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I just remembered about this article; Real Estate Australia (the national association for realtors) interviewed me about future real estate trends. You can find the original article here.

6 ways the real estate game will be different in 2045
by REA , 26 JUN 2014

future

If you view the current trends towards technology, private sales, and other disruptors as a threat, you are in the wrong frame of mind. Some people see a trend and consider it a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity.

Close your eyes for a minute and just imagine how modern life, and modern real estate would look like to your old boss in 1985… (That is if you had a boss in the ‘80s, or were even born…)

While this new world of connectivity makes perfect sense now, much of the way we live, and the way we buy things for example, would have seemed absurd back then. Considering we’re still living in an age of paper rental applications, the real estate industry is often a late adopter when it comes to new technology. Sure, we’ve made some fundamental reforms over the last decade, with agencies embracing online profiles, mobile apps, and online lead generation. However, the industry is expected to undergo some major shifts in coming years.

The point is, agents need to be not only keeping up with tech trends but staying ahead of them. We speak to one of the world’s most famous futurists Jim Carroll and ask what the industry should expect over the next 30 years? Prepare to suspend your disbelief and your sense of what is possible…

1. Agents in jeopardy?

When asked whether the role of the real estate agent was in jeopardy, Carroll remains non-committal. “Will more clients opt to use private means of purchasing and selling property? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the agent.” Adaptation is the name of the game, with Carroll saying: “If you view the current trends towards technology, private sales, and other disruptors as a threat, you are in the wrong frame of mind. Some people see a trend and consider it a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity. Your frame of mind on how the business is changing will define how you will reinvent yourself to turn it into opportunity.”

2. Farms in the sky?

The way future cities are developed (i.e. increasing urbanisation, higher density housing) will affect the real estate game, and Carroll brings up one of the major trends he perceives affecting real estate in the future: “Vertical Farming. My research tells me that 21st century farming infrastructure will involve towers – 25, 50, 100 storeys – that are dedicated to crop production. Why? Year-round crop production and increased productivity – 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, there are no crop failures, and it adds energy back into the grid. Already there are 800 million practicing urban agriculture called ‘city-farmers’ according to UN statistics. So yes, cities are going to change. And real estate agents should be ready to sell farming listings in the middle of a city.”

3. Your patch of dirt?

Carroll denies that property ownership will become an unaffordable fantasy for much of the middle class in 2045. “A patio, a cold beer, and kids: It’s a dream for everyone. It always will be. People aspire to space. The space may change, the method to buy it, but the fantasy won’t.”

4. Suburgatory?

What will become of suburbs – will they continue to expand, or fall into slow decline, much like many shopping malls? “I heard this question 20 years ago. People change, design changes, and right now, there is some kid in a garage somewhere defining the suburb of the future. I have no idea what that kid is thinking, other than that her mind is wired unlike mine. She’s grown up in a world with Internet 24 hours a day. They will reshape the world – and their neighborhood – in their image.”

5. Senior housing?

In residential real estate, Carroll argues senior housing will be “one of the dominant trends”. “People are living longer,” he says. “The typical baby born in western society today will live to be 100. Longevity for a part of the population is one of the challenges of our time. Society won’t be able to build all the seniors homes required; and so they will live at home. Technology will lead to “bio-connectivity. Hospitals going virtual – a doctor will be able to monitor non critical care senior patients from afar using connected medical devices.”

6. The constants?

It’s easy to look around and wonder what elements of the business will disappear or lose relevance. Will open for inspections, auctions, or cold calling go the way of the fax machine? Carroll argues that while the minutiae of the business will undoubtedly change, the core elements will remain unchanged. In other words, “People matter. People will always matter. Trust, reliance, reputation. Keep that, and you’ve got what matters. But only if you are open to the future.”

A quick article from a quick interview over at Property Biz Canada, about a keynote that I did last week for the Building Owners and Managers Association.
future-of-retail1

Jim Carroll has seen the future of retail – and it will be vastly different from today’s environment.

The Mississauga-based futurist has just returned from a trip to the United States, where he spends much of his time consulting with clients and on speaking engagements. While south of the border, Carroll said he found out that retail giant Amazon.com is in the midst of setting up infrastructure that will allow the company to provide same-day delivery to 50 per cent of the U.S. population.

Walmart, Google and, closer to home, Canada Post are planning to provide the same kind of service. “That has pretty big and profound implications on the retail space,” Carroll said in a phone interview.

