As I ask my friends in business about their New Year's resolutions, I've been surprised by how many of them have given variations on the same answer.
"To learn more."
The best entrepreneurs realize that their success is largely a function of exposing themselves to the best ideas. That said, it can be hard to sift through all the clutter to uncover the truly good stuff.
With that in mind, I decided to kick off 2018 with my own list of the thinkers, writers, experts, and innovators whose ideas will give anyone a competitive edge in the year to come. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with four of the five at this year's World Business Forum Humanification event in order to be able bring what I learned from them directly to you.
1. Rachel Botsman
It comes as no surprise that Rachel Botsman studied painting, because even her most business-focused writings and talks have an air of artistry. Her popular TED talks combine counterintuitive insights, futurist forecasts, and whimsical humor. In her 2010 book What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live, she predicted the outsized role sharing economy companies like Uber, Zipcar, and Airbnb would play in the economy. In her most recent book, Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together--and Why It Could Drive Us Apart, she sheds light on the issue that could very well define the coming decade--a shift in patterns of trust away from institutions and into entirely new realms, as exemplified by everything from Bitcoin to self-driving cars.
2. Stephen M.R. Covey
Speaking of trust, few people have more authority on the subject than Stephen M.R. Covey. The son of the author of the business classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has emerged as one of the country's foremost thought leaders in his own right around this all-important topic. His book The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything has led to a battery of tactical products, tools, and concepts that have redefined and clarified what it means to build business relationships in a way that drives a significant surge of personal and financial profit for everyone involved.
3. Stew Friedman
In the wake of the birth of his first child, Wharton professor Stew Friedman decided to figure out how certain highly ambitious people achieve great things in their careers while also managing to have fulfilling personal lives. The solution he uncovered was decidedly counterintuitive. Rejecting the notion of work-life balance, Friedman laid out a framework in which various spheres of work and life actually reinforce, rather than deplete, one another. From this initial insight, Friedman has built a multifaceted career that includes work as a bestselling author of multiple books (his latest is Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life) and consulting for numerous Fortune 100 companies. In an age in which the very nature of work is changing so as to become nearly unrecognizable, Friedman's message is timelier than ever.
4. Jonah Berger
In Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger explored which factors make some ideas spread more quickly and widely than others. More recently, Berger's interests have gone micro. His latest research dissects what make human beings like what they like and do what they do. As it turns out, we make most of our decisions based far more on our reactions to those around us than on the personal agency we think we have. His new book on the subject, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, is a must-read for anyone looking to affect those around them--which should be anyone in business.
5. Rob Kramer
Rob Kramer is an entrepreneur, futurist, and thinker whose entire career has been based around a conspicuous willingness to embrace change. As the co-founder of PurposeLab, he creates future-focused mobile apps and web services platforms for brands, publishers, agencies, and healthcare companies. What's more, Kramer uses his inside view of technology to explore "humanity's next stage of evolution." As he sees it, technologies like artificial intelligence and bioengineering are already changing us into a new type of organism. Anyone looking to maintain and accelerate their success in the years to come must begin to intimately understand what this means our society and for us as individuals. Because as Kramer himself says, "Business is simply an artifact of being human."