Trends can be funny sometimes. They can surprise and startle you all of the sudden even though they've been lurking right in front of your eyes all the while. Why is it that some people can "predict" trends while others can't see them coming? Perceptive people pay attention to their immediate surroundings. They observe and note all the ever-changing "dots" along the landscape. But that takes them only part of the way. True trend spotters connect those dots in ways less obvious to the casual onlooker.

What are some of the most important dots you can connect? Since my teenage years I had subscribed to the three major newsweeklies (Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report). For at least a short span in the late twentieth century, those three periodicals did a great job measuring the pulse of America. By noting similarities in cover stories (and other popular articles), it was easy to spot trends. At one point I thought this mosaic of news might offer a stealthy edge when it comes to picking winning stocks. It turned out Ben Graham was more reliable, but I was on the right track. Today, most acknowledge the special insights of crowdsourcing and the value of understanding behavioral economics.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook ( Twitter (