“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Do you remember Tippex? Fax machines? 

We may be so overwhelmed and distracted by the impact of the Covid-19 virus that we can be forgiven for forgetting the things that were so important to us just a few years ago.

But things change.  We change.  What were you doing 10 years ago?  What are you doing different today that you have adapted to, that you don’t give a lot of thought to?  Do you use Tippex today?   Do people still fax documents?  Do you send SMSs?

Given the impact of the pandemic, how do you think your current career-path will change over the next 10 years? What about when your business or job reaches its ‘sell by date’?

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, losing a job is one of the ten most traumatic events that an adult faces.  Retiring and dismissal are not for sissies.  Starting over again can be terrifying.

Adapting to change is not easy for most people.  Humans resist change. (see: Entrepreneurs aren’t normal)

It’s ironical that one of the staunchest promoters of apartheid, PW Botha said in 1979 that South Africa needed to “Adapt or die.”  It took our country fifteen more years to actually change, but we did!

So, what has changed since the dawn of democracy in South Africa? Over the past 28 years?

News in 1994, history now:

What did we not yet have 28 years ago, in 1994?

Nelson Mandela freed (1990),Soviet Union breaks up (1991),Chernobyl explodes (1986),Berlin wall falls (1989),R 2.50 buys you $ 1 (1990),Apartheid ends (1994) …

Service delivery protests, EFTs, fMRI, democracy in SA, genocide in Rwanda (1994) Public world wide web, Yahoo, cloned sheep, drones in Yemen, DVDs (1995) Legal abortions in SA (1997), Google (1998), Harry Potter, Euro (1999), Eskom load shedding, flash drives (2000), Capitec Bank, ebooks, Wikipedia, World Trade Centre (2001), Human genome sequenced, B-BBEE (2003), Facebook, tsunami in Indonesia (2004), Gay marriage in SA (2006), iPhones (2007), Widespread corruption, daily car hijacking in Mzansi, US President Obama elected, Zuma elected SA president, Gautrain, King III (2009), ARV treatment for Aids, iPads, Arab spring, earthquake in Haiti (2010), South Sudan, tsunami in Japan (2011), Higgs Boson (2012), 36% real unemployment in SA, longest ever recession, Square Kilometre Array telescope, 1 World Trade Centre in New York, Malema in parliament (2014), Civil war in Syria, #RhodesMustFall, Homo Naledi discovered (2015), Syrian civil war (2016) …
Did you know that the smartphone and GPS were invented in 1993?

During the last 28 years or so, we had these but they’re gone now:

What else happened in the last 28 years that is now history:

CRT TV sets, (1964), Springboks world champs (1995), Bafana Bafana ACN champs (1996), Mother Theresa (1997), World Trade Centre (2000), Concord and Saddam Hussein (2001), Yasser Arafat (2004), Subprime crisis (2007), Miriam Makeba (2008), ANC – IFP wars, Michael Jackson (2009), Muammar al-Gaddafi and Osama bin Laden and Steve Jobs (2011), Madiba magic (2013), 1time airline (2012), World Cup soccer in SA (2010)…

Madiba magic

DVDs (1996), US invades Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), Julian Assange arrested (2010), Mark Shuttleworth, space tourist (2002), Elon Musk sells PayPal, founds SpaceX (2002), Occupy Wall Street (2002), China becomes world’s 2nd largest economy (2010), Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian president (2012), Curiosity lands on Mars (2012), Oscar Pistorius (2013), Russia annexes Crimea and Boko Haram kidnaps 280 Nigerian schoolgirls (2014) …

What have I missed? Put them in these categories:  science, medicine, economics, politics, sport, entertainment, business, technology, society, food & drink.

What things and jobs will be gone in 10 years’ time?

What new stuff will be common place?

US as world’s biggest economy
Things: Camera film, music and video discs and sticks, record players (vinyl records are coming back! ), payphones, phone books,
Jobs: Store cashiers (self-checkout), assembly line workers (robot), air force pilots & ground soldiers (auto-piloted drones), postmen (email), data capturers (OCR) bookkeepers …
Already gone: tracers (CAD), typesetters (DTP) typists (word processors), …
Businesses: Travel agencies? (online booking), internal-combustion cars?(electric vehicles) …

Immersive virtual reality, implanted communicators, water shortages, extreme weather, every-day integrated artificial intelligence, ubiquitous embedded IoT, digital currencies, 3D printed prosthetics, manufactured ‘meat’, shared autonomous electric vehicles, space tourism, smart toilets, blockchain security, total recycling, gene editing, quantum computing, people living 20 years longer (if we survive climate change)…

Change is inevitable, entrepreneurs embrace change.  That’s the advantage that entrepreneurs have over ordinary business people.

What jobs will be obsolete in the future?  What new jobs will there be?  
Go on, name some: ______________________________

So how will you respond to these changes?  What do you think you might do?

Possible opportunities

Areas in which new opportunities could lie for you:

  • green industries & circular economy:  eco-tourism, healthy foods & lifestyle…
  • sustainability:  alternatives to plastic, fighting poaching, food security, renewable-energy based transport…
  • socio-economic:  fighting poverty, fighting corruption, fighting crime, education and training, housing, health, mentoring entrepreneurs…
  • technology:  mobility, education and training…

Edwin Louis Cole said that “Reasonable men adapt to the world around them; unreasonable men make the world adapt to them. The world is changed by unreasonable men.”

Are you a reasonable person?  How will you change the world?

First published: 2014/05/07     Updated: 2022/01/14

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