How to Change the World through TechMedia

700 525 David DeWolf

This is the second post based on a talk I gave earlier this year to a group of communications majors at Franciscan University in Steubenville. The first post was Mass Media Is Dead: Optimize Your Influence in TechMedia. This post continues that theme and covers four principles for how to change the world with TechMedia.

Everyone is a journalist now. At any given event, there’s no telling how many people are going to go home and blog or tweet or share their experience.

On a recent trip to Rome, during a general audience with the Pope, I couldn’t count the number of phones. This is a marriage of technology and media like we’ve never seen before. Yes, we used to have high-end cameras, but not to the degree we have today.

Individuals can have broad-reaching impact through TechMedia while being a one-man band.

It’s not just about the inputs and all the journalists who are enabled and empowered now. It’s not just about the opportunity that you have to reach the masses without capital investments. It’s about the data and the information. Do you know that more information has been created in the last two years than throughout all of history up until that point? The sensors, the devices, the enabling we’ve done to individuals has totally disrupted media. We create the information and we give it out through automated means.

TechMedia is the new industry. It’s totally disrupted the old way. If you understand that, you have a foundation for optimizing your influence in this new world.

But it’s only a foundation. That opportunity exists for every single person in the world. Only a few will actually step up and influence people and make an impact and actually change the world.

The ecosystem is set and it’s up to you. All you have to do is capture it. Here are four guiding principles to help you get there.

1. Find and follow your passion.

What is it that you were made to do? What are your natural tendencies, your gifts and talents? Where do you find fulfillment and joy?

I have never met a successful individual who had a chance to change the world and to influence people who wasn’t truly passionate about something. It may not have been something I was passionate about myself and it may not have been something I agreed with, but there was some passion that drove them.

If you’re going to influence the world with media, you’d better have this passion. The TechMedia world is hard, because everybody now has this opportunity. It used to be that it required a lot more: you had to be privileged enough or lucky enough. But not anymore. It’s about passion.

This is Leadership 101: people follow passion.

Crazy, huh? The order of words, prioritizing that why, that passion. Figure it out.

Why? Why is it that you’re motivated to influence the world through media? Figure out that why. Pursue that why. Don’t let go of that why.

2. Embrace constant change and commit to lifelong learning.

By constant change, I mean every day, every minute. Your education does not stop when you graduate. What your professors are doing is teaching you how to learn.

You’ll leave with a foundation of knowledge that’s essential and critical for your success, but you must become a lifelong learner.

This industry is in the midst of disruption. If you think anyone knows what it’s going to look like in five or ten, or even one or two years from now, you’re wrong. I can take an educated guess, and so can your professors, but we don’t know. It’s changing: that’s the reality.

Digest information. Every morning wake up and learn about this industry. If you don’t follow the news, learn to follow the news. Learn.

Embrace this change. Experiment.

One of the best ways to learn is by doing and failing. Experiment. Learn. Disrupt or be disrupted.

Blackberry didn’t learn. They didn’t evolve; they didn’t change. They used to dominate the business smartphone. They’re almost dead. They didn’t learn. They didn’t disrupt themselves.

3. Envision the future and dream big.

If you truly want to lead and influence people. If you truly want to have that impact on the world, then you have to dream big. Be bold.

One of the most important skills that you can have is to simply take time to ponder. We don’t think enough in this world. In this TechMedia-heavy world, there’s information coming at us all the time. Take time to think. Take time to ponder. Take time to consider what it means.

Only then can you connect the dots. In this information-overload world, that’s what leaders do. Strategic thinking is about taking multiple inputs, seeing the patterns, understanding all of these different elements, and drawing conclusions. These conclusions may be wrong, but they’re conclusions and they create a map for the future, a future that’s unknown.

In 2008, it was two years after I had started 3Pillar Global. I didn’t have a vision for the future when I created this company. I simply wanted to be an independent consultant and feed my growing family. I decided to strike out on my own, because I thought I might write a book, and for multiple reasons, I wanted to leave my last employer. I moved forward.

A year-and-a-half after I made this big change, I stepped back and I had an “Aha!” moment. I was driving down the road one day, going to visit a client, and it hit me, BAM, like a ton of bricks. I had six employees working for me, and I never recalled hiring the first one. I didn’t know when I had made that decision.

For the first time in that year-and-a-half, I stepped back and I pondered. I took time to think. Was this really what I wanted to do? I was still writing software 60-70 hours a week at that point, yet six families were depending on me to feed them. As I stepped back and as I pondered, I was able to start to connect the dots. I was able to start to see why we had grown without even trying. There was a need in the market that we could capture. There was a reason we were growing organically. By connecting those dots and seeing the patterns, I was able to dream big.

Now, less than six years later, we have 650 employees. We’re on four continents.

You can have an impact. Believe you can have an impact. Go all out. Collect the information. Make informed decisions. Don’t be naive.

Envision the future.

People want to follow leaders, and those who have envisioned the future, who have given people a map, will have the ability to influence, whether it’s a business, an industry, an individual.

4. Lead with humble confidence.

Humble confidence requires that you step out. It’s not enough to dream big; you have to act. In this TechMedia world, you have the ability to develop a platform–every single one of you can lead, but you have to put yourself out there.

Michael Hyatt developed his platform while he was the CEO of Thomas Nelson, by accident, but then it became purposeful. Now, he’s a New York Times bestselling author, has hundreds of thousands of followers who read and consume his content every day. He’s a phenomenally devout Greek Orthodox deacon. He’s impacting the world. He’s in the world but not of the world.

He put himself out there. He was confident in his abilities, and now he has the opportunity to evangelize by being excellent at what he does.

It’s not enough to simply be confident. One of the biggest lies that’s told in our society about entrepreneurs is that they’re stubborn. That’s only part true. I wish I could say it’s false. That’s only half of the equation. It’s not a stubbornness, it’s a bullheadedness. It’s informed confidence.

If you truly want to be a leader, you’ll listen. Surround yourself with great people. Surround yourself with people you can collaborate with, who can listen to, who you can learn from, who will speak the truth to you. Listen to those you’re influencing, and be truly open–not to changing your vision, not to changing your passion, but changing how you get there.

Entrepreneurs are stubborn about what they want to accomplish, not about how they’re going to get there. Lead with humble confidence, and as you do this, you’ll find that not only will you develop great leadership, influence, and impact, but you’ll be doing it in a way that you can be proud of. You’ll be doing it in a way that respects the dignity of every human person. You’ll be doing it in a way that is not about you, but that is about something higher than you. It’s about that passion, that vision, and how you’re trying to influence the world.

You have a tremendous opportunity.

It’s rare that an industry truly undergoes radical disruption. You’re hitting your professional careers right at the crux of this opportunity. It doesn’t happen every decade. Take advantage. Don’t let the world down.

We need you, so that we can recapture a leading position and begin to influence this world and begin to turn the tide that’s happening in our culture.