13 and new year predictions

I am not superstitious. I have worn 13 <although 15 or 5 seemed to be what I wore all the time> and I seem no worse for the wear.

But we now enter a 13.


Here is the good news.

The ancient Egyptians believed that, on the last rung of a 13 step ladder to eternity, the soul would find everlasting life.

I like that.

And I personally believe this 13 will be a lucky year globally <especially now that we have resolved the whole Mayan calendar issue>.

I believe several things but mostly despite the fact there will be some disgruntling issues <slower economy than people really want, unresolved issues in the Middle East … crap like that>, that globally we will take a step up on the ladder to an everlasting soul.

We maybe even take a couple steps up.

Here are my 2013 predictions … or maybe better said … my thoughts for 2013. There are only 11 but that leaves room for 2 more to be added at a later date.

Let me begin with where I believe we will really need to step up <but probably will not>:

1. Youth unemployment

This is about hiring as well as what we do with them when we do hire them. The young are getting screwed in a number of ways. And while being unemployed seems like the biggest it is actually only the first domino in what we need to be sure we address.  By being unemployed there are 3 key issues we need to be prepared to deal with:

–          Lack of training: typically as we hire young people we have lower expectations for what they are capable of doing. We permit them some time for ‘on the ground training’ as they gain experience. The longer they stay unemployed the longer they miss out on this practical training. Now. Most unemployed youth are not remaining mentally idle … they are thinking, observing & improving personally. This translates into a new, different type of entering workforce. Existing management needs to think about that … very carefully. It represents a challenge … and an opportunity.

My main prediction? Existing management will fuck this up. They will remain with status quo thinking and get poor results … but most importantly … we will miss an opportunity with this generation of youth.

–          Lack of earnings: studies have shown the longer you wait to begin your earning history the less you earn in your lifetime <for a variety of reasons>. Short term this may not mean a lot but long term there is a huge issue with regards to earning history, savings and lifetime net worth.

My main prediction? Existing management will fuck this up. Mainly because they will only see the short term as an opportunity to get an older, more mature, cheaper employee and not recognize the longer term issues that will arise.

–          Lack of ROY <return on youth>: youth and young people are the cheapest innovation engine in any organization. While typically overlooked in an innovation model their innate ability to provide a fresh perspective through fresh eyes is invaluable. Organizations may not recognize their current loss with the ‘lack of youth’ within their organizations but it is having an impact. It has a domino effect within an organization. Without the ‘hidden youth engine’ more pressure will fall on older employees for innovative ideas … and these employees are more focused on ‘safe behavior to maintain employment” and … well … you can see where this ends up.

I have a much longer article coming up on this but suffice it to say this will be a big issue in 2013 … and it will be one I am not confident we will manage well.

2. Education

I call this the hollowing of education. And I believe it is the most overlooked issue with regard to education today. Everyone seems to be focused on “average scores” in assessing education. Silly. Education’s issue is actually the increasing hollow between the haves and the have nots. Richer kids are getting better educations. Poorer kids are getting worse educations. Richer kids are getting better scores and stack up well versus the best of the best everywhere. Poorer kids are getting worse scores and stack up poorly versus even the middle of the rest of the world. The average score looks worse because more kids are getting worse scores than the kids who are getting great scores.

My prediction is that we will continue to focus on the wrong things and the bulk of kids will continue getting a shitty education.


Here is where I think we will step up to the plate, the good things, and actually do in 2013.

–          Global economy

I admit that I have a different perspective on this. Mainly because I believe the past double digit growth was not normal but rather simply just a “good run” economically. In addition I also believe structurally the global economy is going through a renovation as emerging countries gain an economic foothold and the larger economies are subsequently playing a smaller role. I believe Fareed Zakaria calls this ‘the rise of the rest.’ Western economies need to recognize not that they are smaller but that smaller players have become bigger. People may be disappointed by what is perceived as smaller growth numbers but, globally, individual country’s economies will restructure to become more profitable & efficient and be in a position to have another ‘good economic run’ in maybe 3 to 5 years. Yes. I am suggesting 2013 will be a good year for global economy because it will pay off in the long term rather than short term.

I know … crazy thinking.

–          China & US

A lot has been made about the upcoming struggle between China & US for global leadership as well as some relatively wacky diatribes on the US dependence upon China fiscally.

