“Don't make any decisions that are irreversible… because you're most likely running yourself into a situation in which your assumptions as to what was going to happen, could be wrong and you'll be in big trouble." -Mauro Guillen
What does the future hold for the world? We've probably seen the worst in this century alone and recent changes came at a striking speed. That's why we can't help but wonder what's going to happen in the next 10 years. Today, Shirley talks to Professor Mauro Guillen, author of the bestselling book, 2030. He expounds on salient points in the book such as how the interconnection of politics, demography, and commerce can create great shifts in how we do things and live our lives. They also talk about how this pandemic is speeding up change and how to help the younger generation cope with these life-defining experiences they're having. Tune in to see what the future holds!
01:33 Be Aware Of Where You're Going
03:16 2030: Think About The Future
8:00 Future Of Women
12:15 Political Consciousness Of Younger Generation
14:58 Every Generation Is Different
17:08 How The Pandemic Changes Things
19:42 Purpose Of The Book 2030
21:57 Make Decisions That Are Not Irreversible
08:21 “Women make more money than the men… that's a fact today.” - Mauro Guillen
08:58 “Women and men are different. We come from different planets.” - Mauro Guillen
14:58 “Every generation has some experience that defines them.” - Mauro Guillen
18:54 “The effect of this pandemic is a faster progression towards this kind of future that is awaiting us.” - Mauro Guillen
22:00“Don't make any decisions that are irreversible. Because you're most likely running yourself into a situation in which your assumptions as to what was going to happen, could be wrong and you'll be in big trouble." -Mauro Guillen
Connect With Mauro:
Mauro Guillen is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert on global market trends. His most recent book came out in August, it's called 2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything, which is a Wall Street Journal bestseller. He has won multiple teaching awards at Wharton, where his presentation on global market trends has become a permanent feature of over fifty executive education programs annually. His research, teaching, and speaking incorporates both numerical assessments of trends and illuminating examples from business, politics, and everyday life.
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Shirley Owens: My guest today is Mauro Guillén. He is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an expert on global market trends, and his most recent book came out in August. It's called 2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything, which is a Wall Street Journal Bestseller. Welcome Mauro, I'm super excited to have you.
Mauro Guillén: Thank you so much, Shirley, for inviting me to your podcast.
Shirley Owens: Yes. So I admittedly have been out of it a little bit with all of everything that's going on. I think we all have to an extent, and I'm always a little bit nervous to talk about politics, trends and all of that, but I think it's so relevant right now, especially just with all there's so many different aspects going on in our world right now. So tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you came from, and then I want to move into a little bit more about your book.
Mauro Guillén: Okay. So I am a professor, meaning that I spend most of my time thinking about in my particular case, the world of business, how markets are evolving and changing on a global basis. I have an accent as I'm sure you can detect, I am from Spain. Originally, I came to this country more than 30 years ago, and of course, I was attracted by all of the opportunities that these great places have to offer. I should also perhaps mention that I have a very, very big interest in thinking about the future, right? Because I believe that, although we should also take a lot of care and understand very well the past, and of course the present, is extremely important every now and then to raise the perspective a little bit and to see, okay, where are we going? And I think at this particular point in time, we all need to do a little bit more of that in spite of the very urgent difficulties that we're facing, because we are in the midst of so much change and transformation in the world.
Shirley Owens: Oh, I agree. I think that we're such a society focused on the present, like living in the present, staying in the present and that type of thing that I think that we just don't really pay attention to what we're doing to our future, what we're creating going forward. I think that we do a little bit, or we'll set future goals in that, but your book is called 2030. I think a long time ago, I didn't know that I would ever even see that day. It seemed like it was just so far away, and now here it is, 10 years from now. So tell me a little bit about your book and what brought you to write it, maybe a small summary about what it is.
