August 08, 2013 | Ian Mirlin | Comments
“Nobody cares how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
The fourth-year students in my copy/concept class are an enthusiastic group.
When asked a question that tests their fundamental knowledge, they flip open their laptops and head to the kingdom of Google at blinding speed.
In less than 10 seconds, there are 23 hands in the air all with the same correct answer. I pick a hand held aloft near the back of the room and move on with the lesson.
The clients I work for are passionate about their business and thirsty for information on how to improve it.
They regularly FYI me on assorted links to articles they have excavated from the bowels of the web and dutifully I read them, sending back my comments as promptly as I’m able. (To be honest, I often alert them to relevant reading too.)
For most of us, nothing here is atypical of our daily interchange, yet the language in which we’re trading – that of “information” as a prime currency – is misguided.
Spewed out in torrents at the click of a mouse, does “knowing” truly have value? When it is this accessible to every wired human on the planet, can information and the insights that grow from it, ever be proprietary?
Data analysis may loosely be seen as the pursuit of “information as a proprietary asset,” but through the great noise and minimal true signal it emits, it holds value only until a new algorithm produces something more compelling.
What do I teach my students that will provide them an education founded in a real and timeless currency?
What do my clients truly want from me and how can I contribute meaningfully to their business in this age?
This last week saw the largest merger in the history of the advertising business and as expected, the executive suite in every competitive multi-national had plenty to offer in defending their respective realms.
One executive went so far as to comment that his agency network still delivers more terabytes of data than any competitor, inferring the possibility that our personal worth may soon be calibrated by how much information we’re each dispensing on a daily basis. If that turns out to be true, then David Ogilvy’s assertion that ours is a business built on the innate talents of our people will no
longer be valid .No longer will ours be a business in which “the assets go up and down in the elevator everyday” but rather one that describes itself as “our assets go up and down on a satellite every day.”
Forgive me if I stretch to make a point.
Last night I watched a weekly lecture delivered live via webcast by a Rabbi in New York City. While discussing a point about ethics and education, he made a provocative assertion: “Nobody cares how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
A tidy and simplistic logic loop one might say, but in this full force gale of information in which we live and work each day, his words are profound.
It’s not the one who knows most, it really is the one who cares most. Cares most to be personally immersed in the business, cares most to be obsessed by the blank page calling out for brilliance.
The one who will set aside the terabytes when the clarity that springs from caring speaks a different truth. This is a time when the rapidity of change causes the information we hold dear
on a Monday to rust by Tuesday.
Enough of the “knowing.”
We are not here to regurgitate but to originate.
To do so requires us to exchange the binary code that delivers ‘knowing’ for the personal code within each of us that produces ‘caring.’
Ian Mirlin is a writer/thinker and founder of Zero Gravity Thinking.