One of my first business ventures was a cartooning, graphic arts, and stationery business.
It was the late 80s early 90s when I was trying to sell my wares by getting wholesale distribution set up to stationery stores. (remember those?). I paid over $500 for a printed list of retailers within a 4-hour drive. I took my artwork into the local newspaper/offset printing service. I purchased poly bags and created my own packaging. I remember several family members standing in our kitchen stuffing bags with 20 sheets of stationery going into each one.
I didn’t see the trend coming, but in my defense, I was 16 years old. The first disruptive technology was the demise of the dot matrix printer. If you don’t know what a dot matrix printer is, don’t worry about it. They sucked. (although I always thought the noisy printing sounded cool)
Once inkjet printers came into the mainstream, a new software stepped up to the stage: desk top publishing. Now anyone could print decent stationary at home. One sheet at a time as needed, and for just a few cents. The quality wasn’t as good as the offset printing of store bought stationary but it didn’t matter because the second wave of tech would put the final nail in the coffin of my failing stationery business. Once your grandma had her own email address, there was no longer a reason to write a letter.
Funny thing; I took this failure around with me as if it was a character flaw. Perhaps I just didn’t work hard enough? It was actually the result of blindness to tech trends. A slightly more forgivable mistake I suppose.
Long gone are the days of the 30+ year long careers at a single employer. And even if you are an entrepreneur, you had better learn to love constant change.
A couple of books I can recommend to help recognize these changes early so you can take advantage of them instead of getting blindsided:
- Who moved my cheese – Spencer Johnson Ph.D.
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams (Cartoonist of Dilbert)
- Choose Yourself – James Altucher
I know to some of you this may seem like a tired subject. I’m one of the thousands of voices that are dishing out this advice. But the reason I’m bringing it up is that I still see, day after day, people all around me who are working on college degrees that will take longer to get than they will likely work in their chosen field. Or they are disgruntled in a job that is not providing what they feel they deserve. Staying year after year hoping it will get better.
The only way to learn, grow, and progress, is to learn to love change. Believe it or not, you can learn to be at ease in an uneasy world. The books I mentioned above have helped me to seek change before it comes and smacks me in the face. Anticipating change can go a long way toward accepting change. And more than that, use it to your advantage.