At last night's kick-off for the Forward with Ford event, Malcolm Gladwell told the crowd that we were in the midst of a paradigm shift unlike any we've seen since the mid-1960s. Then, he pointed out, Americans began bucking the trend of following the rules. They jettisoned the authority ranking in favor of exercising control over themselves, their destinies. As examples, he noted the rise of the civil rights and anti-war movements, Women's Lib, "rebellious" young people and even the retooling of professional sports unions (a fascinating story in an of itself, even if you're not a fan).

Today's paradigm shift is in the other direction. Instead of running from authority, the baby boomers key to ushering in the sea change away from it are running to it. With demands.

  • As he so indelicately (as least for this reporter on the tail end of the baby boom) put it, this "aging" demographic wants help and assistance dealing with our "diminishing" limits. Ooph. But true. We want a partnership with companies and brands that understand us and minister to our needs.
  • Next he pointed out that almost all generational cohorts today are making changes in our own lives and ways of living that transcend our own interests, and we expect companies and brands to also behave in a more environmentally sustainable way.
  • Finally, he noted that safety and security will be "one of the significant trends of the next 1o years", offering recent high-profile hacks of Citibank and the CIA, among others, as examples. We can't just walk away from bit institutions like that, so we run to them because we need them. And we tell them to do better. "The real challenge of this generation is to find ways to build authority back up in a way that's meaningful."

These trends, he said, will "remake the entire universe of brands."

All of us here at Forward with Ford will be exploring this idea for the next two days. It's probably a good idea for you to consider these trends, too, as you look ahead for your own enterprise.