them genuinely interesting. The fact that they bolstered his message was almost secondary.

That’s what makes Bhargava’s latest book, Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future (Ideapress Publishing, 2015), so appealing to me. Bhargava publishes these trend reports each year, but this isn’t really a book about trends (heaven knows we have enough of those, right?). He’s basically telling his readers, “You can do what I do. You just have to want to know.”

The book contains more resources than I can possibly cover here, including workshop ideas and breakdowns of why trends matter and how to use them in a practical way. But you’re here at the Book Scan because you want ideas on what to read. And right up front, Bhargava’s recommends reading for those who want to be as savvy about predicting the future as he is. See, he suggests cultivating the five habits of trend curators in order to be able to identify shifts coming to your industry, and he includes reading recommendations that will help you improve these skills. I might mention that, even if you’re not interested in firing up your own person crystal ball, these are still pretty good habits to form.

  1. Be curious: “Curiosity is a prerequisite to discovery,” Bhargava writes. And is reading not a great indicator of curiosity? Cultivate that part of yourself that you know already exists with historical fiction and curated compilations such as these:
    • The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larsen
    • The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester
    • This Will Make You Smarter (series), edited by John Brockman
    • You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney
  2. Be fickle: Don’t get too caught up in the negative connotation of the word; Bhargava says. “Being fickle isn’t about avoiding thought—it is about freeing yourself from the time constraints you might feel around collecting ideas.” Alongside finding a way to save interesting ideas for later consumption, try this book to cement the habit:
    • The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda
  3. Be observant: This isn’t about the big picture at all, Bhargava says, but rather “training yourself to pay more attention to the little things.” Examine how everyday processes make the world go ’round, and read:
    • What Every Body Is Saying, by Joe Navarro
  4. Be thoughtful: The Internet is fully of knee-jerk reactions and thoughtless commentary. Fight back by taking a moment to rethink and reread your contribution before hitting the send button. Also, try reading this:
    • Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova
  5. Be elegant: Embrace the simplicity and poetry of nature’s solutions to complex problems, and you’ll find just the right way to eliminate the clutter of your words and ideas; in that spirit read:
    • Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman

To repeat, this is just a small sub-subsection of Bhargava’s idea-packed book, so I recommend picking up a copy alongside this brilliant collection of books that can help you prepare yourself to see the big picture.

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

  1. Fun post but true! Let’s keep the optimism and future mindedness in us.