Australia’s One Billion Animals Lost is Only the Beginning

Sadly, Mass Extinctions will Continue

Trends don’t look good for creatures, big and small, around the world. Predictions estimate that Australia’s mass wildfires have now killed one billion animals…and counting.

The knowledge of mass extinctions is not new. The planet’s flora, fauna, animals and natural resources have been under duress for quite sometime. As the number of humans increase-the amount and quality of wildlife habitat decreases.

Dr. Larkin Powell and I discuss this very issue in Episode 27 of the Rural Futures podcast, which can be accessed by going to: https://ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/episode-27-researcher-larkin-powell-intersects-humanity-wildlife-ecotourism/

There is nothing that happens in rural landscapes that does not effect wildlife. The tie between human community and the biotic community is tighter than ever before.

Dr. Larkin Powell
Professor of Conversation Biology, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The truth is that we are all connected. Larkin provides an example of seeing flowers being produced in Columbia that are ultimately purchased in places like Nebraska. We also talk about chocolate and coffee. Much of what we consume travels a long way to find our plates!

What does this mean? None of us are removed from the tragic fires in Australia.

Larkin notes that there are long-term concerns about extinctions. I talk about a strategic foresight tool, Future Users, and propose that generations living on the planet today (including that of my children) will see mass extinctions in their lifetimes. Australia is only the beginning. Go ahead and add polar bears, bees, cheetahs, elephants and many, many more to the list.

As we see the continued psychographic (wants, needs and desires) shifts in the human population…

We definitely have to put sustainability at the forefront.

Dr. Connie

We all need to do better, including me and my family. A more prosperous future for all, including women, depends on humanity having -and taking care of- this wonderful planet. The time for future-focused leadership and innovation, with a focus on sustainability, is NOW!

Dr. Jim Cavaye, Professor of Regional Community Development at the University of Southern Queensland, was one of our Faculty Fellows at the Rural Futures Institute. I wish Jim and everyone in Australia all the best as they move forward in this very challenging situation. Jim: We are here for you friend!

I tried to find what legitimate information on to donate to relief efforts in Australia. I found this news site in Australia that may be useful. If you know of legitimate places people can help, please share!

Prayers and Love to You Australia!

Dr. Connie


Check out the interview with Dr. Larkin Powell by clicking on the link below:

https://ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/episode-27-researcher-larkin-powell-intersects-humanity-wildlife-ecotourism/

Larkin Powell, Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, talks with Dr. Connie about the opportunities within ecotourism, humanity’s affect on wildlife and natural landscapes, the benefits of precision agriculture for animal habitats, the possibility of mass extinctions of wildlife in the coming decades and more.

The Future Leadership and Women on Pure Nebraska

I had the wonderful opportunity to stretch myself yesterday on Pure Nebraska with Jon and Taryn Vanderford.  I was all set to discuss the future of leadership with a focus on women.  My goal was to point out the important contributions women have been making for a long time in the area of leadership.  I also wanted to note that their contributions have often gone unrecognized, and that it is time to change the mindset and conversation around women and leadership.   It is critical for us to redefine leadership while realizing  that people want to connect with their purpose and issues that matter to them.  I also wanted to talk about their participation in the growing #GigEconomy.  Research by the National Women’s Business Council noted that 91% of female entrepreneurs are in businesses for themselves.  I related this to their participation in growing #GigEconomy.  Women are participating in the #GigEconomy  in an effort to make economic gains while building lives they enjoy, which often involves balancing income generation with family time.

Let’s just say that the three minute segment went faster than I thought, and I did not make my key points very well.   It was so different from recording videos that are edited. However, it was an amazing experience!  I left thinking about all the ways I should have/could have, etc.  Then, I realized how much of a stretch experience this was for me.  Recording a live, three-minute segment was a first.  I had fun, learned a lot and would love to do it again.

My experience yesterday reminded me of the importance of taking risks and enjoying the ride.  I tend to be very critical of myself but also realize it is hard to do well when taking on new experiences.  The point is to have the new experience!   Being entrepreneurial requires us to take risks, learn, tweak and repeat.  Was it perfect?  No.  Was it cool? Yes!

