Commentary

What My 3 Daughters Have Taught Me About Where We're Headed

Each year, Father’s Day has us reflect on the lessons our fathers have taught us, and consider which ones we’ve managed to pass along to our own kids. But in reality, some of the biggest lessons and inspiration I’ve received in my life have come from my daughters. 

Ages 16, 21, and 23, they’re digitally native and view the technology we call disruptive as second nature. Every day they teach me something new, and they’ve made me more connected to my company’s first core value, “Stay Curious.” Being a father, and being a leader, is about listening, observing, and imagining the possibilities for the future. According to my daughters, this is what that future looks like. 

Accessibility isn’t trending, it’s exploding. For kids going forward, gone are the days of having to ask Mom or Dad to take you shopping. My 16-year-old sits at the bar in our kitchen as she contemplates her upcoming cheer season. She pulls up the email from her new coach on required equipment and apparel, does a quick search on Amazon Prime, hands her phone over to Mom to approve the purchase, and all she has to do is hit “buy now” and they’re with her on Friday. 

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The pace of change is accelerating quickly. It took telecommunications half a century to evolve from landlines to mobile devices, and decades for shopping to evolve from the rise of malls to specialty stores to e-commerce. That innovation gap is shrinking. Now, social platforms and the way we use them to communicate can change in only a matter of years.

For example, my 23-year-old was an early adopter of Facebook and still uses it daily today. My 21-year-old uses it far less often. My 16-year-old would never set up a Facebook account — she thinks it’s for “old people”—and it seems she might be onto something. As Statista recorded in 2017, Facebook was the second-least popular social network among U.S. teenagers, just above Twitter. Snapchat was the most popular, followed by Instagram. This all just goes to show that, as marketers, we have to be smart about which channels we use to communicate — they’re evolving daily.

Influences have forever changed and will continue to. Although they don’t always enjoy being questioned about who or what is “cool,” as the CEO of a shopper marketing firm, I’m continually observing what shapes my daughters’ beliefs and desires. When I was growing up, influences were simpler. They came from whatever I saw in commercials, or from what shoes I saw my heroes Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan wearing. 

That model has changed somewhat, and my girls and their friends are becoming their own influencers. My daughter’s 17-year-old best friend has over 13K Instagram followers and she’s constantly sharing makeup tips and products so that she gets sent free samples. My middle daughter’s competitive cheerleading team just won the world championship. Suddenly, she has over 5K followers she doesn’t know and gets sent free athletic apparel for posting selfies.

Communication platform advancements are changing people’s perspectives by the minute. The line between consumer and creator is much more blurred now. Really, they’re only separated by potential reach.

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