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Time Compression

Mar 13, 2020 | Trends, Ubertrends

What’s up everyone? Welcome back to my channel. I’m Michael and it’s my job is to help you catch the next wave before it catches you. In my last video, I showed you what true innovation is and how to recognize various types of innovation.

I also mentioned that the process of innovation is accelerating. Allow me to explain why. In my book, Ubertrends, I describe in detail a tsunami wave I call the Time Compression Ubertrend. Now what makes me qualified to write about the future? I founded four companies that rode disruptive waves early and I have been on the professional speaking circuit for nearly two decades and I am also an adjunct professor of innovation at the University of San Francisco.

I’m sure you have noticed that life is accelerating. If you believe, however, that our warp-speed living is a contemporary phenomenon, allow me to set the record straight.

To better understand why, let me to take you back to 1946. The place is Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A little girl by the name of Jennifer tells her father that it takes too long to develop photographs. Dad happens to be Edwin Land and he shows off his Polaroid instant camera in New York in 1947.

Little did Land know that his invention would help usher in a whole new era, one in which instant gratification would rule the day.

Land wasn’t the only one working to compress time. Not far away, in Waltham, Massachusetts, engineer Percy Spencer observed something peculiar. While testing a new vacuum tube called a magnetron at defense contractor Raytheon, Spencer noticed that a candy bar had melted in his pocket.

And so the microwave oven was born further feeding a looming culture of instant gratification.

In December 1948, brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California, which sold 15¢ burgers and 10¢ fries. Ahhh, those were the days, my friend!

Yes, White Castle had beaten McDonalds to the punch, launching its fast-food chain in Wichita, Kansas in 1921, but it was McDonald’s that came to symbolize our fast-food culture.

Four years later, British Overseas Airways Corporation, or BOAC, launched the world’s first commercial jet flight. The acceleration of humanity took a giant leap forward with this 503-mile-per-hour jet, which helped usher in a whole new concept: “jet-setter” — an all-too-meaningful homage to a glamorous and significantly faster lifestyle.

Time Compression developments continued to arrive at heightened pace. The word “realtime” was mentioned for the first time in the April 1953 journal “Mathematical Tables & Other Aids to Computation.” Did you expect anything else, really?

The acceleration of life had one major consequence, growing societal angst. Hans Selye, a Hungarian professor, then living in Montreal, Canada, was the first to popularize the concept of “stress” in his groundbreaking 1956 book The Stress of Life.

Fast forward to 1969, a monumental year. That’s when DARPA rolled out the internet — an invention that would shake up society some 25 years later.

1969 was also meaningful for Time Compression because on Christmas Day in a Tokyo department store Seiko launched the Astron, the world’s first commercially available quartz watch. What was so notable about the Astron you ask, besides its space-age name?

It used a quartz oscillator that was accurate to about a minute a year, which was not only groundbreaking but also foreshadowed a future where we would be micro-slicing time.

Another memorable year in the history of Time Compression was 1973. On the company’s first night of operation, 389 Federal Express employees using 14 jets delivered 186 packages overnight to 25 U.S. cities. But Federal Express, shortened to FedEx in 2000, would not catch on until the early 1980s, when its catch phrase, “when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight” began to register with business.

Now you’re probably wondering, “why is all this history relevant to me?” Allow me explain: I want you to have a solid grounding in this Ubertrend because it’s absolutely critical to your future in innovation.

If you’re working on a startup today, you should know that Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, raised $91 million in venture capital to get his innovative idea off the ground, which was a staggering amount of money in the early 70s.

Another huge Time Compression tool was demoed live in New York that same year. That’s when two Motorola VPs, Marty Cooper and John Mitchell placed a call on the corner of Sixth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th, without using a phone booth. It was the birth of the cellular telephone, which would become an explosive time compression device some 30 years later.

Remember how the 50s brought us the concept of stress? Well the 70s popularized one anti-dote, yoga. But the 80s brought us another: Xanax, which was the first drug that could treat “panic disorders.”

Today, Xanax is America’s most prescribed anti-anxiety drug. As Hans Selye presciently observed in his book, “It’s not stress that kills us. It’s our reaction to it.”

Ohhhh, I’m stressing already, going as fast as I can through history because I know you don’t have damn time to listen to all of it. If you need more details, I recommend you read my book, “Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future, which will provide you with far more background on this fascinating Ubertrend.

Today, we’re living in an age where just about everyone suffers from “too busy disorder,” or TBD, because we don’t have the time and patience to pronounce the entire disorder, as Ellen DeGeneres tells us.

We just don’t have time anymore, which has impacted everything from business lunch to shopping to entertainment to travel, and even reading for rest and relaxation.

And it’s a global phenomenon. The Telegraph reports that nearly half of all U.K. workers are too busy to leave their desks for lunch.

