A rebel… every business needs one, from tech to finance, automotive to entertainment. Someone compelled to swim against the tide, or in reality, ahead of it.
To many, the idea of a disruptive influence in the midst of a well-oiled machine is the last thing they’d want to encourage. After all, there’s no ‘I’ in team, right? There is a big one in Impact and Instinct and two whoppers in Innovation.
Consider for a second some of the great disruptors, from Galileo and Socrates to Darwin and Jobs, we remember the plaudits and success but they faced their fair share of obstruction, ridicule and uncertainty. They stood their ground (often to their own detriment) but achieved greatness – not for themselves, but the advancement of mankind.
Their contribution to the world we live in was only given meaning through a willingness, a compulsion, to run before they could walk. They faced failure but learnt from this and channeled their energy into ever greater statements of intent.
The Apple ad from 1997 perfectly summed up this sentiment – “The ones who think they are crazy enough to change the world… are the ones who do”.
Now, I’m not claiming for a second that I have any right to share a platform with the greats mentioned above but I am a rebel and proud of it.
My wife used to say the words to the Garth Brooks song ‘Standing Outside the Fire’ could have been written for me… “life is not tried, it is merely survived when you’re standing outside the fire”. It’s true, it’s hot in here, at times frickin’ uncomfortable and rarely involves sleep. It’s more rewarding than simply keeping your head down and merely getting on with it.
There is a careful balance to be achieved here. A business formed entirely of rebels is doomed to failure. My ‘Ultimate Agency’ post from 2010 is an example of a fantasy creative agency but imagine a top table featuring the likes of the late Steve Jobs and Wally Olins, to Stephen Fry, Mitch Joel, Marc Newson and Thomas Heatherwick. The Ultimate Agency would descend into anarchy without an army of ‘responsible adults’
My talk at TEDx Athens last weekend focused on the importance of balance. I spoke about the need for ‘seamless narrative’ and how without a clear understanding of this, you were unable to create ‘meaningful disruption’.
I gave the capacity audience their first taste of my rebellious disruption by equipping every delegate at the stunning Onassis Cultural Centre with our Brandwidth Innovation Lab app (iOS and Android) the audio-watermarked musical opening to my presentation triggered the digital performance, with each phone or tablet screen turning into an individual pixel to deliver a stunning light show – a 4D experience culminating with each handset vibrating as one for the final crescendo.
In the grand scheme of things, this was the equivalent to a digital firework display or waving lighters in the air at a concert. I still had a serious point to make. Communication on every level, on every device, no matter what kind of brand, business or individual needs to master the basic art of seamless narrative. Conversation and a clear personality needs a manageable change of pace. Merely shouting at an audience doesn’t work when everyone adopts the same volume or this just becomes white noise. Maintaining consistency is essential when adding impact to the meaningful messages.
My presentation is now available on Slideshare (although I had to convert this from Keynote to Power frickin’ point to upload) but please download for the full experience containing the embedded audio and video.
Here's the full TEDx video of my talk, complete with app-controlled 4D light show.
TEDx Athens was a wonderful experience, run by a passionate team lead by Dimitrios Kalavros-Gousiou and I was fortunate to catch some of the city sights thanks to Big Olive City Walks.
I wish I could have stayed longer but I’ve already flown from Athens to London, to San Francisco to Cupertino to LA in the past 48 hours, leaving disruption in my wake.
What a rebel.