Mauro Guillén: Yeah. So Shirley, as a professor, of course, I spend a lot of time also making presentations. So oftentimes, it's my students, but also three or four times a year, I make presentations and I have high school students in the audience. And of course, also executives and policymakers. I've been doing that intensively since about seven years ago, telling them about where I think the world is going, what it is that they need to take into account if they want to be successful and so on. I started to detect that people were getting very anxious about the future, but they were saying, Oh, my goodness, there's so many changes going on. The most obvious ones are, well, what's going on with China, what's going on with the rights of women in society, what's going on with technology and all of these things. And so that was when I decided to write a book because I thought that people needed a little bit of perspective, a little bit of a guidance as to how to think. I think the book, besides the year 2030, it really helps you think about the future, put your arms around it. And the year 2030 is a pivotal year in my analysis, because by then, we're going to be in a very different world. I sometimes joke that the world where you and I grew up, it's going to be gone. We are really witnessing the end of the world as we know it. And by the year 2030, we're going to be in a radically different situation. And unless we start thinking about that, now, at least we start adjusting to it. Now, it's going to be too late by the time we reach that year.
Shirley Owens: And what are you talking about, like, radically different. Can you give me some ideas of what that might look like?
Mauro Guillén: Yeah. So something very, very simple things such as, for example, by the year 2030 here in the United States and also in some other parts of the world, we're going to have more grandparents than grandchildren.
Shirley Owens: Wow.
Mauro Guillén: So why is that? Well, because Hey, people are living longer and that's a great thing. But also for the longest time, we've been having fewer and fewer babies over time. So therefore, each new generation in many parts of the world, not just here in the United States, but also in China, in Europe, in Japan, each generation is smaller than the previous generation. And that's unusual and it is getting us into a situation that I'm not going to complain about it. But it's a situation that we need to think about carefully, because there are some implications. For example, about the viability of pension systems, or about who are going to be the most important consumers in the market. And let me just give you another example, by the year 2030, Africa is going to be the second biggest region in the world by population. You see Africa, it's a big place, but didn't use to have that many people. But since they're having more babies than we are, and also they're seeing their life expectancy grow, they're going to become more important. So by the year 2030, we're not going to be able to ignore Africa any longer for better or worse. We're going to have to really think about what role we want Africa to play in the world. So these are just two examples. There's so many things going on. I mean, we can talk about technology. We can talk about so many things.
Shirley Owens: Yeah, that's crazy. I don't know. I love Africa, I got to go there and it does seem like there's just so much space. That's not, that does not have people in it. It's kind of crazy to think of it that way. I already am a grandma, I have three grand babies. So yeah, the thought of that being our truth in 10 years, that's a little bit scary.
Mauro Guillén: No, it is, I mean, it is scary, I think it will be a challenge on the other hand, there are also things that are going well. I mean, women now have better opportunities, and they have careers and all of that. And I think that's wonderful. But once again, yes, more and more women now are postponing having their first baby. And if they postpone it, for example, here in the United States, on average until age 28 or 29, then maybe they have one baby or they have two, they don't have three, or four, or five. All I'm saying is that implication surveys, I'm not necessarily saying that I would like to go back to where we were, of course not. I think it's wonderful that women have opportunities available to them, but we have to plan for the implications of all of that.
Shirley Owens: Yeah. So I think it's just creating some type of awareness, right? So that we know how to, I guess, gracefully walk into the future. I came from a family of seven kids, and I have seven kids. So yeah, that's not something you actually hear about ever anymore, so I can get that. Let's talk about women. I love that because I work with women and I think that that's always just kind of exciting to me. What are your predictions? Or what does the research say on the future of women in our country? I mean, in the world.
Mauro Guillén: Yeah. So let me give you two numbers about it, which I think at least for me, my modeling. So today, as we speak Shirley, here in the United States, about 41% of American households, the woman makes more money than the men. Okay, that's a fact today. Look, when you and I were growing up, we were very far from that level, right? It was a man's world, a man where the main breadwinners in every household around the world, not just here in the United States. And the prediction is that by the year 2030, in more than half of American households, the woman will be making more money than the man. So today's 41%, by the year 2030, it may be a little bit more than 50%. And I think that's going to change everything, it's going to change consumption, it's going to change savings, investing, because women and men are different. We come from different planets, let's face it. And I think it's very important to understand what some of the implications are. I always say that the single most important difference between men and women is our attitude towards risk. Men tend to be more risk-takers, and women are more risk averse. And that changes your entire attitude about money management in terms of consumption, saving and investing.
“Women make more money than the men… that's a fact today.” - Mauro Guillen
Shirley Owens: Yeah, I could go on forever about not just the financial, political, demographic, but like the mental, I just see a completely different world if women are over 50% of the breadwinners. That's a whole nother show probably for me, but I'm just starting to think, you have me thinking about our future, but yeah. So we're just getting really close to the election right now, and I remember I was very involved in the election in 2016. My kids were in it, we were all there involved listening to the debates and everything, what's different right now from then? And then what's going to be different in 2030?
Mauro Guillén: Okay. When it comes to politics, I think the electorate in this country is changing very quickly. So first of all, as you know, this time around, it seems as if the most important group of voters who could be decided in the election is suburban women. So both campaigns are focusing very much on that demographic, because if you remember back in 2016, in spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton was running, there was a significant proportion of women in the suburbs who voted for president Trump. And this time around, some of them have changed their mind. Others have not, but it seems to me that one of the most contested demographic groups in this election. The other big thing, which I'm sure since you live in Arizona, this is something that you can feel, not just a study through the numbers, we have young people becoming first-time voters in a presidential election, more than 15 million throughout the United States. And increasingly, that group is more diverse. So we have more Hispanics, more African Americans, more Asian Americans or native Americans in that group. To the point that this time around, 53% of those new young voters who are casting their votes for the first time in a presidential election are non-Hispanic whites. So in other words, nearly 50%, 47% are members of minority groups. And of course, by the next election, presidential election in 2024, it will be for the first time in history, more minorities than not in that younger age group of first time voters in a presidential election. So as you know, also the two campaigns are fighting very hard for the votes of minorities, I guess, as to whom they will support in big numbers. So there's lots of changes going on. I think it is easy to say, or to argue, relatively straightforward that this country is changing very quickly and that's one big dimension along which it's changing. We just also consider women. So there's a lot of things that are changing.
“Women and men are different. We come from different planets.” - Mauro Guillen
Shirley Owens: Yeah, I get that. Would you say, because I have a 17 year old right now that listened to the debate, he's like, even while he and his friends are playing video games, they've got the debate streaming in the background. So would you say from my point of view, which is very small, I see kids younger and younger being involved in this also. So is our voting age going down right now? Because I feel like they seem to be a lot more involved on social media, their opinions and their rights. And I just see that, is that something that you're seeing also?
Mauro Guillén: Yeah. Look, the group of young people is very heterogeneous. Of course, within that group, we have people who have relatively stable family backgrounds, middle-class and above, and they have resources, they attend good schools and so on and so forth. As you said, they spend an enormous amount of time on social media, video games and all of that. But they're very good at multitasking so I wouldn't be surprised if your children that age, or your child is actually paying attention because they're very, very good at following two or more things at the same time. And then of course, we have other children that are not as privileged and that they're suffering, especially now in the midst of pandemic, as they cannot go to school. And let's not forget, 15, 20% of them used to get their lunch at school because they cannot really have a good lunch at home. So I think we need to be careful in terms of the experiences, the background, the family support, the different types of young people having the country. But what I would say in terms of their political behavior, what I detect is that they're very, very sensitive to environmental matters, and in particular, climate change. I'm sure that in Arizona and other parts of the United States, people can see some TV ads about interest groups that are advertising, not in favor of a particular political candidate in this election but rather saying, look, don't forget about young people, about teenagers because they cannot vote right now. So your boy cannot vote right now, but they do have use. Of course, their argument always is we're going to be on this planet longer than the people who vote because we're younger. And so it's important I think to, as you said, put ourselves in the shoes of the younger generation who can still not vote, but they do have an interest. And increasingly, I think a political consciousness about some big issues in the world,
Shirley Owens: And then moving forward, they are going to be the ones that are voting,
Mauro Guillén: Of course, they are going to be also the candidates themselves. They're going to be the voters and they're going to be defining all these. This is the interesting thing when you take the long view. So each generation comes of age at some point, like every generation, they have some experience that defines them. The best example of course is the generation from the great depression or World War II, the greatest generation, those events really defined their entire lives. I think about for example, the younger generation that we have that was born in a digital world, that if you tell them we used to, for example, make phone calls with a rotary phone, they just don't know what we're talking about. What do you mean by rotary?
“Every generation has some experience that defines them.” - Mauro Guillen
Shirley Owens: Yeah.
