From zero to hero to zero?

Is Clubhouse a fad?

I am on the fence. I just noticed that while everybody seemed to be doing rooms on Clubhouse before Easter, there was no mention in my feeds of any events after.

And when I asked on Twitter, the silence was deafening and in itself a verification that the red hot service might not be as red hot anymore.

This poses two questions of which the latter is the most interesting to me:

Is there a future for ‘live’ audio casting a la Clubhouse? I liked the idea at first and especially the part with having to be there in the moment versus leaving it for later and never listening in anyway. On the other hand I can also see that this dependency on time is the exact reason why I don’t use Clubhouse. So maybe it’s not so clever after all…

On a more generic level, if Clubhouse and it’s audio model turns out to be a fad, what does that say of the time span from hero to zero in our digital age? Normally we talk about how long it took for radio and tv to become mainstream versus digital services, and how things have speeded up.

But this is putting it in reverse; from zero to hero to zero again in no time.

Assuming of course that Clubhouse is a fad, which at this point in time of writing is very much debatable.

But if we follow through on this thought, what does that say about the risk of investing in building new innovative services? I mean, building Clubhouse has probably not been cheap, and the company has raised 110M USD so far from investors looking for a return. What if the party is over, before it started?

I realize there are lots of examples of cases, where investors have poured money into ambitious startups that has gone belly up – Quibi comes to mind here – but this is different.

Why?

Because this is not about investing in some new ‘me too’ actor with a slightly different take on an already well established model. This is about investing in a potential trend shift from ‘on demand’ to ‘live’ and ‘exclusive’ that might not be happening after all. In essence this is about reading the overarching trends in the right way or not, which makes it so interesting to follow.

Potentially also more interesting than the Clubhouse service itself.

(Photo: Screenshot)

Challenge the status quo

What is the one thing driving startup opportunity in the post-pandemic era?

The willingness of everybody to challenge the status quo and be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things and – with that – new products and services from new and inspiring companies with strong value propositions.

Now, what is the status quo?

Actually it is two things. And most of us are eager to leave both behind.

There is the status quo of the pandemic lockdown. Of course we want to be rid of that and get our freedom back.

But there is also the status quo of what was before the pandemic, and where we have had more than a full year contemplating what if anything that was before we would like to change. And how changing things are actually – even if forced by a pandemic – (by and large) less painful than what we imagined it to be.

Look at it this way:

The barriers of “that isn’t possible” or “I don’t need that” have been lowered by the past 12+ months of Covid-19.

If that isn’t a signal of opportunity to reimagine and reinvent things, I don’t know what is.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Let’s nail the Future of Work

Covid-19 fatigue is really settling in everywhere. Not least in the workplace where people are starting to really feel the effects of being remote working-from-home.

To many it is just not as fun and/or efficient as it was in the beginning, and the sense of belonging to a team or the employer as such is starting to erode.

It is a crucial point, I believe.

When we talk about the Future-of-Work and working from home, we almost always talk about the practical stuff; how do we facilitate virtual meetings, which platforms do we choose and how do we stay efficient, so we can tick off our to do-lists.

All very tangible stuff.

But we also need to address the intangible stuff. And treat it as a priority. Because not only are these ‘touchy feely’ elements critical to focus and performance, they are also super hard to manage through technology.

For that very reason I would like to see someone giving that part a go and come up with a new Employee Experience Platform.

But not like the new Microsoft Viva (which actually does look rather cool, if your company is big enough for it), which is focused a lot around classic productivity.

No, it should be more nímble. More soft. And address all the little intangibles that makes a team a team, a culture a culture. And most importantly; ensure that people feel a sense of belonging and stay engaged to do their best work.

It is a huge opportunity for those who can pull it off, and I honestly don’t think there are any really great offerings out there. So I would be super excited to see someone picking up the mantle and perhaps even help them along doing it.

So, hit me!

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Be problem-driven

There are quite a few really good arguments for why you should focus on the problem rather than the solution, when you’re trying to build a successful company. But there is one that I think takes the prize as the most powerful one:

By focusing on the problem, you broaden the opportunity for yourself, your company and your future success.

Why?

Because you start being less solution-focused. Not agnostic as such because there will always be something that you do that you need to put into the product to give it the real edge it needs. But less solution-focused.

You may start out developing and shipping one product, get a good reception and perhaps even some decent traction. And once you can see that the core fundamentalt of what you’re doing seems to resonate in the market, you can lift your gaze and start thinking about what’s next.

And this is where focusing on the problem rather than the solution enters the picture:

By focusing on the problem, you will see more opportunities just by looking. And others may present themselves that you would otherwise not have noticed. And this gives you opportunity.

Instead of being strong in a niche, you can become stronger in a space – and maybe even grow to become dominant of an entire industry.

Because you chose a laser like focus on the problem.

Looking in retrospect, most companies don’t become wildly successful by just doing one thing or having one product. They become wildly successful, because they understand the market they are in, the jobs, pains and gains of their customers and constituents – and the problem space they’re working on.

You should apply that approach to yourself and your company too.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Can you hear the roar?

