Looking Forward with Ford

I'm at Ford corporate headquarters in Dearborn right now. I'm being overwhelmed with information, but it's all good stuff. There are nearly 200 writers here learning about how Ford is using future trends to shape their cars and the way they do business. Among the trends we're covering are Youth Influence, Aging Population, and Emerging Technologies. Last night, we were treated to the words of Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point, Brink, and Outliers. I don't think I can express to you how very incredibly geeked out I was to meet him! Seeeeee...

Malcolm talked about a paradigm shift that occurred in the 70s that has created circumstances that we are all experiencing today. Later that night, over drinks with the other social media folks here, we talked about what he had to say and all agreed that we were all nodding our heads about what he was saying. What was he saying? I'll have that up later this week. If you're not already subscribed to my feed or signed up to get my posts via email, please do so. I wouldn't want you to miss what he had to say. It's important.

In one of the sessions this morning, we discussed Millenials and what they are expecting from companies. Funny, but I identified with so much of what they want. Is it because I have children that age? Is it because I live in California where that sort of thinking has been around for a while? I'm not sure. I just remember nodding my head at all the talk of simplifying life, to the point of changing the idea of car ownership. I'm still Gen X enough to want my own car, but for the next generation of drivers, sharing is becoming more acceptable. My daughter in San Francisco is a member of the Zip Car service. Whenever she needs a car, it's there. But the rest of the time, she's on her bike, taking the Muni, or walking. She avoids a large car payment, monthly parking fees, and maintenance costs. Of course that's all built into the Zip service, but not to the extent that a car owner realizes those costs.

We also talked about people returning to urban living. This is a big one for me. I would LOVE to live where I can work and play and take an elevator downstairs to the market. If you go to the cool new neighborhoods in San Diego's downtown area, you'll find blocks and blocks of really beautiful buildings, hip and modern, rising to the sky. On the ground floors are cafes, markets, stores, and offices. The area, once semi-abandoned, is becoming a place that people are not just going to for work or a night out at the newest restaurant, but also a place to call home. Why are we feeling more comfortable about living in denser environments? According to sociologists and trend analysts, we're becoming more tolerant because of our global neighborhood: the internet.

That takes me to all the emerging technologies. Oh wow... I don't think I'll ever want to leave my car. And the safety presentation was another great session filled with information on how Ford is working to keep drivers and passengers safer. There's a lot to share, including a video on booster seats for kids that parents will want to see. Too much to add into this post. But I'll save that for tomorrow... after we go see an actual crash test!

There's a lot going on in the world right now. So many shifts and changes. It's great to see an "old" company like Ford be so active about the future of not only their own brand and business, but the lives of their drivers now and into the future.

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You can follow the conversation on Twitter: #FordTrends