Sometimes I hear someone say something and it just resonates with me. It sets the stage and explains it all better than anything I could have come up with on my own. It becomes the cornerstone to an upcoming presentation, but it’s so good, I have to share it with everyone. I had one of those today. I was watching Meet the Press this morning, and hadn’t made it past the first segment when I had to hit the pause button and rewind several times to listen more closely to Thomas Friedman‘s opening statement. When preparing to write his new book, “That Used to be Us,” he checked the index of “The World is Flat” and noticed something missing. Facebook:

When I said the world is flat, Facebook didn’t exist. Or for most people it didn’t exist.  Twitter was a sound.  The Cloud was in the sky. 4G was a parking place. LinkedIn was a prison. Applications were something you sent to college. And, for most people, Skype was a typo. That all happened in the last seven years. And what it has done is taken the world from connected to hyper-connected. And that’s been a huge opportunity and a huge challenge.

And, to top it all off, there is the generational shift from WWII’s “Greatest Generation,” through the Baby Boomers, Generation X towards today’s millennials  that we are awkwardly confronting. To put the time frame in context that Mr. Friedman is referencing, I bought my SUV in 2004, and I’m still driving it (albeit with a new transmission). In 2004, my older daughter was finishing up preschool and I thought she was a big girl. I still have paintings on the wall in the kitchen that she would bring home. 2004 wasn’t that long ago. Only seven years. But look at what we have packed into those seven years. It’s way more than an itch. Keeping in mind this idea of a hyper-connected world, there are a few questions I think we need to ask ourselves:

  • Am I up to the challenge?
  • Am I willing to invest the time, money and resources to advance my practice/my business?
  • Am I willing to let the world continue to pass me by at hyper-speed?
  • If I do nothing different, what results will I achieve?

I am amazed at how often I speak to people, not too much older than I am, who are unwilling to get with the times. They just can’t, or won’t, get the hang of the Internet or Facebook, even to supervise their children who are out there traversing the Super Highway all alone well before they can drive a car. These people remind me of my grandmother who never could master the cordless phone, and we had to reinstall her rotary dial. If you allow one piece of technology to pass you by, okay. But when you allow a whole reconfiguring of how the world now communicates to pass you by, then you are antiquating yourself and limiting your ability to prosper. I cannot tell you how THRILLED I am to see my parents working their smart phones and laptops. And, when my mom comments that she knew we had a great time on vacation it was because she was keeping up with us on Facebook. Staying current with technology does not have to be overwhelming. Just start with something simple, learn it well, then layer on top of it.

  • Start with Facebook. It’s fun. Your friends are most likely already there. Your kids.
  • Then add LinkedIn to connect with your current and lost business contacts.
  • If you read something interesting, share it on Twitter.
  • If you have something interesting to say, or want a stronger voice in the conversation, start a blog.

Just don’t sit by and watch the world pass you by … because it will happen in the blink of an eye.