In a very short period of time, opinions of anything can change. It wasn’t so long ago that these statements were made about the internet as a commercial platform:
- It’s for nerds. “Fine, you nerds can do what you want but normal people are never going to use this thing.”
- It’s completely decentralized, which means you can’t trust it. No business is ever going to do anything on it because businesses won’t work on an untrusted environment. There won’t ever be any e-commerce.
- There will never be any internet payments. No one will put their credit card on the internet.
- It’s an open-source kind of thing so there will be no Internet companies.
- It’s got all these technical deficiencies. It’s slow. It’s unreliable. It doesn’t work right. When you do a search, sometimes you get an answer back and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes when you dial in you get a busy signal.
- What happen if your ISP goes out of business? Then you can’t get back online.
- Once you get on the internet, even assuming you get on the internet, there’s nothing to do. There’s no content. Time magazine isn’t online, the New York Times isn’t online. It’s just a bunch of nerd stuff.
These classic soundbites come from Marc Andreessen in a recent interview while referencing those who think bitcoin will never be more than some kind of digital space oddity. While we are on the topic of economic change, it is telling to have a look at the market valuations of the top 10 internet companies. That is, companies less than 20 years old who could not have existed pre dot com. The US top 10 public companies now have an accumulated value of $1.168 trillion dollars.
- Google – $585 billion
- Facebook – $170 billion
- Amazon – $155 billion
- Ebay – $65 billion
- Priceline – $65 billion
- Yahoo – $36 billion
- Salesforce.com – $36 billion
- Twitter – $24 billion
- Linkedin – $21 billion
- Expedia – $11 billion
We can also add the upcoming float of Alibaba.com to this at anything between a further $120 to $200 billion.
This takes my mind directly to the potential of 3D printing, web of things and the solar energy industry. All of which are in their 1993 era. The only question remaining for entrepreneurs reading is this; What are you going to do about it?
It’s good to remind ourselves of what we already know. One of these things is the really important stuff which our financial position has no influence on. Here’s my top 10 list.
- Being a good family member: Integrity, love, caring, effort, understanding and being able to listen have no price.
- Our fitness levels: Having a gym membership, or exercise equipment is not a requirement. Walk, run, push up. Move.
- Eating health foods: The healthiest foods are the cheapest. Fruit, vegetables, raw oats, milk, water.
- Being happy: We’ll be as happy as we chose to be, right now. I know plenty of rich miserable people.
- Education: Library cards are free, all libraries have internet access. University courses are now free.
- Enjoying who we work with: If we don’t like who we work with, we can leave. We are not trees. Our roots are not fixed in the ground. Walk on.
- Giving: Sharing what we are lucky enough to already have costs nothing. Whether it is a physical good, advice, or knowledge. At the time of giving there is no price.
- Friendship: The to and fro of sharing life with a friend is a pure gift.
- Faith: Not necessarily the religious type, but the ability to believe in something, anything which makes the future a place worth arriving at.
- Work: The joy that comes from doing. The willingness to put in effort now, because it’s worth doing, not because of the reward.
Why did I decide to write this blog post? Well, last friday I had lunch with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. During the lunch I got to thinking about how there was nowhere I’d rather be at that moment. That no amount of wealth would change how enjoyable it was, or create a desire to be elsewhere. That moment was in itself one which existed outside of our financial construct. Turns out, that most of the important things do.
I teach marketing part time at Melbourne University, and many students come and ask me about what they should do in their post graduate studies. I tell them that post graduate studies are useless unless you want to be an academic or scientist. So here’s a top 10 list of things to do instead of post graduate studies which will make you more learned, more employable and a better entrepreneur:
- Learn a language (Mandarin or Spanish would be my recommendation)
- Start a blog (on the area you want to be an expert in)
- Master the art of public speaking
- Make your home Eco friendly
- Mentor someone
- Read one non fiction book per month on a new topic
- Learn a musical instrument
- Learn to grow food
- Renovate something (car, dinning setting, local park, house, tree house, anhything that can be renovated)
- Do a part time startup business.
The reason suggestions are more valuable than post graduate studies is that they create wide perspective, most post graduate studies narrow perspective. We are entering the age of symphony, where the real value in life and business is created by our ability to make commercial music from seemingly unrelated topics and ideas. Broadening your horizons will make you a better conductor of the symphony, or at very least give you some very interesting stories to share with those you want to do projects with.
Add your better than more ‘formal’ studies idea in the comments.
Here’s a little list of words that keep ringing in my head that I feel are changing the way we do business. I’ve written them each with a few thoughts beside them to stimulate your own view.
- Gifting - an emerging gift culture started with sharing information freely (Blogs, photos, ideas on the social web). This will start to iterate into a culture of providing actual goods to each other as gifts
- Gaming – human existence is defined by counting and gaming. Currency, bank accounts, salary, frequent flyer miles… and now smart phones will turn many brand relationships into games we can play. In many ways it will replace currency.
- Real time – the web used to be a repository of information written, found and filed for later retrial. It’s evolving into a what’s happening now forum. With live check ins (four square), live video (Qik / Ustream), status updates (Twitter). This will change they way we buy and interact on a commercial level.
- Geolocating – will permeate everything we do, and all the messages we receive.
- Community – it took the democratization of media via the web and fragmentation of media channels before we could regain our desire to interact at a community level, not just a consumer level. And we like it. We’ll never let people break down our communities again. It’s a social requirement we have built into our DNA.
- Apps – software is now personal. The difference with apps is that they are malleable. We co-create the code as we interact with them.
- Screen culture – TV isn’t dead, it’s just changed. It’s now web enabled and everywhere we go. Count how many screens you see today.
- Global currency - we now have perfect information on currency and conversions via the web. Our ability to arbitrage is being diminished. It’s only a matter of time before we create a global currency that crosses borders and oceans and automatically adjusts prices of everything we buy to a single lowest global price delivered. This has already happened historically as our world got bigger. First at a tribal level, then state level then national level. The globe is next.
- Related revenue – We’ll start making money less from what we actually do (writing a blog? / Google search?) and more from the stuff we do that lives around the edges.
- Project careers – Our careers wont be about having jobs, but a number of smaller iterations of projects that interest us. They’ll be higher paying, with breaks in between. This will be more profitable for all parties. Companies wont have the overhead drain of full time staff, and humans wont have the social drain of turning up to a place of work when there isn’t much on. We’ll transform what we do more frequently and fluently, we’ll be projecteers.