Thursday, July 19, 2012

First!



It's been a while since I quoted Seth Godin:
In more and more fields, the originator of the novel idea reaps an outsize share of the benefits. One reason is that it's easier to gain attention quickly. Another is that once you gain attention and reputation, it's easier to lock in permission and turn it into a foundation for your next project. And most of all, when attention is precious, earning that attention with innovation is priceless.
The take away: "earning that attention with innovation is priceless."  Godin is right:  It's easier than ever to gain attention, provided you know how to work a room (virtual or otherwise).
Yes, there are exceptions for those that bring service or price or reliability along to polish an existing idea. And there are certainly businesses that profit from taking over after the innovator, exhausted, gives up and moves on.
Also true.  There are a multitude of ideas out there that people have given up on.  The fact is, you don't have to be a Ron Popeil to be a success, you can be a Billy Mays.  A promoter rather than an inventor.  Since the internet gains us access to the aggregate in a way never before possible, I'd say the exception is more often the rule these days.  Why spend the time building something new and original when you can wrap yourself in the mantle of other, more talented people's creative output?  It worked for Thomas Edison.

The fact is, some people are better at dreaming things up and others are better at selling those things.
But given the choice, I'd say first is a better use of your talent.
I would tend to agree, even if "first" sometimes means relative obscurity.  Someone has to start things, and even if his contributions are forgotten by the throng, his effect continues to be felt.

(Happy belated birthday, Tesla.)

No comments: