Taken With A Grain Of Salt
If you’re in your early 20s like me, you’re a Gen Y-er. If you moved to the Sunshine Coast in pursuit of lifestyle, you’re part of a sea change. And, if you’re wondering why you’re still single, you can blame the man drought. The futurist and social commentator who made demography trends popular, Bernard Salt shares his career insights and predictions for our region.
As I write this, the office is buzzing with the Profile team back at work, fresh from a fortnight’s break for the festive season.
It’s quite fitting then, that one of the first articles by Bernard Salt I come across on The Australian is a slightly tongue-in-cheek dissection encompassing, of all things, Einstein’s theory of relativity and the Australian approach to the two-week block of summer holiday fun.
“In fact so infinite are those holiday-days that lie ahead that I think I will take to the beach — wait for it — my tax file to sort out claimable receipts for the most recent financial year … As you can see, just thinking about what can be achieved on holiday can create quite a state of delusion … I am hallucinating about the beach and tax receipts and pleasing my accountant,” Bernard writes.
It’s this style – humourous, sharp, clever and engaging – that’s given the writer, media commentator, partner with global advisory firm KPMG (and founder of specialist advisory business KPMG Demographics), adjunct professor at Curtin University Business School, holder of a Master of Arts degree from Monash University, published author, columnist and corporate speaker his reputation and popularity for 25 years.
“I describe myself as a failed historian/geography teacher, I did teaching rounds and realised I didn’t like other people’s children,” laughs Bernard.
“So I did a Masters degree in urban development and fell into a consulting group in Melbourne that did feasibility studies for shopping centres based on catchment areas and demographics.”
One of the first reports Bernard worked on was in 1985 for a shopping centre development on the Sunshine Coast – the now-thriving Sunshine Plaza, which opened in Maroochydore in 1994.
“I stayed in a motel in Cotton Tree, it was my first time in Queensland and I grew fascinated with the Sunshine Coast,” Bernard remembers.
“Thirty years ago it was a sleepy, beachy community that I’d never been to, and now for the last 30 years I’ve been back four or five times per year, my wife and I spend Melbourne Cup weekend at the Sheraton in Noosa, so there’s a strong connection with the Coast both personally and professionally.”
I describe myself as a failed historian/geography teacher, I did teaching rounds and realised I didn’t like other people’s children,”
Intrigued, I ask the renowned futurist, known for his ability to predict how society and business might evolve using high-altitude demographic data, social change and consumer behaviour, for his forecast for our region.
“The Sunshine Coast is now certainly based in the top 10 cities in Australia in terms of population at 300,000 people, that population will double over the next 30 years by 2050, to grow as big as the Gold Coast is today, although it won’t be the same configuration – we are talking a substantial city by Australian standards.
“Innovation, entrepreneurship and a can-do attitude would be the hallmarks of a place like the Sunshine Coast,” he affirms.
“There will be far more emphasis on education in the future in primary and secondary schools, and a more developed university, student numbers will increase significantly as population increases.
“The great challenge of the Sunshine Coast is to see that it evolves a great range of job opportunities locally so the need to commute is minimised. Another challenge is to provide higher order jobs in banking, finance, insurance as you’d find in Eagle Street in Brisbane, some of that capital city muscle will need to relocate and evolve.”
Of our demographic, Bernard says, “It’s still very much an Australian community, with some New Zealanders and Brits … I think what we might see by 2030/2040 is a more diverse community, retiring to places like the Sunshine Coast.”
This is the man responsible for identifying new tribes and social behaviours, thus coining memorable terms as ‘sea change’, ‘tree change’ and ‘man drought’ and iconic acronyms including DINKS, KIPPERS and PUMCINS – so I have to ask, is the Sunshine Coast home to its own ‘species’?
“What you will see is the evolution and invasion of the MYTINS,” says Bernard.
The MYTINS (My Time Is Now-ers) is people aged 60 and over, who’ve spent their working life in metropolitan areas, and are looking to retire in Caloundra and Maroochydore; the present-day incarnation of the baby boomers Bernard predicted as part of the ‘sea change’, which he says is his most influential prediction to date.
I think what people want is someone to provide insight, observations and pull together things that are around them so they can say, oh yes I see that,”
“In my first book in 2001 I reasoned that the baby boomers in their 40s and early 50s would be looking for holiday houses ... by the end of the year up and down the eastern seaboard including the Sunshine Coast there was a most extraordinary surge, within two years it had morphed into a tree change, it’s been put in hibernation since then.
“I think the MYTIN invasion/revolution is really the same thing, not so much looking for a holiday house, as looking for a lifestyle in their 60s,” he says.
Nation-wide, Bernard reported during a recent ABC interview that Gen-Y is responding to the Prime Minister’s initiative and using their entrepreneurial and soft skills to create start-ups, new markets and opportunities, while Gen-Xers are ‘heavy lifting’ across the work and family stage of life.
Across all mediums, Bernard writes two weekly columns for The Australian, and appears regularly on national radio programs, television news and current affairs, in what Bernard refers to as his “radio/TV/talking head-type stuff”.
“I certainly had no idea that there would be such a market for this, I think what people want is someone to provide insight, observations and pull together things that are around them so they can say, oh yes I see that,” he says of his media popularity.
“What I’m doing is linking together things that are out there and it get its own momentum and enters popular culture. You’ve done it for 10 years on a range of topics – now you’re the guy that does the man drought.”
The ‘man drought’, the term anointed to the ratio of single men to single women in specific areas, a moniker simultaneously bemoaned and rationalised by single women.
So, single ladies listen up – Bernard reveals he’ll be identifying the ‘Bachelor Hotspot’ on the Sunshine Coast when he presents at his breakfast event here in March!
And, aside from that very important gem of wisdom, what else can we expect from Bernard?
“A presentation that’s high energy and high impact,” he says.
“I’m a very passionate and patriotic Australian, I don’t care what’s happening in America or China, we are living in the most fortunate country on Earth and the Queensland coast is one of the best places to be, we’re talking about how to make a fantastic area even better.”
Bernard Salt is appearing at a Premier Speakers and Events ‘Get Up and Get Motivated’ breakfast, on Friday, 4 March at Lake Kawana Community Centre.
For tickets and information visit