In the 1980s, I stumbled onto the new science of demographics, which has led me down the sometimes-difficult and always-rewarding path to you.
I was doing business strategy consulting at the time, first for Fortune 100 companies through Bain & Company, and then for new ventures in California.
My job was to help those guys — big and small — produce everyday products and services that catered and appealed to the up-and-coming baby boomers… the very consumers who were creating whole new trends in… well… everything.
I used what I’d learned at Harvard Business School and Bain & Company to do this. I’m talking about understanding and applying the predictable four-stage technology and product life cycles… following the S-Curve progression of the new trends into the mainstream… you name it…
Then one day in 1988, I was sitting at my desk, staring at the chart of the S&P 500 adjusted for inflation over time, when I glanced across and spotted the U.S. long-term birth chart…
And I stopped dead.
“That couldn’t be!”
“They’re identical! Well, except for the time frame, they’re almost identical.”
Hands shaking, I picked up both charts, cleared away all the other papers scattered across my desk, and laid one atop the other. And so was born my Spending Wave, a 46-year lag on births for peak spending of the average household.
With this new tool at my disposal, I was able to predict that the U.S. would enjoy a great boom that would accelerate through the 1990s and peak around 2007.
And I knew that Japan’s demographic boom would peak the next year, and then decline for 12 to 14 years… a forecast I first presented in my 1989 book, Our Power to Predict.
But rather than being praised as someone with a revolutionary insight, I was called “crazy.”
The leading experts, powers-that-be, and even average Joes simply couldn’t grasp the value of a radical innovation when they first see it. They still can’t.
They don’t want to — or can’t — change their established views.
As the famous news anchor, Walter Cronkite, said once: “Facts change, opinions don’t.”
The two things that made it easier for me to swallow the insults and attacks were the accuracy of my forecasts, as time proved, and that I wasn’t the first innovative thinker to be branded a nut (nor will I be the last).
If you look back at some of the greatest radical innovators and innovations in history, they were always aggressively denied or attacked in the early stages.
Think about it…
How did the church respond to Galileo’s new scientific insight that the earth revolved around the sun?
Never mind that he could prove it, and that he’d built on analysis from Copernicus, the response was: Recant publically or choose which stake you want to be burned at.
And what about Jesus, one of the most followed religious prophets in the world today? What was the response of the Roman Empire to him?
They crucified him!
And many early Christians were fed to the lions for years before Constantinople finally decided that the growing Christian religion was good for the empire (a point he only conceded when the empire was starting to crumble).
Steve Jobs created the first ergonomic personal computer in 1976, and shortly after that, he predicted it would bring power to the individual.
How many people believed him back then?
No one would dispute the truth of his forecast now… especially not with the Internet, broadband and iPhones to leverage it.
At least I’m in good company.
After being very bullish from the late 1980s into 2007, and facing harsh attack for that, I’m now criticized for being too extreme in forecasting a major downturn, depression, and stock crash ahead.
My critics forget that I forecast this pending downturn way back in 1989… at the same time, I forecast the boom that would precede it. All that’s changed over the years is that I’ve been able to improve on my forecasts by introducing new, innovative tools and cycles.
Still, some reviewers on Amazon rate my books only one out of five, despite the fact that they contain unprecedented long-term research and cycles that would benefit even those that don’t agree with many of my forecasts.
Let me tell you: A few of my charts are worth the price of my books alone.
I get it though.
People don’t like change. It’s disruptive. They prefer incremental, straight-line progress. That’s how they like to predict the future.
And that’s what makes them wrong every time!
The history of life, progress, and evolution shows clearly that progress is exponential and cyclical… there’s nothing linear about it.
But people don’t like exponential change, and they hate the down slope of cycles. They want always sunny, always up, so they verbally thrash anyone who says it could be any different.
Those people are idiots!
So here’s my advice to my critics, haters, and even you: Man-up and face the truth!
That’s been the secret to my success in predicting major changes in our economy… changes few others tend to see.
I face the truth, whether I like it or not.
I don’t let my desires or feelings interfere with the facts.
The reality is that my predictions are quite simple. I bet against human denial and delusion… and I bet on the more predictable reality of life and nature.
The hardest part of my job is being endlessly insulted by people who don’t really understand my work… who simply reject it because I am saying something they don’t want to hear.
But that’s ok, because the people that matter — the smart, innovative people — listen to me.
People like you.
And you’re the ones who will survive and prosper through any boom and bust we face ahead.
You know that your future depends on understanding why demographic and cyclical trends clearly project the worst economic downturn between 2014 and 2019.
You’re the ones that make what I do worthwhile.
|Follow me on Twitter @HarryDentjr|