Last night I had the opportunity to address two different business classes at Western Connecticut State University. My agenda for the evening was to get them to think in different ways about business possibilities in their future. More than half expressed interest in doing business as an entrepreneur. Nobody had a blog. Nobody had a podcast. A few had a Youtube channel. Everybody had a Facebook account. Many were afraid of the lack of privacy online, many accepted it. I tried to convince the students, and you know who you are, to think of themselves as a “media channel”, as the banner of this blog declares. People are going to dial you up, select your channel…Google you…and what are they going to find? An expert business person’s channel I hope.
How are you going to program your channel to distinguish yourself from others in the business world. Broadcasting yoru business expertise is the future. Controlling how you do that is the challenge. Changing basic assumptions about doing business is required. Moving out of comfort zones is necessary. Living with a high degree of uncertainty is required but the rewards are unprecedented in the history of business.
To get a metaphor meaty enough to drive the point home, I related the story of the rescue of the POWs from Los Banos, Phillipines during World War II, focusing on the reluctance many POW’s in Los Banos to leave their wreched hell-hole of a camp even when all the guards were killed and our troops had landing craft ready and waiting to take them to freedom. Most of the 2,000 American civilian POW’s weighed 100 pounds or less when the marines, airmen, and soldiers arrived to rescue them. Many POW’s had to be forcibly removed from the camp. Their comfort zone and disorientation was such that the army had to burn the camp down from back to front to get them to leave through the front gate towards awaiting landing craft. (BTW, if you get a chance to see the History Channel’s documentary about the Raid at Los Banos, don’t miss it. Details are here.)
What baffled me was how reluctant the POW’s were to be rescued in a timely manner after years of hoping and praying for deliverance. Hoping for deliverance is one thing, it turns out. Actually being delivered is entirely another. The history at Los Banos teaches once again that we prefer the misery we know to the unknown, however promising.
My hope for the students last night was to show them a way out of the barracks of old business before market forces burn them out the exit, to give them a sense of rescue, direction, and deliverance from the assumptions underlying many of their career paths.
I offer here a recap for those who wish to review, and for those who wish to pass along the word that the barracks are burning. I’ll just point to the links: (these are videos, summaries, and blurb links so you can scan and get to the point quickly)
– For a deconstruction of the television industrial complex which underlies many business assumptions – Seth Godin
– For a controversial take on 21st century economics – read version 3.0 of The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman.
– For Peer to Peer micro-economics see “here comes the p2p economy” by Stan Stalnaker
– For the “why” P2P microeconomics is possible and why niche markets are going to change everything, see The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson (also see this video for Anderson’s latest barn burner idea)
– For somenone who implemented extremely unique business modeling using P2P, Long Tail, World is Flat thinking, The Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss.
– For a head’s up on how to navigate the globalized commodification of business, A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink (watch all the little clips on “related video” side bar.)
squidoo.com, digg.com, facebook.com, technorati.com, stumbleupon.com, de.lic.ous.us, twitter, youtube, myspace, etc. Pick one and have some fun building a list of friend who might someday be your customers.
– http://www.elance.com the ebay of freelancers. Business plans for 300.00 done by top MBA’s, in India.
– http://www.nichebot.com for finding out what everybody is searching for on Google, Yahoo, MSN
– http://www.tubemogul.com for uploading videos to top ten sites simultaneously.
– http://www.InternetBusinessMastery.com for info and podcasts about two entrepreneurs going from nothing to automated business status in under 2 years in Web. 2.0 Marketing
– http://www.wordpress.com to start your blog
– http://www.copyblogger for Brian Clark’s unsurpassed take on copywriting and it’s ability to influence blog traffic.
– http://www.PodcastingUnderground.com, all things podcasting
– iTunes for getting business podcasts for free that teach you almost anything now, that would otherwise take two years to get into a text book.
– Steve Pavlina’s “how to make money from your blog” post for a comprehensive list of ways to do just that.
– Tom Peter’s Blog for break-the-mold thinking about your future in business. (click on Brand You in the categories list)
A review of these resources will jar you out of many assumptions about business as usual. This should be required reading for all business majors, IMHO. This is an amazing time to be alive. The dynamics of economics are changing in exciting ways. New business models are enabled by the interconnectivity, creativity, and innovation all around us. This is an abundant age, with extremly abundant opportunities.
To quote Tim Ferriss, who’s quoting somebody else, “the future is here, it’s just not widely distributed yet.”
The above will get you on the road to coming to terms with leaving the old habitations and getting on with the exhilaration and freedom from the industrial age and information age thinking.
Let me know if I’ve left anything out.