Friday, February 27, 2009

Fringe Thinkers

Man, I have been energized lately on the topic of business. I think it has something to do with owning a business and the concept that most entrepreneurs, when finding things a bit rough, can always expect to be at their best. It is just that way. I think humans in general are that way, but there are those in every community who stand at the front and shout out encouragement. I guess I am programmed optimistic and am one of them.

So I am experiencing a bit of clarity lately in regard to our economy. And since I am a pattern thinker, I am finding some connections to things that seem to be emerging as patterns and it seems to be an exciting time.

I find the current economy to be favorable, particularly to the entrepreneur (minded) who embraces the sense of urgency and finds the ability to introduce creativity and innovation at a time when everyone has their head in the sand. I am referencing entrepreneurs who were a little more conservative during the last 15 years of false prosperity--those more sensitive towards needing to index and/or diversify market penetration, a little less dependent on what the "financial media market" (those trusted financial adviser/heroes and conventionalist's) who whispered great things to them during the over extending and fleecing of our country by bi-partisan aristocracy.

And I may be wrong about their being great opportunity but who cares? If hell in a hand basket is coming, lets get the game on! If it is already here then let me toss out the first pitch, because I am one fired up lefty. I, like most people, can't stand the culture of a nation who stands so defeated at the hand of their own manifestation. Things can only get better. Why?--because we are Americans, not the American government. American people are entrepreneurs.

The fact is, there is a grand shift taking place in our economic community because of the fallout. The fringe is where its at. The outer circle, where the innovation and unconventional ideology are on stage daily and right now! We the entrepreneurs are working hard to bring something to the table that eventually (big business) will have to grab on to because of their lack of current ability (a lot of the talent is gone) and for their own destiny of "out of the box" re-emergence. That is why there is opportunity. Meet me out there!--we can shape the new direction of things and benefit greatly if we do it right.

Look at Face Book. Not a small business anymore, but look at how this business is changing the way information is shared, the legal standards, the critical mass emerging from the outer circle, the fringe, once a very unconventional means to communicate, now as conventional as the telephone. Now they are embarking on something that will change the standard of how information is owned and shared for decades to come by introducing a voting system for there community of over 175 million. There is a lot of power in that lobby and change will come because of it.

I told some students at Lindenwood University last night to focus on the "Johnny on the Spots" for now (for lack of a better topic of enlightenment)--focus on the digging of crap jobs that nobody wants to do. It told them to go and get one of those jobs, or learn from the owner why his business is good, because it likely is. Learn to fulfill a purpose and make sure it is done uncommonly well in what might otherwise be considered commonly done. Learn to build your personal brand under this standard, because every brand has a point of difference and you need to start developing points of difference as they apply to your personal brand. Points of difference are how you look, what you do, what you've done, how you want to change the world. I think I got to them with this. There was an unusual presence (or lack of) in the room this time around during my annual business dining etiquette seminar. There was no feeling of entitlement by this group of young business people. There was no smug, "I already know that". My guess is that our students have been alerted to the fact that they will need every ounce of "leg up" when graduating, and that they are very focused on gaining what is needed to succeed. This is quite promising, considering they will be at there best when things are the worst.

I told the students, graduating business and marketing degrees, to get their brands out there and use unconventional process to work into the system. Use Guerrilla marketing, help create audiences and publicity engagements where you can "be seen". Get involved with a charity, embark on an authentic path to putting yourself on a pillar and stay there until you can reach a higher place because of your urgency. Perhaps finding a business who likely has run aground during this latest downturn and needs to take all that is left, an unconventional path. I told them to use these principals with their new employer or look for ways to start your own business with the same.

As my friend John Daly puts it, "many companies, large and small with near to nothing left find themselves spending the last of their retained earnings so that they can afford to make the last few remaining payrolls. Then, out of desperation they'll dig in to personal savings to keep things afloat, waiting and wondering when things will change". They don't know when to throw in the towel, they can't reason with the need to invest in a new path. The money would be better spent on an unconventional makeover, ideas from the outer circle, the fringe, the entrepreneurs.

These are the businesses who sat back, got fat, maxed out their lines of credit; took advances on personal pay and bonuses, most of the time the business was taken for granted. Unlike this conventional path, entrepreneurs have fear and urgency throughout the conceptual process, the day to day operation and in regard to future growth. Never are decisions made in relationship to the waiting game for retirement. It is about how our businesses can change the world! This "fringe thinking" is what changes the world and there is a need for business to adopt this standard now! And it wasn't only big business who got sucked in to the vortex, there were medium and small business following suit with the same measurement of common standard. Paradigm.

Those on the fringe of conventional thought are the ones who will come up with the new paradigms. And the more unconventional the thought process the better. This,in order to recover and/or continue to find vibrant silos of opportunity in our economy, ifyouknowhatimtalkinbout.


Dave Ploch said...

There is an organization here in the area that is focused on "the fringe". ITEN,St Louis IT Entrepreneur Network. I spoke today with Jim Brasunas, the director over there. They are a virtual incubator for startups. He told me that there are around 40 new startups they are working with right now. They work as mentors with these groups to help them toward success. In today's world, I find that quite exciting. They are on the that fringe that Ralph talks about, ignoring the nay sayers and negative thinkers.

Anonymous said...

I like your thoughts. The part about getting a "crap" job is important. Not just school, like most of the folks from my era did (class of '87). I did both, learned a few trades AND went to school. I feel it made me a better all-arounder. And keeping the mind open, way open, like you put it, thinking outside the box.


Fenton James said...

ARRGH! Having a paradigm is sooooo paradigm. :-)