It’s these types of insights that Carroll will share in Halifax as part of BOMEX 2013, the annual conference and trade show of the Building Owners & Managers Association. Some 300 delegates from across Canada are expected to attend the Oct 1-3 conference.

Carroll is one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. Business Week magazine cites him as a top source for creative insight, while Fortune frequently covers his observations.

The author, columnist and media commentator focuses on linking trends to innovation and creativity. He has a 20-year track record in providing direct, independence guidance to a diverse, global client base.

Keynote to cover retail and workplace trends

Carroll said he was recently with one client, a global retailer, who told him they believe fashion retail stores will evolve into showrooms where they don’t necessarily stock all the inventory. Instead, clothes will be ordered through sophisticated band-end logistics systems supporting their online shopping technology with consumers receiving same-day delivery.

“I’m going to get into stuff like that,” Carroll said of the upcoming conference, where he will discuss where the workforce is headed and how it might contract and expand, what happens when intelligent technology comes to the building space and other trends on what it means to the building managers and owners of the future.

For the first time in 20 years, I’ve taken an entire summer off. In that, I chose not to undertake any keynotes or corporate off sites; nor did I choose to write a book; or do other things related to work (other than attempting to manage conference calls with various clients and of course, prep work for upcoming autumn events)…..

Golf2013

I almost aced the 11th hole one day — shot a driver 180 yards into the wind. It started left, curled right, hit the green, and just rolled up near the hole!

Instead, I golfed, spent time with my family, undertook epic bike rides — and, well, golfed!

But that’s quickly coming to an end. Today, I had a day away from golf in order to buy airline tickets for my upcoming autumn 2013 keynotes.

It’s a busy autumn, with trips to Orlando, Boston, Hartford, Athens (Greece), Phoenix (x2), Albuquerque, Denver, Montreal, Aspen, Philly (x2), Chicago (x2), Cabo San Lucas, Halifax, Atlantic City, New Orleans … did I mention I am completely and solidly booked until 2014? And we seem to be turning way 5 to 10 inquiries each DAY for events September 2013 to December 2013!

Who am I speaking to this fall? A wide range of groups, ranging from The 2013 Enterprise Network Conference, the 2013 LIMRA 2013 Group and Worksite Benefits Conference , a corporate event for Black & Veatch, Highland Capital Brokerage, The American Medical Group Association, the Building Owners and Managers (BOMEX) Association, Verizon, the Electronics Representatives Association annual conference, United Technologies, the Professional Compounding Centers Association of America, SunGard, the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Association, FMC Agriculuture, the Retail Value Chain Federation  — and others! Oh, and a few other private events, including one for a group of global financial / investment managers.

Meaning, I’m covering just about everything from healthcare to manufacturing, hi-tech to insurance and financial services, retail to agriculture, construction to aerospace.

Of course, now that I’ve booked all the flights, it’s back to summer. Tomorrow, I’m in a member / guest golf tournament, my partner being one of the the longest serving NHL Referees of all time, Ron Wicks!

Farewell, old fax!
March 2nd, 2011

Here’s an article from my column for March’s CAMagazine.

It’s fascinating to think how many technologies can enter our lives and then one day, simply disappear!

—–

We recently lost an old friend. Our fax machine finally packed it in. This wasn’t just any old fax machine. It was a Panafax UF-600, which my wife and I got for our home office and fledgling business in October 1990.

How many products today last 20 years? We dispose of cellphones within a year or two, if not faster, to grab the latest hot features; we go through televisions like we go through fashion. Yet this device, which had a simple, concise and singular purpose, managed to stick with us and fulfil its role for two decades, a remarkable achievement in our era of instant obsolescence.

Looking at the machine as it sits on the office floor, destined for the dustbin of technological obsolescence, I think about the many stories it could tell, providing insight into how quickly our world is changing. For example, it suffered a Y2K failure. With all the hype and hysteria that surrounded this nonevent, our poor little machine suffered a date failure, rolled back into the last century and we were never able to fix it. So for the past 10 years, as a futurist, I’ve sent the occasional fax with a date of 1910 at the top.

In the early days of my hectic speaking career, the fax machine was the “good news machine.” New contracts from speakers’ bureaus for events in far-off places would come in; the noise of the fax was a distant early signal of the success that would come with my unique career evolution.

