Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 243
February 18, 2022

Announcing: Casting Visions

Announcing our newest project: Casting Visions! Future Commerce has seen an evolution, and its growing and evolving. Today, Phillip and Brian discuss the evolution of Future Commerce and what the future of Future Commerce looks like: Casting Visions, Step by Step, Nine by Nine, Infinite Shelf, Future Commerce Salons, and more! Tune in now!

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this episode sponsored by

The Evolution of Future Commerce

  • Today we’re talking about the future of Future Commerce, going in depth on all our deep and dreamy stuff we got going on! 
  • “Commerce is relationship, identity, and connection between people. As we see changes in the way that people relate, commerce is affected and vice versa. As commerce changes, the way that people relate is changed.” - Brian
  • Because everyone has the ability to change, we at Future Commerce want to grow and adapt with the change, commence Casting Visions: building in public. Casting Visions will be the spot of Future Commerce where we will be looking beyond commerce.
  • “Future Commerce is a company. It's a media company. It performs research and comes up with original ideas, big ideas, on how the world will be changed via commerce and how we're all going to have to adapt or create the new future. And that is powered by people who are futurists, who are risk-takers, and who are creating the new commerce paradigms and experiences for the future.” -Phillip
  • Not only are we working on Visions, but we have amazing growth going on with our subproperties, Step by Step, Infinite Shelf, Nine by Nine, and Future Commerce Salons. That’s why now is a great time to make Visions more than just a report.
  • Visions is more than just a report. That’s why we’re building it in public, with our friends and colleagues of Future Commerce
  • “As you do push boundaries, sometimes you push right over the edge. And I think there's a time and a place to do that. And it is risky to do that. But Future Commerce is for the risk-takers. We want people who are ready to put it all on the line at some point and show things off.” - Brian

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Phillip: [00:01:11] I [00:01:00] think what you meant to say is welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about...

Brian: [00:01:14] Next-generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:17] I'm Phillip. Gosh, wow. Three tries. That [00:01:20] took us three tries.

Brian: [00:01:22] That is going to be my very specific goal from now on to get you to do a spit take whenever I start the show.

Phillip: [00:01:30] It's going to be my very specific goal to not be drinking when we start the show. I mean, water. I was drinking water. All right. Very different kind of a show for you here today. [00:01:40] There will be no mention of Spotify drama. There's not going to be any mention of the fact that apparently Levi's ousted as a CEO or a C-level exec, allegedly, due to their COVID beliefs. None of that stuff will be mentioned after this moment right here [00:02:00] right now. We're not going to mention any of that stuff because today we are actually going to talk about the future of Future Commerce and that is so exciting for me. If you like our deep and dreamy stuff, then this episode is going to be great. We are also simulcasting this Live as we speak right now [00:02:20] on all the streaming platforms that have allowed us to do such a thing, including LinkedIn. We're all real leaders that post all of their content.

Brian: [00:02:32] You're not a thought leader until you are posting on LinkedIn.

Phillip: [00:02:36] LinkedIn is basically [00:02:40] a void where people only speak and no one listens. It's only for broadcasting.

Brian: [00:02:46] I only doom scroll on LinkedIn.

Phillip: [00:02:49] You doom scroll?

Brian: [00:02:51] Oh, I doom scroll LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the ultimate doom scroll.

Phillip: [00:02:55] There's a lot of doom. {laughter}.

Brian: [00:02:57] It's a lot of just, well, I guess it depends [00:03:00] on what you define as doom scrolling,

Phillip: [00:03:02] I find very little value in the things that I discover on LinkedIn. What I find is interesting people, but the things that people say and that people put out into the world are almost always expressly, at the end of the day, just to try to drive some business, which I guess what else would a business social [00:03:20] media platform be for? I don't know. He said. Obviously. {laughter} "He said to himself, in a revelation, "That was unique unto him alone.'" So today we're talking about the evolution of Future Commerce, and I thought [00:03:40] we would start by... This is kind of technically our second episode of doing this. We kind of just jumped straight in. But I just thought maybe we could talk a little bit about why we're doing this and what we're hoping to gain out of it because this is part of a much larger multi-month project for us [00:04:00] called Casting Visions, right, Brian? Where we're like building in public, which is very off-brand for us. We haven't done that before.

Brian: [00:04:08] Oh no, no, no hold on. That's not true.

Phillip: [00:04:10] It is true.

Brian: [00:04:11] No, no, no.

Phillip: [00:04:12] We had a whole thing about how cringy building in public has become.

Brian: [00:04:16] It's true. It's true, but what people don't know, and [00:04:20] if you've been listening for long enough, maybe you have realized this is that Future Commerce is pretty much raw, Phillip and Brian. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:04:28] It's true. It's unadulterated black tar Phillip and Brian-isms.

Brian: [00:04:34] It really is.

Phillip: [00:04:35] Deep isms.

Brian: [00:04:36] Building in public is basically what we've been doing all along. [00:04:40] We just didn't know it.