People spend about 75 seconds viewing your web page, on average. Think about it, that’s all the time you have to convince someone to buy your product or service! What is the chief implication of the Time Compression Ubertrend on marketing and copywriting? As the saying goes, K.I.S.S.! Keep it simple, stupid!

Now you’re probably wondering, Michael, is this ever going to change? Aren’t we going to reach the limit of humanity to speed things up? Very unlikely, but there are somethings you can do to help yourself and others keep up.

To get a good sense for how our society is adapting to the acceleration of life, you don’t have to look far. I’m sure you have seen this abbreviation before, right? You know what it means right? Too long, didn’t read!

And because it’s kind of an insult, there is a smiley in the middle to make the message hurt less. Keep your emails to under one paragraph, I have “zero bandwidth” — another techie term.

If you want to see the ultimate expression of the Time Compression Ubertrend, you have to visit Saginaw, Michigan, which features the nation’s first drive-through funeral chapel. Ah, the heck with it, I didn’t know him very well, let’s just drive through!

If the microwave and Polaroid camera started tweaking our search for instant gratification way back in the 1940s, imagine what life is like today!

The most remarkable manifestation of the instant gratification phenomenon is this Google finding: Searches for ‘open now’ have tripled in the past two years, while searches for ‘store hours’ dropped.

I don’t care what your store hours are! Are you open NOW?!?

The rat race’s insatiable demand to speed up life is the subject of much humor, as this “news item” from The Onion humorously illustrates:

“Bowing to the demands of the American people, U.S. officials sped up instant gratification yesterday, making wish fulfillment more immediate than ever before.”
— The Onion

The need for instant gratification has led to a severe lack of patience: 67% of social media users want to get a response the same day and four out of 10 want to hear from you in less than hour! And this trend is even more pronounced among millennials and digital natives, your customers of tomorrow.

To cope with the pressures of time, we have started to multitask more. The 2000s brought us speed dating, driving while texting and a lot of distracted pedestrians, and even train conductors. It was also the era when “good at multi-tasking” first showed up on resumes. And despite the fact that most people dislike multitasking, people will just have to get better at it. That is the topic of a future video.

In the meantime, we have had to energize ourselves to get through our busy, multi-tasking laden days. And that requires a lot of coffee, energy drinks, energy bars and other aids that help us either gain more energy or better focus on the task at hand.

Think about it, between 1964 and 2016, the coffee market tripled to $81 billion. Time Compression helped propel the fortunes of Starbucks and Howard Schultz, and a host of other coffee entrepreneurs.

Red Bull launched in Austria in 1987 and made it to the U.S. market in 1997. Between 1999 and 2020, the energy drink market will have grown 16-fold to $61 billion.

And there is no telling where our search for boundless energy will end, because Time Compression continues to speed up life. To understand why, we need to visit the eye of the storm.

Time Compression is propelled by a very arcane technology you need to know about, the codec, which stands for compression/decompression algorithm. Codecs compress data to allow for faster transmission of information.

The most popular codec is MP3, which for a brief period of time was a more popular search term than sex in 1999. And you know when something replaces sex, it has to be very stimulating, if you get my drift.

HDTV and DVD are other popular examples of codec-based technologies, each revolutionizing the video market.

The codec is the driving force behind the Time Compression Ubertrend Around the periphery of the eye of the storm, lie four agents that are helping accelerate Time Compression.

I’m sure you heard about the concept of idea viruses. I estimate that idea viruses move at the speed of the internet, which, given typical latencies, is about 200,000 kilometers per second, or 124,000 miles per second.

These idea viruses are infecting the thought streams of more than 1 million startups, according to F6S, a figure that is growing by a staggering 17,000 a month. At the current pace of growth, the number of funded startups will exceed 2 million in 2023.

And startups are obtaining venture capital at astonishing rates. In 2018, tech finance deals exceeded $500 billion worldwide.

Then there’s machine learning and AI. These technologies allow for ever shorter design and manufacturing cycles. I estimate that machine learning will, at minimum, quadruple the speed of bringing innovations to market in the very near future.

The upshot is that innovation is accelerating and many pain points will be addressed in the upcoming two decades. But not nearly enough. We will need far more innovation to address many of the world’s most pressing problems.

So how can you leverage the Time Compression Ubertrend in your career, business development plans or startup?

Think of all the companies and startups that successfully rode the Time Compression wave. First came Polaroid, then Raytheon, which acquired Amana, and introduced the Amana Radarange microwave in 1967. McDonald’s is now a $21 billion giant in the fast-food business.

BOAC, now called British Airways, took us into the jet-setter age and earned $17 billion in 2018. Seiko’s quartz watch innovation made it the world’s largest watch company in terms of revenues by 1977.

FedEx and Motorola both rode instant gratification waves. FedEx Founder Fred Smith submitted a term paper at Yale University describing a service that used jet aircraft to deliver letters and small packages overnight. His college professor, clearly less attuned to the need for speed, gave the paper a C.

