Nobody predicted 2020 or what would happen in the world. As I take a step back, I notice things particularly in the working world. First, let me go back 20 years! I started my career in 2000 as an engineer for a large corporation. I had to wake up at 6am, get ready, and be in a cubicle by 8am. I would stay in my cubicle farm until 5pm and do it 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year. I had 2 weeks off, which I would typically reserve for the Christmas break. I would dream of owning my own business and not being stuck in this cubicle. That's when I saw the Amway business and jumped at the opportunity to earn my freedom from the corporate world. I learned about this new way of commerce called e-commerce and the Law of the Power Curve. This law plots all major technologies on X-Y axes of time and market penetration. Here's how it works. Any new technology has early adopters who try it out. It takes a long time for a new technology to gain momentum as it steadily climbs to 10% market penetration. In other words, 10% of the market has or is using this technology. This is called Critical Mass because it takes the same amount of time to get from 10 - 90% market penetration as it took to get from 0 - 10%. Then the curve levels off again as it takes just as long to get from 90 - 100% and in theory, never gets to 100%. The curve from start to finish looks like a "S", hence the name of S-Curve Economics. This was mind-blowing to me when I learned about it in 2002. I then studied the major technologies like the phonograph, the telephone, the TV, the PC, the internet, etc. They all followed this curve exactly, except for one difference. Each successive technology was building on the last, so the duration from 0 - 10% was getting shorter and shorter. This gave me the confidence that e-Commerce would be the next Power Curve even though I couldn't in my wildest dreams imagine a world where I would not be shopping in stores. I heard these visionary future thinkers that came to Amway events talking about this new thing called e-commerce. They said stuff like this. There's this new company called Amazon and they're losing a ton of money right now because they are spending way more than they are making to get people to shop there. I heard this. "In 10 years, people won't be shopping in malls or stores anymore. They'll be buying everything on the internet." This was preposterous. When you needed things, you go to a store for it. I went to the bank in person, the pharmacy for odds and ends, Walmart was huge. Auto parts store, electronic store, malls because they had tons of stores. You went to stores to get things you need. An entire industry had built around the need for people to go places in person for over 100 years. I believed the S-Curve would happen because history repeats and good technologies follows this curve. Therefore, I didn't totally reject the idea. I simply believed that internet shopping would increase and it would be good to own an e-Commerce site. That was what Amway was to me in 2002.
It reminded me of the quote from NHL great, Wayne Gretzky. He was a prolific goals scorer and was asked how he always ended up in the right place at the right time to be in position for a scoring opportunity. His reply is legendary and has been turned into cliche. "I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been." Wayne Gretzky didn't race toward the puck. He raced to the place on the ice where the puck would be going next. This is profound when you bring it into this discussion. I was now an e-Commerce site owner with an ability to earn income when people stopped shopping in stores and used my online store instead. Online stores were the future and I wanted a piece of digital real estate. When I started my e-Commerce store, it had less than 2% market penetration. It took 15 years to cross 10% in 2017 and only 4 years later, e-Commerce accounts for 18% of worldwide retail sales. If the S-Curve holds true, we will see e-Commerce at 90% by 2032. That is astounding! Before Christmas, I was driving around with my oldest son. We sat at a red light as literally 25 Amazon vans pulled through the intersection. This is becoming normal. Where there used to be cubicle farms, now there are Amazon van farms. You know... you've seen them! I even said something funny. "Kenny, I used to shop in stores and joke with friends saying, could you imagine if we ever did all of our shopping on the computer. Now we joke with people and say, could you imagine if we ever did our shopping in stores?" My kids and mostly every young person under the age of 20 would say. "That's ridiculous, preposterous. You're living in a fantasy world dad." Ironic, right?! What else is potential in the future? I heard the same thing about smart refrigerators where they would keep track of what's in your refrigerator and automatically order for you. I thought that was ridiculous 10 years ago. But now people walk into their kitchen, see something empty, say, "Alexa, order peanut butter jiffy", and it shows up a couple days later!
What's next? Look at the Block Chain Technology now. It is only possible thanks to the previous power curves. How fast could this technology go from early and questioning to dominating and accepted? Only time will tell, but my guess is within 10 years. That's why I'm bullish on BitCoin and cryptocurrencies. When Wayne is skating toward the puck, no one else is there and he looks a little out of place. But over time, the opposing teams realized that Wayne knew something they didn't.
Is this getting you excited? Here's another one. I read the "The Four-Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferriss years ago. Tim was describing in detail how to earn lifestyle freedom and become the new rich. One of the themes was "remote work". Tim shared a future workforce where workers would be working from coffee shops in remote corners of the world and utilizing a global virtual team to help them accomplish their workflows. This was far-fetched to me. I got out of the corporate cubicle farms the easy way. I got fired. Tim was talking about a mass exodus from what I experienced as an engineer. Tim did not see 2020 and Covid-19 happening! Look at the workforce now. We all know what Zoom is and say things like, "Unmute yourself" or help their coworkers figure out how to go virtual. In my opinion the S-Curve for remote work sped up by 10 years thanks to Covid.
Let's connect this now to our industry. What's the future of cleaning? I moved my business to commercial cleaning in mid 2020. "Ken, if everyone is shifting to remote work, will there be a commercial cleaning? Will there be offices or will everyone be working from home or what?" I have no idea. Maybe people will be working from home. Yet, they need to have meeting places still so co-working facilities could pop up all over the place. Here's what I do believe. There will always be buildings that need to be cleaned and I don't think a robot can clean good enough. I could be totally wrong, but my personal belief is that cleaning is something that's always needed and will always be delegated. I believe there will always be buildings. So my mindset is to understand the science and art of cleaning, so I can always clean any building. Plus I want to be good at the science and art of team building so that I can always staff the buildings that need to be cleaned. So whatever the future does hold, I'm flexible and I can pivot to whatever and where ever the buildings are because I have a foundation. It doesn't matter where you are in you're cleaning business. My question is very simple. Are you keeping your eye on the future. Are you operating like Wayne Gretzky? Where is cleaning going? Stay informed. Follow the line of sight of where technology, the workforce, and the cleaning industry is going. Go there!
Check out my interview with the T-Bag Company Founder, entitled "Respectful, Reliable, Responsible with Damon Washington". You can purchase any of the T-Bag products at a 10% discount through the Smart Cleaning School Resources Page.
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