Phillip: [00:04:42] You know, that's true because we have a weekly window into our brains for 242 weeks. This is true, but not of the variety that, you know, has become popular on social media and especially Twitter.

Brian: [00:04:53] We've never built any of our other content in public. That is true. Future [00:05:00] Commerce is raw. We've never, and actually, [00:05:03] it's very rare that you'll see anyone build something like a visions report in public. And so Casting Visions I am so excited about. You're absolutely right. It is unique in that usually when people say they're building in public, they don't literally mean like they're building something  [00:05:20]actively. [00:05:21]

Phillip: [00:05:22]  [00:05:22]They're not really building. They are talking about the things that they choose to reveal that they have built. [00:05:26]

Brian: [00:05:26] Right. Stats and such.

Phillip: [00:05:29] Yeah, and usually the good ones, right?

Brian: [00:05:31] Yeah. They're not like product building.

Phillip: [00:05:33] So here's what this is. So we are, I hope that we are building something that is of use to people in the world, but we're also [00:05:40] changing the nature of our business as a media company in the process. So let's zoom out a little bit. Ok. And actually, I love an oral history lesson. So let's give everybody a little history lesson. If you're new around these parts, for two years now, and this will be the third year starting in 2020, which before [00:06:00] the world became what it did, we published a report called Vision. And I have one actually right here, which last year we did a physical print book, and it was... {something falling} Dropping stuff. It was a physical print book called Vision and for [00:06:20] two years in a row now, this report has been a painstaking work of staggering genius and a lot of humility. But it's beyond just retail, beyond just e-commerce, because I think that our big idea is that the whole world can be changed  [00:06:40]through commerce because we all have to engage in it, right? So it's what are all the things in the world that are changing?

Brian: [00:06:50]  [00:06:50]Commerce is relationship. Commerce is identity. Commerce is connection between people. And therefore, as we see changes [00:07:00] in the way that people relate, commerce is affected and vice versa. As commerce changes, the way that people relate is changed. [00:07:09]

Phillip: [00:07:10] Oh, that's super good. I think that there's the other element, too, is that [00:07:14] we tend to think of technological advancement guiding our [00:07:20] expectation or our definition of what modernity is. But I actually don't know if that's always true. I don't think it's technology that defines culture or modernity. It's actually the people who are willing to embrace change and people who [00:07:40] don't want to settle for what they currently have or the world the way that it is. In fact, they're willing to take some risks to bring about a new world, and that isn't unique to commerce, but because commerce touches everybody we can, through the commerce lens, talk about all of these things. [00:07:59] So [00:08:00] the report has been much broader than commerce for a long time. And for me, you know, we have Future in our name. I think of us as like a futurist type of an organization. We happen to focus on commerce, but we're about big ideas. And this thing that you and I have talked about for ages now is that we we started [00:08:20] with a podcast. I feel like we kind of got locked into one medium is sort of a core medium, right? And we've branched out over the last couple of years, but we're actually a lot of things. And I think that this is our opportunity this year right now to change that conversation and people's perspective on who Future Commerce is.

Brian: [00:08:39] Yet [00:08:40] again. Yeah, I think when we added writing and really committed to that, that was a huge step for us and honestly, the things that we've written over the past 24 months, have been some of my favorite things that we've put out ever.

Phillip: [00:08:56] Yeah, yeah.

Brian: [00:08:58] And the Visions report, [00:09:00] being a big part of that.

Phillip: [00:09:02] It was the first flag in the ground for that. For us, it's like this seminal work. And it's become a subbrand for us.

Brian: [00:09:10] Right, exactly. And that's what Casting Visions leading up to the report, which is now going to be called Visions, I think, [00:09:20] is that sort of evolution now where our most adventurous ideas are going to be explored and Future Commerce is going to continue to explore incredible ideas as well. But Vision will be that spot where we're looking beyond commerce. I think you nailed it.  [00:09:40]It's everything. It's culture. It's trends. It's people and how they change. And tech. And tech, too.

Phillip: [00:09:50] It's absolutely tech. It's how it allows so many people across the world to engage with each other and to engage in commerce today. Tech [00:10:00] is fundamental to how we see commerce evolving.

Brian: [00:10:05] You mentioned something earlier about people's ability to change. I think something we said on the show earlier, a few episodes back was perhaps the difference between early adopters and [00:10:20] late adopters is the speed at which they get bored of something. But I think, looking ahead to, we've been talking about the digital divide for a long time, and actually, it's becoming clearer and clearer into focus. We're going to start to look at [00:10:40] intelligence differently and already have. There was the idea of IQ, which is one form of intelligence. There's the look at EQ, which is another form of intelligence. There's also the look at what is it? Like AQ? Adaptability quotient?

Phillip: [00:10:56] Oh, that's right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian: [00:10:58] Yeah. And I think we talked about that in the past [00:11:00] as well. I think that as we engage in Visions, I think that we're going to be looking to engage other people as well who bring their ideas to the table. I think it's interesting. Adaptability in general is going to be a part [00:11:20] of this. But the ability to, a certain level of adapting in concert with other people... It's kind of a combination of EQ and AQ that is going to be a part of where we're headed with this.

