The Future Isn’t In What You Know Now … But What You Don’t Know Yet.”

In my CEO Stars session with over 60 advertising agency owners, we’re constantly discussing, ‘what’s next?’ The questions range from ‘what kind of an employee should I focus on hiring to meet next year’s challenges’ to ‘how do I prepare my agency for the future?’

While we can keep guessing – there is no crystal ball answer – I’m convinced that we just don’t know. Oh, the pundits and gurus will soon explode on the scene saying the same old stuff and steer you in a wayward direction, you can bet on one thing: the future isn’t in what you know now, but what you don’t know.

I’ve observed from conversations with many agency CEOs that rather than look internally at what the future agency is going to look like, you’ve got to look at your target prospects and clients. It’s important to find out how they’re adapting to the future.

“What does your client’s business look like five years from now?”

What are the issues they’re going to be facing when up against their competitors? How will they increase sales and profitability? How will they deal with disruption? How will they become more convenient and reduce the friction of doing business with their vendors, suppliers and customers? What will the customer experience look like and how will it continue to be nurtured throughout the digital buying process?

The future isn’t in what you know now, it’s in what you don’t know. What don’t you know about your client’s operations or their distribution channels? What don’t you know about their sales training? What don’t you know about their pricing and packaging? What don’t you know about their customers?

There’s a lot still to know. And that’s where the future is.

Joel Cohen is the founder of CEO Stars – – a unique concept with a community of over 105 ad agency CEOs. Cohen is also the founder of Dreamland, USA – ‘An Imagineering Community’ – that helps leaders accomplish their ‘impossible.’