I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little fed up with “gurus” who behave in contrary and controversial ways just to get attention. Not that I have anything against being contrary, or controversial; I’ve been known to turn my own nose up at “traditional wisdom” more than once.
No, what gets under my skin is what happens when you get seduced by one of those “everyone-else-is wrong,-here’s-the-real-truth” kinds of titles. What usually follows is a poorly developed attempt to convince readers that going in the opposite direction from the rest of the crowd will take them wherever they want to go.
Another pet peeve of mine? The overabundance of “the-end-is near” statements. It's clickbait. But, believe me, the end is always near, at least if you mean “the end of the world as we know it,” because the world as we know it is changing daily.
If you’re looking for stability and a return to how times used to be, you were born either too late or too early because those times are not now.
One friend with whom I share these views, and who has done a lot more work and writing around these areas than I ever will, is the best-selling author and futurist Randy Gage. Gage and I talked the day his latest book, Mad Genius, was released and here’s what he said to me:
We’re entering the most cataclysmic decade in human history. This next 10 years is going to be more change, of epic proportions, than any decade yet -- with biogenetic engineering, and cloning and 3D printing, and social media, mobile and global connectivity. We can’t keep thinking the way we’ve been thinking, because the way we’ve been thinking does not prepare us for change on this level.
I made him repeat it, so I could write it down.
Now, you're probably wondering why Gage doesn’t get my goat the way all usual suspects of “crazy” thinking do. The reason -- and here's where entrepreneurs come into the mix -- is that he’s done his homework. He’s not preaching that you have to do anything his way, or any one way.
He’s demanding that entrepreneurs start using critical thinking, and even more important in his opinion (and mine), possibility-thinking, instead of the kind that waits for the latest guru to tell us what to think.
Gage always writes about “zigging when others are zagging.” But he doesn’t propose that we automatically go the other way from the crowd. He admonishes us to always question the premise. Entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of closed minds. We don’t even have the luxury of simply objective minds.
And that is one of Gage's fundamental tenants: If you want to really unleash your Mad Genius, be willing to question any and all core foundational beliefs you have. Your beliefs about everything.
Talking with my author-friend or reading his stuff always puts my mind into total overdrive, because I'm "mad" enough to like that kind of counter-intuitive thinking which tells me to challenge everything I think I know; to grab myself by the collar; and to shake up my brain. After reading Mad Genius, I filled half a journal with insights and ideas, but here are a couple of areas of critical thinking which I believe every entrepreneur would be wise to attend to -- instead of risking seeing the next 10 years become more than “cataclysmic” -- in fact downright disastrous.
1. There’s a new definition of 'insanity.'
Insanity no longer means (as Einstein put it) doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result. As Gage says, it’s now insane to do what you (or anyone else) has always done and expect the same results.
Our world is changing too fast for that kind of in-a-rut-thinking. We have to stop looking for systems and blueprints, tried-and-true methods and lazy shortcuts. We have to create what our market will want next year instead of trying to figure out what it wants today.
We have to learn to see what isn’t there. Yet. To stay relevant in the world we’re in, we must look around the corner and imagine what could be.
2. People will always crave connection, and business will always be about people.
Forget the people who tell you that “social media doesn’t work.” People tell me that networking doesn’t work, either. What they mean is, “It doesn’t work for me,” or “It doesn’t work the way it used to.” (See above.)
The truth is that mobile computing is simply expanding the neighborhood. It’s changing how we buy, sell, connect, learn and, basically, how we do almost everything. We are fast approaching the point where there will be 5 billion smartphones on the planet. And that doesn’t take into consideration the wearables, or even the implanted devices, that will be in use.
Gage also predicts that we’ll continue to see a shakeout of a tremendous magnitude from the continuing expansion of social media platforms. Just as consumers do with apps, they will use social media to pool data, and shared connections to buy more easily, drive down prices and get better service.
And, like apps, social media offers another great opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect with their respective markets, but it also requires rethinking the way we look at marketing. So, stop broadcasting pitches at your followers and use those platforms to really connect and interact.
Whether you consider yourself “mad” or a genius, I suggest that if you’re trying to build a future based on the precedents of the past, you should stop right now and start thinking for yourself.
Related: 5 Ways to Future Proof Your Company