The (New) New Economy
When I announced yesterday that I was leaving the industry that had hosted me for 18 years, many friends naturally asked what I was going to do next. Judging from the pregnant pause before they continued, I’m pretty sure that, “I have no idea” was not what they expected to hear. In our culture, particularly if you’re of Boomer age, it is axiomatic that you don’t leave something without having the next something firmly in hand. I know that’s what my parents held as truth.
To be fair, as far as W-2 jobs go that’s probably prudent, especially with jobs as scarce as they are now. However, as the self-employed have long known (and corporate employees are now learning so harshly) the only real security lies in being positioned in a vibrant market that has high-impact problems that you can solve.
The subtitle of the above-titled article in this month’s Wired magazine explains succinctly why I’m so excited about jumping off into the great unknown right now: “The era of the huge conglomerate is over. The future of business will be more startups, fewer giants, and infinite opportunity.” It goes on to add, “This crisis is not just the trough of a cycle but the end of an era. We will come out not just wiser but different.” “…the next new economy, the one rising from the ashes of this latest meltdown, will favor the small.”
“Infinite opportunity.” Does it get any better than that for anyone with even a modicum of entrepreneurial spirit?
Almost 20 years ago when I went to work for Donald Dell at ProServ, on my first day he gave me a card containing 10 principles he encouraged me to embrace. I’ve long since forgotten the first eight, but the last two have stuck with me:
9. Read unusual things.
10. Cultivate unusual people.
In support of #9, Trevor Goss, a young entrepreneur in San Francisco with startup DubMeNow, encouraged me to get this month’s Wired, whose cover story title suggested the title of this post. Since I read everything on my Kindle, it had been quite awhile since my last look inside a bookstore. The array of new business titles at Borders was notable. Resolved to fully honor principle #9, in addition to Wired I also bought: Fast Thinking (“How Innovation Works”); strategy+business from booz&co (teasing with “The Best Years of the Auto Industry Are Still to Come”); MIT’s Technology Review (“Can Technology Save the Economy? Yes. But take a deep breath.”); National Geographic (“Energy for Tomorrow — Repowering the Planet”); E – The Environmental Magazine (“The Big Rush to Seriously Downsize Our Homes”); Solar Today (“Leading the Renewable Energy Revolution”).
For now, kick-starting my broad-spectrum idea factory after focusing on a single industry for 18 years, these handful of periodicals with their titles full of possibility are exactly what I need — proof that a lot of very cool stuff is emerging from the economic meltdown. I suspect that my biggest challenge won’t be finding opportunities, but rather, at some point, finding the discipline to stop indulging in exploring this marvelous potpourri and narrow my focus to one thing where I can have a real impact.
But that, my friends, is for another day. Right now, I’m reveling in discovering all the possibilities.
What are you reading that excites you about the future? Use the Comment field to let me know.
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