Circle-culling. Because we can’t lead our usual social lives, we’re reconsidering and reconstructing our circles of friends. This is a valuable thing. There are groups and people we’ve all wasted time with in the past, who we don’t really connect with or particularly like, just because we were invited, because it was our turn to host, whatever. Now, you have been freed from that. We can make the choice to only associate with those whose company (albeit on Zoom) we truly crave and that elevates us, teaches us, loves us.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Faith Popcorn.
Faith is founder and CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, the futurist marketing consultancy she established in 1974. She is also the best-selling author of The Popcorn Report, Clicking, EVEolution, Dictionary of the Future, and the upcoming, Popcorn Report Revisited.
The New York Times has called her “The Trend Oracle,” Fortune magazine named her, “The Nostradamus of Marketing,” and she is recognized as America’s foremost Trend expert.
Faith Popcorn has identified such sweeping societal movements as Cocooning, AtmosFear, Anchoring, 99 Lives, Icon Toppling, and Vigilante Consumer.
As the lead strategist for Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, Faith applies her insight into cultural and business Trends to help BrainReserve clients reposition established brands/companies, develop new strategies and innovate new products, services, and experiences.
She is a trusted advisor to the CEOs of The Fortune 500 including such companies as Allergan, American Express, Avon, Bayer, Campbell’s Soup, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, KFC, Mars, SC Johnson, Tylenol and The United States Postal Service.
A dynamic public speaker, Faith regularly shares her interactive FutureView presentation which focuses on how Trends are affecting consumer lifestyles and purchasing behavior, with thousands of audiences across the globe.
Heralded for her extraordinary ability to forecast emerging consumer patterns, Faith is frequently interviewed and cited in the media by The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, “The Today Show,” “Face the Nation,” and CNN.
Popcorn (as you may have guessed) is not the name she was born with. Her surname, Plotkin, proved difficult for one of her first bosses to pronounce. He dubbed her “Popcorn” as his personal shorthand–and it stuck.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was supposed to be a lawyer. My mother and father were both lawyers, negligence and criminal, and they were very, very focused on my following in their footsteps and attending NYU Law School. But as the time approached, I was hanging out in Washington Square Park in the midst of intense social change in the 60s I just couldn’t do it. I needed something more creative, more expressive, more glam and landed in the “Mad Men”-esque advertising world after getting my BA in both drinking and English at NYU. I loved my writing gigs but was frustrated by how clients always looked at — and reacted to — the here and now, or a quarter ahead, rather than seeing the tsunami that was rising and twirling right in front of them.
Seeing ahead had always been in my DNA. I was always asking about, thinking about, obsessing about, dreaming about what was going to happen. So, I trusted my gut and said, “this is a path that is urgent, unstoppable and unmissable that I must follow.” At the young age of 25, I left the agency world and became a pioneering female entrepreneur, financing my business on credit cards out of my studio apartment, cold-calling and smart-talking my way into meetings and eventually a thriving business that now operates on six continents (and I haven’t given up on Antarctica just yet). Our company lives by the question, “if you knew everything tomorrow, what would you do differently today?” Our ability to forecast the future through our Trend and Futurist Bank (10,000 members) has led to ongoing and challenging assignments with the Fortune 200, adding billions in revenue to their bottom line. My work has given me a documented 95% accuracy rate predestinating “what’s next,” and more importantly, applying it to business strategy, products and acquisitions for those who engage with us. Being an Applied Futurist means that we’re not in the business of sharing sci-fi scenarios, but rather examining emerging shifts and what they mean to the rapidly changing consumer culture; but paramount is how to leverage the opportunities ahead, and bring great incremental profit for our clients.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Definitely Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” an incredible business book first published in 1936. It taught me to shut up and listen. To stop talking and hear what others had to say and intuit what they needed. Warren Buffet incidentally took a Dale Carnegie course and often credits it with accelerating his career. One of the most important lessons Carnegie shared was that his most successful sales-day was when he had laryngitis. He couldn’t talk. He had to listen. He got a lot of business. Isn’t that fascinating?
Another one of his principles was to offer sincere approbation. Notice when people on your team are doing well and acknowledge it. Applaud it. That’s vital. And it applies to your personal life. Celebrate success. Observing and uplifting — I love that.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Of course, but let me first say this: As a Futurist, I’ve been tracking a trend called FutureTense for years now — the deep and unsettling worry we each carry within about what’s ahead. Political unrest, divisiveness and wars head the list. The feeling that despite the prosperity of the era, we’re missing out (read the book “Angrynomics” for more on this). Then add pollution, contamination, the threat of pandemics. Then add the mistreatment of women and children in many countries and the horrific shape of the environment and biodiversity due to climate change.
All of these concerns were already in the culture’s underbelly and rising. The team at Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve has been working behind the scenes with major corporations to improve their environmental and educational efforts; to support diversity of all kinds — from racial to non-binary gender — and to demonstrate in real time empathy and compassion, the DNA of true leadership.
Now, along comes this unknowable virus and it’s intensified our pre-existing condition, an anxiety epidemic, to unimaginable levels. We were already on the edge of the ledge, and this pandemic and the state of unemployment and uncertainty has shaken us to our cores, our souls and very beings. Two mega-movements we are tracking that light the path forward are anchoring (reaching back to our spiritual roots, taking what was secure from the past in order to be ready for the future) and clanning (belonging to a group that represents common feelings, causes or ideals; validating one’s own belief system). These trends communicate the primacy of our humanity, even as we are evolving towards our future cyborg selves.
