As a marketing strategist, I get paid to predict the future. Not the long term -- that's easy -- but a much tougher animal: the next year. Of course, no one can really do this. But if you have any talent, you get pretty close to delivering the goods, and you learn to make a living.
I've grown tired of writing "Top Ten Predictions." So this year, I am going with just one: 2009 will be the year of the ukulele. Unless you are like me, you heard it here first. I've timestamped it just in case some nudnik tries to lay claim to the same prediction. (Though I now see that 2006, 2007, and 2008 are already taken -- never mind that, I'm going with 2009!)
The evidence for my prediction? I base all predictions on surprising coincidences:
--A few weeks ago, my wife and I took our son to his first karate tournament. Where? Stockton, California. We knew little about Stockton. But we quickly learned a lot about the place, including the fact that it has a large karate-loving, Filipino population. The food at the tournament was surprisingly good. In addition to the expected stuff -- hot dogs, chips, soda -- the organizers offered a Filipino lunch plate. Amazing meal. We sat there in the cafeteria feeling great about the whole experience, when suddenly things got even better. A posse of Filipino teenagers suddenly appeared with three to four ... uh huh ... ukuleles, and they sat down and played. It was fantastic. But we couldn't understand it (teenagers, hanging out on a Sunday afternoon in Stockton, California, with ukuleles?). I asked my wife, "what's up with that?"
--Just two days later, I am driving in my car in Palo Alto when I hear a feature on NPR about a Ukulele master. I thought, "too big a coincidence."
It was too big a coincidence. It soon struck me. Obama's Hawaiian heritage must be strumming on our brains, and the music from the islands must be on our minds. So on this holiday eve, I am hoping that the new year will be more harmonic -- and less discordant -- than the last. And based on this most amazing ukulele experience, I am guessing that I am not alone. In the meantime, I leave you with a clip from Jimmy Buffet's Tampa rally for Obama. Peace. Mahalo. Buy a ukulele.