What can companies do to get in on this trend?
Stop selling the sizzle. Sell the steak. Americans want good value. Sure, the Silverado has its base among younger men who want a big truck, but don't sell it as "my country," sell it as a good truck.
It seems like it would also be a smart idea for companies to embrace green principles.
Yes. Even Wal-Mart is green. Its consumer base is very conservative and green. Even conservatives care very much about the planet.
What consumer products do you think will become popular over the next decade? In your book, you mention hybrid cars as one.
I think we're going to be generating and saving some of our own electricity and heat. Energy products, retrofitting homes. While that takes a massive amount of investment, consumers are ready to do that, just as they were ready to pump insulation into their homes. They're ready to retrofit their homes to save energy. Home office kinds of things--the handheld [such as PDAs and iPhones] will become even more expansive. People need to be globally in tune at a moment's notice.
You also say the America of 2020 will embrace a simpler, more Zen-like lifestyle. What will that look like?
There will be less rushing and traffic, simply because we can't sustain it but also because our lifestyle is changing. You're going to see more people riding trains, taking a little more time. People will be working hard and conducting their business, obviously, but working will involve a lot of part-time, 70-somethings and even healthy 80-somethings who will pick and choose their projects and who don't want to play golf and shuffleboard.
You're going to see a lot more mentoring in schools, because there are people who genuinely will want to work with students and help teachers out, and in 2020, 70-somethings will be very facile with all sorts of new technologies.
You'll see people more Zen-like. They will have an ability to communicate with friends and neighbors and cohorts from their living room, which will reduce traffic.
Will people really be calmer? People seem so hassled now.
They probably will be hassled externally, but this drive for spiritual fulfillment will tone them done a bit.