Phillip: [00:11:36] So just to recap. What [00:11:40] we are doing right here is this is our official announcement, I guess. This is our official announcement.

Brian: [00:11:47] We've announced this before already.

Phillip: [00:11:49] Of course. Well, I feel like we're going to have to continue to reannounce. But this is our reframing of what Future Commerce is. [00:11:56] Future Commerce is a company. It's a media company. It performs [00:12:00] research and comes up with original ideas, big ideas, on how the world will be changed via commerce and how we're all going to have to adapt or create the new future. And that is powered by people who are futurists, who are risk-takers, and who are creating the new commerce paradigms and experiences for the future. [00:12:19] Ok, [00:12:20] so Future Commerce as a podcast right as a property of the Future Commerce company, needs to adapt. It's been five plus years, right? And having an eponymously named podcast to your company can be a bit confusing because Future Commerce is so much more than just a podcast. And so we [00:12:40] needed to think a little bigger. What could we do to create a home for all of our big idea content that would branch out beyond maybe even just commerce one day? Maybe it's a lot of things. And so those things need to live somewhere, and we need something to call them. And it would [00:13:00] be really nice if it wasn't called Future Commerce. And so in our first go at this, we actually sat down with our creative team. We sat down with our creative director, Jesse Tyler, and our team at All True came up with this great idea of this great convergence of media properties [00:13:20] within the Future Commerce universe. Ok, what if Visions becomes a home for more media that contains both commerce-centric and non-commerce-centric big, bigger ideas? So Visions is that property. Eventually, later this year, you will see us shift content under the Visions brand, [00:13:40] and that's a big deal for us.

Brian: [00:13:43] It is. It really is. Because we've been so commerce-focused forever and we will continue to be commerce-focused.

Phillip: [00:13:49] More so than ever before. Just so you know.

Brian: [00:13:51] More so than ever before. Yeah, yeah. But I think that commerce can't live in a bubble by itself. And if we're going to be better [00:14:00] at commerce, we have to be able to look beyond commerce to what else is happening in the world. And we've been like you said, we've been doing that for a while. We've just been running it all under one banner.

Phillip: [00:14:13] Yeah, it's all just been running under the one name, which is great because it means we've grown in a bootstrapped way organically, right? As [00:14:20] I tell people at the time, our cap tables clean. It's just you and me. But it needs to not just be you and me eventually. So we to grow this up. Now we have a whole team around us, and so we have really great ideas, ways to think about how we shape the future of Future Commerce. So that's that. The other thing that's really exciting is Visions now becomes [00:14:40] more than just a report. It's more than just a piece of research. It's more than just a gated PDF or a slideshow or even a...

Brian: [00:14:47] Printed book.

Phillip: [00:14:48] Right? We're the same person basically. It is potentially a physical event, right? It is a summit. It is a series [00:15:00] of self-guided, you know, videos that have in-depth, ongoing series that explores the concepts that we come up with in 2022.

Brian: [00:15:11] It's a pop-up shops.

Phillip: [00:15:12] It's beyond. It's beyond. And these are things that we're going to work out live in public in our Casting Visions [00:15:20] buildup. And so Casting Visions for the next 10 to 12 weeks will be our build-up in the launch for us to bring friends of Future Commerce alongside us to help us figure out what visions is all about and build that in public because we don't know. We don't know what it is about. And truthfully, if you gave us 10 weeks, we'd [00:15:40] spend six weeks not doing anything and then work really hard for a month. {laughter}

Brian: [00:15:43] {laughter} So I mean, in the spirit of transparency, that's not that far off.

Phillip: [00:15:51] Yeah, it's pretty close, right? I'm kind of tired of working 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Future Commerce [00:16:00] and Visions every year for a whole month.

Brian: [00:16:04] And so actually, you might get to witness a little bit of that the next time we end up in the 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., which is not that far from the truth.

Phillip: [00:16:15] Oh, it's so true.

Brian: [00:16:16] Yeah, because like it was, we stayed up to like 2 and then we get up at like 4. [00:16:20]

Phillip: [00:16:20] Yep.

Brian: [00:16:22] And we're going to record groggy Brian, who hopefully has a haircut at that point.

Phillip: [00:16:27] Oh, I've been wearing this hat. I've been wearing this Tracksmith hat because I haven't had a haircut in two and a half months.

Brian: [00:16:33] Dope hat by the way.

Phillip: [00:16:34] Thank you. For no good reason. I just don't have time.  [00:16:40]I have not been so excited about anything that we have ever done, and this gets me so fired up when I'm starting to talk about the future because it's our future. It is not just the collective we, society,  [00:17:00]it's the future of what Future Commerce can be. And so that's why we're expanding it. It is so important to us because we're also going through... We just went through an identity refresh of Future Commerce as a company, and it's more mature now. We have so much thought and intention behind [00:17:20] that identity. Our Step by Step property, which we're seven seasons coming in the next few weeks, has just gone through a big refresh.

