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:
- The market isn't saturated yet. There are plenty of niches that still don't have celebrities in them. Even in the niches that DO have celebrities, there is always room for more, just like there isn't just ONE rock star.
- It doesn't cost anything. You can start a blog for free. If you work hard and are clever, you can build a following. Becoming a celebrity in the past was expensive.
- We're still used to the old model of celebrity, which means that people in this new model probably get more credit than they deserve. We still have a scarcity mentality around celebrities, because we're used to them being much rarer than they are now.
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?