9 Big Ideas That Will Define 2014

As 2014 gets closer, LinkedIn asked its group of top influencers to pick the “
one big idea” that they believe will shape 2014.

Before stepping back from work to celebrate the holidays, here are a few of the most fascinating ideas, from how investing could change to the leadership skills that are going to be most important in the future.

It will be “the year of the entrepreneur.”

“Technology is helping every business, large and small, to move forwards, which will only increase in the coming year,” Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson writes. “Now, entrepreneurs can build companies at a fraction of the cost in the past. All of the little things that used to add up to big headaches for new businesses, from accounting to website development, are now available to small businesses, giving them the same capabilities as large enterprises at a cost they can afford.”

The meaning of a college degree will begin to change.

Jeff Selingo, a higher education expert, argues that we need to move beyond a place where a college degree simply says you made it through 120 credit hours of college courses. We need to focus on what people learn.

“Here’s how it basically works: Students demonstrate mastery of a subject through a series of assessment tests or assignments, instead of following a prescribed set of courses,” Selingo writes. “Faculty mentors work closely with students throughout a degree program to design a schedule and access the learning materials they need to demonstrate mastery and then another group of course evaluators grades those exams, research papers, or performance assessments.”

Your online activity will become a data mine for recruiters.

“People are pretty predictable whenever they start thinking about another job,” career expert Lou Adler writes, “doing many of things on the list below. Once three to four of these actions click to on, the person is more likely to respond favourably to a ‘custom’ message about another job that appears on your LinkedIn newsfeed, in an email or IM.”

Here’s Adlers list of online activities that soon-to-be jobseekers engage in:

  1. Expand their professional network.
  2. Update their LinkedIn profile.
  3. Check out salary studies.
  4. Buy career books like this one on Amazon or go to Wiley.com and brush up on the latest technology.
  5. Join online professional groups.
  6. Attend their live professional association meetings more frequently.
  7. Read career-focused articles like this one. (FYI, LinkedIn knows you’re reading this post right now, how long it took to read, and will track what you do next. Caution: under no circumstances click here!)
  8. Google for jobs, just to see what’s available, e.g., “warehouse manager jobs in Dallas.”
  9. Do company research and follow more companies.
  10. Research staffing firms to find recruiters.

“With this information, all that’s needed is to use an expert system to push jobs to you that best match your areas of expertise and interests,” Adler argues.

Investing will completely change as boomers retire and women and millennials begin investing more.

“The changes driven by these demographic shifts will be far-reaching,” former Merrill Lynch exec Sallie Krawcheck writes. “An example: as a rule, today’s investors compartmentalise their money. They have their investment money, which is slated to earn the highest return, and they have the money that they give away every year to charitable organisations. These pools are separate.”

“And so this is changing, as the opportunity to express one’s values — be they social, environmental, or political — will not remain compartmentalized going forward,” she says. “The ability to amplify one’s impact, by expressing one’s values through investment dollars, is becoming mainstream.”

The distinction between media and tech will crumble.

“What will define media and technology in 2014? The end of defining labels,” CNBC’s Julia Boorstin writes. “As these two industries converge, the silos will disappear, leaving an integrated mix of content and distribution companies. That co-mingling will enable more ambitious goals and bigger, riskier bets to push the boundaries of the business.”

Washington will revamp its unsuccessful technology approach.

“For the most part, government software is done using the waterfall approach, in isolation from the people who’d use it, even as much of private industry has moved on,” Craigslist founder Craig Newmark writes.

The most obvious example is the troubled launch of Healthcare.gov, but there are countless other projects that take too long because the government hasn’t adopted the tech practices that successful companies are using. Newmark predicts that will change, and Washington will adopt better practices, such as listening to the people who use the system and using open-source approaches.

Agility will become the key skill for leaders.

Executive recruiter Jim Citrin uses a large set of criteria to identify candidates, leadership ability, operational skills, and worldwide experience. But the thing that’s by far most important is something he calls “learning agility.”

That means having the self confidence to admit you don’t know everything, asking questions, being genuinely curious, and being able to quickly act on what you learn.

“Don’t just ask first-level questions, go two or three levels deeper, probing the whys and hows,” Citrin writes. “Talk to people who have different perspectives than you or people on your team do. Be an active listener and project an openness to receive information and truth, even bad news.”

Americans need to accept that they might lose money from their 401(k)s.

Bloomberg host Tom Keene has a great primer on how to think about investment and retirement next year. Losses in the stock market happen; indeed, they’re inevitable. And they’re going to be a part of any retirement.

“My Big Idea for 2014 is for me, and perhaps you, to grow up and understand that declines in equity markets happen. 10 per cent south is a correction; a drawdown of 18% is a bear market and, that jewel of an index fund in my 401(k) collapsed 55%+ from the nirvana of 2007 to the we’re-all-gonna-die of March 2009.

In short, I need to get smarter and less childish about my retirement finances. Next year is The Year of the Adult and adult begins with withstanding some measure of loss in the stock market.”

Americans will continue to move away from the coasts.

“This migration to affordable housing is accelerating because, for the first time in a generation, home prices are increasing faster than wages or credit,” Redfin CEO Glen Kelman writes. “When home prices first began outstripping incomes in 2000, easy credit made up the shortfall. But the difference in today’s real estate run-up is that lending is now regulated: home-buyers can’t just borrow more. So they’ll move to a place where they can pay less.”

“This is why, after 2013 home prices jumped 15% while wages increased less than 2%, 2014 will be the year of America’s Other Places: Denver, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Richmond, Charleston and Salt Lake City,” Kelman adds. “Newly mobile Americans, freed for the first time in five years from underwater mortgages, won’t just move across the street. They’ll move across the country.”

Find more of the big ideas here.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.