Predicting trends isn't necessarily as hard as it appears. First, look to yourself, your friends, family and colleagues. What grabs your attention will likely captivate others as well. Are you spending more time in the garden? Dressing more casually? Or ordering more by mail? These are all clues.

Next, look around you. What are Americans watching on TV? What are the most popular movies? Reading magazines and newspapers-and not just your local ones-often leads to insights you can build ideas on.

Futurist Watts Wacker says you can hone your predictive skills by merely listening more, especially to people whose points of view are different than yours. What could be more simple? Paying attention really works.