Different only happens when you do what you do differently.

"Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result"


This is the popular urban definition of "insanity", and I suppose a formula for frustration, and definitely insight into the truisms of the universe and a window into the contradictory relationship between the desire for sameness and the need to do something differently. 

Although most certainly debatable, I will say it is the randomness of the universe and the free will that's inherently found in all of us that explains why everything is always in flux — sure there are universal laws that come into play, but it's randomness that has it rain on that outdoor party you've been planning for three weeks or it's free will that explains why a lawyer decides to quit his job and open up a coffee shop that puts your favourite haunt out of business. For good or bad, right or wrong, the world around us is always changing — it's something we are constantly dealing with and something we are constantly trying to control. We work very hard to create an environment that is understood, familiar, consistent and dependable, and this is crucial for our well-being, security, and quality of life. We need the familiarity of "sameness" when we get home after a long day or when we are manufacturing 1,000,000 widgets.

And so the dance begins as we hold on to that "sameness" we have created and then forever struggle to protect it from the randomness and free will in the world — and even crazier still, we intuitively know that as the world changes, we need to change with it. It's this contradictory dance that allows us to create that environment of "sameness" we so very much need to progress over the long run. It's important to point out the tools we use to maintain control of that familiar, consistent and dependable environment are not the tools we need to change with the world — and this brings it back to the quote "doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result" (which it seems, and rightfully so, is truly the definition of insanity).

The tools we need to "change with the world" are all about doing things differently; not doing it the same.

  • The mindset to understand the need to do things differently.
  • The ability to communicate why it is important to do things differently.
  • The ability to actually do what you do differently.

It's in understanding we need to think and do things differently that we are actually closer to controlling a perpetually changing world.


The swarming of bees...



"Do you want me to add a virtual bee to your business card for your bee thing?"

"You mean beBee?"

"Yes... that."


At this point I couldn't help think that as an advocate for the new social media platform beBee I was at least building some sort of familiarity; although "bee thing" wasn't exactly what I was shooting for. I had seen what Olga had done with her own business card so I was excited to see what she could do with mine — I enthusiastically said yes.

Olga is a very talented sculptor and artist, and lately she has redirected her talents into the area of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, has invested in the equipment, and is out front advocating for the future and potential of VR and AR. In my view, as she repositions her skill, she has caught the wave of virtual augmentation (and virtual reality) and is becoming a domain expert when it comes to leveraging visual art — in less than a year she has built a LinkedIn following of 3,162 followers, and her recent post illustrating her virtual card had 15,479 clicks, 337 likes and 48 comments.

Sure the bee augmentation has been a fun activity for me but what really resonates is how someone is repositioning their skill sets for new opportunities, and particularly those opportunities that reflect the coming "step change" shifts in the market. There's virtual and augmented reality, artificial Intelligence, robotics, shifts in consumerism, decentralization through blockchain, advances in healthcare, the redefinition of what it is to be human, et certera, et cetera — all part of a revolution that may be unlike anything we've see before. I have said I'm a lousy futurist and stand by that, but what I do know is that we all have skills that have value, and more than ever it will be important to understand these skills, and how they can be leveraged.

  • Understand what you are good at and build on it.
  • Pay attention to what is happening outside your comfort zone and don't simply dismiss it.
  • Appreciate that you don't need to be involved in everything, just something.
  • Don't believe you are insulated from everything that is happening.
  • And if you don't see it — search out someone who can help you.

As I said, my augmented business card was fun and I can easily see the utility (particularly in education, merchandising and entertainment), but that's Olga's thing. As for me, I still see great value in my sales and marketing skills, and how to leverage them in various "go to market" activities (particularly in the areas of social media and leveraging blockchain). It will be interesting where it all takes me. 

Olga and I are not the only ones doing this sort of thing because as we know, the market will do what the market does, doesn't really care much about us, and it's up to us to keep up (if we want to stay relevant).

And there are still lots of people who want to "stay relevant".


PS — at the very least I was also able to work the humble honey bee into my blog... which as many of you may know is in decline (and a crucial part of our ecosystem). With everything going on let's not forget our environment — and although I know there is still some debate over the causes, I think we can all agree we have way too much single use plastic littering up the place. 

PPS — Olga Nabatova

A healthy obsession to stay relevant...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

For no particular reason and out of blue, I thought of a brief conversation I had with a leader a couple of years back. We hadn't seen each other in a while and as we were quickly catching up, he asked me what I was doing now - My response was simply, "Trying to stay relevant".

He looked at me for a second and said, "Me too". 

A slight (but relevant) deviation from the topic at hand takes us to Andy Grove, the legendary CEO of Intel, who had a healthy obsession regarding paranoia and wrote about it in his book Only the Paranoid Survive - In part, this is explained in the preface of the book:  

Sooner or later, something fundamental in your business world will change.

I'm often credited with the motto, "Only the paranoid survive." I have no idea when I first said this, but the fact remains that, when it comes to business, I believe in the value of paranoia. Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing left. I believe that the prime responsibility of a manager is to guard constantly against other people's attacks and to inculcate this guardian attitude in the people under his or her management...

Similar to Andy's healthy obsession with paranoia, I know of at least two people who see the importance of having a healthy obsession to stay relevant, which brings us full circle to the quick conversation that started all of this. Since it seems I have a propensity for definitions, I thought I would start with this:

Rel·e·vant \ˈre-lə-vənt\: closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered.

So with that said, and in its simplest terms, "to stay relevant" is to stay closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered. Straight forward enough, but similar to what Andy Grove eluded to, sooner or later, what is being done or considered will change... and what was once relevant can quickly become irrelevant (I don't think a definition is needed here).

For the sake of being overly thought provoking, let's say this obsession to stay relevant is for everything - jobs, skills, views, philosophies, relationships, education, politics, the arts, etc. etc. etc.;  pretty much LIFE, give or take a few things. Here is what I have gleaned about the subject so far as I work through my obsession:

  • Change, as the popular saying goes, is the only constant and puts you forever at risk of becoming irrelevant - Get comfortable with it.
  • In a rather impactful way, you will become irrelevant more than once in your life. In short, it's going to happen to you, and you will have to work through it.
  • What you want to be relevant with, is you choice ... staying relevant may not be.
  • As much as you can become irrelevant, you can equally become relevant. Only you can decide if you want to stay where you are.
  • Not accepting or adapting to change is one of the faster routes to being irrelevant.
  • The universe doesn't care if you believe your way of doing things is the best way. Sometimes you will get lucky and be aligned, but know it is fleeting.

As you look at staying relevant, be it in the narrow scope of a job or to staying vibrant with as many aspects of your life as you can, it is ultimately about evolving with the environment around you, seeing what's coming and adjusting accordingly: 

  • Have you taken a course of some sort in the last 12 months?
  • Do you have a smartphone that is less than two and a half years old?
  • Do you have a web site?
  • Do you know how to write code?
  • Do you have more than two social media channels you actively use?
  • Do you actively blog?
  • Do you actively video blog?
  • Do you read more than five books a year?
  • Do you travel?
  • Do you socialize with people that are at least ten years older and younger than you?
  • Do you actively network?
  • Do you ensure your office door is not closed all the time?
  • Do you have an overwhelming urge to be curious?
  • Etc.

 Truth be told, I can't answer yes to all of the above, but my obsession has me working on it.