Brian: [00:17:29] So excited about that. Step by Step is looking sharp.

Phillip: [00:17:33] I never thought I'd be so excited about cross-border commerce, but I really am. And so that is a banger. [00:17:40]

Brian: [00:17:40] I learned so much through that process that was...

Phillip: [00:17:43] My gosh, it's so true. It's so true. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, when you think about all of the sub-properties, Infinite Shelf. Nine by Nine. These are all things that we have in just the last six months put an entire [00:18:00] design system around, have the best designers in the whole world helping us really pull out of us the what it is that we're about and what these things are for and who they serve. And that along with it, all of that intentionality has actually paid [00:18:20] in spades. We have seen audience growth like we've never seen before at Future Commerce and revenue growth like we've never seen before at Future Commerce. And so why not make this Visions property the biggest, best thing we have ever done by bringing more of those smart people alongside us to help shape what that will be?

Brian: [00:18:38] And you know what else is exciting [00:18:40] about this? We're evolving as an organization as well in ways that you know, this is stepping us into doing physical events. And we also just announced Future Commerce Salons, which I am hyped on, and we're doing a dinner in Seattle next week that there [00:19:00] might be a spot or two left if you hear this. If you're around the Seattle area, hit me up and see if I can sneak you in.

Phillip: [00:19:10], by the way.

Brian: [00:19:13] Yes, and those Salons are not like getting your haircut, you know, getting your nails done sort of salons.  [00:19:20]

Phillip: [00:19:23] Although, that's a good idea.

Brian: [00:19:23] I mean, maybe someday.

Phillip: [00:19:25] The service sector is also part of commerce.

Brian: [00:19:28] A Future Commerce Salon at a salon. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:19:35] And the gentleman who is doing your hair, his name is Saul Haan. There you go. [00:19:40]

Brian: [00:19:41] There you go.

Phillip: [00:19:43] We're hosting a Salon at a salon with a man named Saul Haan. I'm so sorry. That is the clingiest thing. Something happened when I turned 40 and a switch got flipped in my brain, and those seem like really funny ideas. And then they come out and I'm like, "That wasn't it."

Brian: [00:19:59] This is the thing about doing [00:20:00] this Live is like, that's in the show now.

Phillip: [00:20:04] That's in. There's no editing. There's no fixing that.

Brian: [00:20:07] Oh, man. Anyway, long story short, we're doing these incredible dinners with incredible chefs and beautiful restaurants with, you know, just the coolest people. [00:20:20] And I'm really excited about that and that actually plays into this as well. We're going to do this summit. We're going to bring people together. We're going to build community through sharing a meal together and experiencing new things and exploring new ideas. To me, I'm made [00:20:40] for this.

Phillip: [00:20:43] That's what it's all about.

Brian: [00:20:43] I'm excited about this.

Phillip: [00:23:39] Brian [00:23:20] has [00:23:40] been literally training his palette his whole life for this.

Brian: [00:23:47] Basically.

Phillip: [00:23:47] So let's talk about... So we've talked about the why. We talked about the what. Let's talk about how. One of the ways that we built the research portion [00:24:00] of, well, actually, why don't we do this? Let's start from the beginning. When we did the very first Vision report, how did we go about coming up with the ideas and putting the research to it to be able to tell the story and create the report?

Brian: [00:24:18] Well, I think we had  [00:24:20]some inklings of what was going on out in the world. We podcast all the time. We're researching all the time. We're talking to all these incredible people all the time and that helps us, you know, shape some ideas that we see in the world and we think are there and we believe are there because we have all of  [00:24:40]this data, it's actually data, coming into us via the work that we do and the people we talk to and the things that we research. And so that allowed us to formulate these ideas that were a little bit, you know, unformed. They were like, maybe not the most complete. And so we took those and we [00:25:00] turned those into basically a survey to go validate if what we're seeing has some foundation in a broader context and get feedback from people about those ideas. And that allowed us to shape those ideas further and turn them into what they became [00:25:20] in that first Vision report. So it was usually a little bit of hypothesis, a lot of validation, a reframing based on what the data told us, and then building a narrative around that. And I feel like that was what we did with the first Vision. We did that with [00:25:40] continued reports afterward.

Phillip: [00:25:42] But let's just hold on. Because I want to sit on that for just one second. So let's use a couple of concrete examples from the very first version of this report, which was with a very specific partner, right? So we had this idea. So let's just let's kind [00:26:00] of talk about it in detail. We had this idea that we had a very successful podcast that at the time had something to the tune of ten thousand listeners. And you know, nowadays, last year, I think we had thirty-eight thousand forty-some thousand people check into the podcast, which is for never having really spent [00:26:20] much on marketing and just doing what we do and continuing to grow. That's pretty awesome.

Brian: [00:26:26] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:26:27] But we didn't have relationships with those ten thousand people. We had a vague idea of who they were and they would check in with a sometimes. But you know, despite our many attempts to try to get people to [00:26:40] leave reviews on Apple Podcasts or to send us an email.

