The Shifts We Will Barely Feel

My son is working away on a browser-based game on our new Dell XPS18 computer. But by “computer,” I mean it’s a very portable computer that feels a lot more like a big-ass tablet with a stand and a keyboard. XPS18

To be honest, I had to actually go online to look it up, whether it was technically a big tablet or a really thin computer. And honestly, this isn’t a post about a kind of computer. It’s a post about how you and I will do shifting and new things without really even noticing that.

Shifts Happen

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Neither of my kids care about owning their music. iTunes isn’t interesting to them. They don’t even care about Spotify (my choice). They just check for songs on YouTube. In my lifetime, I’ve seen LPs cede to cassettes, to CDs, MP3s, and then to puffs of nothing in the cloud (to LPs again, if you’re a hipster).

People grumble “paper books, grr grr, forever” and sales of digital books are through the roof. We used to talk about phone coverage maps and minutes per month, and now the only conversation is apps and maybe Android vs iOS. Should you be on social media? Is blogging dead? Is the future already behind us?

It’s Not Exactly “Unpredictable” But It’s Tricky

The way to best understand what will work and what won’t is by understanding what facilitates easier/better/faster/something-else-er changes. First, hotels were a bit thrashed by online price discount sites. Now, they feel the sting of AirBNB as a viable alternative to staying in a hotel. Car rental companies couldn’t predict ZipCar being something more than a novelty for nerds. Crowdsourcing seemed like a great way to promote idea sharing, but it wasn’t a real business, oh, and then it was (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc). My co-author of two of my books, Julien Smith launched Breather, which will no doubt disrupt spaces. I’m fascinated by how Square has disrupted point-of-sale cash register business, credit card merchant business, and more.

People Won’t Ever Do That

The enemy of understanding change and shifts is the mindset that says “no one will give up owning their music.” It’s the mindset that says, “Stay at someone’s house? Too creepy. Hotels only.” The moment you shift your thoughts into “people won’t” territory, you’ll miss what can happen, what might happen, and what will happen. People won’t want dinners that take 3 minutes to heat up. People won’t want food handed to them through windows. People won’t want to read blogs from unknowns when they can follow the mainstream. People won’t type 140 character messages.

And so on.

It’s time to get your shifts together. What will you do differently as an owner? What shift will you bring about? Or what shift will you ride alongside? How will any changes impact your business?

See why this is all useful to think about?

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  • Joshua Hoover

    Good post overall Chris. One quibble.

    “We used to talk about phone coverage maps and minutes per month, and now the only conversation is apps and maybe Android vs iOS.”

    This is still an issue. Coverage maps are still a discussion in the US at least. Mobile is everywhere, except when it’s not. ;-)

    • Chris Brogan

      I suppose. I’ve not had a coverage conversation since 2007. Your mileage may vary. : )

  • Tim Dahl

    This makes me think of these recent seismic shifts happening here in North TX. Little earthquakes, that are easy to miss. Yet, they are actually earthquakes! Things are moving, shifting, changing. We can try to be “gate keepers,” making sure that things change as little as possible, but it just doesn’t work that way.

    I was once asked by a local lawyer in Kiwanis, “How can I get my teenage daughter off of Facebook?” My reply was, “join her.”


    • Chris Brogan

      Oh I love that! Join her. Come alongside.

    • Jared Latigo

      Funnily enough as parents join their teenagers on Facebook, the kids are leaving for something else because their parents are there. :D It’s statistical. So that’s actually great advice because it very well may have gotten that girl off of it!

  • Vincent Nguyen

    Look into history enough and you’ll realize that our predictions are wrong so many times. We think something that is a cornerstone today will be unchangeable but that’s a narrow-minded viewpoint. I’ve adopted a more open mindset these past few years because it doesn’t hurt. It hurts a lot more to be constantly in the “nothing will change” mindset as you’re proven wrong over and over.

    Oh, the ego at risk!

    • Chris Brogan

      True that, Vincent. The only constant in life is change.

  • Ophelie Lechat

    I had a similar moment a few days ago when I realised that iTunes, which was the coolest, best-ever thing just a few years ago, is now hopelessly sluggish when compared to Spotify… and now you’re telling me “the kids” are using YouTube instead? Oh my.