Back in the days before BlackBerrys and iPhones and constant connections, we would come home from a two-week unplugged holiday only to discover rolls and rolls of fax messages spooled up from its thermal imaging system, each one with the details of a new contract. Yet, over time, most of these communications transitioned to the Internet and e-mail. The business success continued, but the vicarious thrill that came with the fax ringer began to disappear. We sort of miss it.

It was a window to change. My sons, who have become young men of 15 and 17, learned about the vastness of the world through the range of technologies that existed in our home office. But I’m not sure they ever understood what the fax machine was for — it became an historical curiosity to them. As the number of faxes received began to decline, the occasional arrival of one every second week always provided the spark for conversation. “Why do some people use the funny machine?” they would ask.

Perhaps the most amusing moment was when the boys were about four and six years old, and we heard the familiar ring of the fax machine during dinner one night. “Oh, there’s a fax coming into the office,” I said. The youngest quietly got up from the table and went down to the office. He came back a few moments later, commenting that he didn’t see it. After a few questions, we discovered that he thought a “fox,” not a fax, was coming into the office so he went down to take a look. I think he was disappointed. Brave, too.

Will we get a new fax machine? We’re not quite sure; we’ve come to think that this technology might have finally run its course. We scan most anything we send now; most people send documents via e-mail. The majority of faxes we received in the past year were junk. We pay a monthly bill for a unique phone number that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose.

Whatever our decision might be, it is kind of sad to see an old friend disappear.

Cyber-skepticism is rooted deep….it’s going to take a ton of work to bring people in the business world back

I just got back from Orlando, where I did a few sessions on my Thriving on Change! How to Create an Innovation Culture theme at the PLUS International conference. [ link ]

PLUS stands for Professional Liability Underwriting Society — in other words, the folks who underwrite liability policies for doctors, dentists, architects, lawyers and accountants. Given the year of scandal, its an industry in quite a bit of turmoil.

My focus was to talk about how emerging business systems will cause quite a bit of change within the industry. I once said that “the truth is that many insurance companies are using 1950s methods to deal with customers who deal with other financial institutions using 21st century methods.” [ link ]

Fact is, it’s not an industry that has been successful at leveraging technology — a 2000 Deloitte & Touche survey indicated that more than 90% of agent-carrier communications go by phone, paper and fax. Paper-intense! Did you know that there are 70 million pre-printed insurance forms floating around out there??? Imagine the cost-inefficiencies in the business.

Fortunately, the big carriers seem to have finally figured the Internet out, after a lot of false starts. Indicative of what is happening is Lloyd’s of London Project Blue Mountain initiative. Simply put, the objective is all about “creating efficiencies for both brokers and underwriters to get more reliable data on which to base their decisions.” In other words, streamline business processes and transactions — the paper! — in order to achieve cost savings between the providers and the brokers and underwriters in the business chain. [ link ]

The industry is slowly moving to a world where brokers and agents can bind policies on behalf of their clients online, and can access all kinds of other policy and transactional detail. In other words — ebiz in the insurance industry isn’t about having customers buy policies online — its about using technology to help the broker and agent do their job better.

OK, so the insurance companies have figured it out. But from every session I do for insurance companies and industry events such as this, I get the feeling that a) the staff is really in the dark ages about what is going on and that b) they’re skeptical of anything technology related overall.

We can fix a) — there simply needs to be better communication of the strategies that are driving this.

But b) is a big problem, and the fact that they think like that isn’t surprising. In their industry, they’ve seen futurists come along and predict “distintermediation. “It was said that all the brokers would disappear, as insurance companies began to sell direct. That didn’t happen, and won’t happen, because insurance is a fear-based product, and is sold, not bought.

Then they were told that there would be vast new insurance marketplaces online that would forever change the industry. That didn’t happen either.

The fact is, they’ve seen a lot of things come and go from the technology world, and the result of all these “big changes” that have never come about is that the typical employee in any insurance company — whether it be life, property and casualty, medical benefits or professional liability — is skeptical of any pronouncement made these days about new technology directions. There’s sort of an attitude there of “yeah, we’ve heard it all before, and it’s just another story. It won’t happen.”

Which means that insurance companies are going to have a real tough time making their new systems work. After all, how can they do so in a culture which has become so darned skeptical?

Food for thought. The terrible thing is that this is a reality in almost every industry. The lingering hangover effect of the dot.com years lingers on.