Brian: [00:26:45] Tell us audience. Should we stop asking for that?

Phillip: [00:26:48] I stopped. I give up a long time ago.

Brian: [00:26:50] Occasionally we still do.

Phillip: [00:26:51] The point at the time was how do we get to know people? Well, we need to be able to know who they are and why they're checking into our content. And [00:27:00] so I said, Hey, podcasts, in particular, are the most passive form of media consumption that you can partake in, right? It's like you don't even need to use your eyeballs. You can multitask while you listen to a podcast [00:27:20]. You can work out while you listen to a podcast. You can have it on in the background while you're doing other stuff. It's not a terribly active form of media.

Brian: [00:27:27] The consume podcasts is like when I'm doing something else.

Phillip: [00:27:31] Exactly. So your default mode is this is not a primary, you know, it's not your only source of focus, whereas [00:27:40] written content requires a little bit of undivided attention, right? So the idea I think originally for Vision, which was, I think, our first gated report that we hosted. That may not be true. Might be true. Is that true?

Brian: [00:27:56] I think it was. I think it was. Yeah, that was our first report we [00:28:00] ever did.

Phillip: [00:28:00] So the idea was we need to build a lead magnet. We need to build some something to where we can start to populate a list so we know who these people are. Not so that we can sell it to a sponsor. Although we did. And by the way, not for all that much money because we had never done this before. So we wanted to partner with someone who would take a chance on, you know, two dodos with a podcast [00:28:20] that wanted to like, you know, trade some emails for in a couple of thousand dollars, you know, for a printed booklet to give out at NRF. And we had this big idea that literally everybody and their mom who's ever done any kind of B2B marketing has done is like, we're going to create a gated report, so [00:28:40] we get to know people. And that has just built over time. We've now built that capability to be able to do that, but we couldn't just write our ideas. We had to engage a research partner. And if you've paid attention for a long time, you know we've worked with Rachel Swanson at Method + Mode for many years now to help us sort of build on that consumer-led research just to validate those ideas. [00:29:00] Sorry, I felt like just getting all that out there was good. It was very therapeutic.

Brian: [00:29:04] No, I think it was to sort of... Our humble beginnings are there. Over the years we've done many reports now, not just our omnibus reports, like Vision and Nine by Nine, but also a number of other bespoke reports. [00:29:20] And we've tested some different methodologies for getting after those. I feel like this could be even a different year for us. In fact, that's part of what we're going to do is sort of figure out if the way that we've done it is the way that we should do it again here on [00:29:40] Visions 2022. It might not be that... We might not do it the same way this time.

Phillip: [00:29:49] And we get better every time.

Brian: [00:29:52] Yes. Oh, my gosh, yeah, so you look at, I mean, if you go back, if you want to do this, you can. You can look at our first Vision report and our [00:30:00] second Vision report, and it's night and day. The first report was a good report. It's a great report. Nothing wrong with it. The second Vision report we did, the one in 2021 was like a different thing. It wasn't even a report. It was something like [00:30:20] that you would see from...

Phillip: [00:30:22] It was a piece of art.

Brian: [00:30:22] Yeah, it was a piece of art. Correct. Yeah, it was a coffee table book about the future of commerce.

Phillip: [00:30:28] And you know what's really great about that is it's provided a structure. What Vision as a report and what Nine by Nine as what [00:30:40] started as an idea for an award and then progressed into a sort of quantifying a specific part of e-commerce and then creating basically a report, but it's a multi-sided report. But what it has done is it gave a structure and very discrete [00:31:00] boxes about things to talk about and for us to bucket our ideas and behaviors in certain parts of the ecosystem into certain things so that when it comes up again on the podcast, we can mention. It's become incredibly self-referential about what it is. If we just sat down and said, "What do we care about?" we [00:31:20] wouldn't have come up with things that are durable, but we had to do it in the context of we're creating a durable piece of media that we have to like, write stuff about. And you really, writing, Brian, has become the greatest source... It's like the greatest pain in my side, but it has become the greatest [00:31:40] source of inspiration because we have to write three or four times a week now. You know?

Brian: [00:31:45] I know. Dude, I mean, I'll say this, and if you have read Phillip's stuff, you don't even know the half of it. Phillip is one of the best writers that I know.

Phillip: [00:31:55] That's a bunch of bull crap.

Brian: [00:31:56] No, it's not.

Phillip: [00:31:57] I appreciate it. And I take the compliment.

Brian: [00:31:59] Hold on. [00:32:00] No, wait. Wait, wait, wait. Wait, let me finish my compliment.

Phillip: [00:32:03] You're not allowed to compliment me.

Brian: [00:32:04] The efficiency at which you accomplish your writing is mind-boggling. There are efficient writers out there. Phillip is... I almost guarantee [00:32:20] you could tell me, someone please challenge me on this. I would love to know someone that writes as quality of pieces as Phillip, as fast as he does. I do not think it's possible to find that person. I'm curious if anyone out there could match the speed at which you create.