I am not sure I have been living entrepreneurially lately. The Pure Nebraska interview was a great reminder that I need to intentionally incorporate more risk into my everyday life!  And, I have to live my mantra:  Be You & Do Something Cool!  Life should be lived as an amazing adventure.

Thanks Jon, Taryn and the Pure Nebraska crew for the opportunity!  And, a BIG thanks to the Rural Futures team for your support and help getting the interview out to the world.  You are all amazing!

Go Wild, Take Risks and Have Fun!

-Dr. Connie

PS:  Check out the Pure Nebraska segment below.

 

 

Watch more on Pure Nebraska here:  http://www.1011now.com/purenebraska

Also, connect with the Rural Futures Institute at RuralFutures.Nebraska.edu and Nebraska’s Community Vitality Team at CVI.UNL.EDU

 

The Future of Women & Megatrend 3: The Decentralized Global Marketplace

Business is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer” who has a buffet of buying choices. Empowered consumers decide how they want to purchase goods and services. Big Data [collecting information (data) from multiple sources to detect trends, identify patterns and make decisions] is one tool that can be used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns. It is also being used to examine and redesign various areas of the consumer experience.

Entrepreneurs and leaders can use Big Data to capitalize on consumer patterns and demands while creating more customized consumer experiences. Data is collected with every click, and some metrics can be used almost immediately. In 2014, Black Friday was November 28. Data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Black Friday Report was available almost immediately and was published on December 2, 2014. According to IBM, online Black Friday sales grew by 9.5 percent from 2013 to 2014. Retail ecommerce (orders via computer) and mcommerce (orders via mobile device) are predicted to increase by double-digit margins well into 2018 (eMarketer, 2014). Data demonstrates the continued growth of the digital marketplace, and rural businesses must find ways to capitalize on these trends.

The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything. Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed. Many of these same individuals are transforming commerce and communities in new and innovative ways.   The definition of community is not limited to a physical location. Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, and when, where and whether or not to meet face-to-face. They are also connecting around common causes. Commerce, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized. Savvy consumers seek and create value they crave to transform their lives. Technology enables the delivery of information, goods and services anytime, anywhere, and from anyone in a way that makes sense while adding value to the lives of consumers.

For example, companies like Stitch Fix (http://www.StitchFix.com) initially get to know their customers with a personal style quiz and continue to gather information about the clientele every month by sending them personalized clothing selections. Orders are delivered to clients and customers pay only for what they keep. Stitch Fix tracks the feedback on likes and dislikes after every shipment and learns how to better serve its customers with the data it continuously collects.

Consumer demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends. Empowered consumers want unique experiences that add value to their lives. Future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders:

  • Connect and work together online and offline. Build your support network to generate ideas and get help growing your business.  The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders help one another.  I see this all of the time with authors too!  They promote one another while helping each other grow their businesses and ideas.
  • Get rid of assumptions and use data to make decisions. Take a few ideas from places having success in the marketplace, such as Stitch Fix.

Future-Focused Entrepreneurs and Leaders:  

Take Action with Cooperation, Creativity and Purpose

Interestingly enough, the hottest jobs at Facebook require a “human touch.” Why? Facebook is looking for people who can close sales because its revenue relies heavily on ads (Anders, 2014). Perhaps the most future-focused entrepreneurial leaders are blending “high human touch” with “high-tech” in new and interesting ways that holistically add value to the lives of others.

Future-focused, entrepreneurial leaders can use megatrends and technology to change the game of life. One person cannot do it alone in a world that continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace; rather, rural entrepreneurs should innovate in communities with a spirit of cooperation, creativity, and purpose. Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs and leaders can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating rural businesses in ways not yet imagined.

Go Wild with the Decentralized Global Marketplace!   Watch the video below for more details on how you can innovate your companies and communities with cooperation, creating and purpose!