10 Rules for Working at Home
November 8th, 2002

TechRepublic: “How do you make sure your work life doesn’t invade your home life?” Carroll: “Having two little boys helps. They’re five and seven, and certainly they know that at five o’clock—if I’m not under a big deadline—they can come down to Daddy’s machine and turn it off.”
From an interview in TechRepublic, Feb 8.2001

“Expect distractions!”

Some months back, a client was looking for a presentation on how to deal with the challenge of working at home. I sat down and wrote out my list of rules. There’s a little bit of experience here — I’ve been working out of a home office for thirteen years, and my wife Christa, at one point the controller for a large multinational food company with responsibility for some 30 staff, has been working with me at home for eight years.

Together, we’ve got some 21 years of experience in working in a home office.

In that time, we’ve seen projects that have involved the writing of some 34 books, the raising of two children, the preparation and customization of 1,000 speeches, three office moves, the writing of some 600 articles, the building of a major home addition to house a new home office, and the growth of a home computer network involving some 25 computing devices.

What we’ve learned is that working in a home office means learning to manage the distractions — while appreciating the joy of the distraction!.

Here’s my list of the “10 Rules for Working at Home

1. Make a daily plan, set a commitment

Most people assume that you can be too distracted working in a home office. Not true — you’ve got a job like anyone else, and quite simply, you have to get things done.

Having said that, I’ve found that it is important to set a daily list of goals, in order that you can stay focussed. In my case, I get up every morning, and with a bit of quiet time at the start of the day, set out my goals for the day. What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to get done? What projects will I tackle, and in what order. (I’ve “timeshifted” my life.) [ link ]

I’ve found that establishing a series of goals and benchmarks has helped to establish a routine to my day, and has been the key to ensuring and enhancing productivity in a home office setting.

2. Make space

Your home office has to be just that — an office. Try to create a space in your home that will be your office, and use it only for that purpose.

If you have a spare bedroom, use it. If not, then do other things to ensure that your office is “someplace separate.” You need to make sure that the area you set aside for your desk is just that — an area for work. If your desk is in the family room or basement, then a nice divider or two will help to provide the separation between work and home. If you can’t do that, then set things up so that your files are put away — and out of sight — at the end of the day
However you do it, the bottom line is this — make sure that there is a distinct space between your living area and your work area. Otherwise, you won’t develop the sense that you are really “working” at home. Your “work space” must be a separate place that you get up and go to in the morning!

3. Don’t feel guilt

Don’t feel bad if you take some private time here and there! It’s part of the balance, and has to be part of your routine. Working at home can often involve a huge balancing act between family and work, and it is easier to balance if you don’t feel guilty about doing what is necessary to balance.

Part of the balance revolves around the fact that you will probably find that you’ll end up working different hours than you would in an office environment. In my case, I start many mornings at 5:30AM, take a break between 8 and 8:45 to have breakfast with my children and wife, and then go back to work. I’ll have a quick lunch and then head to the gym at 2 or 3 PM. I’m still getting in a very productive day, I’m just working odd hours.

In the early years, I’d feel guilty about not living by a strict 9 to 5 regimen, but then I realized — “I’m working just as much, if not more, and so I’ll just do it at my pace.”

4. Set boundaries

Learn to shut the door. That’s got to be the most important thing when it comes to developing a healthy separation between your work day and your home life.

I still find it a challenge. Walking past the home office door, I think that there might be a new e-mail message. A phone call, a fax, something new. And sometimes I’ll walk in, and before I know it, I’m immersed in work again. There’s always the big temptation of the home office, and it will probably be the most difficult thing that you’ve got to learn to deal with.

Recruit family members to help you out. My children were taught that most days I could quit at a certain time, unless I had major deadlines. They would appear in the home office at the designated time …. and escort me out!

But likewise, you’ve got to teach your family the boundaries. My boys have learned that if the office door is closed, it means that “daddy is busy, and is not to be disturbed.” We’ve instilled in them the rules of the home office from day one — and you need to do it too with your own family.

5. Kick back

In your home office, you’ll have a desk. That doesn’t mean you have to do all of your work there!

I’ve often found that I’ll get unique bursts of productivity by moving around. Several of my books were written while I was sitting in a La-Z-Boy in front of a roaring fire in the basement. Other times, I’ve found that taking a set of files for review out to the backyard has led to a massive burst of productivity.

