“Be the River, Not the Rock”

August 25, 2008 at 1:21 am 2 comments

In any business, it is vital to evolve with the times. My goal has always been to be “the river,” flowing downstream through the rapids and over the falls, trickling, rushing, always moving. I have never wanted to be “the rock,” wedged somewhere far upstream, breaking the rhythm of the current and bound to a bank of sediment forevermore.

But at one time, I was in fact “the rock”:

To say that the Technological Age took me by surprise would be a gross understatement. I grew up in a pre-computer world (imagine that). Even until a few years ago, the word “technology” still conjured images in my mind of the first memory-typewriter, a “cutting-edge” innovation which I was introduced to in college.

I never thought of computers as an intrinsic part of life or commerce, and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, I found myself staring (blankly) at the blink of a cursor almost every day. When we first brought computers into the New York Kids Club offices, I played it off with great panache, asking others to “check my e-mail” or “pull this document up” for me. My staff probably thought I just liked having things done for me – but NO! It was worse than that, far worse, my dirty little secret: I didn’t know how to work the computer!

My staff encouraged me to have a website built for the NYKC. “Why?” I would ask indignantly. “Our work is so personal! Websites are so impersonal!”

Then, for my 40th birthday, my brother had a website built for the New York Kids Club. Apparently, he agreed with my staff. And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was being a rock.

Like a whirlwind, a new kind of learning sparked to life for me. Terms such as “Search Engine Optimization,” “Keyword Copywriting” and “Viral Marketing” suddenly became commonplace. Now I had the “user experience” to consider, in addition to my face-to-face clients. Customers who might log on to the NYKC website at 11pm, after a long day and a busy schedule with the kids – what did they want? I was stunned to discover that many of our customers actually preferred a private experience through the computer to speaking on the phone with a live human being. Foreign as that idea was to me, I was (and still am) determined to be “the river.”

When I look back on it now, I realize I should have reacted faster to the advent of the Internet, and I consider the fact that I didn’t to be a failure to some degree. But failure is a part of business. Without failure, there can be no growth. And without growth, you will forever be “the rock.”

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Entry filed under: Business Bit of the Week.

“Love Your Maverick”

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