Phillip: [00:32:36] I have to believe like a David Perell is able to crank out a couple [00:32:40] of thousand words without even thinking about it. But it's fine.

Brian: [00:32:42] No way. That guy puts like two years into one of his assets.

Phillip: [00:32:47] Well, yeah. That's why his are markedly better and get a lot more traction than mine.

Brian: [00:32:49] Yeah. I mean, OK, like I'm talking about from a very specific standpoint, the quality to speed ratio is insane.

Phillip: [00:32:58] Ok, thank you for that. Thank you for the... I [00:33:00] think those are kind words. I'll take them. What I do think is you have to get efficient, especially when you're producing. Now we're at three newsletters a week. You'll notice, and I have to say this because we both have day jobs, this newsletter comes out at like 6:30 in the evening. It is very [00:33:20] apparent when we're putting time in on things. Like it's not happening in the best parts of our day.

Brian: [00:33:27] My mine happens at like 2:00 in the morning.

Phillip: [00:33:31] Brian's podcasting at 5:00, 5:30 Pacific a.m. It's this labor of love that, [00:33:40] truthfully, we for the first time, actually in January this year, the first time we ever paid ourselves anything from this company. We're trying to just build and reinvest and build and reinvest and build and reinvest. To what end? I'm not quite sure yet. We have ideas, but we're just [00:34:00] trying to see where this goes because it seems to keep growing and why would you not continue to expand your influence? It's too crucial of a time in our industry and the opportunity is too great. And we have somehow created a platform with people that care about what we say, and [00:34:20] that is incredibly humbling. But you as a writer, I have to I'm going to throw back some content toward you as well. Some of the biggest things that we have talked about that are the most unique observations have come through your pieces. They [00:34:40] are nutritionally dense. Your pieces are mind-blowing. Like you talk about efficiency. Every time you write something, I learn a new concept. I have a big macro idea that can be applied broadly to a lot of things, but you've somehow made me care about [00:35:00] it in our specific context, and you're always taking a completely different angle on something than literally anybody else would. It's not a tactical here, do this, it's not do X and Y happens. It's a think about all of the meta consequences [00:35:20] or the psychological behaviors that go into why X might cause Y. And that is, I think, such a strong counterpoint. And I think we could only do and talk about the things that we do and talk about because we have such different and complementary writing styles that have [00:35:40] such opposing tones and points of view.

Brian: [00:35:44] That's true. That's true. Yeah, we both it's funny you said earlier where the same person, but sometimes things can look similar, but be the complete opposite

Phillip: [00:35:56] This has become Brian's and like very backhanded insult. "Sometimes things [00:36:00] appear to be the same, but they're completely different." So the writing thing for us has become this discipline that's allowed us to get better at all the other things that we do. And it's given us these very discreet topics and [00:36:20] vehicles for us to have to like become more self-referential. And by the way, let's say why. I'm just tired of talking about news only. And that was a big drawback for us is like, how do we compete with like a Retail Brew in the ecosystem? I'd rather compliment Retail Brew than try to compete with Retail Brew. I don't want to just [00:36:40] become another lead gen magnet, you know, advertising behemoth, although I'll take the revenue. I find to be as someone who has spent tons of money over the years working at companies that have marketing budgets that pay for placement in a bunch of our retail industry trade publications, they get [00:37:00] low open rates, even lower engagement, and they never really quite return the way that you would hope that they would in a qualified audience. And so I want us to be a little different, and that's what writing has really helped us to achieve is beyond just a news-centric organization.

Brian: [00:37:14] Yeah. And we still cover the news. It's important. Part of understanding what's  [00:37:20]going to happen is understanding what is happening and what has happened. And so I think it's important to continue to do that. But it's really, but that really is to inform what I would consider more important, which is actually strategic [00:37:40] content, stuff that's not just like, "Oh, this is happening and that's funny," or "This is happening and that's scary," and "This is happening and that's whatever," whatever it is, which is what a lot of content out there is, including us, including us at times.

Phillip: [00:37:57] I mean, it can be us. Yeah, for sure.

Brian: [00:38:01] But [00:38:00] to have all those things in your mind as you think about what's next is, I think, it is essential. Also giving ourselves the space to do that. And I think that's another thing that Visions [00:38:20] is going to allow us to do is we're going to be dedicated a lot to this, like a lot of time, a lot of time, hopefully not as concentrated into as few of weeks.

Phillip: [00:38:32] Well, that's what hopefully the building and public piece helps us with. Gives us in the same way, Brian, that having a podcast [00:38:40] every week, having multiple issues of Insiders or The Senses going out every week. It provides a boundary for us, it provides some level of accountability.

Brian: [00:38:52] Right, well, yeah, and space, actually. So that's really what it comes down to is dedication of space to really muse [00:39:00] on this with other people, and you're going to get a lot of like probably raw takes from us as a part of Casting Visions, which I know like our takes are pretty raw, but like...

