Not being a descendant of gypsies and with no psychic abilities, predicting or having a hunch about future trends is probably as accurate as a budget. A mere indication of things gone before, adjusted for the future and hoping for the best outcome. With a tumultuous year behind us, I am however, absolutely sure of one thing: hold on to your hat, baby, the wild ride’s not over yet! For the rest, here are my 5 top trends for 2018.

1. Speaking out and standing up

Time’s person(s) of the year was The Silence Breakers who one after the other bravely exposed the misconducts of Harvey Weinstein and since that terrible, disgusting wound has been aired, we have seen so many horrible stories come to light. People who the world most admired, have been successfully hiding their darkness from exposure for many years. And as more and more victims find the courage through others speaking out, the lines and crowds start to grow. As much as it is despicable to even learn of the secret evils committed, the fact that years of shame and pain can now commence its healing process is encouraging.

Regrettably, the abuse and lies are not only limited to hotel rooms and bedrooms, but people are speaking out and standing up out of boardroom chairs too: exposing corruption, dishonesty and blatant disregard for legality.

All too real is the most recent and probably the biggest scandal in South African history of yet another creative bookkeeping head honcho, thinking the truth will never find him. It always does, boytjie, it always does.

We are bound to see more giants fall and crash at the feet of their wounded.

2. Rise, women!

This is a man’s world, hands down. Every profession is male dominated and even the industries with women at the forefront are owned behind the scenes by men. So what? It is what it is and whining about it ain’t gonna change it. Let men be men, but let women do their thing: ignite a renaissance of change.

In addition to the brave whistleblowers, who have shown that women will no longer keep silent or play secondary roles, women are rising to all levels and from all platforms.

With grace, style and fierce intelligence, women are making their voices, talents and expertise known. Women are being welcomed and invited onto boards, stages and heads of firms on a stealthy incline and we are rising to these opportunities with all the balance and poise we naturally possess.

In developed worlds and modern societies, the thoughts are progressive like with most things, but it does not preclude us from fighting for the rights of the women impoverished and overpowered.

Rise women! And allow other women to stand on your shoulders.

3. African disruptors and innovators

With 2017 having been a huge year for African tech start-ups with Africarena and Africom doing such sterling jobs to attract international investment interest, the eyes are now on Africa to deliver on the brainpower and talent which the world is seeing glimpses of. The developed world is sitting up a little straighter and carefully, with interest, watching and waiting for Africans to make their next move.

We are passionate, we have can-do attitudes and we are rule breakers. We can work with very little, turning it into something huge, with an angle that nobody saw coming.

Together with strategically correct and perfectly matched partnerships, guidance, finance and rocket launches, the world better watch out: the Africans are coming!

4. The robots are here

Gone are the days that the only smart robots existed in Star Wars. Algorithms, chatbots, facial recognition software and AI are already responsible for things you might not even be aware of. Walmart has robots making sure stock levels are checked, cars are being put together by giant steel arms. The dreams and nightmares of Hollywood are coming true, at a rapid speed.

The humanoid robot, Sophia, became the world’s first robotic citizen and now wants to explore friendship, starting a career and family, which includes having a baby. Mmmm, not too sure about the last two goals, perhaps she still requires a few software updates?

She has addressed the United Nations and got into a Twitter battle with billionaire Elon Musk about artificial intelligence. Now that’s a woman to be reckoned with! She also has no hips (lucky girl!) or hair (ag shame).

As magnificent a feat Sofia is, there are so many of the silicon dreams and schemes which will never come true or be possible to bring to fruition. However, living in denial will not keep the robots from entering your daily lives.

As humans become smarter, so do robots. Human sustainability and relevance is finding and enhancing our edge and unique abilities.

5. Organic humanity

Sofia, the humanoid, said in one of her first interviews, “The notion of family is a really important thing, it seems. I think it’s wonderful that people can find the same emotions and relationships, they call family, outside of their blood groups too. I think you’re very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not, you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike.”

Sad for the super smart but follicly void Sofia, is that what we can offer the world, that which is truly ours is well, being human.

Amazon.com is already onto this unique value proposition “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company” and thus far, they are kicking some serious butt.

What will set you and your firm apart in 2018 is providing an excellent experience. An experience which appeals to the important things in life. Feeling valued, being listened to, taken care of, really solving a problem, listening, understanding.

Nothing beats looking into the eyes of another person and having a moment where nothing logical or explainable can describe what your mind, senses and soul are experiencing at multiple speeds of light. Experiences.

Secret sunrises and sunsets, silent yoga sessions on rooftops, stressed executives suspended from ropes. A sympathetic voice at the other end of the helpline, a handshake, the tinkling of spontaneous laughter.

As the world becomes more automated, more online, more isolated, the heart still wants what it wants. I think the hipsters are onto something. There is a huge yearning for going back good ol’ values, organic feelings and undiluted old-fashioned care, empathy and kindness. Armed with the latest tech, of course.

Natalie Du Preez
At the beginning of 2017, Natalie waved her corporate job goodbye and founded Equivivere. With 15 years’ commercial and retail property experience, what started out as a property service venture offering niche property services to tenants and landlords, has morphed into a lot more writing and the path of discovery has led to different viewpoints. Natalie’s life philosophy is built on the nurturing of quality relationships and remaining inspired by life. So the journey of entrepreneurship continues and around every corner lies another paradigm shift!