Conundrum

Age.  A new number.  Another year.  As someone who lives on the edge of the digital space and is involved in trying to figure how to navigate creative destruction and remaining relevant, I have decided to re-engage my blog – Spatial Shift.  I believe the world is becoming more Spatial than it isn’t.  When I started this blog back in 2008, Spatial and shift were not connected words.

Fast forward to 2013 and I believe these connected words have now becoming more vogue.  Prescient perhaps when joined together in 2008.

I am now 5 years older.  I have crossed the 50 threshold and am experiencing empty nest, plus dealing with a special needs son who is now 21.  I am witnessing new situations and new things that I have never encountered before.  A next phase of my life, my relationships, my career and my aspirations. I have a friend who is interviewing people about becoming an “empty nester” and what does that mean to you.  Are you who you thought you would be?  Have you accomplished what you thought you could?  What do you still have left in you?  What are you most proud of since you set course out as a bright eyed 22 year old seven score ago?

I have had multiple conversations with many friends and peers who share the post 50 marker.  They are all gripping with the new realities of our global digital economy.  The uncertainty of being valued for their experience and wisdom, yet potentially dismissed as begin “out-dated” in thought and reaction time.   And, still bearing the burden of financial necessities (aka mortgage or kids in college).

I have discovered a new word.  Conundrum.  It defines this time in my life.  I just used that term in a speech that I delivered this week regarding the Connected Vehicle.  I realized, as I picked this word – that it resonated with me personally.   And, I know it resonates with those around me as well – as their tales tell me so.

Where do we go from here?  I believe as someone who is now in his 50′s, that it is a time of renewal and resetting.  You have worked for 30 years and if you weren’t fortunate enough to nail a home run or have inherited a safety net, you are still facing a need and desire to remain relevant and want to contribute to the new normal in a meaningful and satisfying way.

The pace of change has and is accelerating.  We live in the “now economy”.  We are measuring things in “real time”.  We make and or live by decisions that are made by machines that have crunched behaviors or actions to arrive at a predictive outcome.

I am fascinated by personalization and predictive outcomes.  I have a deep curiosity to see if we can imagine or re-imagine situations that can become new ways of doing things because the technology and the cost of distribution and or storage allows it happen.  I have been working on building out the connected vehicle for the last 18 months.  It is my second tour of duty on this quest.  The first being in 2000 – 2002, before the technology was ready.

I have a habit of seeing things three years ahead of their time.  I do good vision.  And, then work like a beaver to realize the vision, only to be disappointed by having bad timing or an investor/management circle that doesn’t share the patience to see the end game through.  It is exciting to see something so clearly, that you can taste it and feel it in your bones, but you know it is three years away.  Three years away, in the “now economy” mindset, is indeed a conundrum.  The connected vehicle is going to happen, but will take until 2017 to be realized in a meaningful manner.

When you look at Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Pandora and now Twitter.  All of those companies appear to be overnight success stories, but the reality tells you otherwise.  They were all on the ropes at one time or another.  I tip my hat to the people who stuck to it and made those companies the successes they are today.  I also realize after four start ups, how hard it is to join the success pool.

I continue to learn – it is about the people, the execution and the determination to deliver the goods, or as Seth Godin says “ship your art”.  I have also learned, it is about laughter, sharing the highs and overcoming the lows.  Just like a marriage or a relationship.  Because, you are married in a start up.  You rely on each other to succeed.  Same in war.  The victors know their backs are covered.  Trust is the real currency.

So, I want to start a conversation with my fellow 50 somethings.  Let’s collectively figure out how we embrace and navigate through this new chapter, in an era that is changing faster than anything before it.  Here is to solving the new conundrum of being 50 in the digital age.

Cheers