As much as we embrace change, we are all creatures of habit.
Back in 1988, I became interested in actually publishing magazines. Prior to that (in and around my teenage years), I was always fascinated with journalism, newsletters, writing, media and marketing those messages. It’s hard to understand how it happened, but I became a magazine publisher in my mid-twenties. Around this time, modems were already pervasive and the online chatter in BBS forums was active (considering how few people actually had connectivity). I can remember the first Web browser and I can also remember seeing news articles online for the first time.
It didn’t scare me. It excited me.
Without having a legacy business in publishing, the Internet wasn’t threatening at all. In fact, it was the complete opposite. The Internet was a new opportunity. It was another place to tell and share a story. When I first used Blogger, I had a similar feeling. Suddenly, I could write and publish to the world for everyone to see? Wow! On top of that, those who were interested could subscribe to my writing (via RSS) and be notified the second I published anything online? Crazy! But wait, it gets better: those people can also leave comments (that I can respond to), they can create their own Blogs and they can share the links too? FTW!
Publishing wasn’t traditional and new… publishing was just publishing.
Without knowing it, I was in the middle of a huge revolution in media. We’re all, still, in the middle of it. Older textbooks from university didn’t even have mention of these channels. The founders of these new channels were acting like their way was going to be the only way in the future… and then there was us: the people working in media. I’m often asked what makes someone successful in marketing, media and communications. I used to think it was about understanding change and embracing technology. That’s only a small part of it.
Success comes from not just accepting the new but working in the new.
Yes, you have to know where we have been to know where we are going. Yes, it’s important to not just focus on the tools or channels. But, in the end, the successful bunch are those who embrace new ways of working. Are there exceptions this? Yes? Anomalies? Of course. Even big and lumbering companies can pivot and change when they truly embrace these new ways of working. The challenge is that most of the time these new ways of working are not taken on with true tenacity. They’re brought into an organization and eventually ghettoized within the organization.
Change is hard. New is hard.
Nothing new here. Nothing you have not heard before, but when was the last time you took physical action to create new ways of working? Yes, it could be as simple as a new piece of software or changing your physical location to something more profound (like operating your twenty year old business as if it were a newly minted startup). I struggle with this (and you should too). The trick is to do your best to constantly look, evaluate and integrate new ways of working. Along with that, it’s critical to be a student in the course of life on news ways of working. In the end, this is where you will find an edge and a new perspective in your work. But, most importantly, it will enable you to be in a constant state of iteration that will (hopefully) keep you (and me) from becoming anything but traditional.
Give yourself a fair chance to always be working on new ways of working.