I've seen Mitch Joel give his "book talk" for his latest release, Ctrl Alt Delete, a few times--it's a compelling talk about the future of business, and his book lays out a clear case for reinventing your business before it's done for you. What I didn't know, until I got my hands on the book, was that there was a Part Two--reinventing yourself. There's a theme Mitch brings up several times in that part of the book that really resonated with me--the idea of creating collisions. This week I had the honor of keynoting a conference devoted to retail technology put on by Gilbarco Veeder-Root, best known for providing technology for convenience stores and gas stations (e.g., gas pumps that accept PayPal and have integrated TV screens.)
It turned out to be one of the most fun talks I've given in a while. First of all, while it wasn't completely out of the box for me (my company does a lot of work measuring the effectiveness of the advertising you see on those gas pump tv screens), the subject matter was certainly not my typical bread-and-butter.
I spent the day, however, marveling at both how many people came up to me and said "I didn't know you guys could/do research that" and asked for a business card--and at how many times I honestly responded "I didn't know YOU did THAT either." I came away from the conference with a satchel full of ideas for researching other aspects of their business, and I hope they left full of ideas for learning more about their customers' motivations and behaviors.
Just as one of Mitch's keys to creating fertile collisions within companies is to remove "silo" barriers, he also talks about putting your personal lives in positions to "collide" with persons and situations you might not normally encounter, and use the combination of serendipity and healthy cognitive dissonance that results to spark new ideas--and new opportunities. Apple designed its headquarters to encourage hallway collisions for that very reason--and, as Mitch suggests, we should design our lives in the same way to make such collisions inevitable.
As 2013 continues, I'm going to be working harder to create those collisions in my life, both in the events I attend, the social situations I place myself in, and the client work I pursue. I like to think of it as career Darwinism. You can't teach yourself to evolve--you need to place yourself into situations that force you to evolve.
Mitch's book is excellent, and you can learn more about Ctrl Alt Delete here. Also, I'm thrilled to have Mitch as my guest on this week's Friday Five! What better way to reboot your weekend then by listening to two marketing guys talk about music, eh? Now that's a collision!