We hear a lot about “safe spaces” today, but the desire to avoid risk in life is found just about everywhere. For university faculty members, “tenure” usually refers to job security. Essentially, it’s about a senior professor’s contractual right not to be fired without just cause. More directly, it’s a guarantee that a teacher won’t be fired for speaking out or teaching controversial ideas. Essentially, the core values of tenure are academic freedom, and it’s supposed to give teachers an incentive to stretch their thinking. However,
Kathleen and I are teaching at a media conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since we’re culture hounds, one night we went out to see a performance of the Tango. The dance was born during the 1890s along the Río de la Plata, the river between Uruguay and Argentina, and grew from there. The audience at the venue we attended was largely tourists – although we sat next to a group of very artistic older fans. In spite of all the tourist atmosphere, it was a fascinating performance, and as I watched, I thought of how many similar art forms were born out of poverty, war, or
Sir Jonathan Miller is a highly regarded theatrical director based in London, and while I was watching him work on a BBC documentary the other night, he said something brilliant: “You learn to ice skate in the summertime.” He mentioned it was a lesson his father taught him. It took awhile for it to sink in, and then I realized the power of what he was really saying. Once the game, project, production, business, crisis – whatever starts, it’s too late to learn what to do. Take the classes, learn the techniques, get the knowledge before the crisis begins, or
When something new and disruptive happens, people within an organization generally fall into two groups: Those who recognize the future inside the disruption, and those who only see the disruption as negative and fight to keep the status quo. I would have loved to be in the room at Blackberry when the first iPhone was announced. Chances are, one group recognized the threat and hunkered down to keep “Blackberry” a “Blackberry.”
Keep the keyboard and software – after all, we can work within an enterprise system, and iPhone’s can’t. No change. Stay the course. But I’ll bet there were others in the room who saw something different. They may not have fully realized it at that moment, but they knew enough to see that this was something big – so big they should start adapting to this new world. This could be the future.
You might be a company like Blackberry, Kodak, or thousands of others who have been threatened with a massive new world order in the last decade and are struggling. Or you might be a nonprofit who wonders why you’ve hit a wall. Why fundraising is becoming so difficult. Why people don’t respond the way they use to…
Well – you have a choice. You can hunker down, stay the course, and continue what worked in the past, or you can take a deep breath, step into the unknown, and change your methods, techniques, creative, or strategy. (Or maybe all of the above.)
The truth is, there are risks with either choice.
Which side are you on?
At Cooke Pictures, we have so many clients who are brilliant speakers and thinkers, and many of them are writers as well. I found this fascinating (if not humbling) list from publisher Steven Piersanti, and thought you’d find it interesting. If you’re considering a book project, here’s the “10 Awful Truths” you need to know: