Being First Isn’t Important

Being first is not the objective.

Nor has it been for some time now.

Sure, back when we were hunter-gathers and scarcity ruled the world being first could be the difference between whether you and your family ate that day.  Being first was often a life or death outcome.

In the world of scarcity being first matters.

However, today being first is largely irrelevant.

Friendster, Myspace,, and were the first social networking sites. Each had millions of users. Then came Facebook.

Yahoo, Excite, Magellan,  and Infoseek were the first information portals that focused on search. Then came Google.

In the 90’s was the future of e-commerce and the internet in China. It was one of the first companies to IPO, tripling on its first day of trading. Then came Alibaba.

In a rush to get a return on our investment, being first for the sake of being first has become a cornerstone of what it means to be part of our culture.

However, our culture has shifted and the conditions in which we live are vastly different from our days as hunter-gathers.

Instead, we live in a world of abundance.

No longer is there a premium on being first.

Today, the winner is the company or individual that makes a connection.

The person who gains our trust.

The company that show’s empathy for the nuance of being human.

The person that is patient.

The company that is generous.

None of which has to do with speed or being first.

Today, the premium is placed on engaging with others, over and over again.

The people and the companies that are generous and care are the winners.

Not the one’s that are first.

The pioneers take the arrows. The settlers take the land.


Choosing The Right Pair of Glasses

You see what you expect to see.

Nothing is inherent.
Change is always possible.

In 1454 the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. 1454, a time when most people couldn’t read, yet alone use a printing press to write or type!

In 1901, Wilbur Wright told his brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later, the brothers built and flew the world’s first plane.

Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, remarked in 1905 that, “sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. The relative positions to be assumed by man and woman in the working out of our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence than ours.”

In 1909, the Scientific American published, “the fact that the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.”

In 1977, Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digitial Equipment Corporation, a major American company in the computer industry at the time, remarked, “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

Nothing is inherent.
Change is always possible.

Yet, our brains make it difficult for us to embrace this reality. As, for the most part, we do not first see and then define, we define first and then see.

As humans, our tendency to categorize is reflexive, automatic. We need to know what something is before we can figure out how were supposed to relate to it.

Hence, our frame of reference and categorization of people, brands, products, and ideas impact how we view the world.

This frame of reference impacts how we interact with people. Our ability to build relationships.

It impacts our ability to trust. It impacts the way we view business leaders and the businesses that provide the products and services that we depend on.

Just as people aren’t inherently evil. Business and capitalism aren’t inherently bad.

What matters is our frame of reference.

The beauty is that, like when choosing which new pair of glasses to buy, we have the freedom and liberty to choose the lens through which we see the world.

To do this, we must be open to trying on several new pairs of glasses.

We must be open to listening through multiple new pairs of headphones.

Most importantly, this willingness and openness must occur often and with intentionality.

The power of embracing this freedom allows us to adjust the posture of how we view the world. It allows us to cultivate and embrace entirely new ideas, products, people, and opportunities for connection.

Ultimately, you see what you expect to see.

Thought Leaders: Perception vs. Reality

We are all thought leaders, if we choose to be.

It’s a choice that is needed today more than ever.

Modern economic history is comprised of three major economies:

First, there was the agrarian economy, when the bedrock of American production and prosperity was farming.

Next, was the Industrial economy, when people left farms to work in factories.

The last few generations have thrived as a result of the knowledge economy, with know-how and analytics fueling the engine of growth.

However, the days of the knowledge economy are over, as increasingly intelligent machines know and have the capacity to know more than any human mind.

Today, we are at the cusp of the Connection & Ideas economy. In this world connections create value and ideas fuel the engine of growth, as the tried and true methods of the last few generations no longer work.

However, it’s not just any connection, but connections that are meaningful and rooted in generosity.

Not just any idea, but the deliberate exchange of ideas.

In order for this new economy to thrive, each of us must choose to be thought leaders.

We must choose to move and inspire people with innovative ideas.

We must turn ideas into realities that foster meaningful connections.

We need ideas about how to educate and prepare students for the Connection and Idea economy.

Ideas that provide affordable Healthcare at scale, allowing members of our communities to live longer and more connected lives.

Ideas about how to mobilize and enhance the lives of those that have been displaced by technology, re-establishing their connection to the economic engine that they desperately want to help shape.

You have thoughts. You can be a leader. The choice is yours.

The Groupon Illusion

For the local business owner, Groupon appears to be a dream come true. The platform allows the small business owner to short circuit the traditional means of acquiring new customers and revenue. The traditional method is rooted in grass roots marketing efforts and word of mouth to spread the news of the new product or service that the small business owner is offering consumers. Instead, Groupon allows the small business owner to acquire hundreds and even thousands of new consumers with less than half the time and effort by offering consumers promotional price discounts. Awesome, right?

Not so fast, what small business owners soon realize is that the increase in demand is short lived. Consumers only value the price discount – not the product or service the company is selling. This is not a sustainable, long term way to build and grow a business. It is a shortcut. A shortcut around doing the hard work that it takes to build a product or service that speaks for its self. The shortcut around the time it takes to build a product or service that people actually need and value.

We, as individuals, have been impacted in a similar way by this Groupon Illusion. Our current culture thrives on the idea of the life hack – self-help books and power poses. Shortcuts intended to help us get the results we seek with less time and effort than it would have otherwise taken. However, as with the small business owner, there are no shortcuts to living the life you intend to lead or being the person you aspire to be. Sustainable improvement comes from work. It comes from the investment of time, energy and resources to be better. To be a better spouse. To be a better sibling. To be a better employee. To be a better student. To be a better citizen of the community.

Let’s unsubscribe from Groupon and embrace the “long cut” – investing the time and energy to build the change we want to see in the world.