One of my marketing friends I admire most, author Tom Asacker, has written his thought-provoking "Nine Predictions for 2009." With his permission, I am copying the entire piece so that you can read and reflect.
TOM ASACKER: Nine Predictions for 2009
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl
The reality of the coming year is that the precipitous decline in the economy will create a collective pause; a “space” of epic proportions for organizations and individuals. Yes, it will be unpleasant for many. But it will also be an opportunity in disguise for those willing to seize the moment.
#1 The Earth will complete its 584 million mile, 67,000 mph trip around the Sun without incident
I know, that’s a pretty lame kick-off prediction. But think about those numbers for a minute. We’re all outgrowths of a living mass that is rocketing through space around an enormous ball of fire. Does that make any sense to you? Me either. So stop trying to figure it all out. Stop trying to protect yourself from an unknowable future and instead be a connected and passionate part of the here and now. “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#2 Many things will change, but many people will not
Most of us will be doing, thinking and feeling more or less the same things this time next year as we are now. If you don’t want that sameness, grab yourself by the collar and yank yourself off of that comfortable, well-worn path and onto the one less traveled by you. Let go of your past and grab onto your future. Because while you’re waiting for that grand insight to point you in the right direction, the beauty of life is flying right on by. “Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” Frank Herbert
#3 Most people will sit quietly in their seats and watch life unfold around them
A recent New Yorker magazine cartoon made it comically clear: There’s a lot that we all want to experience, but not much that we actually want to do. Most of us simply want to go along to get along and enjoy the ride. Well, the ride is slowing to a crawl. And when it starts back up, it’ll be a much different ride. What kind of ride? The best way to know that is to put yourself in charge of creating it. Grab the wheel and get moving. Let the pull of what excites you and what you care most deeply about be your guide. “The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” Robert Frost
#4 A lot of people and businesses will fail
That’s the unfortunate nature of life. You try something, it doesn’t work. You try something different, it works. If it works big, people copy you (or steal it). You try something new, failure again. If you’re trying, if you’re living, you will fail. So what? I remember college friends years ago telling me that they could never “do what I do.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked. “You know,” one replied. “No security. Going out on your own.” “Security is an illusion,” I countered. “Everyone is ‘on his own.’ And for the record,” I added. “I could never do what you all are doing.” Live a life of no regrets. Seize this opportunity to learn and grow and experience, while everyone else snuggles deeper into their comfy routines. “He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great.” Herman Melville
#5 Many “friends” will be lost and many new ones made
Social networks are all the rage today: MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, Twitter and Plaxo, as well as the many recurring real world gatherings. And indeed, they can be great ways to stay connected and to gain attention. But many of the people who have “friended” you through these groups did so for a reason; their reason. And once that reason goes away, so will they. Don’t sweat it. Keep connecting. Keep reaching out and sharing with people with similar interests and beliefs. But also, spend more slow and deep time with your family and your true friends; those who accept and care about the real you, not the social status you. “In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.” John Churton Collins
#6 The passionate will not only survive, they will thrive
What’s bugging you? Whatever it is, for your sake⎯and for those unwilling or unable to change⎯do something about it! That’s the key to growth and success. The inventor David Levy referred to it as the curse effect: “Whenever I hear someone curse, it’s a sign to invent something.” Well, perhaps that someone is you and that “cursing” is resonating between your ears. If so, don’t let it irritate you and drain your life and passion. Use it to fuel you and drive you forward. The future belongs to those unwilling to accept the stifling status quo; to those who stay puzzled, excited, frustrated and surprised. “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” Peter Drucker
#7 Success will go to those with the best questions, not those with the cleverest answers
Do you know the definition of an expert? An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing? And a generalist? A generalist, like so many afflicted with digital A.D.D., is someone who knows less and less about more and more until he knows absolutely nothing about everything. Successful people know that they’ll never know enough, especially about what really matters. So, they pay attention. They catch on and refocus rapidly. They never stop trying and learning. They’re driven by the questions, by their desire to understand and to change things. “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” Mark Twain
#8 Execution is the new strategy
E.L. Doctorow wrote, “Planning to write is not writing.” Here’s the funny thing: Writing is not writing. It’s editing. You’re really not sure where you’re going until well after you’ve begun; until you’ve put pen to paper (or type to page). And then, the work unfolds in unpredictable and mysterious ways. Sure, vision and planning are important. But with the accelerating pace of change in today’s world, the important insights are more likely to come through doing and editing, than through speculating and strategizing. “Change will lead to insight far more often than insight will lead to change.” Milton H. Erickson
#9 Making a difference will trump making a buck
Walt Disney’s mantra was, “I don’t make movies to make money. I make money to make movies.” What about you? Why do you make money? Think really hard and long about that simple question. If you’ve been putting off being passionate about your work in order to make a lot of money, now may be the time for you to make a change. Why? Because the business of making money simply to make more money is quickly coming to an end. The future is not in making a buck; it’s in making a difference. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
That’s it. My nine clear-eyed prognostications for 2009. Email me next December and let me know how I did. In the meantime, please pass this around to your friends and colleagues. It may help them understand, and more importantly deal with, their impending “space” in the coming New Year.
