Concepts and ideas I believe in that I think will become important in 2012 and beyond:
1. Resale Stores selling Vintage stuff like New Merchandise - furniture, clothing, housewares. These things cost a lot to produce (time, money, materials, labor, shipping from China) and are being thrown out by the garbage load. Americans don’t value what they have and give a lot of things that are perfectly good to the trash. Things have changed somewhat with a lot of charity resale stores gaining popularity in the last 10 years and since the 2008 recession more mainstream stores have popped up. EBay & Etsy also foster this trend. I buy a lot of stuff through resale/etsy. But I have grown up within the vintage/antique culture and know what I like. I also pay attention to a lot of design blogs that continually reinvent old stuff to look new again and use things in new ways I never thought of. Bringing value to things that were otherwise not worth much. The resale business requires a good eye for possibility, sourcing, cleaning, warehousing, categorizing and marketing/sales.
2. Gold – Those cash for gold places have made many family heirlooms dissapear. Along with the clean out all your grandmother’s hoarded stuff trend, there is a lot of wealth being redistributed from the bottom to the top. People don’t know what stuff is worth, need cash, sell it for less than the real value and the few pieces of jewelry they had that would increase in value over time are gone in order to pay the rent. I think these cash for Gold places also foster thefts, but I don’t have a lot of data on that. These phenomenons are related to the standard of living in the United States in some decline while the rest of the world races to catch up. We may very well meet somewhere in the middle, accepting a life less than what we thought the American Dream provided.
Healthcare Ideas: (I’m not a Doc, and this is my opinion only as a patient/consumer)
1. Therapists/Counselors/Coaches for more than just prescribing drugs - depression is prevalent and is easy to hide. Drugs help some (or most?), but understanding how your mind works is really very valuable and only possible through therapy. Finding someone who does cognitive behavioral therapy that you work well with, and affording it is another story. I view this as more training/education than therapy for some people.
2. Gene studies, counselors and understanding your genetic health. 23andMe.com has made this cost effective for many more people, ($200/Yr) but understanding and interpreting this data will be key to living longer. I tried this service a few months ago and find it fascinating although not very impactful with my health yet because I’m not sure what to do with it and my regular doctor isn’t really into genetic analysis. I found I am 87% genetically similar to my brother, I have none of the rare genetic diseases they test for, I am lactose intolerant (I suspected this anyway) and the top health risks that I face genetically in the long term (in comparison with average population risk for these diseases). I think there are far better services than 23andMe but they’re the entry level price company.
3. The yearly Physical Exam making a Comeback – I have read about this gaining momentum, I think this is relevant based on aging baby boomers increasing health needs and GenXers falling apart much earlier than their predecessors. We all had yearly physicals in order to play sports and enter school as kids, when we lost our pediatrician after college we had nowhere to go, no insurance to help pay for things (and no job either) so we stopped going. And jobs don’t require physicals like school did. I think GenXers (like myself) may be seeing how important that these are now that I am in my mid 30′s with so many health issues. The Obamacare law may make this accessible for everyone and impossible to get an appointment.
5. Digital Health Analytics – This is a big one that stretches from having your test results in a portal that contains your digital medical records and may allow you to send messages to your doc (MyChart) or as far as tracking all your health data over the long term and analyzing changes in test results and readings that may indicate an earlier detection of disease and aid MDs when they don’t have a lot of time with each patient anymore to do the analysis themselves. This works well with the people who do go for a yearly physical.
6. Radiation: Patients may start asking questions about the necessity of X-rays & CT Scans and instead ultrasound (harmless but not as clear) may be a preferred (lower risk) way to investigate some health issues with ambiguous and or minor symptoms. The Fukashima power plant meltdown has raised issues about what allowable levels of radiation we should have (milliseverts) as well as long term effects of radiation exposure, and nobody ever tells you how much radiation is being sent into your body by that machine taking pictures. Things like microwaves and granite counters may also go out of popularity because of the low level but accumulating radiation you are exposed to by being in the kitchen all the time. We live in the Midwest so Radon is also a silent killer more people are learning about, but like with any of these ideas this comes with a lot of skepticism.
Things that annoy me: (these came up today while reading, although they are not new)
1. Juicers and people who swear by this. Seriously? It is like a weird cult headed by Gwyneth Paltrow. Eat your veggies yes, juice them not necessary unless you really want a 15th appliance in your kitchen.
2. Paleo Diet – People in the paleolithic time lived so much longer than us…We should definitely do that. (Sarcasm) Avoiding processed foods, the raw diet philosophy all have some logic to them, but overall we have to moderate things.
3. Brita Type Filtering Water in Showers/Whole House – For most people this may not really make an impact, but if your water quality isn’t good, maybe it is worth it. Sounds expensive and just another thing to maintain in a house that keeps falling apart.
4. The Nothing Is Free Attitude - People get turned off by being nickeled and dimed whether it is their phone service or their doctor or their car. Companies should be willing to spend money up front proving that the process works or giving certain things away to build the relationship. Once broken not all relationships mend quickly. This idea also permeates a lot of R&D, Business Development, Product Development and Venture Capital Investments. If we don’t do the research, testing and try things we won’t ever discover the next better innovation. With a life cycle of 3-5 years for some businesses it seems like the risk outweighs the reward and nobody is willing to move forward and the economy stalls further. Reinvention is key for most industries.