The fact is, you’ve got a home with beautiful surroundings — take advantage of it to boost your productivity! Don’t feel bad about working outside on a beautiful sunny day — in fact, you might find that you end up getting more done than ever before……

6. Educate your coworkers

Working at home means that you are in the vanguard of a workplace revolution. And the simple fact of the matter is, your coworkers might not understand. All too often, people who don’t work at home think that those who are, “aren’t really working.” They’ll think that you are watching TV, reading books, or generally doing all kinds of things that aren’t work related. People think you are goofing off.

You’ll get quite frustrated at their attitude. And I’ve learned that you need to educate them. For your own sanity — so that you can avoid those constant jokes that “you’ aren’t really working” — you’ve got to carefully and diplomatically stress to them that you are working as hard as they are — you are just doing so in a different setting.

7. Talk to your mailman

People often ask me, “don’t you worry about the isolation of working at home?”

Not at all! My attitude is that we are social creatures, and we crave social interaction. When you work at home, you’ve got to make sure that you replace water-cooler chit-chat with something else. Get out and talk to people! Make some time for your own unique chit chat. It’s important to your attitude, and is critical to your productivity.

Over the years, I’ve found that our mailman is a highly intelligent and fascinating human being. We’ve had marvelous discussions about all kinds of topics. Likewise, I’ve come to know the various courier drivers in the neighborhood — one of the first words out of each of my boys mouths was “FedEx.”

I know more about my neighbors than I might ever have before, since they are part of my little social interactions through the day.

Quite simply, I’ve built into my routine all kinds of little social interactions, and I recognize that this is critical to my outlook, emotional well-being, and has a great impact on my overall productivity!

8. Appreciate the rewards

Love your job!

Realize that you’ve got the best of both worlds — you’ve got a great career, and you get to spend time with your family.


Many times one of my sons will come down in the early morning with a book to read. I’ll spend 5 or 10 minutes with them, taking a small break from work. Then, when I get back to it, I’m motivated like never before to get back to work. “.

 

I dug out the statistic once that indicated that” the average person in North America now spends almost six months of their entire life, stuck in a traffic jam.” Think about that — if you had a traditional job, you’d be wasting so much time! Now you get to invest that time into other things — family time, personal time, cooking dinner, working out at the gym. Recognize that by working in a home office, you are recovering the most precious gift of all — time.

You should marvel in that fact, and be inspired and motivated that you are so lucky!

9. Plant flowers outside your window and buy a birdfeeder

Take the time to make a home office that will drive you to results, and that will spur you on to enjoy your work!

This might mean investing in a great office chair. Buying a little home stereo for your desktop. Or buying a birdfeeder for outside your window……

I remember this spring, we had a family of sparrows move into the backyard.

Over a period of days, my wife and I were mesmerized. We’d watch the mom and dad trying to teach the kids to fly and land at the birdfeeder, and would have a chuckle when they just couldn’t quite do it, falling to the ground in frustration. Then we witnessed the unique sight of the mom trying to teach the children how to poke their beak into the feeder to get some seed — often with hilarious results. Then we watched them try to do it all on their own. Eventually they mastered their survival skills, and flew away.

It was a fascinating time. Throughout the day, we’d have a minute here, a minute there, in which we would watch with rapt attention. And then we’d get back to work.

And you know what? Thinking back, that was probably one of the most productive weeks we’d ever spent. We had a little distraction that brought a smile to our face, and joy to our hearts. Simply put, having that type of attitude spurred us on to new heights in the home office — we tackled our work with pleasure. Being in a great mood does wonderful things for your overall productivity…..

10. Recognize that you get a lot more done

That’s a simple truth. Be proud of what you accomplish. You are probably doing more than those who don’t work at home — yet don’t have the stress, the aggravation, the politics. What more could you ask for?

11. Have a laugh

Did we say a list of 10? I have 11! No wonder that as an accountant, I no longer practice the black art on a daily basis….

And I have many, many more!

Recognize that the whole trend to home work is not an aberration — it is part of a overall significant shift in the economic landscape of North America. I remember one day, being on the phone, in the midst of an important call. One of my sons — at that point, two years old — came running into the office, screaming! He had banged his finger. I frantically tried to quiet him down while trying to maintain my composure on the phone call.

And you know what happened? The lady at the other end started laughing. “I’m working at home too,” she said, “and my six month old is sleeping on my lap!” We had a great laugh, as we began comparing stories about how many times we’ve met fellow home-workers over the phone in similar circumstances.

The fact is, there are a lot of us out there. We’re in the midst of a revolution, and you should be thrilled to be a part of it.

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