Whether you are an intern, a tenured employee, a CEO, or a small business owner, there is a crucial principle to follow. Everyone needs to be constantly aware of what can be done more efficiently in your chosen field.  Keeping up with changing times will allow you, or your company, to always be fresh and in-demand. 

As you read this, you are already investing in yourself, or your business, by distance learning.  In fact, in the era of quarantine, companies, and institutions that provide distance learning have been deemed as essential businesses.  If the government claims that learning is vital, then that means continuing education and keeping up with current trends and information is nearly as important – or essential – as healthcare and safety.  Without knowledge, we fail to grow.  Knowledge is the seed of life. The people around us, ideas that flow, and the willingness to allow transformation to occur, is the sunlight and water for the sprouting of revelations and reinvention.  All of these factors together provide our enterprises to flourish and prosper.

Don't Be a One Hit Wonder

Don’t Be a One-Hit Wonder.

We can all think of one-hit wonders when it comes to music.  According to VH-1, the song “Macarena” is the best one-hit wonder of all time.  The song was recorded by a group called “Los del Rio,” in 1995.  Can you name any other songs by Los del Rio? I bet you can’t, but you probably know all the moves to the crazy dance that went along with the music. Hey…Macarena!  If you go to Wikipedia and search for one-hit wonders, the list is endless.  It is so long that it is broken into decades from the 1950s to today.  That’s 70 years of one-hit wonders!

So, what makes the difference between a one-hit-wonder and an artist that stands the test of time?  A great example of a music legend that stood up over the years is David Bowie.  Bowie’s birth name was David Jones.  At the age of 16, he was already performing as the lead singer of a band called “The Konrads.”  A few years later, in 1965, David decided to change his surname to Bowie after failed attempts at success using the professional name of Davy Jones.  The choice was also fueled by the desire to distinguish himself apart from another Davy Jones, who was the frontman for the pop group, “The Monkees.”  Bowie’s manager told him, “No one is ever going to make a monkey out of you.”  Bowie continued to morph into a new persona in 1972 with the release of his album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”  According to Rolling Stone magazine, Bowie met British rocker, Vince Taylor, in the mid-’60s.  “Vince Taylor and the Playboys,” were best known for the 1959 rockabilly classic, “Brand New Cadillac.” After years of drug abuse and an emotional breakdown, Taylor joined a cult and decided that he was an alien god on Earth.  Bowie decided to create a character based on a mash-up of Taylor’s new alien god persona and Texas psychobilly singer, “Stardust Cowboy.”

The first name, Ziggy, is said to have been taken from a tailor’s shop that he saw from a train.  What developed was an alien glam-rock star, sent to Earth to spread a message of hope, peace, and love.  The idea of glam-rock inspired numerous famous acts such as Elton John, KISS, Queen, and Culture Club, to name a few.  As revolutionary and innovative as Ziggy Stardust was at the time, if he had continued with that character, his career may not have lasted as long as it did.  Anything that is a novelty is usually short-lived—knowing that he soon went back to the stage name of David Bowie and went on to create unforgettable, innovative music – 26 albums in all.  He is also known for his acting roles in both films and on Broadway.  Bowie is a real success story of the art of reinvention.

Tell the Future with a Crystal Ball

Do You Wish You Had a Crystal Ball?

Do you ever hear people say, “If only I had a crystal ball…”?  What they mean to say is that they wish they could know what the future will bring; what changes will occur?  Some things are more susceptible to foretell than others.  No one would have predicted a year ago that we would all be in quarantine due to a global pandemic.  No one could have predicted that the famous Las Vegas Strip would be completely shut down.  However, if we are aware of industry trends, and changes in technology, we can be better prepared to predict the possible forks in the road that may lie ahead.  For instance, I indicated back in the ’90s that change girls in the casinos would likely be eliminated in years to come due to slot machines accepting paper bills.  The need for a human to make a change would no longer be necessary.  It would also save the casinos money by eliminating these positions.

Another position that may be in future jeopardy is bartenders.  In some casinos and cruise ships, bartenders are being replaced by robotic cocktail mixers.  Guests can order their libations on a digital keypad and wait while a mechanical arm prepares the drink.  Some cruise ships are also offering wine or beer kiosks.  You insert your ship card and select your poison.  This technology is effortless when it comes to a single ingredient cocktail, such as wine or ale.  On a recent business trip to California, I noticed a robotic coffee station at the airport.  To operate, you would make your beverage choice on a keypad, and the robotic barista would create your freshly made coffee or tea creation.

I had two reactions to this: 1. This is fun to watch and a fascinating new invention.  2. This is sad because the kiosks will likely replace countless jobs for baristas and cashiers in the future, just like the robotic mixologists will start to replace bartenders.  I am also one of those people who enjoys the interaction, albeit brief, of having my order taken and making small talk with the employee.  So, if you are in a position that you see could become automated, what now? Even though there may always be jobs available for human mixologists, it is wise always to be ready to pivot onto a different path. Remember that knowledge is power, and education is essential.

As I mentioned previously, you are already participating in distance learning as you read this. Education does not necessarily mean going back to college for years to earn a degree.  Of course, that is all well and good, but there are a plethora of classes and skill certifications available online.  The best part is you can complete this education on your terms and timetable.  You will be a more valued employee if you have a varied skill set.  If you are a business owner, you will be more likely to succeed if you can change with the times and stay relevant and necessary for your customers or clients.

We can take lessons from the animal world. Most species need to adapt or evolve to survive.  Animals adapt through camouflage, mimicry, and behavior.  Plants even adapt to the environment in various ways.  Succulents in the desert store water in their thick stems and leaves to survive in the dry heat.  So, if you can continually identify the changing trends in your industry, foretell the future when you see game changers, and be ready and willing to adapt or evolve, then you will succeed in the art of reinvention. Be prepared, because it’s a jungle out there!