The anticipation of a repeat of the ‘Roaring 20s’ is growing, as people are starting to see light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel.

However, I think two things are worth noting in this context; who will benefit – and what could follow?

To pick up on the last point first, let’s all remember what happened after the roaring 20s the last time around.

That’s right. Fascism!

Of course there were numerous factors in play not least in Germany with hyperinflation caused by overly massive war reparation payments to the allies. But still. The 20s was not ‘roaring’ for everybody; millions got left behind, and that created a fertile ground for demagogues with terrible ideas.

And that brings me to the second point: Who will it benefit?

I think it’s pretty clear by now that we’re super busy creating a broken society where few have all the money and all the perks, and the vast majority are being left behind through various means. Could be lack of access to education, poor healthcare, poorly paid jobs in ‘the gig economy’; the list seems rather endless.

What that have so far created is a huge ton of friction, which reached a recent climax in the January 6 riots at the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Because let’s be clear: A lot of what was at display that day was rooted in a toxic mix of

  • poor or lacking opportunities in society,
  • incitement amplified by Big Tech and
  • old fashioned demagoguery.

This is also part of the level playing field, we’re looking at when discussing the coming of the new ‘roaring 20s’. It’s a messy thing and by no means all sunshine and opportunity out there.

What does it matter if Peloton is hyped for it’s home fitness portfolio of great products, if few people can afford the investment or ongoing financial commitment in the equipment?

What does yet another streaming service mean, if people are struggling to put food on their tables and thus have no disposable income left for entertainment (other than maxing out yet another credit card – if they can get one).

What does it say when Wolt, a meal delivery service that relies on the working poor as ‘delivery partners’ raises 530M USD to expand their IMHO toxic business model to new geographies and verticals?

If we want the 2020s to roar for real, we need to come up with a better plan.

That could start with figuring out how we can use our skillsets, expertise and our funding to pursue closing the gap between high and low by providing new opportunities that leave people better off and thus fend off the bill to be paid, when the music – or in this case: the roaring – stops.

That is where the real sustainable opportunity is.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Fix education!

Looking at what is happening in the US, I think it’s fair to say that their education system is completely and utterly broken.

Forget about universities or colleges being about preparing you for a corporate career. The first order of business should be to have the fundamental ability and urge to teach kids and young adults about critical thinking, civic behavior and the likes.

To enable them to actually like in a democracy and not being taken on crazy rides by whatever authoritarian person offers to do so.

Failure to ensure that people can think the themselves and not be drawn to conspiracies and flat out lies will ensure failure in everything else – none mentioned, none forgotten.

Fixing education and the equal access to quality education is the biggest problem and – by association – the biggest opportunity for entrepreneurial spirits who thoroughly understand what’s truly at stake if this doesn’t get fixed.

We can only move too slow on this.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Become (sort of) a journalist

A day doesn’t go by without someone deeply questioning the value of higher education. It’s the cost, it’s the hazzle, it’s the time wasted on subjects you never get to use etc.

And a day doesn’t go by without young people feeling anxious about making the right choices for their education and subsequent careers. Because how do you make sure, you have got it right? That you can make your interest and passion pay your bills?

I have one cowboy trick for you:

Study to become a journalist (if you can get it, of course).

Don’t listen to all the people saying that there are no jobs to be had in the media industry.

First of all, there are, they are just more fragmented than ever and not in the usual places.

But second – and most importantly of all – an education in journalism can lead to whatever you want it to lead to.

I am the perfect example of that; I have been a journalist by education since 1999, yet has still to work as a traditional one in a newsroom.

But what I have done instead is to use some of the skills that I have in my genes and I learned to control more during my education;

My curiosity for asking questions. And ask again and again.

My determination to get to the bottom of something and not take ‘No’ for an answer.

My thirst for knowledge.

My passion for trying to connect all the dots.

My instinct to cut to the chase and settle on an angle.

My talent for communication and presenting the story.

When you have those things and you study to get better and better at them, you can apply these skills anywhere. Especially in todays world, where noise is amplified, and signal often gets lost in translation.

Studying to become a journalist is not a one-way street; it’s more of a giant roundabout with plenty of exit options in different directions utilizing the skills, you learned.

So if you want to take a safe punt, go and study to become a journalist.

It just might help make big things happen for you later on.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Emotional at work

Looking at the future of work, I am convinced that those who can nail the emotional intelligence and belonging aspect of work in a working-from-home environment will be onto something truly amazing.

Why?

Because no matter how much I think about it, I still can’t see anything other than the current fascination with working-from-home as being driven by the same sort of industrial society mentality, we pretty much all felt we were in the process of moving well away from.

Why on Earth would we want it back?

In it’s present form the thinking around working-from-home as solely a matter of efficiency and crossing off items on the to do list IMHO totally misses the point about forming and sustaining a culture in the organization where new ideas thrive, innovation is unleashed and real progress is made.

It fits more into a narrative of a guy on the old factory floor timing processes looking for places to optimize and cut – but in no way bringing anything forward.

Those that understand the difference and focus on developing the emotional sense of belonging between employee and employer no natter the physical distance, will have amble opportunity to make a real difference.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)