It would be nice to have a crystal ball to predict what would be proved wrong each year. In the same way, most would love to be able to see what proved right ahead of time. It would take away much of the stress of evaluating market trends, what would go on with the housing market and even how to market products. But according to my latest evaluation of crystal balls, they are not usually all that reliable. But there are trends we can follow and good guesses we can all make based on past experiences.
I am going to readily admit some of the areas proved right that I was sure was to be proved wrong. I hope you find this enlightening as well as somewhat entertaining. We’d all love to be right 100% of the time, especially in front of any family members. But I would stay away from any individual who boasts of that record. We have seen what Enron and now FTX collapses have brought followers who trusted in what they thought would prove right. I will illustrate this with a few examples starting with Starbucks, the little coffee company that began in 1971 in Seattle, Washington.
The Wonder of Starbucks
When I saw the first drive-through locations starting to be built for Starbucks when moving to our area, I was sure that no one in their right mind would drive through to get coffee. Why do that just for coffee? In fact, coming from a family that bought Folgers instant in large cans, it was surprising what people would pay for a cup of coffee. But I soon joined the ranks. Starbucks drive throughs began appearing before my glimpse back in 1994 and they gathered enough data to expand. Within a few years, they had had expanded to dozens of stores. Currently, there are 15,757 locations in the U.S. According to Restaurant Dive, Starbucks will accelerate its new store growth, with 90% of new stores having a drive-through.
Consumer demand has been for mobile order and pay, making up 70% of store volume. Starbucks capitalized on the demand for coffee during the pandemic, adding curbside pickup at 2,000 locations. This proved right, but customer demand still outweighed this growth. They are now focusing on providing great coffee experiences to-go. Their 2021 gross annual sales was over $29 billion and growing. We will see what the future holds for Starbucks as there are no signs of slowing down, even in inflationary times. (see article) I was proved wrong in thinking drive-through coffee was just a fad.
The Deal About Chicken Sandwiches
I certainly didn’t see the big deal about Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwiches. The lines in airport terminals have amazed me and when our local shop put up cones for cars to wind around to order from the drive-through, similar to a Disney ride, I was further stumped. I admired them taking a stand to be closed on Sundays for their convictions as well as for their employees, but the growth couldn’t last, so I thought. I am sure some listeners or readers of this article will be aghast at that comment because they those chicken sandwiches. According to Forbes, Chick-fil-A remains the number one restaurant for the demographic averaging 15.8 years old. Starbucks comes in second.
The reason I think this is important is that this demographic, Gen Z, is concerned about the environment, equality and inflation. They are our future leaders, comprised of a huge voting-block. Chick-fil-A has reached this generation through their two million followers on TikTok and creating a simple menu, including the popular fried chicken sandwiches. We will see what the future holds but when a company can capture a young generation with food, they could also capture them in other areas. We will see what will prove right for Chick-fil-A.
When our local outdoor mall was first being built, my husband and I commented that we thought it wouldn’t last. It felt like such a trendy comeback but it did bring back memories I had growing up. But my comment was definitely proved wrong. I remember growing up, finally gaining the permission from my parents to ride my bike to our local outdoor mall. It was a huge privilege, and there were no indoor malls at the time. When the first indoor malls did start popping up, the outdoor mall I visited now felt dated and old. The indoor malls were beautiful, bright and clean.
So as our local retro-type outdoor mall started to expand, I had little hope for its growth and future. The current crowds today tell a different story. Especially, as they experienced an extra boost during the shutdowns as many people were just looking for a place to go. Our outdoor mall was a place for people to window shop and enjoy piped in music. And many stores, with certain restrictions, stayed open. Even with our current inflationary times, people want an experience and walking outdoors to view beautiful displays costs very little, if anything. The entities, venues and locations that provide a visual and open experience will do the best in the coming years and even decade. I hope I’m not proved wrong in that prediction.
We had two years of all things virtual with the shutdowns. Many who had no idea how to use Zoom video suddenly became proficient as they connected with everyone from business colleagues to family members. Entrepreneurs rushed to purchase extra cameras, switchers and lighting to create a virtual studio. There were how-to videos published, including a couple I created, on how to grow your business using some of these virtual tools. (see Resources)
But some of those purchases stayed sealed in their boxes. There was a learning curve. Who had time to go through all those instructions? The frustration level when anything technical didn’t work didn’t seem worth it for many. If you look, you can now find many of those camera and switcher items on eBay with quite a discount. The idea that technological tools could propel your business and enhance your life proved wrong if not combined with quality content and authenticity. Adding bells and whistles, endless PowerPoint presentations and webinars tired out an already exhausted world. Livestreams became more popular with apps like Instagram and TikTok creating bite-sized content that was easy to ingest and real.
Creating Content and Being Real
The Velveteen Rabbit is a British children’s book that chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit’s desire to become real through the love of his owner. When left outside in the garden overnight, the rabbit cries because the little boy was sick. A real tear drops onto the ground and sprouts a flower. The fairy that appeared out of the flower said the rabbit would become real because of the boy who truly loves him.
Even though this is a fictional children’s story, the desire find what is real and authentic is also what most adults are looking for. What has been proved right is the importance of being authentic and being real. It doesn’t mean we keep cameras on every part of our life, as some reality shows have done. But we can let down a façade of fear to reveal what is authentic and important to us.
The value of defining core values, or what we truly value, has never been more important for individuals and organizations. What do you really stand for? Your core values will have a huge effect on your mission statement and purpose, for both your personal and professional life. I am sure I won’t be proved wrong on this.
My neighbor Gail, who walks every morning, now with walking canes, or sticks after breaking her hip, is once again undergoing radiation treatment for the cancer she has fought for over ten years. She values living and being able to move over being hooked up to tubes to wait out her life. That, I can be proved right about. What about you?
Unless we apply Just Do It, nothing will move forward in our lives.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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