Phillip: [00:39:13] More raw takes.

Brian: [00:39:16] More raw takes. That will be Casting Visions.

Phillip: [00:39:18] Unrefined.

Brian: [00:39:20] Which [00:39:20] is great. I mean, I hope it's great. I think there's going to be some stuff where you're like, "Yeah, that's a bad take." I think... I hope actually, you know what I hope? I hope our audience hears some of our bad takes and our back and forth on them because we do have them.

Phillip: [00:39:36] Oh yeah.

Brian: [00:39:37] And I mean, clearly, people have heard [00:39:40] them.

Phillip: [00:39:40] Clearly, we've had bad takes. Let me interject one thought here, too, though. I am so inspired by having seen the sort of work in progress and then the culmination of other folks who have kind of open-sourced their [00:40:00] process. When we did the piece on Entireworld many years ago, and we talked about the Anti-Design Design Club and now this is like going back to 2018 or 2019?

Brian: [00:40:12] 2018.

Phillip: [00:40:13] And the Entireworld was like revelatory for me. It's like, why the heck would they design a website like that? Who is their creative [00:40:20] agency? It was this agency called Hawraf, now defunct, as is Entireworld. Rest in peace, both of them. But their creative agency, you know, had this really bonkers design of a website that was also very transgressive in its own way, like it's  [00:40:40]purposely breaking the rules. And when that company went out of business, they open-sourced everything that they ever did, including their employee handbook and their PNLs. They went all-in by basically just turning their Google Drive, their master Google Drive into read-only mode and put [00:41:00] it out for the whole world to see. And I have spent hours and hours and hours of my life poring over what happened to this company and how this company worked on projects and the stuff that they created and their internal culture docs and their memos. And that sort of thing to me is a level of depth of content that few ever ever [00:41:20] aspire to try to create or but. And very few would ever take the time to go beyond surface level to go, "Oh, that was a cool website."

Brian: [00:41:29] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:41:29] But the people that do are so moved and so inspired that they want to go do that for themselves. And I have been so inspired that I want us to, similarly, [00:41:40] it's not going to happen the first time we ever do it, but [00:41:43] I aspire to do something much deeper that gives people as long of a rope to spelunk into how something came to be as they are willing to take up the slack on. [00:41:55]

Brian: [00:41:56] Yeah, if you listen to all of Casting Visions, and at the end of it, you're like, [00:42:00] "I want to know more," you can just email us, and we'll tell you more.

Phillip: [00:42:03] We want to. That's what we want.

Brian: [00:42:06] Yeah, yeah. You know what's interesting about this is there's an element of testing limits, and I kind of talked about this in the article I wrote about power structures, that Entireworld [00:42:20] sort of embodied. And when you test them [00:42:25] as you do push boundaries, sometimes you push right over the edge. And I think there's a time and a place to do that. And it is risky to do that. But I think [00:42:40] that Future Commerce is for the risk-takers. We want people who are ready to put it all on the line at some point and show things off. [00:42:51] If there's ever a moment when you're listening, you're like, "Hey, I don't think that they're being transparent about that." Hit us up. Call us out.

Phillip: [00:42:59] Call us out [00:43:00] on it.

Brian: [00:43:01] Yeah, yeah.

Phillip: [00:43:02] I want that. And I think that so... Let's talk a little bit then here about we've talked a little bit about how we're going to get to a finish line, but how do we know that we were successful when we get there? So what are the things that we definitely want to do? What are the things [00:43:20] that... We're going to do a lot on the way, but what does success look like for Visions? Spell it out for us.

Brian: [00:43:26] Yeah, I'll spell it out for you right here. So one, I do want to publish something.

Phillip: [00:43:34] Oh gosh. If we haven't, we're going to be in trouble.

Brian: [00:43:35] I want to publish something, right? I also, and this will be part of the chat, [00:43:40] want to make sure we do a good job fulfilling our commitments to our sponsors, whatever that looks like. I want to make sure because they are our partners, and they're part of this. And so doing a good job with them and stewarding them and our commitments to them. I also want to produce ideas [00:44:00] that spur conversation. When we do go have the summit with the people that we're going to record more content with, I want them to be excited about it. I want them to be like, "Oh my gosh, I can't even believe this idea. This is something that is going to [00:44:20] transform the world and commerce." So having people excited about what we're talking about, not just running trend lines, but talking about things that are compelling and beyond the [00:44:40] open narrative that exists today.

Phillip: [00:44:43] Can I say something? This just came to me. We are starting with a couple of hypotheses. We're starting with some ideas. We're going to work all those things out.

Brian: [00:44:58] Yeah, yeah.

Phillip: [00:44:58] So really  [00:45:00]if we have to get really precise about it, we kind of need 10 ideas that go into this report.

Brian: [00:45:05] Maybe. Maybe. I would contend maybe it's not 10 ideas. Maybe it's its seven ideas. Maybe it's 15 ideas. Let's figure that out.

