In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talked about how in certain industries, the leaders all have clustered birthdays within a few years. They grew up, and right when they hit that sweet spot of maximum freedom and minimal responsibility, along with a budding industry, they started their companies. Bill Gates, Gladwell argues, created a software company at possibly the best time ever to start a software company.
Sure, they were smart and persistent and revolutionary, but that wouldn't have done them much good if they weren't in the right place at the right time.
Okay. I'm smart and persistent, you're smart and persistent, so what is now the perfect time for? I have a few ideas, influenced heavily by my sphere of awareness.
Back when we were kids, or better yet, when our parents were kids, celebrities were mythical figures. The closest you could ever hope to get to one is to receive an autographed glossy photo with a signature on it.
Celebrities came in only a few flavors back then: musicians, sports players, or actors. That's about it. Engineers idolized rock stars because there were no engineers to idolize.
But now things are different. There are celebrities of sorts in just about any category you can think of. Besides that, there are more levels of celebrity. You don't have to pack stadiums full of adoring fans to have influence,you can just have a blog with a few thousand readers.
And rather than communicate with your fans with form letters and a quick autograph as you leave the stage, you can reply to their emails, comments, and twitter updates.
None of that is news to you, of course. It's our every day experience. What IS interesting, though, is that now is probably the best time ever to become one of these celebrities yourself. Here's why:
A good example of one of these micro celebrities is Charlie Hoehn. He put out a cool ebook, made friends with some of the right people (using strategies he outlined in his book), and now he's a micro celebrity.
Maybe you haven't heard of him yet, but that's the point,you don't need to be universally recognized to be a celebrity anymore.
Time to Write a Book
Books, as we know it, are on their way out. To some people this is obvious, and to others it's inconceivable. Printed books will probably always exist, but soon electronic delivery will dwarf physical delivery. That means that more people will be able to write books, and thus the credibility they confer to the author will be less than it is today.
A friend once said that the main reason a book makes an author seem like an authority is that there's a filtering process. Your agent and people at the publishing house screened you before your book came out.
Soon we won't need agents or publishing houses, so a published book won't bring you much credibility. Better write one now.
Scummy Online Marketing
The sun is setting on traditional online marketing, but there's still a lot of money to be made in it. I'm talking about that seedy sales-page overhyped claims style marketing. People hate it, but it works. For now. I know people who make serious amounts of money doing this without even creating products or really bringing any value to the table.
Banner ads used to make a lot of money, then people became numb to them. The same is starting to happen with this sort of marketing.
Online TV Shows
This is another area I have no serious experience in, but I can't help but think that NOW is the time. Up until very recently, it was just about impossible to create professional looking videos. The editing software was there, but the cameras weren't.
Specifically, there were no consumer cameras which had real lenses on them. One of the cues that a video is professionally produced is depth of field. Besides being a nice artistic tool, it helps us focus where the video wants us to focus.
At the same time, TV shows are coming online. A serious percentage of people in my generation, including myself, don't EVER watch shows on TV anymore. We download them or watch them on Hulu. Despite people now being comfortable watching TV on their computer, there are very few shows that are ONLY, or primarily online. That will change soon, and I think there's a huge opportunity for people to create their own shows.
Text and radio have moved online through blogs and podcasts. Next is video.
There are a lot of opportunities out there that I know nothing about. I suspect that now is an excellent time to get into real estate, create web apps, and maybe even be a musician. What do you think? What's now a perfect time for?
- Invest in China-glamour. China is on the rise as most market experts says.
- The business of the end of the world in 2012. If you start early you can ride the wave.
- The business of "good old times". Baby-boomers are approaching retirement and they are likely to live more in their past than in the present.
- Media-synergies. If you want to convey your message or a fantastic world you created or market yourself as a micro-celebrity you better rely on multiple media at the same time.
E.g.: book+video, video+comic, etc.
The tv serie Heroes is good on this.
- Self-made reality shows. This is the obvious mix between micro-celebrity and online tv shows.
I'm curious, 8 years out... Anything else you would add to the list? Or anything you would caveat or remove?
You are right above microcelebrities. I can't help my self but I have to ask you, do you think that is good goal to become microcelebrity. I think that someone could realy set this goal after reading article. Problem with this goal is that it based on dependance of other people opinion on me. It same goal as being rich. This types of goals make people focus on consequence rather then cause.
For example writting great book is good goal and it is cause of having money and being microcelebrity. You know what I mean?
For me the best time right now is to find what you love and do it, no matter how many people are already doing it :)
I've been enjoying bitterlawyer.com. It has the first filmed for web "TV" show that I've encountered.
This may be the best post you have ever written Tynan (well, my favorite anyway). Agree with nearly all of it.
The only thing I sort of don't agree with is printed books. Yes, like radio/text, it is moving online, BUT having a printed book in your hands is like nothing else. And personally, I HATE reading ebooks (compared to print books). It just annoys the hell out of me for some reason, and I WILL drop cash on a print book over a free (illegally) ebook any day.