-Dr. Connie

PS:  Share your thoughts, ideas and actions with the Ask Dr. Connie community.  We would love to hear from you!

 

The Future of Women: Globally Connecting in the #GigEconomy

Women are one segment of society benefitting from the #GigEconomy.  They are taking advantage of being globally connected in a big way!  Women are selling products on Etsy, Amazon and their own stores.  They are using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites to grow their online presence while supporting their businesses and families.

In 2015, I co-published an article, Become a Future-Focused Leader:  Use Three Megatrends to Grow Your Rural Business, with Alyssa Dye (an amazing young female entrepreneur!)  We also published three videos on the three megatrends I will share in the Future of Women series.  You can download the full-text article focused on rural entrepreneurs, including related references by clicking here.  The first video is below.  The article and videos were targeted to rural entrepreneurs; however, the same ideas are important for female entrepreneurs.  I made a few changes to the original article and posted a few segments below.  When you read or hear “rural entrepreneur” in the video you can think “female entrepreneur.”  The #GigEconomy is full of challenges and opportunities for women in business.

No one can predict the future; however, entrepreneurs and business owners can use a future-focused leadership approach, which includes examining megatrends, to shape the future of their businesses and lives. Megatrends are global shifts that influence society, the economy and the environment. This “Future of Women” series will  discusses three megatrends shaping the future:
1) The Rise of the #GigEconomy
2) Living with Purpose and Meaning
3) The Decentralized Marketplace

While many companies are struggling to keep up with the rapid rate of change, future-focused entrepreneurs are growing their businesses by blending technology with the human experience. And, many of these entrepreneurs are women.  Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating businesses in ways not yet imagined.

Why is this so important?  I believe many women are naturally future-focused leaders.  Research published by the National Women’s Business Council shows that nearly 91% of female entrepreneurs are in business by themselves.  They have no employees.  I believe this is by choice.  Women are working to support themselves and their families; however, they also want to build a future for their families that includes more than money.  They are looking for ways to live a full and meaningful life designed to support their families for generations.

The trend of female entrepreneurs is a critical global trend.  Women have long been leading families and communities with little to no recognition.  This trend is changing, and women will be shaping the future in ways the world has not yet imagined.

The emerging Gig Economy (#GigEconomy) will create new challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and communities. An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways. The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services, as well as individual brands, on the web has created a need for entrepreneurs to add value to the lives of others in innovative ways. People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job. In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a traditional office setting for 40+ hours per week.

Approximately 53 million Americans are engaged in some manner of freelancing, which is adding around $715 billion to the economy (Edelman Berland, 2014). Further, the number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future, causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living. Self-employment has been identified as a vital economic tool for rural people and communities (Goetz & Rupasingha, 2014). The rising #Gig Economy may be one megatrend that can benefit rural places if technology can be leveraged to reach both local and niche audiences interested in purchasing goods and services from freelancing entrepreneurs.

One common denominator will remain the same: Women-owned businesses and people need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web. They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success. Businesses like Fiverr.com and Iotronics are disrupting the traditional career and job search with technology. Need a logo, book review or video? No problem. Go to Fiverr and hire outsource experts in almost anything to help you. Services start at only five dollars! Iotronics helps people generate Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume), which are resumes in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Connectivity is key. Female entrepreneurs can participate in the #GigEconomy as both entrepreneurs for hire as well as employers. Entrepreneurs can use #GigEconomy tools to diversify their profit centers, contract with other entrepreneurs and generate income.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs:

1) Consider marketing goods and services on websites that can help you test the marketplace, connect with customers and take payments. Amazon, Square and Etsy may be places to sell your ideas. Fiverr and Elance can help entrepreneurs find help or land gigs. Online marketplaces may be a way to begin selling on the Web. Make sure to do your homework first to ensure that you are working with a credible source.

2) Connect with other entrepreneurs inside and outside of your niche. Look for other entrepreneurs (both competitors and collaborators) on Fiverr and find gigs on places like Mom Corps, TeachersPayTeachers, Square and similar resources. LinkedIn is a great place to connect with like- minded entrepreneurs and industry leaders. Many states have an online marketplace focused on selling goods and services available in that state. For example, Grow Nebraska is a marketplace resource for Nebraska’s entrepreneurs.

3) Become vigilant and creative about building your brand. Blend online and offline worlds in ways that engage people in meaningful experiences. Have some fun and let your personality shine through! For example, a Twitter Party is a great tool to expand your brand online in real-time.

Successfully making your mark in the #GigEconomy takes patience and hard work.  However, it also presents the opportunity to earn extra income along side of your current career or as a part- or full-time entrepreneur.  The opportunities are truly endless!

Go Wild with Your Opportunity in the #GigEconomy!  This is your chance to…Be You & Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

 

At current trends, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap

Welcome to “The Future of Women” blog series.  The Future of Women focus on AskDrConnie.com will highlight current and future trends impacting women around the world.  

The first part of this series highlights a recent publication by the International Labour Office (ILO).   Women at Work:  Trends 2016, focused on examining gender equity globally.  As ILO mentions in their report, gender equity and women’s empowerment are critical to positive global transformation.  Below are excerpts from the report, please read, reflect and share your wisdom by clicking on “Leave a comment” in above!

Let’s dive into the report.  One of my favorite quotes and excerpts from the Executive Summary (beginning on p. xvi) will hit home with many of you:

At current trends, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap

Globally, the gender wage gap is estimated to be 23 per cent; in other words, women earn 77 per cent of what men earn. Even when considering hourly wage rates (given the fact that women are working shorter hours than men), women continue to face a persistent gender wage gap, amounting to 10 per cent or more in countries for which data are available. These gaps cannot be explained solely by differences in education or age, but are also linked to the undervaluation of the work that women undertake and of the skills required in female-dominated sectors or occupations, the practice of discrimination, and the need for women to take career breaks to attend to additional care responsibilities, for instance after the birth of a child. Recently, some progress has been made in reducing these gender wage gaps, but improvements are small and, if current trends prevail, it will take more than 70 years before gender wage gaps are closed completely. Reductions in the gender wage gap are mostly attributable to explicit policy actions to address gender imbalances in the labour market, rather than to general improvements in living standards. In fact, the gender wage gap is unrelated to a country’s level of economic development, as some of the countries with high per-capita levels are among those with the highest gender wage gaps. Economic development alone will not ensure an equitable distribution of the gains from growth between men and women.

 

The above information does not come as much of a surprise. I published an article, Entrepreneurial Career Development:  Using Human Capital, Social Capital and Distance Education to Achieve Success, in the Advancing Women in Leadership Journal with two of my distinguished colleagues at the University of Nebraska in 2007.   The issue of pay inequity between genders has been a point of discussion for many years.  However, the conclusions of this report focused on not only the role of women but men as well were bold statements that I really appreciated (p. 94-95):

Conclusion

The present report undertakes to demonstrate that, for substantive gender equality to be achieved, it is essential that societies recognize that both women and men have a right to work and care. In particular, failures to address workers’ family responsibilities underlie sectoral and occupational segregation, gaps in wages, working hours and access to social protection. Thus, gender inequalities at work can be eliminated only by neutralizing the disadvantages stemming from women’s reproductive function and promoting the equal sharing of unpaid care work between women and men, and between the family and society at large. This requires integrated and transformative measures guided by ILO international labour standards that put the elimination of discrimination and the achievement of gender equality at home and at work at the very heart of policy interventions.In view of the implications of the economic crisis on the global care economy, as discussed in the preceding pages, international policy action also entails a profound reorganization of the relations between the fi- nance, the production and the reproduction spheres, with the objective of guaranteeing a sustainable, crisis-free and gender-equitable global economy. In this shifted paradigm, finance and production should serve the needs of reproduction, namely the realm of care which is core to human well-being (Elson, 2014). Achieving gender equality also depends on positioning the issues of the global care deficits and chains and their ramifications in the care economy on the migration agenda, as this issue goes to the heart of the demand for and supply of migrant workers in many contexts. Ensuring that migration, labour and social protection policies are harmonized to protect the rights to care and be cared for will be fundamental in this endeavour (Hennebry 2014; ILO 2014l).As discussed in the present report, genuine gender equality benefits our societies and economies in terms of increased job-rich economic growth, reduced poverty, inequality and social exclusion, and overall improved well-being. It is therefore time to take action. The following overview summarizes the key policy measures discussed in the report and informed by ILO Conventions and Recommendations that would be needed to realize, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

Overview of the main policy interventions to achieve gender equality at work in line with ILO international labour standards

Tackling the root causes of sectoral and occupational segregation

  • Encouraging young girls and boys to break gender stereotypes through education and outreach;
  • Offering training to women and men to enter into non-stereotypical fields;
  • Promoting women’s entrepreneurship;
  • Supporting women’s participation and leadership in decision-making, including in governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

Addressing the gender wage gap

  • Eliminating unequal treatment of men and women in the labour market;
  • Promoting equal pay for work of equal value through wage transparency, training and gender neutral job evaluations methods;
  • Supporting adequate and inclusive minimum wages and strengthening collective bargaining;
  • Promoting and normalizing good quality part-time work;
  • Limiting long paid hours and overwork;
  • Transforming institutions to prevent and eliminate discrimination;
  • Changing attitudes towards unpaid care work to overcome the motherhood wage gap.

Overview of the main policy interventions to achieve gender equality at work in line with ILO international labour standards

Tackling the root causes of sectoral and occupational segregation

  • Encouraging young girls and boys to break gender stereotypes through education and outreach;
  • Offering training to women and men to enter into non-stereotypical fields;
  • Promoting women’s entrepreneurship;
  • Supporting women’s participation and leadership in decision-making, including in governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

Addressing the gender wage gap

  • Eliminating unequal treatment of men and women in the labour market;
  • Promoting equal pay for work of equal value through wage transparency, training and gender neutral job evaluations methods;
  • Supporting adequate and inclusive minimum wages and strengthening collective bargaining;
  • Promoting and normalizing good quality part-time work;
  • Limiting long paid hours and overwork;
  • Transforming institutions to prevent and eliminate discrimination;
  • Changing attitudes towards unpaid care work to overcome the motherhood wage gap.

Implementing a comprehensive framework to achieve the harmonization of work and family responsibilities

  • Providing maternity protection to all women according to international labour standards;
  • Guaranteeing adequate social protection to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work;
  • Ensuring the provision of basic infrastructure, in particular in rural areas;
  • Implementing gender-transformative leave policies: increasing leave entitlements for fathers and boosting their take-up rates;
  • Making quality early childhood care and education a universal right;
  • Creating and protecting quality jobs in the care economy;
  • Promoting decent work for care professionals, including domestic and migrant workers;
  • Extending long-term care coverage for older persons;
  • Promoting family-friendly flexible working arrangements;
  • Encouraging individual income taxation to increase women’s labour force participation;
  • Offering work reintegration measures.

This report goes into great depth on a number of topics.  I have only highlighted a few on this post.  If you are interested in the details, please download the full report, Women at Work:  Trends 2016, directly from the ILO’s website.   

Why is this information and The Future of Women series important to women over 40?  Women over 40 have had many of the experiences this report highlights.  We have experienced lower pay for equal work, we have put up with inappropriate comments and we have knowledge about what it takes to balance work, family and everything else we have going on in our lives.   We also have the opportunity to make work and life better for younger women, men and families.  Women over 40 are leading massive change and reform globally, and together we can do more to shape the future!
Please share your leadership reflections, insights and experiences by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button at the beginning of this post!  
Go Wild with the Future of Women!
-Dr. Connie
 
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Growing Trends: The Rise of Good Bacteria and the Demise of Shampoo?

As creative entrepreneurs and innovators continue to embrace the “natural ingredients and fewer chemicals” trend, we may be soon be talking about using shampoo “way back when”….

 

I just love it when people embrace, “Be You & Do Something Cool!”