In general I think 2013 will be a good year for this relationship. The truth is that each country needs the other economically. China has been a major funder of US innovation & infrastructural spending and US has been the number one consumer of China productivity. This mutual dependence may create some issues but I also believe it will create some good programs as each country tries to limit their dependence on each other. By the way … that interdependence also assists in foreign policy discussions. We should worry when neither is dependent upon the other … and 2013 is not that time.

–          Global poverty

Mostly because I am too lazy to look up the specific numbers I won’t quote specifics. But my memory suggests we made some significant inroads to reducing global poverty in 2012. And I envision that we will have another very good year in 2013 in addressing global poverty.

Poverty is attacked through education and ‘survival infrastructure’ <access to clean water & proper nutrients>. We seem to finally be taking steps to build the foundation globally so that people can lift themselves out of poverty.

And, while the media seems to suggest that the world is in turmoil, they are actually wrong. Poverty is being eliminated mainly because of stability & lack of turmoil. Many of the emerging countries are more stable <economically & politically> than ever before and that permits their population to survive <and be productive> rather than be transient & at war. So I imagine a secondary prediction to poverty reduction is increased peace globally.

–          Someone will break a meaningful sports record <and Messi will solidify his legacy>

2012 was a spectacular sports year … in fact … almost unprecedented.

Usain Bolt at the Olympics? A Brit in the Wimbledon finals? A baseball triple crown winner? A running back coming with 9 yards of a single season rushing record <and one year after tearing his knee to shreds>? Messi scoring more goals in one year than anyone else?

Records were broken. Things were done that hadn’t been done in decades.

So for 2013 I will begin with Messi. Scoring records are tricky things because most people just look at it as a “quantity record” and there will always be someone figuring out a way to diminish quantity. But every once in a while a superior athlete in their sport comes along and breaks a scoring record with quality. Wayne Gretzky did it in hockey. Messi just did it in soccer. In 2013 he will be recognized not for his quantity of goals but rather his wizardry on the pitch. His legacy will be solidified in 2013.

And someone will break some sports record we cannot imagine ever being broken. I will not even attempt to guess what it will be mostly because who would have ever predicted a guy who tore his anterior cruciate would actually get back on the football field the following season and run for over 2000 yards? That is why predicting record breaking is almost next to impossible. We are talking about sports freaks of nature.

–          Diplomacy will reign in foreign policy

War and death is at an all-time low globally. And yet it seems like we constantly teeter on the edge of war & death. I won’t comment on how media skews our perspective here but I will suggest that in 2013 global foreign policy will re-establish diplomacy as the key action to a productive interlocking global community in 2013.

I believe more soldiers in more countries will remain in their homes in 2013 than in previous years.

I believe foreign policy leaders <who will avoid politics> will rise above the din of the hawks & doves clamoring for ‘here is what you should do’ and collectively find diplomatic solutions for the globe’s most unsettled situations. Will it last? Geez. Skip down to the second prediction from here and you will see ‘power of the people.’ Foreign policy diplomats can only set up a successful infrastructure but it is the people who end up having the responsibility to make it work. I cannot predict people’s <populations> actions.

But I can predict foreign policy and I think it will be a very good year for foreign policy diplomats. In a government universe that often looks like a huge village of idiots they will rise above the incompetence and be incredibly competent on the world stage.

–          USA will begin believing in itself again.

We are a stubborn egotistical nation … but magnificently resilient. At some point we will remember what made US great wasn’t being number one … it was being number 2 … and trying harder. Frankly we are better as a country when we are competing and not being the prohibitive favorite to win. I think in 2013 <maybe later in the year rather than the beginning> the US will quit whining about what was and will get on with “what will be.” And they will begin believing in itself again. And it will start competing again.

I am not suggesting infrastructural issues will be resolved … but I do believe that people will begin believing they can beat the infrastructure. Beat the system. And you know what? The system can be beat. It is absolutely not a fair system in the US at the moment <the USA has a depressingly low score on social mobility … the ability to shift economic status upwards> but I believe people will just say ‘fuck it … if I wait for the system to get fixed I may as well wait until a woman wins the Masters golf tournament.’