Phillip: [00:45:14] Ok, well, we're going to ideate on a bunch of ideas. And one of the ways that we're going to be able to get there is we're going to bring our good [00:45:20] friend, Mike Edmunds, who's over at Microsoft these days, who is one of the greatest facilitators and mediators for this sort of ideation session that I have ever seen in action. And so he's going to actually do on our next episode of Casting Visions, he is actually going to do Live, in video [00:45:40] with us, an ideation session in Miro. And we're going to build that and we're going to open-source the Miro board for our audience to be able to get in and be able to contribute if they'd like. And hey, wouldn't it be interesting? Let's see what happens. Let's see what happens. Maybe nobody goes in there. Maybe vandals go in there and put penises [00:46:00] everywhere. Who knows? But whatever happens, it'll be interesting. And I personally am looking forward to something, some kind of engagement, any kind of engagement, {laughter} whatever kind of engagement we can get. But that ideation session is going to be [00:46:20] the next checkpoint for us because it does have to come down to we're going to publish something.

Brian: [00:46:25] Right. It does come down to that.

Phillip: [00:46:27] What's going to be published? It's a bunch of ideas, right? And then we'll back it up. We'll back up some of those ideas with proof points. Some of that might be consumer research. I'm not really sure. Some of that is another conversation that we're going [00:46:40] to have to talk about.

Brian: [00:46:40] Fleshing it out. That's right. That's right. That's another question I have. Is consumer research something that's necessary or is it B2B? Or is it just fleshing something out with an expert?

Phillip: [00:46:51] Maybe qualitative, which is expert interviews. And that's one way to get the insights we need as well.

Brian: [00:46:57] Totally. I am looking forward [00:47:00] to this. It's going to be fun. It's going to be tough. It's going to be cool. I'm stoked.

Phillip: [00:47:08] And then so some of the other like "deliverables" here... We are going to put together a Future Commerce Summit, Visions Summit, at the end of all of this. [00:47:20] And so one of the things that we're toying with is what does that summit look like that can really only be done by Future Commerce? Something that makes this is uniquely us and not just getting a bunch of people in a room and flying them to a common location or co-locating it next to a trade industry event where we can get some [00:47:40] people to talk about something so we have something to publish. It's something bigger than that. And is that a physical installation? Is that, you know, taking out a gallery space? Part of this is bringing our ideas into the real world. That's part of what Visions is, Casting Visions, right? So my hope, then, is what we're going to bring our friend, Reb [00:48:00]ekah Konradt, who is one of the smartest people in building out physical retail for direct-to-consumer brands. And she's going to help us or tell us, you know, all the ways and all the perils that we might have to encounter to be able to bring something physical into the real world, to create space for [00:48:20] people to be able to interact in a commerce setting with our ideas. And we don't know what that means. I've just said a bunch of things. They're just words, but they're going to become not words by bringing...

Brian: [00:48:33] By the time we're done with this.

Phillip: [00:48:34] Yeah, exactly. That's the whole point.

Brian: [00:48:36] Yes, yes. So teasing a couple upcoming [00:48:40] guests, there's more to come.

Phillip: [00:48:42] So much more. And the people that we're going to have on are going to be people that I am excited to learn from and develop these ideas with.

Phillip: [00:48:54] So we have to talk about holding space. We have the space. Make sure you're subscribed [00:49:00] to all of our content. You can get it all at More coming on Visions will happen in just a few short days when we meet up with Mike Edmunds. That will be the next checkpoint for Casting Visions. And we have another design check-in coming right after that. And then you're going to see a lot of fast [00:49:20] and furious building. I want you all to be part of this. I want the Future Commerce audience to be part of this. Drop us a line. This is my solicitation for feedback. Email us at if you'd like to be involved. I'm not going to guarantee you'll be involved, but I would like you to be involved.

Brian: [00:49:39] You to always hop [00:49:40] on the Miro board if we don't get back to you. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:49:43] And there will be many, many documents that we'll also be open-sourcing along the way and including our content and our design, ways that you can get involved, that we've never done before, and we'll find a way through all of this. On the other side at the end of April ish, [00:50:00] right, Brian? We're going to have, Visions will be a real thing. And that's a scary thing.

Brian: [00:50:09] End of April. Existential crisis.

Phillip: [00:50:13] Yeah, sleeplessness and lots of caffeine to be had. Brian, I'm really [00:50:20] pumped. I'm kind of scared, but I'm more excited than I've ever been before.

Brian: [00:50:25] You know, we did this. We've done this. This is out in public now, and we're going to go get it.

Phillip: [00:50:32] No, going back.

Brian: [00:50:33] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:50:34] All right. That's it. Episode 242. It's a lock. Casting Visions. Thank you so much for listening. [00:50:40] We want you to be part of this. So we couldn't do this without you. And we're taking a risk here. And that's OK because the future is built by risk-takers. And that's what it means to be part of Future Commerce. Thank you for listening.

Brian: [00:50:53] Let's go.

Phillip: [00:50:54] Here we go.

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