with thanks to Sue Rice from http://midwaycafemagazine.com
I am one of the lucky few who grew up in Silicon Valley before it was even called Silicon Valley.
We Prepared For THE Earthquake
I remember vividly the earthquake drills we used to have at our elementary schools. A very scary siren would pierce the quiet of the classroom and we were all told to get underneath our little wooden desks as far away from the glass windows as possible. We were taught to put our arms over our face to shield them from falling objects.
We lived—dreaded—and prepared for The Big One. We lived on the Peninsula …a small piece of land south of San Francisco and bordered by the coastal mountains beyond which the Pacific Ocean lies) It was a sleepy, sun-drenched peaceful place… full of bikes and swimming pools and happy children with frequent forays to the nearby beach, the theater in San Francisco and the stunning sights of Lake Tahoe. But lingering in the background of this quintessential golden childhood was the very real fear that a big, huge devastating earthquake was ‘just around the corner’ ready to turn our lives upside down.
Of course, despite a few ‘scares’, a horrible catastrophic earthquake never did arrive to shatter our world. The big irony however is that we were completely oblivious to the fact that we were in sitting in the center of another type of earthquake whose consequences was going to rock the entire course of the world.
But There Was Another Earthquake Happening Under Our Noses
Our daily sea of life appeared calm but in reality a seismic quake was bubbling underneath… a tidal wave was forming in the distance. And the name of that particular earthquake was technology.
So as I frolicked in high school busy worrying about which boys liked me or whether or not I would be a pom-pom girl, Steve Jobs was tinkering away in a nearby garage creating a vision and products which was going to revolutionize my life…and the life of everyone I knew.
And when I decided to attend an experimental computer programming class, I sat next to a lovely, super-smart boy who would end up years later launching eBay.
Yes. While we were watching the 3 classic TV channels and chatting on our pink Princess phones, a revolution was definitely underfoot.
How Technology Rewired Our Thinking
But in hindsight, it really was never the technology itself that was the important revolution. It is how technology has changed the way we live and the way we think. What was and is important is how technology has rewired our expectations and assumptions.
I would argue that there are 3 main ‘social’ legacies that the technology revolution has left in its wake.
Legacy Number 1: We live in a world of CIRCLES not SQUARES
On January 26, 1986, I began my advertising career as an International Account Executive at Ogilvy & Mather on 345 Madison Avenue… the day the Challenger blew up.
In those days, the world of communications was simple. Straightforward. Mass media was…well… mass. It meant pushing one message out to the ‘masses’. If I can be so bold to say, it was all about the advertising agencies and the companies who peddled their products.
We Didn’t Care About the Customer
To be brutally honest, (since I was in a position to watch), those ad agencies and the companies they worked for really did NOT care about their consumer. As long as he/she was doing what we wanted (i.e. buying products) nothing else mattered.
The mass media system was a world of images and numbers. Not a world of heart.
Today, the one-way message is almost a quaint as our old pink Princess phones.
Today communication is both circular and interactive. And the unquestioned power of the company and its message has evaporated.
The mass media world was an ‘elite’ world. Fancy Madison Avenue advertising agencies created their mind boggling expensive messages, impossibly elitist publishing houses rendered it nigh impossible to publish a book and public relations firms were inaccessible to most.
Today, ‘regular’ individuals, armed with their smartphones and a blog are publishers, writers and filmmakers. We can create movies, write books, and publish photographs without waiting for the ‘experts’ to approve anything. You don’t need to be connected or have millions of dollars to share your message.
Thanks to Facebook and YouTube, we all have a podium from which to speak and be heard. Nothing can stop us anymore from speaking out and expressing our thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, when we speak we expect to be listened to.
We don’t want to be ‘spoken to’, we want CONVERSATIONS.
Mass media is definitively out. Intimate dialogue is in.
Legacy Number 2: The USP has been replaced by the IT
The USP or Unique Selling proposition was basically the foundation of all marketing for decades. It was built on the concept that as a company I needed to establish my unique position–my unique selling point–in order to stand out in the crowd and attract my client.
The IT or irresistible transformation appropriately reverses the role. The key to success in the 21st century is in understanding and identifying what is the TRANSFORMATION people will have in their lives as a result of working with you.
This is a subtle, but monumental shift.
Our consumers do not fit into our lives, we fit into theirs.
It is for us to reach out and touch them and to relate to them. We are there to solve their problems and relieve their pain points.
Instead of being someone who sells products, you are a problem solver and a transformer of lives.
As an entrepreneur or small business, you are in the transformation business, not the transaction business.
Legacy Number 3: We Live IN A World of Overwhelm.
The third legacy of the technological world is that we now live in a world of overwhelm. As my friend and mentor Andrea J. Lee says, “Anyone who doesn’t feel overwhelmed today is simply not paying attention.”
There are millions of different ways to connect.
There are multiple screens.
There is a new bright shiny object emerging on the market every day.
There are too many choices.
There is too much fragmentation.
We all live with it. No one is free of it.
You, as an entrepreneur–not to mention as a human being–are confused.
Your customers are confused.
Technology has left a social revolution in its wake.
For me, I see two sweeping conclusions.
On the one hand, we need to listen to our community, prospects and clients with great sensitivity. We need to stop thinking about ourselves and our uniqueness. We need to shift our thinking towards our Customer. Our successes will be directly related to how much THEIR lives change by coming into contact with us.
On the other hand, in order to be effective, we need to combat overwhelm. We need clear, streamlined systems that will automate tasks, save us time and help us serve our clients infinitely better.
This is the magic ingredient to success as an entrepreneur today.
We need to combine sensitivity with systems.
We need to tap into the power of Personalized Automation.