Go Wild and Innovate with Purpose, Passion & Fun!

-Dr. Connie

Join Me Today on 1110 KFAB Radio!

Status Update: I will be on from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM today, and Clint will be taking callers!

In addition to the topics I listed in the original blog post below, we will be discussing the 3 Mega-Trends I recently wrote about and presented on: 1) The Rise of the #GigEconomy, 2) Living with Purpose and Meaning and the 3) Decentralized Global Marketplace.

Plan on calling in with your questions!

Looking forward to hearing from you all!
-Dr. Connie

I am counting down the hours to my interview with Clint Bellows this afternoon on 1110 KFAB (www.kfab.com). I will be in the studio at 2:30 PM.

Our conversation will focus on creating your desired future in the current economy. We will touch on the power of your beliefs and talk about how your brain impacts finances, the future and of course fun!

Let me know if you have any questions you want me to answer on the air. Clint talked about taking live calls. I would love to hear from you if he opens the phone lines!

Going Wild!
Connie

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Tune in to 1110 KFAB this Wednesday!

My radio connection, Clint Bellows, invited me to “appear” on 1110 KFAB this Wednesday afternoon!  Tune in after 2:30 PM and join the conversation about leading your own life with purpose, passion and fun!

You can listen live by going to KFAB.com.  Looking forward to having a great conversation on Wednesday!

Go Wild with KFAB!

-Dr. Connie

 

Megatrend 3: Decentralized Global Marketplace

Distance learning is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer-Learner” who has a buffet of educational choices.   The empowered consumer-learner decides what educational experiences and knowledge they need, when they need it and how they want to experience it.  The wide-array of non-credit and for credit choices makes for a very competitive marketplace but also a field of new opportunities.

Venture capitalists continue to invest in distance education because of the return on investment potential.  Big Data is being used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns.  It is also being used to examine various areas of teaching and learning.  Data can help create bite-sized, customized courses and programs that are both personalized and interactive (Koller, 2012). Technology enables the delivery of information and education anytime, anywhere and from anyone in a way that makes sense to the learner while adding value to their lives.

It’s no longer necessary for people to enroll in college, formal classes or workshops to learn.  They are learning what they want to know from their networks and resources they find on the Web, through Apps or in iTunes.  People will increasingly be able to create and print their ideas from wherever they choose with 3D printing.  Technology, combined with the continued growth of self-expression and meaning, will continue to change education at a rapid pace.

Value is becoming less about college credit and more about meaningful outcomes and self-expression through enhanced skills and evolving abilities.  The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything, including educational experiences.  Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed.  Many of these same individuals are transforming distance learning in new and innovative ways.  Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, when, where and whether-or-not to meet face-to-face and connecting over common causes.  Education, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized.  Savvy consumers seek and create the value they crave to transform their lives.   They are choosing whether or not they want a badge, certificate, credit hour or degree, and their demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends.  The Empowered Consumer-Learner wants a unique experience that adds value to their life.  Future-focused leaders who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Innovation Retreat: New Ideas and New Dollars on April 29!
As educators, what is the value we can add to a lifetime?

Megatrend 1: The Rise of the #GigEconomy

The rise of the entrepreneurial individual, and what is currently referred to as the Gig Economy, will create new challenges and opportunities for distance learning administrators.  How can institutions of education help learners create value for traditional employers and for their individual brands?   If not as many people are investing in education to land a full-time job, what does this mean for higher education?

An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways.   The number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living.  The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services as well as individual brands on the Web has created a need for education to add value to the lives of learners in innovative ways.  People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job.  In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a full-time job.

One common denominator will remain the same:  People need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web.  They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success.  Educational institutions should keep a close eye on the rise of businesses like Fiverr.com and the use of Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume = a resume in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Leaders should also consider building their brands, as well as those of students, faculty and alumni.  The rise of social networks and technology has enabled people to both learn and teach at anytime from any place.  These same tools have helped people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, which supports the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend.  Life purpose is shaping everything from healthcare to education.