So, the light for me — the things that give me hope and happiness — would be:
- Time in Nature. I have been “sheltering in place” at my house in Wainscott, immersed in un-man/woman made. I started a Victory Garden, I water-watch, seeing the cygnets, the ponds, lakes, the ocean’s tides. The cycles of nature and even the comings and goings of insects, bees and fireflies which remind me of our small place in the bigger scheme of things. We will survive all of this and more.
- Exploring and expanding one’s creativity. I am getting back to my (High School of Performing Arts) roots by collaborating with the amazing Karen Zoid. She’s a South African rock star, composer and guitarist. We are writing songs together based on the Trends and the FutureVision my company projects. I’m also listening to a lot of music — Leonard Cohen’s 1992 album “The Future” is terrifying. How did he know what’s ahead? How do we know? Music connects with our brains and hearts in such a different and more direct way than the written word. You immediately hear it and “get it” at a deeper, more resonant level. It connects with a more creative part of your brain. I’ve been thinking all business documents and even emails should be musical. But the main point is: Try a new creative path, whatever that means to you, to open yourself up. Wide.
- Circle-culling. Because we can’t lead our usual social lives, we’re reconsidering and reconstructing our circles of friends. This is a valuable thing. There are groups and people we’ve all wasted time with in the past, who we don’t really connect with or particularly like, just because we were invited, because it was our turn to host, whatever. Now, you have been freed from that. We can make the choice to only associate with those whose company (albeit on Zoom) we truly crave and that elevates us, teaches us, loves us.
- Reading and thinking. I’ve been tearing through the Crave series — it’s a paranormal YA series told from a feminist perspective, with vampires in the mix — and figuring out what it means. There’s a weave of danger, and fear of the other, there’s love and the resentment of the power of women. I’m asking, “why is this so resonant now? What does it forecast for tomorrow?”
- Listening, then acting. I am spending more time with my two daughters, both adopted from China: cc, 15, is in high school, gg, 22, is in college, and many other young people, like my goddaughter, Skye Qi. Their thoughts, fears and hopes and dreams are fascinating. And foretelling. I’m also spending Zoom-days with our clients — C-suite executives at enormous corporations who usually are triple-booked but are now so focused on figuring out their future, they are finding more time to strategize what’s next with me. I’m honored to be part of their inner circle.
It’s interesting that one thing keeps coming up: How to be what I call a Vigilante Brand, one that leans in and runs hard at changing the culture. Taking a stand. Look at Ben and Jerry’s and Nike and you’ll know what I mean. This is also a moment to heed the call of activism. It reminds me of the 60s that way. We call this Trend Save Our Society (the world rediscovers a social conscience of ethics, passion and compassion). I’m watching to “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” on YouTube, and have you seen P&G’s “The Look”? I’m attending marches (in a mask, of course), donating and sharing ideas with friends and clients. It’s bigger than the pandemic. It’s about justice, community, and fixing our broken country and world.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Go see a psycho-pharmacologist. I’m one quarter-joking, three quarters not. We are at a moment of massive stress and sadness. Depression and suicide are up amongst all age groups, especially the young. If they need a little help encourage them to seek support with a qualified expert. Tele-health is having its Amazon moment, it’s everywhere — as it should be.
- Remind the person in need that everything is going to be alright. This is a hugely challenging moment, but we humans have gotten through many other pandemics, wars, and all kinds of horror-stories. We will survive and learn from this and do better.
- Send a big bottle of whiskey or wine or a case of Corona (no pun). I am a big believer in the ability of alcohol to take one’s mind off one’s troubles.
- Get them a rescue puppy. Seriously.
- Disturb their routine in a beautiful way. Make an incredible dinner and have them eat it in your yard or leave it on their doorstep. Send them music you love. Show them human kindness and distract them from this darkish moment.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
See point one, above. A psycho-pharmacologist or a therapist can give a person customized treatment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
It’s my company’s mantra: “If you knew everything about tomorrow, what would you do differently today?” It’s the story of trying to see around the curve of tomorrow, of starting my business, and of seeing all of us. We are constantly evolving. Be an active participant in the process. You play a role; you are not passive. Make it a valuable and amazing ride.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To find every child globally who needs one a good home and match that child with a fabulous parent or parents. That would create a strong and empathetic next generation and future for all. It would change all of society in a single stroke. A home with education, food, health, values, spirituality, compassion, love. That is my dream. Let’s just do it, as Nike would say.
What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?
There are all kinds of ways. Come follow at www.faithpopcorn.com, where I’ll be announcing my new podcast “Jolty” soon. Also on Facebook, @faithpopcornfuturist and @BrainReserve; on Twitter, @FaithPopcorn and @PopcornBrains; on Instagram, @faithpopcorn and @brainreserve; on LinkedIn, Faith Popcorn and Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve; and on YouTube, @PopcornBrains. Or just email me at [email protected] to chat about Tomorrow.
I am wishing all and any who are reading this a blessed and beautiful Best Future.