Thor is my hero.

Growing up, Thor was my favorite of the five “superheroes” featured in a rotating series of cartoons. I loved the big guy. The whole Norse god thing. The hammer, and the glamour.

Okay, grown-up me has other heroes too. Men and women who stand up and do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

I was thinking about heroes after reading about Looking Further with Ford 2016.

Four trends to watch.

Four trends to watch

According to Fast Company, the Looking Further report identifies global trends to watch, including increasing flexibility at work, “mindfulness,” and personalized retail. And homegrown heroes. According to Ford Futurist Sheryl Connelly, “people are looking for heroes in their local community who redefine what it means to be a good citizen.”

The article notes:

The heroes singled out in the 2016 trends report include a former Wall Streeter’s Philadelphia pizza shop that only charges $1 a slice, and encourages customers to donate a buck or two when they can to buy pizza for the homeless. The report also calls attention to the students who—on behalf of the Sierra Leone and Guinean Medical Students’ Association—travel to remote African communities to share life-saving information about Ebola.

In Naples, Italy, citizens practice caffe sospeso.

Ford frames this discussion in term of trust. We don’t trust politicians so we’re looking elsewhere for people we can look up to. Maybe — but when did you last look up to a politician?

It’s about stories.

"The Fame and Deeds Of Heroes Will Live" Etching

In today’s fragmented market-and-media landscape, it’s hard to stand out. Stories help us do this. Stories bind us to brands–and to each other. But having your story heard is getting harder and harder to do.

Mark Schaefer called it content shock:

This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability will create a tremor I call The Content Shock. In a situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand is flat, we would predict that individuals, companies, and brands would have to “pay” consumers more and more just to get them to see the same amount of content.

This, of course, has happened.

Most businesses have ordinary heroes. The employee who volunteers at the local soup kitchen or runs to raise money for a cause. The customer who buys extra supplies to share with someone less fortunate. The vendor who organizes a toys-for-tots drive.

The hero’s story breaks through the noise.

It’s time to find your hero.

DC mini-heroes lined up

Local heroes are all around us. Find them and share their stories in 2016.

Happy holidays! This is my last post for 2015, so look for me to be back on January 4. Meanwhile, I’ll be off enjoying a little downtime. I hope your holiday season is filled with fun. 

Feature photo by tales2astonish (Flickr). Four suits by Q Thomas Bower (Flickr); heroes marker by Alan Levine (Flickr); DC heroes by Levork (Flickr).