Mauro Guillén: So there's so many things that I think in their experience, even though many of them have only been around for 10, 15 or 20 years are so different from the way in which you and I were brought up, for example. Really makes a big difference, right? I mean, for them being connected 24/7 is not a possibility, it's a fact of life. That's the way they live their lives, they're connected 24/7. And that is a fairly different kind of situation than, like for example, when I wanted to see my friends, I would need to call each of them in succession using a rotary phone. It would take me like an hour to contact all of them and tell them, Hey, why don't we go out?
Shirley Owens: Yeah. I didn't even have a phone growing up so we'd have to walk down to the phone booth, at the pharmacy on the corner. If I wanted to make a friend, or call a friend, I'd have to babysit, earn my money to go down to pay, to make my phone call that I could only talk for five minutes or whatever. The kids are like, wait, what? How old are you mom? That changed so quickly. I mean, just thinking about that, and I keep seeing this 2030 on your screen here and it's like, if that changed so quickly, what is changing from now, 10 years from now? It's crazy to think about, we've talked about the demographic and would you say, I feel like I'm covering so many subjects. Would you say that the coronavirus is going to be one of those very defining moments for these kids, our kids?
Mauro Guillén: Yeah. That's a great question, Shirley, let me just make two quick points. So first, this millennial generation that we've been talking about for the last 10 years or so, and before the pandemic, I think we were still making fun out of them. It's like, how different they are, and look at these crazy things that they do, and so on and so forth. And look, I think we need to be a little bit more compassionate about this millennial generation, because this is the second big economic crisis that they've been going through in their adult lives. The first one was 12 years ago, the global financial crisis. And now we're starting to enjoy again, a good labor market and all of that, these big pandemic and we have all of the economy from it. So I think we need to be conscious of that, that this generation is being hit twice so early in their lives. And I think that's going to be what defines the generation, much more the show than technology. But the second quick point to your, more specific question about how does the pandemic change things? Look, the pandemic is really an acceleration of trends. So the pandemic accelerates our use of technology, out of necessity of course. You and I are using technology now, maybe before the pandemic, there was a chance that maybe we would, you would interview me face to face, or you will interview some of your guests face to face. And the pandemic also reduces the number of babies even further, by the way, because people are postponing such a big decision such as maybe because they've lost their jobs. So that started population aging advances more quickly. It's a big accelerator of all of these trends. And you see, after having written this book and incorporated some of those insights about the pandemic into it, my only regret is instead of calling it 2030, Shirley, I should have called it 2028, because the future is arriving earlier, right? The effect of this pandemic is faster progression towards this kind of future that is awaiting us.
“The effect of this pandemic is a faster progression towards this kind of future that is awaiting us.” - Mauro Guillen
Shirley Owens: Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. What was your purpose for writing the book? Is it to have people be aware? What was your main purpose?
Mauro Guillén: First of all, as you know, every writer wants to make sense out of a big problem. And for me, it's always been the case that when I write a book, I am trying myself to understand what's going on, given a particular topic. And in this case, I was also to a certain extent, confused, and a little bit anxious about these combination of threats and opportunities that I think every major transformation brings. But my role or my purpose in terms of publishing the book of course, is to provide people with some guidance, with a roadmap, if you will, what do you do? What are the kinds of things that you really need to take into consideration? And the book is just a big attempt to bring to the attention of people, things that I think they need to know before it's too late so that they can adjust. That's essentially the purpose of the book. That's what motivated me to write it.
Shirley Owens: I love that. So if you were to give one word of advice to our guests that are listening today, about how they could effectively, I guess, positively affect the future, what would that be?
Mauro Guillén: Look, I think the piece of advice will be the following, and I'm taking it out of the concluding chapter in the book. It's something very simple, but let me tell you before I specify exactly what it is that our human tendency, all we see when we see so much change is to go to one of the extremes. We either freeze completely and we say, Whoa, look all of that change. I'm not going to move, I'm going to stay exactly where I am. That's one way in which our humanities things manifest themselves, going to that extreme. Or alternatively, some people go to the other extreme, which is okay. I see that so many things are changing, I'm going to change everything in my life. I'm going to get another degree. I'm going to divorce. I'm going to move to different parts of the country. I'm going to switch jobs. And I think we need to be disciplined and try to avoid either extreme. And let me just summarize what the golden rule for me is, and this is what I would like your listeners to consider. This is the message of the book in the end, "Don't make any decisions that are irreversible." If you make a big decision in the midst of all of this change, you should always make sure that you can reverse that decision. Because if you cannot, then you're most likely running yourself into a situation in which your assumptions as to what was going to happen could be wrong, and then you are in big trouble. So never make a decision that you cannot walk back, that you cannot alter. You need to be able to course correct when there's so much transformation. And once again, our human instincts, we are wired in our brains to go to the extremes. Some people freeze, some people just say, I'm going to change everything. And it's very important to chart a path somewhere in between those two extremes. And once again, never make a decision that is irreversible.
