“We’re in the middle of something really big,” Friedman told the crowd at the World Affairs Council of Oregon’s International Speaker Series. Friedman has won three Pulitzer Prizes, and is the author of six best-selling books, including the World is Flat.
He said these three accelerations are happening nonlinearly, and compares it to the origin story of how chess was invented. The ruler of the kingdom was so impressed by the game, he offered its inventor any prize. The inventor said he would accept a grain of rice (or wheat, depending on the story) on one square of the chess board and then double that for each subsequent square. The end result of grain awarded may surprise you.
A similar acceleration happened following the invention of the printing press, Freidman said, but the difference is that it unfolded over 300 years and what is happening now is unfolding in real time over seven continents.
“We are just entering the second half of the chess board,” Friedman said.
He said we will continue to see technology and globalization change, redefine, or blow up economies, education, countries and more, including in the workplace. “This hurricane is reshaping every job, every industry, every country,” he said.
So what does that mean for marketers?
“Average is officially over,” Friedman said.
If you’ve listened to Friedman speak, or regularly read his columns, you know Friedman has five pieces of advice he offers his daughters. That advice can also be applied to marketers:
1. Always think like a new immigrant
Friedman said new immigrants arrive to their new country, new home, with the understanding there’s no legacy spot waiting for them. They take opportunities and pursue them with more energy and more vigor than anybody else.
As marketers, we should look at everything with a new set of eyes. When I was a newspaper journalist, one of the tips I received as a greenhorn was to take a different route to work each day. This way I wouldn’t get caught in the rut of routine and miss the stories that may be happening around me.
As a marketer, think of ways you can see your job or how you market your company with a fresh set of eyes; challenge the “we did that before” sentiment to see if you can come up with different results and new approaches.
2. Think like an artisan
Friedman said the artisan was the person, before mass manufacturing, who made every item individually and then signed it or put their stamp on it. This would have been for a mix of items such as cabinetry, china, and even fine art (watch one episode of Antique Roadshow and you’ll get the idea).
“Do your job every day in a way that you want to carve your initials into it at the end of the day,” Friedman said. “If you can do that, you can be sure that’s a job that will never be outsourced, automated, or digitized.”