The great Danish physicist Niels Henrik David Bohr wrote, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” But, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Edna St. Vincent Millay, reminds us, “It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damned thing over and over.” Physics and poetry. Such is the nature of our paradoxical world. Just remember, it’s your future that you have control over, and only you have the power to change that one damn thing. Stay passionate and God speed!
© 2008 Tom Asacker
Tom Asacker writes, teaches, and speaks about radically new practices and ideas for success in chaotic times. He is an independent brand adviser and author of critically acclaimed books including A Clear Eye for Branding and Sandbox Wisdom, and his latest, A Little Less Conversation. Visit www.acleareye.com to learn more.
For those of you that subscribe to my blog you may have wondered why the lag this past month. In short, I have been swamped with projects, notably the one I am about to share with you.
Over the last year and a half or so, I have been working with my colleagues across the college textbook industry through the Association of American Publishers to explore ways in which we could improve the way students with certain types of vision or mobility impairments receive textbooks. Since the passage of the "No Child Left Behind Act," many students with disabilities who may not have otherwise considered pursuing a higher education degree are now arriving on campus seeking equal access to learning. One of the most significant barriers for these students continues to be access to required or recommended content in formats compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers or text to speech synthesizers.
After months of discussions and conversations with experts serving these students, and with students who have these disabilities themselves, we arrived at a plan to streamline and standardize the process by which Disability Student Service offices on campus requested and received alternate files from publishers. We reached out to the Alternative Media Access Center at the U of GA, headed by national disability expert Dr. Chris Lee, and asked that he head up the strategy to build a new portal for publishers, faculty, DSS offices, and students to share and exchange information, best practices and alternative textbook file information. After a plan was developed and a budget formed, members of the AAP working group took the plan to the AAP Higher Ed Executive Committee to solicit start-up funding to get the portal launched until a membership model could be developed. To our glee, the HEEC not only responded favorably, but enthusiastically supported the plan by "donating" all the funds needed for at least a two year start-up.
Last week, we launched our first press release at http://www.mmdnewswire.com/students-with-disabilities-4260.html detailing the initiative. We still have a ways to go but at least this is a significant start.
The project has truly been an industry-wide collaborative effort with folks from many companies dialing in for weekly conference calls, reviewing project plans and hashing out details. We had a lot of spirited calls but somehow we reached enough consensus to get where we are today. I do know with certainty that one of the key contributors to seeing this project through is the Chair of our working group, Ann Berlin-- VP of Production at John Wiley & Sons. Her incredible patience and diplomacy saved the day (and the project) on many, many occasions. It has been a joy working with her.
I know there are many students out there that have some sort of physical or cognitive disability that impacts their ability to be successful in the classroom. If you're one of these students, I hope details of this project give you new hope that at least going forward, access to textbook content will get a whole lot easier and more efficient.
Flatworld Knowledge announced yesterday they have closed another round of angel funding in their quest to bring free and open source college textbooks to the market. In an interesting column discussing the open source textbook model on ZDNET, Dana Blankenhorn raises the critical question that gets to the heart of any open source content initiative and that is can community sustain quality, especially at an elite level?
College texts must meet certain standards, and they require certain uniformity. Every teacher will customize their course, and higher-level courses may not even have formal texts, but there are many human costs in the middle of course creation.
Open source, as a model, often fails to account for these costs. As we have seen with news and music, authors are often left out on their own. Can we do this on an elite level and still maintain high quality with some uniformity?
At the end of the day, it is still about content creation and without a sustainable revenue model that fairly compensates authors for truly differentiated and high quality content, what's open source might well end up second tier.
Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal had an excellent opinion piece by Ben Bernanke discussing the various tools that are in place to deal with today’s economic challenges. Obviously, as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Mr. Bernanke is an established thought-leader on economic issues—and a much read and quoted expert. One little known footnote to Mr. Bernanke's credentials is that he is also a college textbook author. Over the last ten years or so, countless numbers of students have studied and learned Macroeconomics from Professor Bernanke—not by sitting in his class per say, but by studying his textbook.
