Our world is changing. Beyond the obvious. Beyond the Obama. Beyond the recession and drama in the Middle East. Beyond cars that look like insects and phones that measure contractions and 10 year-olds that that know brands better than college professors.
_______________________________By Michelle Tripp
I recently ran across this gem on the tweet circuit. It’s been around for awhile. A little like the mythic chupacabra that disappears for awhile and then mysteriously resurfaces. If you haven’t watched it yet, pretty much stop everything and spend an eye-opening five minutes. (*)
What are we supposed to do?
Thriving in a flat world is all about creating value on an individual basis, and expanding that value as far and wide as possible. In the past, the Renaissance Man was revered. In the Exponential Age, it will be the Exponential Man (or Woman) that has success. The Exponential Human. Someone creating value individually with a broad impact. Someone taking small actions with big results. Think of today’s independent iPhone developer. There’s the potential for exponential value. Because of technology, it no longer requires a corporation to launch great ideas or ubiquitous innovations. The same with journalists and inventors and educators. Silos and vertical structures are out.
All it takes is one human, thinking exponentially.
A life of value in the future will be defined differently and will require a new set of skills. It’s time to start thinking and acting exponentially. Forget the career paths and cafeteria plans and corporate training wheels. A flat world is a different playing field. And we all need to be different players. Here’s a list of the 6 Essential Skills for Exponential Times.
Skill #1: Rule-Breaking Rules are great. For dictators, production foremen, and lunch ladies. In a flat world, living outside convention will position you for seizing opportunities. Rule breakers will be ready to consider possibilities that others are told “don’t make sense” or “aren’t the way things are done around here.” Rule breakers will separate from the pack and be comfortable without the security of rules and boundaries. They’ll live on the edge, but they’ll be the ones getting recognized, getting the perks, and getting the life they choose. In exponential times, rule breakers will rule.
Skill #2: EntrepreneurialSeeking out new opportunities and new ways of connecting and creating will be the calling card of the Exponential Human. This doesn’t necessarily mean creating new businesses, but it definitely means carving out personal opportunities. And finding them even when there isn’t an available mentor or an established path. In the Exponential Age, the entrepreneurial thinkers and relentless doers will get the cookies.
Skill #3: Self-Educating During the 20th century, education was developed for the masses. Pink Floyd nailed it with “Another Brick in the Wall.” Innovation and free-thinking were not encouraged. Because it wasn’t convenient. Thinking outside the box was reserved for someone else. Not you. The reason? For most of the century coming out of World War II, the U.S. was in the midst of an Industrial Age. An industrial-focused nation thrives on production and consumption. And you sitting back doing what you’re told. No meat, no pudding.
But really think about it. According to the Did You Know video, the things that today’s students learns in their freshmen year of college will be obsolete by their third year. This means the next generation must be more proactive than ever in learning independently and not relying on structured programs. In a flat world, the people who will thrive and live personally exponential lives will be the ones who don’t sit back and wait to be taught. They’ll be the ones searching for information and charting their own educational course. They’ll follow the information. And create a curriculum that works for the emerging world. An individualized world. Self-learners will have an incredible advantage during exponential times.
Skill #4: BondingIt’s not enough to network. It’s not enough to connect. In a flat world, strength and success will come to people and companies who bond with the people around them. Those bonds can be through adding value to people’s lives through technology, information, guidance, validation, or friendship. Social media is just the infant phase of what will come. Once everyone racks up 20,000 Facebook friends and a half million Twitter followers, there’ll be a backlash. Connections won’t have value, but bonding with them will. Think of it as a spider web. Do you want yours made out of silly string or super glue?
Watch over time as those with less influence and less interest in bonding grow their numbers, while the authentic exponential thinkers decrease their numbers. When anyone can have thousands of followers, a lower number of connections will become the new status symbol. In exponential times, expanding your reach widely does have value, but not if it’s half an inch deep. Bonding will be a matter of how much value you can provide to the people you’ve promised it to. And the exponential part comes when those you’ve bonded with spread your product, your message, your value. For companies, bonding will be key to branding. Which is why when social media is done right, it packs such a punch.
Skill #5: RevolutionaryI love Intel’s Rock Star campaign.It really speaks to the idea of revolutionaries having personal power. The revolutionaries in exponential times will be the ones inventing and creating. Brains that thrive on change, innovation and invention, high information uptake, and leveraging technologies are geared for the future. Revolutionaries are at the forefront, creating the future. It might be in seemingly small ways like transforming the structure of a microchip or creating a Facebook or iPhone app. But the exponential thinker realizes that small ideas can create big revolutions.
Skill #6: Visionary In exponential times, the most important thing to remember is that everything is changing faster than ever. And from even minor changes come a butterfly effect. Having visionary skills allows you to imagine what’s possible, imagine what’s next, and predict the needs and values of tomorrow. Looking in all directions from the center of the pond. So you can be developing ideas and solutions, and preparing to meet future needs today. Because there will be a new need tomorrow. And visionary thinkers will be ready for that, too.
The best way to predict the future is to create it. In exponential times it’s even more important to be ahead of the curve if you want to have control of your life, your ideas, and your potential. When the future happened yesterday, having essential skills puts you in the middle of where the action will be tomorrow. And positions you for living, and thriving, in exponential times.
Can you think of additional skills for becoming an Exponential Human in the Exponential Age?
(*) This video was originally designed in 2006 as a Powerpoint for a faculty presentation at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado to emphasize the importance of education. In its various versions it’s now been seen by at least 15 million people. The video is credited to Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Brenman.
This is only an excerpt. Read full post here.
Published on BrandForward, August 12th, 2009