Listening to Owyang, Vaynerchuk, Searls, Tapscott
I have a few heroes when it comes to my professional life (including Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang, Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, Internet visionaries Doc Searls and Don Tapscott), but Forrest Gump is right up there with them.
The past couple of years has seen me experience an amazing string of “Forrest Gump” moments; ones similar to Gump’s fictional power meetings. During that time, I have met Jeremiah, Gary, Doc, Don (and many others) who have shaped my views of digital strategy and social media.
Those moments have convinced me to stick with the smart folks. They’ve proven to the non-believers that digital platforms (especially mobile and social media) are here to stay in everyone’s lives. Businesses must adapt or perish. This post is dedicated to my digital heroes.
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump
There are many amazing changes in life, if you are open to the path that is intended for you and you embrace them. A box of chocolates is great, but you can’t always get the ones with a caramel center. It’s what you do with the coconut-filled pieces that matter.
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work on the Web at established “old media” news outlets, at a digital media start-up, and have attended dozens of events with people from all Web disciplines. I am now exploring new opportunities on the digital horizon. It is an exciting time.
Innovators and change agents love tackling new paradigms. If you want to be a great digital strategist, study the industry leaders and (if you’re lucky) meet them: listen, soak up their wisdom, pick their brains. I have tried to live by that advice recently and it’s been very rewarding for me.
Of course, I’ve been able to meet some of those luminaries with the support of generous employers, colleagues, and friends who understand the digital world and are my advocates. However, my good fortune also flows from choices I’ve made: off-hour networking events, vacation days at conferences, as well as paying for books and event registration fees – then listening.
“Stupid is as stupid does.” – Forrest Gump
We can listen to the digital leaders tell their truths, but it is up to us as individuals to find our way. We need to set out on our own paths, work hard, and trust our instincts and judgment. We are each on our own journeys; at least that’s my view.
Don’t be a follower, in business or life. If you are going to be successful (however you define that), you will have to take some chances. Of course, be smart about it.
The “bleeding edge” isn’t always a bad thing; the “trailing edge” is almost always not good. The “middle” can be fine in some situations, as long as innovation isn’t happening around you at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, for many segments of business they are surrounded by such changes and some companies are falling behind.
I love sports analogies (and I’m a hockey fan), so I appreciate the oft-repeated Wayne Gretzky quote about greatness. Gretzky said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Good versus great; sound familiar?
“Good to Great” is also the name of one of the best-selling business books of all-time, written by Jim Collins. Collins calls his book a “Lobotomy about change.” The book outlines how some companies stand out from similarly situated competitors, based on having the right people “on the bus,” in the “right seats,” and on a well-defined, simple mission (The Hedgehog Concept).
I think all of us want to work at places that are ahead of the curve and where we truly enjoy being with our co-workers. I have been blessed to be in those situations and subscribe to Vaynerchuk’s philosophy (whether you are an employee, partner, or sole proprietor) that life is too short to do something you don’t love doing!
Related links: Owyang, Vaynerchuk, Searls, Tapscott