Today, FedEx generates $70 billion in annual revenues. The lesson of this innovation case study is twofold. The future value of innovation is difficult to predict. And two: don’t believe your college professor!

Motorola introduced its successful MicroTAC phone in 1989 and remained a player throughout the early 2000s with its StarTAC and RAZR phone status symbols.

But the storied company squandered its opportunity to remain at the top of its game and was eventually sold off to Lenovo. A key point to remember is that being an innovator does not insulate you from having to execute on all other fronts.

Doctors write nearly 50 million Xanax prescriptions annually, making it the single most prescribed psychiatric medication in the U.S. Lululemon Athletica rode another anti-stress wave, yoga, to the tune of $3.3 billion in annual revenues.

Starbucks and Red Bull offer consumers a convenient way to meet the challenges of the day, or evening as the case may be. Starbucks is a $26 billion company with nearly 30,000 restaurants today.

In 1982, Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz discovered a Thai beverage, called Krating Daeng that helped him fight jet lag after a long flight from Europe to Bangkok.

In 1984, Mateschitz quit his job, and he and a partner invested $500,000 each in a startup called Red Bull, which generates nearly $8 billion in annual revenues today in a market with more than 500 hundred energy drink brands.

Amazon and Google provide instant gratification by delivering products and information on demand. I don’t need to tell you how successful those companies are.

Do you know another company that has leveraged Time Compression successfully? Southwest! Southwest can turn around a plane faster than any legacy carrier, which has resulted in an unbroken streak of 46 consecutive years of profitability, quite a feat in the marginal airline industry.

So what products or innovations can you create, or help a company develop, that address the key values ruling Time Compression: the need to save time, the ability to multitask, the desire to gain more energy. Remember, you too can be a Fred Smith, Howard Schultz or Dietrich Mateschitz.

To help you further crystalize your strategic initiatives, what phenomena flowing out of these value changes can be leveraged into a new product or service — the need accomplish two tasks at once; the requirement that everything be spelled out in simpler terms because we simply have no time or bandwidth to focus.

You already saw that odd but very viable solution of a drive-thru funeral chapel, where else can this idea be applied? Or the fact that consumers no longer care about your opening hours. Are you able to deliver a service right now?

Our realtime world demands realtime solutions. And I’m sure you aware that you need to keep up, so let me give some tools and tips. You need to stay on top of trends and that requires parsing through a huge amount of data. I use a Mac, so I recommend an RSS reader, called, not surprisingly Reeder.

Reeder lets you quickly scan headlines and lead paragraphs, and open headlines of interest by clicking or using the right arrow key.

Clicking on a headline will open your browser and you can use either Evernote or Bear to clip the article of interest to read later.

I use TiVo to watch boring and slow games, like baseball or golf, in QuickMode, which speeds up your recordings. You can do the same thing while watching YouTube videos, I’m sure you know, by clicking “Settings” (the gear wheel) and choosing one of the four faster speeds.

If you like to listen to audio books or podcasts, you should know that apps like Overcast help you listen at much higher than average speeds, which will speed up you information absorption.

When I travel, I use an app called Citymapper, which I think is fantastic because it allows me to precisely estimate travel time, and even tells me what part the Underground or Metro I need to sit to save time when getting off.

Of course, travel being the huge time suck that it is requires that you be able to always catch up on your email and reading, anytime, anywhere. For that reason, I highly recommend T-Mobile in the U.S., because they offer free global roaming, a truly needed service.

Uber gives me the control I need over my time to more accurately predict when my transportation will arrive, which is something the average taxi simply can’t match. I’m sure you’ve gone through this before. You’re waiting for a cab to take you to the airport. You call the dispatcher and ask, “when will this cab arrive?” They always say, “20 minutes!” Which can be 15 or 35 minutes. With Uber, I know precisely when my car will show up.

To manage time and tasks, I use a bevy of project management tools, including Asana, Meistertask and Wunderlist. Two of these are produced by German companies, and knowing their indefatigable quest for precision, you know why.

If you need more insight on the type tools I use to be productive, please check out Toolhacker.com, where I list more than 150 tools that help me stay super productive. I have also listed links to the tools I mentioned in the description below.

In upcoming videos, I will explore more productivity tools that help you accomplish things faster and brainstorm more efficiently. I hope you found this video very helpful in understanding how our future is developing and how you can cope with its accelerating evolution.

If you are interested in my next video, please subscribe below. And if you have tips for tools that speed up life, please add them in your comments. And also let me know if you know any other companies that have leveraged Time Compression.

I hope you people have a great day, a great week, and a great year and see you in the next video. Ciao, speedsters.

“The successful companies of tomorrow will address the changing business and consumer values of today.”

— Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong’s Ubertrends book
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