    The word we’re working with at my company right now is “innovate”. We launch tons of ideas, and some make it, and others don’t. That’s okay. The most important thing, in my view, isn’t the successful ideas. It’s the atmosphere of innovation and creativity it fosters. That’s helping us make sure we won’t be left behind.

    • Chris Brogan

      Precisely! That’s exactly the kind of shifting we aren’t seeing, but once we do, we can keep our eyes open. : )

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  • Michelle

    Great article – and a timely reminder that we should NEVER sit still and wait for the world to shift around us

    • Chris Brogan

      And to accept that the world will change all the time. : )

  • Kleber Oliveira

    It seems to me that content is becoming media independent. The new generations do not have a tool fetish: it doesn’t make sense. If they are on a phone, a notebook, a tablet or anything else connected to the internet it feels like the same. How, in that case, is less important than what. Of course this will once again change the ways things are done and the ranking of social media tools (perhaps one day Facebook will become the next Orkut and will be replaced by ???). On the other hand, some tools keep their positions no matter what, such as YouTube. Blogging will remain important for those who like to read (as printed books to art and other visually oriented people) but the trick is to keep relevant. Videos are the preferred choice for most people as reading is becoming obsolete. But I still prefer reading. And people tend to gain more control over their channels and to fully customize what they want to access. So cable TVs are experiencing some decay, as they followed the open TV model of advertising revenues. The power is no longer on the other side of the screens and loudspeakers: it’s on our side. We should learn to use it better. Or we could just focus on what we want and find the better way. As children do.

    • Chris Brogan

      But that’s just it, Kleber: follow the candy bars, not the vending machine. : )

  • Mary

    Hey Chris,

    I think what stops us is often either fear or lack of practice in thinking “next.” Fear of embarrassment, failure, wasted resources, etc. And in most organizations, there is little tolerance for breaking the norms of past success, so we don’t hone the skill.

    Thanks for this post. Gives me a new energy to go-for-it.

    • Chris Brogan

      Fear for sure. And in fear, we hang out doing nothing because it’s less scary.

  • Dan Erickson

    “Get your shift together.” I love it! I might have to steal that phrase. But seriously, you’re right on. We need to see the major paradigm shifts, and one is currently happening. The size, speed, mode of content delivery are all undergoing a huge shift. If we think ahead and creatively, we can ride the edge of the wave on fire and make it work for our own and others’ best interests. – dan

    • Chris Brogan

      It’s all yours, Dan. Take it and run. : )

  • Jared Latigo

    Great yet again Chris. This is so true it’s not even funny. Our society really doesn’t see most things that come at us and the people that do get a front row seat to a really great show. It’s awesome to be able to see those shifts that are happening. And frightening when ones creep up on us that we didn’t even notice!

    • Chris Brogan

      So accepting that we can’t see what’s coming, it’d be great if we could just accept that we won’t see the future coming, but we shouldn’t hold on to the NOW as a done deal.

      • Jared Latigo

        For sure. Things will always change. You already mentioned it to someone below but change is only thing that is constant.

  • Dale Callahan

    Great article. Truly an issue of what matters. We used to also care about size of hard drive – now I rather my data be on the web. The danger is trying to hold onto what matters. That is where careers and businesses die.

    • Chris Brogan

      Exactly! It’d be weird to see a decent justification for drive-side data capture.

  • Julie

    This is an exhilarating time to be alive. You said, “the enemy of understanding change and shifts is the mindset that says no one will . . .” I also think the mindset of someone else will take care of . . . hinders individual growth.

    Individuals are the the driver’s seat for change – instead of big groups such as companies, government, etc. That makes it scary for those who resist change or responsibility.

    • Chris Brogan

      Totally true, Julie. It’s the age of the freaks. : )

  • Steve Markowski

    It doesn’t hurt to attend an occasional meeting where the Strange Ones who see far and deep into the murk are happy to share their visions of the future. Not usually ALL right, but right enough. Timeframe is often a little uncertain.

    Helps to recognize what’s comin’ atcha.

    • Chris Brogan

      No question, Steve. And I love that thinking. Hang with the outlier types. : )

  • janeleonard

    Not only useful but really useful :)

  • Joseph Ruiz

    Thought provoking Chris isn’t it interesting that we often associate fear with the future, the unknown. Seldom do we feel threatened by staying the same yet that is often where the greatest risk is it’s just comfortable because it’s familiar not certain. ;-)