The people will take matters into their own hands and begin believing in whatever it is that US believes in <just do it, do it myself, whatever you want to call it>.

The economy will improve not because of more government or less government … in fact the government & taxes & stimulus is irrelevant … it will be because people’s attitudes will change. They will just believe it should be better and will set out to make it better … regardless of the system they are asked to operate within.

Which leads me to the next … power of the people.

–          Power of the people

There are 2 aspects to this belief for 2013.

People themselves and the impact of the people.

First. People.

Western countries have the non-humble belief they are constantly teaching every one else … well … everything. I actually believe western countries will be applying learning from others in 2013. In fact they will learn from the Middle East. We watched the past several years as people in countries began standing up and topping their leadership. Now. I believe we are less focused on the toppling and more focused on the fact people are standing up and speaking out for their beliefs … and getting some traction and action. Therefore more and more people will be less silent and more active.

This will obviously create some issues because most existing countries populations are not aligned and therefore it could end up being more divisive … but in the end people will become less ‘silent majority’ and more ‘speaking majority.’ It will not all be productive but it will certainly produce some action.

Second. The impact.

I almost created a separate prediction called “the continued rise of the nation state” but realized that this is but a subset of the power of the people. If you haven’t been paying attention there is an increasing trend of devolving larger nation states to smaller nation states. This is a natural evolution of countries but it is also a reflection of a more vocal ‘people.’ Sudan splitting. Yugoslavia splitting. Catalonia discussing splitting from Spain. States with secession petitions in the US. Regardless … as people step up and speak out they also think more ‘nationalized’ in a smaller tighter way. It is natural. We tend to forget that Germany as it exists has only existed since 1871 <not counting the split between East & West after WW2>. Italy has only existed since 1861. USA in its current 50 state form since 1959. Heck. Poland didn’t exist for 100 years in the 1800s when it was part of Germany/Austria/Russia. Countries evolve and devolve. I believe we are in a devolution phase. Where will it happen next? I do not know. But I predict it will <or begin to> in 2013.

–          Purge of the politicians

I believe it is going to be a very bad year to be a politician in a western country in 2013. Mostly because of what I just wrote <power of the people> and also because … well … they have shown no indication they can do what is right to date. And with pressure from people? I cannot envision their lives getting any easier.  From Argentina to the US to Germany to Spain … people are sick of politicians and their ineffectiveness. At some point politicians will have to step up and explain to people why they are worthy of representing people … or they will be purged … or just become irrelevant.

Which leads me to my last prediction … about a new breed of leaders.

–          The rise of leaders

I do believe it is going to be a great, not good, year for new leaders. Now. We may not recognize them as true leaders in 2013 but I envision 2013 as the year our next generation of great leaders will arise from the turmoil.

I believe I will call this new leadership group … the sifters. They will have the ability to sift through the loud voices, the silent voices and their peer’s voices … and decide what is right … and do it <whether it is ‘popular’ or not>. For example … in the USA it is going to be the ones who stand up and go “we need to raise taxes <on everyone not just the wealthy> and we need to make spending cuts and we need to revamp entitlement programs and we need to regulate businesses until they can prove they can be trustworthy and we need to make government departments accountable … or we eliminate them.” Basically we will find a new group of young leaders who will explain common sense … even if it is some unpopular common sense … and tell people the truth … and do what needs to be done.

This is going to happen not only in the USA but also France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and a number of other ‘developed countries.’

This is one prediction I will put money on.

We may not reap the full benefits of this group for another 5 to 10 years but I believe we will look back on 2013 as the year of the rise of the great leaders.

I purposefully ended my 2013 predictions with that last one on leaders. And I did so as I circle back to how I started this post … globally we will take a step up on the ladder to an everlasting soul.

I believe 2013 will be a very good year for our global soul. Will it be easy? Nope. Because nothing as important as this ever is. But collectively we are grasping the concept of global citizenship. That doesn’t mean we will think less ‘nationally’ but rather we are beginning to understand the fact our individual actions impact the global community more and more.

When we speak there is someone miles and miles away who hears.

When we act our actions echo in far corners of places we cannot even pronounce the name of.

When we listen we hear wisdom from places we never knew had wise people.

We have a ways to go but I do believe we will take a step up on that ladder in 2013.

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Written by Bruce