“Don't make any decisions that are irreversible. Because you're most likely running yourself into a situation in which your assumptions as to what was going to happen, could be wrong and you'll be in big trouble." -Mauro Guillen
Shirley Owens: I love that. When I work with couples, or individuals, whatever, I always say, they always come to me and they're like, I can't decide if I'm in or out, or if I'm this or that. And I'm like, how about we look at the 25 things in between those two?
Mauro Guillén: I think it's the Hamlet kind of problem. I mean, in our minds, we tend to frame many problems or many decisions in terms of, to be, or not to be right. Either all in or all out. Especially when things are changing. I think you proposed a very good example of that, which is when a couple has problems. Well, there's a lot of things that you can do. To try to see if things improve. Sure, in some situations, maybe you need to go to the extreme. But most of the time, you don't have to.
Shirley Owens: It's not like there's necessarily a date, like a deadline. I think people do feel like that. You make a point that it's just a human tendency, because I feel like every single person that I meet it's like, am I in or out? Do I quit my job or do I stay? Do I quit my marriage, or do I stay? And I just always think, what if we just stopped, pause for a minute and then look at all the other options. I think most of the time, people aren't even aware that there are other options. And so the other thing is like during COVID, I felt very blessed during the lockdown. I had 10 people living in my house, my oldest daughter, her husband, their two babies. They joined us for four months because their house wasn't finished and COVID slowed things down. We thought it could be just this horrible thing and ended up being the most beautiful experience. I keep telling everyone, it was just beautiful chaos. And I tell everyone that I have not been affected negatively by COVID, but like, even just the last couple of weeks, all these months later, I'm feeling like intolerant, or agitated, or something. I'm like, maybe it's because we had to pause our landscaping and there's just dirt outside, or maybe it's because I haven't been out of my house for a long time, or maybe it is because I'm not meeting people, before COVID I was, I had a flight to New York. I was going to be on a well known New York TV show. And instead, they canceled that. I was on the show on the New York TV show while he was in Florida with his family, because he wanted to get to New York too. And so it was just interesting, like you say, how we turned to this, everything just went online. I did some of mine online, but I haven't really had a ton of face to face people connecting like that. I think that a lot of people don't even realize that they're going through something, or that it really is affecting their decision making. If it's not some major, again, some big major thing that they had some big extreme, they think that they're not going through something. And so, yeah.
Mauro Guillén: Yeah. I think these business of social distancing, and just the fear, of course we all have in terms of catching the virus then going back home. Imagine in your case, you have several generations of people in your home, what if somebody brings the virus? I think that's what's really difficult to deal with during these pandemic.
Shirley Owens: Yeah. There's a lot of fear wrapped around that. And being a mom, I want to control everybody and make sure that it doesn't work like that. So, well, I am just so excited for your book and for you to be here. Is it out yet?
Mauro Guillén: Yes. The book came out in August, so about a month ago. And as far as it's available everywhere where books are sold, whether it's online or at your local independent bookstore. And Shirley, I would also like to say if it's okay, if any of your listeners wants to start a conversation with me using either social media like LinkedIn, Facebook or email, I'm always available. I mean, I love to hear from people who are interested in thinking about the future and thinking about trends that are going to change our lives. They can just Google me and they can find my email and all of my contact information. It would be amazing to be able to continue the conversation.
Shirley Owens: Awesome, thank you. I really appreciate that a lot, so thank you so much. You definitely got me thinking for sure. We're going to have more grandparents and grandkids, that's so crazy to think of all that. So anyway, thank you so much for being here. I'm super grateful for you, and I'm sure that there will be people reaching out to you.
Mauro Guillén: Thank you so much, Shirley, for having me. It's been really wonderful.