As for what it's a good time for, there's a book I read not long ago called The Entrepreneurial Imperative. Really good read, recommended by Eban Pagen.
Not surprisingly, I think the individual has more power than ever now- and entrepreneurship is the way to go.
Not unlike you, I focus heavily on my blog, but perhaps more importantly on an annual convention in Orlando (for men). I model TED by filming it and releasing it free on the web in HD. It's a ton of fun for me, and a passion to boot.
This is definitely the time of the blogger, just think about guys like Perez Hilton who have become huge celebrities in their own right. I also think we're living in a very DIY age you no longer have to wait for the record company, publisher etc. If you have a band, book whatever it is very easy to get it out and As long as your work is GOOD you should see some success
Charlie's ebook looks more like a lengthy powerpoint presentation. It is 30 pages with a lot of whitespace and oversized text. :/
It is a good read, though.
Cash flow has always been my downfall. (checked out your blog - if you have ideas that can help shoot me an email: [email protected]).
I am also recovering from a nasty football injury which is great because I have plenty of time to invest in planning but can't actually get mobile.
@Tynan - sorry mate don't mean to be turning your feedback into a one sided discussion.
With the rising trend of vegans & vegetarians every year, I'd say it's a great opportunity for vegan restaurants. How about vegan fast food chains? Imagine if there was a healthy option plunked down next to all those rows of burger joints...
Bill Gates was indeed in the right place at the right time. But he also made the right choices and worked his butt off. Technology had created the microcomputer, a revolutionary development, but it couldn't do anything. There was no software and very few people knew how to create it. Gates dropped out of college as a freshman and started writing software for microcomputers. So where's the revolution today? Real Estate? There's plenty of real estate but most folks can't afford it without getting a loan - and the banks are all broke. How about Kindle? The PC is collapsing. I have six of them now but I can only use one at a time. Go figure. They have all kinds of capability to solve mathematical equations and create fancy software but I spend about 99% of my computer time reading email or looking at web pages. The Kindle is a brand new capability which will probably improve as time goes on. Most of the content now is old-fashioned paper book content converted to electronic form. What can you do with the Kindle that you can't do with a paper book, or with a PC?
My week in Hollywood has just finished and I'm now on a plane to Tokyo. Just hearing the Japanese announcements on the airplane's PA brings back fond memories of my trip here last year and makes me more excited to get there.
(Quick aside. The girl next to Todd is sleeping in the most hilarious position I've ever seen. She's kneeling facing the seat with her legs under the seat in front of her. Her head is face down on the seat of the chair, buried in the cushion. I cannot imagine that that's comfortable in any way. I wish I had my camera out to take a picture.)
I waited too long to call people so I didn't get to see all of my old friends, but I did get to see a bunch of them. I stayed at Style's place, spending most of my time working on CD on one couch while he worked on a new book on the other couch. His new girlfriend, an exotic half Indian, quarter Japanese, quarter something else, hung out with us a lot. She's adorable and a lot of fun, and they're in love.
Lately I've been thinking about how to be more effective and thus I decided to map exactly where my time was going. The results were great; however, the process of doing it was even better. I feel everyone should do this, spend 1-7 days were they hyper-consciously track their time and were it goes. I noticed that while doing this, every decision I made was one I was responsible for. If I decided to go out to eat, I had to make myself completely accountable for the 30 minutes I would spend not going otherwise.
Out of all the things I was spending my time on that were affecting my productivity, social-distractions were by far the biggest. Its easy to be drawn into socializing, especially in college. And I'm not talking just in person socializing, I'm talking Facebook, answering/sending constant texts, for some possibly having extensive chats with your significant other, and for others playing online video games. Socializing, specifically non-productive and unplanned socializing, can be one of the biggest time sinks if not done deliberately.
The first thing I asked myself in my journey to control social distractions is what did I do before Facebook, before Skype before constant social accessibility became prevalent? I never really got on that whole messenger/AIM wave in elementary/middle school cause it honestly seemed like a waste of time. Then I got one of those nifty messengers for the first time in high school and got 1-3 friends on board. I started socializing with them online. It was nothing crazy; most of the time we would just sent each other messages while playing some console game or watching Tv shows or movies.
Fast forward to the last two years. Facebook chat, messengers, Skype SMS messaging and webapps have made us constantly connected. Almost every web app now has social functions and notifications. for the first time ever, people have 100s of friends all readily available on one platform with notifications on their phone. Before when I got back home from school or during summertime and break times, it was really easy to just focus on whatever I was doing and do it with 100% focus, whether it was video games, TV shows, work, or read a book.
Now that is not the case. My phone is always vibrating. Someone commented on a photo, posted in one of my Facebook groups, I got a text message from two friends on my phone and one chat message on Facebook. If you go to college or live in a large apartment, people might come up to you, say random things that are on the news or otherwise distract you. I feel like I need to attend to them, like I HAVE to switch my attention (one, if not THE most important thing you have) and attend to it. Of course the need to attend to them is an illusion, albeit a very strong one. One asks themselves what if they said something important? what if they think I'm an asshole if I don't respond? what if.....