Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, January 4, 2021
How to begin another year?
We have all read the year in reviews from a dozen publications, online, offline, inline and out of line. Enough looking back. I am thinking about the approaching year, and my overriding first concern is for the entrepreneurs and their families to not be casually dismissive of the really good stuff they already have. If you have a jewel, take time to polish it. It will not grow brighter sitting in a drawer, and jewels don’t grow on trees.
It is a well-known tendency to pay attention to the neediest companies in your portfolio or to the employees who are struggling, and to let the ones who are doing great just roll along. This puzzle can be difficult to solve. In your family life, the neediest among us always need a helping hand, a bit more focus, some more time to tie their shoes. But at the same time, the star soccer player in your family needs to be extra encouraged.
Balancing this behavior in your company is complex, and it can be perceived as unkind, unfair and unfeeling. But while focusing on the winners and letting the losers come to rest peacefully seems to be counterintuitive, it is unfortunately the correct model to maximize your successes. I am not completely comfortable myself with this approach. I leave it to each of us to find the right amount of time to spend tying that shoelace.
But now, to 2021 and beyond. Here are some jewels that you can look for, courtesy of Inc. Magazine.
1. Any and all things COVID/vaccine. Biotech and drug discovery are going to be a good place to spend time and money.
2. Remote working and videoconferencing. There are a dozen new companies making work-from-home clothing. You need a bit of style, at least from the top up.
2A. If you are in the real estate business, I think there are some empty office buildings that could be repurposed into housing.
3. Contactless delivery and shipping. It has been magical the last few months. The doorbell rings and when I answer it there is a bag of food lying there. Yes, I did order it and I did pay the delivery fee, and I did leave a tip, but for sure, the entire food/supply chain is going to be re-invented. And along with it, the whole gig economy, Proposition 22 redux.
4. Telehealth and telemedicine. Anything that makes the “doctor visit” less aggravating is a win for society. If you are going to tell me to take two aspirin and call you in the morning, don’t make me drive and park and sit in the waiting room. Seeing your shrink over Zoom can be liberating, if you get to an emotional tough spot, you can just hide the camera for a moment.
5. 5G. EvoNexus and Qualcomm have launched a 5G incubator. If you can get in, do it. The world of e-learning will need speed and scope. And you’ll be able to send a video of your daughter dancing the Nutcracker in real time.
6. Robotics and A.I. I am clueless here, but my son thinks my driving skills are lousy, and that I should get a new car with those features that will keep me in my lane.
7. Augmented reality and virtual reality. See No. 5. It takes a lot of processing power to do facial recognition and send your avatar to the market to pick up a quart of milk.
8. Micro-mobility. This one is nuanced. San Diego has danced with the scooters and the bikes and the jury is still out. But you can see that the confluence of working from home and the massive increases in bandwidth might suggest that people are going to drive to work less — and by extension, maybe they will walk or ride their bike.
9. Autonomous driving. See No. 6. My children think I will be safer sitting in the back seat and leaving the driving to technology.
There is no 10 because you, the reader, are going to be the inventor of that number. Stay safe.