Is All About Me! Or Is It?
All this millennial propaganda about following your dreams and the you can do it! mentality, is inspirational and at best, the worst thing to tell our generation. They say history is cyclical and while Baby Boomers embraced hard work and Corporate jobs the following generation has strong allergic reactions to the former. And in all honesty I much rather run with the millennial mentality (I am biased), but in this passionate battle for independence we have lost something very important: each other.
Technology has given so much power to the individual that million dollar companies can start from a college dorm. And then begins the pathetic path of “Me against the world”. We know we can do it by ourselves, but why the heck should we? Selfishness is associated with lower levels of happiness, and intellectual myopia. When the next play is obvious to all those holding a beer in the stands, the man in the arena can only see the 200 pound gorilla right in front. Cooperation is not about going fast, it is about going far.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb
Cooperation VS Competition
Competition is fun, at least when you win. And while competitive analysis, value propositions and differentiating factors are a must, success individually or as a corporation is not a zero sum game. Peter Thiel, Paypal Co-Founder wrote Zero To One an excellent book on the subject of Creation. The thesis of Peter’s book is incarnated on the infamous Paypal mafia:
Image Credit: Dug Campbell
All of these former Paypal employees proceeded to form Billion dollar companies: YouTube, Tesla, Yelp, LinkedIN, not a bad lineup, right? However all of these companies did not compete, they created something new. And that is the point exactly, if we are creators then scarcity is merely a mentality, and without scarcity there is no need for competition. You might be thinking what is the next big thing or what has not been done before, but those are the wrong questions, the right question should be How can I create a product or service so specific that it brings a new value to the market? Instead of stealing your neighbor’s cat food, you can give value and then receive some in exchange. And who does not want more value and excellent services? When incredible value is created everyone wins, even if you are getting paid or paying the bills.
What about the followers who jump into your new market? Let them follow, you need someone to keep you accountable making your product better. (Highly doubt Google is concerned about Bing stealing traffic). Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs built revolutionary Companies, and many have followed them into these new markets. However, if Zuckerberg and Jobs were to start today, they would not build a Social Network or a Smartphone. They would go from Zero to One.