In the same WSJ issue, I turned the page to read the exciting announcement that Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Professor Krugman is also a Pearson textbook author and like Professor Bernanke, has influenced thousands of future economists with his textbook on International Economics. All of us at Pearson congratulate Professor Krugman on this important honor.
There are many more examples in any college bookstore of leading academics and thought-leaders authoring textbooks to help teach a new generation of leaders. I say “help teach” because that’s exactly the role a good textbook can serve in the classroom. Textbooks are the way we move our intellectual knowledge from college campus to college campus. Not everyone is fortunate, (or wealthy) enough to attend colleges like Harvard, Princeton or Yale. However, because of academic textbooks, the research and scholarship of thought leaders in many academic subjects can be a part of any classroom—anywhere learning is happening in the world. Textbooks are more than books, as I have said before. They are portable sources of knowledge written by noteworthy scholars willing to share their wisdom.
So if you have recently purchased a new textbook and are wondering why it was more expensive than other books you may have purchased in the past, take a look at the author page. You might just be surprised by who you’re learning from.
Here’s a very short list of other Pearson textbook authors willing to help you learn something new:
- Dr. Larry Sabato, Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, and Director of the new University of Virginia Center for Governmental Studies. Dr. Sabato is co author of American Government, Continuity and Change (and according to the Wall Street Journal, the “most quoted” college professor in the land).
- Dr. John Mack Faragher, Arthur Unobskey Professor of History, Yale University and co-author of Out Of Many, A History of the American People
- Dr. Charles Horngren, Edmund W. Littlefield Professor of Accounting, Emeritus, Stanford Graduate School of Business and the author of Cost Accounting
- Dr. Philip Kotler is the S.G. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal listed him as the 6th most influential person on business thinking. Dr. Kotler is the co author of Principles of Marketing
- Dr. Frederick Choi, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Service Professor of Business and Chair, Department of Accounting, New York University and author of International Accounting
- Dr. Melvin Ember is President of the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University. Previously he was Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College of the City University of New York and Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Hunter College. Dr. Ember, along with his wife, Dr. Carol Ember, Director of the Summer Institutes in Comparative Anthropological Research and Executive Director at the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University is the author of Cultural Anthropology
- Dr. Elaine Marieb, Professor of Biology at Holyoke College and author of Human Anatomy
- Dr. Frederic Martini, Associate Professor of Biology at University of Hawaii at Manoa is the author of more than fourteen books in the field of Human Anatomy & Physiology
- Dr. Michael Palladino, is a Professor of Biology at Monmouth University and the author of multiple textbooks in the field of Human Genetics
Dr. Michael Palladino is an outstanding teacher and scholar. He is known for his exceptional communication skills and superb preparation in the classroom. Through the use of interactive technology, probing questions, positive reinforcement, and deep respect and caring for students, he inspires students to achieve at the highest levels. He is a sought after mentor and has led many of his students to co-present and publish with him on research projects. He is a truly distinguished teacher. Thomas Pearson, Provost Monmouth University
- Dr. Henry Cheeseman is Associate Professor of Clinical Business Law at the University of Southern California, in addition to being a practicing lawyer and economist. He specializes in the interrelationships of law with economics and finance and is the author of Business Law
- Dr. Theordore Brown is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and co-author of Chemistry, the Central Science with his colleague, Dr. Eugene LeMay, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Nevad
- Dr. Thomas Engle, Professor of Chemistry and Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Washington and author of two textbooks on Quantum Chemistry and Thermodynamics
- Dr. George Lugar, Professor of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico and author of Artificial Intelligence
- Dr. Frank Schmallenger, Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina and author of multiple textbooks in the field of Criminal Justice
- Dr. Michael Parkin, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario, along with his wife, Dr. Robin Bade, also a Professor of Economics at the University of Western Ontario are co-authors of Economics, Principles and Application
- Dr. Anita Woolfolk is Professor of Educational Psychology at the Ohio State University System and the author of Educational Psychology
Over the last two days I have attended a great conference on "new" marketing strategies called, appropriately, New Marketing Summit 08, hosted by Chris Brogan, a marketing thought leader and Senior Executive from CrossTech Partners. For a complete scan of the presentations , check out my new friend, Anya Woods who did a superb job "live" blogging the event. You can also see a recap of the "back channel" dialogue of attendees sending tweets on Twitter by going to http://search.twitter.com/search?max_id=959376477&page=1&q=nms08.
More discussion and follow-up comments by Mathew on the Internet Tech Boston blog.