Monday, January 11, 2010

Where Middle Age and The Internet Collide

I've written before that one of the interesting aspects of an Executive MBA program is the challenge that student face between pursuing that "next big idea.." and existing obligations to family, debt, etc. In more cases than not (unfortunately), people tends to stick with something comfortable, a known entity. Forget the fact that the world doesn't reward people for security, and that the world moves faster now than ever before, but it seems to be the nature of many people to take the safe path.

In watching the drama at NBC unfold over their late-night schedule (Jay Leno, Conad O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon), it's interesting to see a similar set of decisions being made. On one hand you have the incumbant, NBC, acting like a middle-aged adult that doesn't want to deal with the new rules of life. Being protective, being predictable. On the other hand, you have newcomer Jimmy Fallon understanding that "Time doesn't matter to me...We're in a different age now." (reference to Internet video, DVRs, etc), being willing to explore the new rules of the game and accepting that things don't need to match the old behavior to be successful.

In a parallel thread, I've just started reading "Linchpin" by Seth Godin. I've written about Seth's influence on me during my MBA many times, but this book is really hitting home for me. The theme of the book is that greatness is the only thing that matters in business anymore. Everything else will be repeatable, and hence replaceable. So each of us need to look at ourselves and find that area of greatness, of passion, or uniqueness and pursuit is with reckless abandon. If you don't, then any short-term security you think you have is probably flawed and could disappear when the next down economy forces your company to rethink your role.

At times I think we all get lulled into thinking that security is good, and that only the little guys need to really be great or innovative. This is a dangerous trap and one that needs to be avoided in order to survive. The Internet only accelerates the pace at which that false sense of security can turn into non-competitive or non-innovative weakness. And besides, life is too short to not be passionate about the things that comsume so much time in our life.
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