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The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Apr 26, 2019

After an 8-year stint at Ogilvy, a New York City-based British advertising, marketing, and public relations agency, and 3 more at Leo Burnett in Australia, Rohit Bhargava left the agency world to write. He blogged the Non-Obvious Trend Report (January 2011) to share some unexpected insights about business for the coming year. That blogpost became a digital report that morphed into an e-book that, in 2015 became a hardback, made the Wall Street Journal list, and took off. For 2020, the 10th year, Rohit intends to do a retrospective of the big themes/megatrends across more than 100 trends, and then ask what these trends tell us about the future. Non-Obvious Megatrends is scheduled to come out in December 2019.

Rohit’s “signature book,”The Non-Obvious Guide to Small Business Marketing without a Big Budget provides a wealth of information for companies that can’t afford to hire the “big guys” – how to position a business against competitors, create a good tagline, pick a website URL and what a company should know about search marketing and buying search terms.

Non-Obvious, Rohit’s company, is a consultancy that provides workshops, trainings, and keynotes to try to get people think in non-obvious ways, to spot patterns, to be able to see what other people don’t see, and to be more innovative. Non-Obvious, the brand, is a “point of view on the world.”

Rohit spoke on a variety of topics at South by Southwest 2019 in Austin, TX. He discussed “Why Trend Predictions Suck and How to Fix Them.” Rohit believes that “trends often indicate wishful thinking” and don’t actually forecast anything new or provide insights. Futurists may make predictions, put them on the market, and talk about them. Individuals may look at trends, synthesize them, and distill personally useful, career-trajectory valuable information or even use that information to help individual’s clients.

Rohit described innovation envy as a future trend in his South by Southwest presentation, “7 Non-Obvious Trends Changing the Future in 2019.” Innovation envy happens when a company looks at what other companies are doing in the way of innovation, and then tries to adopt the “trappings” of these innovative companies . . . the beanbag chairs . . . the flex time. Yeah. That will work.

Another trend he discussed is the creation of Instagram-postable strategic spectacles, “bright, shiny” events that attract a lot of attention. These spectacles need to be created in a strategic way to provide value. In all trends, are they actionable? And what happens with the trend?

In 2017, Rohit identified a trend he saw as “fierce femininity.” Rohit sees the counterpart to that as “muddled masculinity.” When women can be anything, but men can only be one thing, the challenge is one-sided. As women are freed to embrace new outside-of-the-norm self-definitions, men, likewise need to be freed to develop those human facets that have been denied them (feeling pain, showing emotion) in the name of “classic masculinity.”

Rohit runs IdeaPress, a business book publishing company, which operates more like an agency than like a publishing company. He is publishing a guidebook series, The Non-Obvious Guide to multiple things, which will provide “smart advice for smart people.” (not for dummies and idiots.) To keep the books “up-to-date,” information that may become dated within 10 years will be posted online for download.

Rohit can be reached on his company’s website at:, on his personal website at:, or by email at: