December 14, 2010

Stop looking for "The Next Big Thing"

Barrell
Everywhere I go, people ask me, "what's the next big thing?" 

It's a fair question, I guess.  All of us would love to catch a trend-wave, and ride into the beach with our pockets full of cash.  We read about it all the time, from the dotcom boom to the rise of social media. Part of it is that we don't want to be left out, toiling in the past.  

Here's the problem with this search: When you find it, and know for sure that it's the real-deal, you are usually too late to get a free ride.  It's matured a great deal, and you will need to bring some real innovative value to the table to join it in progress.  A better way to think about the 'timing of your life' is to be in search of "The Next Big You."  That is when your capabilities, passions and purpose intersect with a sustainable trend.  It could be a business trend (like quality in the 80's) or a tech trend (like social media today).  That's what happened to me.  I didn't look for the next-big-thing, I looked for a trend that leveraged what I had to offer. 

When I went to work at broadcast.com (AudioNet in 1997), I connected my evangelism skills and marketing acumen to online broadcasting and advertising.  The next big "Me" was the guy that sold the internet's potential, direct online marketing and communications innovation.  It wasn't that I jumped in at the right time, it was a matter of fit: The trend suited me.  

So, stop your search for the next big thing and instead: 

1 - Identify three sustainable trends each January.  They have financial value, are growing exponentially, and are generating tremendous buzz.  

2 - Outline your core skills, interests and passions each January.  Hopefully, you are adding something to your personal resume each year.  

3 - Compare the two lists every month, to see if there's synergy.  When you can straightline connect a trend with your potential, you now have something to pursue. 

Whether by design or by accident, this is what all 'lucky' people do -- those that are often labeled as in-the-right-place-at-the-perfect-time.  Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg ... all of them made this connection and made their mark. 


Comments

Commentor

Enhancing yourself is after all one of the big challenges of entrepreneurship. Not just making your business successful, but also making you a better person through the things you learn, the people you meet, the new views and opinions others will share with you.
It's not just a matter of finding the new big thing, I believe your "big thing" is built little by little everyday.

Commentor

Hey main, great points. Found this post on twitter. Being the hype and harnessing the hype are not the same thing and I think many people have gotten caught up in being a social media experts, and lose site of applying social media to their expertise. I like your three points and will put those to work.

Commentor

Excellent approach and action points, Tim. Too many people just focus on the wrong thing which hinders seeing the real opportunities that are still abundant out there.


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