Lessons from Justin Bieber on predicting the future.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

Justin Bieber spoke directly to me on Sunday night. No, seriously, he did. When he got on stage to accept the award for Best Pop / Rock Male Artist at the American Music Awards, he batted those puppy dog eyes, proudly held up that crystal pyramid and said:

“I want to say this is for all the haters who thought I was just                                                                         here for one or two years. I feel like I’m going to be here for a                                                                         very long time.”

If you saw our post on Feb 2, 2011 you would have read that we predicted the demise of the Bieb’s career by the end of this year. Sure, we started to back pedal in a subsequent post. But we were still doubtful that the kid would last much longer. Based on his showing at the AMAs (he also won Favourite Pop/Rock album and Artist of the Year), and his current cover on MacLean’s magazine, clearly Justin’s “in yo face, haters” speech wasn’t just for us, as he’s not going anywhere.

So there is but one lesson in all this: PREDICTING THE FUTURE IS A FUTILE GAME.

So what should you do? First, feel free to congratulate us on our bravery for acknowledging the facts and fessing up that we made a mistake. It’s painful to be wrong, but liberating to admit to it. Now, as you think about the future of your business, you can’t predict it, but you can prepare for it by doing three things:

  1. Know your customers’ hopes, needs and wants better than anyone else. I’ll be honest, we didn’t really know all that much about Justin Bieber. We didn’t know he was so talented, so driven, his fans so damn loyal, his team so supportive. Who knew he’d emerge from puberty so successfully!
  2. Scenario plan: look at your worst case scenario and have a contingency plan. You’ll need to plan for if your brand is a success (order more limos!) and if it’s showing signs of weakness (get on Dancing with the Stars).
  3. Do a post mortem: very few people take the time to look at what happened after every initiative. It’s a lost chance to get smarter. By looking at why on earth Justin Bieber is so successful we are now smarter. Our next prediction: Taylor Swift will still be popular next year.