Well, we officially arrive at another moment of truth for our nation this week. For myself, I’ll just say: I don’t think our political process is going to improve, no matter the outcome.
But I’ve now survived eleven presidents in my lifetime. They do this every four years. I’m getting used to looking back at every four years and thinking, “I don’t know what doomsday those people were talking about … with the growth and success we enjoy in our mastermind groups, it doesn’t matter who gets elected!"
Anyway, it’s a week to talk about vision for the future, especially since it is an election this week. Many people put far too much faith in our political leadership to solve our problems. We either haven’t read, or haven’t understood when the Bible says, “Where there’s no vision, the people perish.” When our vision is limited to having a good time on social media or binge-watch Netflix, it’s no wonder our lives feel empty.
That’s always been true for me as a Christian life coach as well. A healthy marriage has vision; an unhealthy one doesn’t. Guys, if we asked our wives how they’d feel about a vision of “just getting through the day,” I think we can agree - that dog won’t hunt. And you ladies know all about the difference between men with and without vision.
Business is no different. Successful entrepreneurs have vision; most unsuccessful ones don’t. In fact, I want to share a story Michael Hyatt wrote about in his book, “The Vision Driven Leader,” which is in focus for our online mastermind groups this fall. This is a classic version of what can happen to a global brand, a household name, when their vision is all about preserving the status quo and making money.
If you would like to surround yourself with some high-caliber entrepreneurs who can help you keep your eyes on the horizon, click here to join one of our masterminds online.
Why Kodak’s Moment Ended
For close to 100 years, Kodak was the industry gold standard for cameras and photography. You can imagine, when they first started in the late 1800s, it wasn’t as easy as “point and shoot.” But George Eastman, the founder, was as customer-obsessed as Amazon is today. He was determined, in his own words, to “make the camera as convenient as the pencil."
At the beginning of the 20th Century, that’s exactly what Kodak did. They released a camera called “The Brownie.” It came preloaded with film, so all you had to do was take the picture you wanted, and then have it developed (who remembers having pictures “developed”?) The market responded immediately, and Kodak sold over 250,000 units in its first year.
Now, you’d think the culture at Kodak would have become all about innovation. They’d listened and understood what the marketplace wanted, and they’d delivered on it. All they had to do was keep listening to what people said they wanted. And by the mid-1970s, somebody at Kodak had figured out the world’s first digital camera.
Can you guess the response from Kodak’s executive leadership? This is a blog about the importance of having vision, but one company that’s almost “disappeared” in the last decade is … Kodak! They went bankrupt in 2012, and a big part of it stemmed from ignoring the digital photography market.
There are details to the story worth mentioning. Kodak didn’t totally ignore the digital market. They kept pace with it, for the most part … until the iPhone came along and ended the need for digital cameras themselves. Kodak took a shot in the gut from a much more visionary company, Apple, whose product could do everything the digital camera did … and then some.
Why is this important? Well, Kodak “played along” with where the market was headed. But when push came to shove, and the iPhone threatened both them and their main competitor, Fuji, only one company really survived.
The lesson we can take from this is that it’s possible, for a while, to have “vision-lite.” Lots of businesses do this. Cultural critics mock companies for having vision and mission statements, because they’re like old family photos nobody pays attention to. For all we know, Kodak probably had their statements hanging on the walls of their corporate headquarters.
It’s getting leaders to take vision seriously that’s the problem. The cultural critics also attack leaders who actually do the work, so we need to hit the “mute” button on them and dig into what today’s top business leaders do differently.
Wise business coaches and mentors take vision seriously. In the Iron Sharpens Iron Mastermind, it’s a way of life. Click here to apply to join one of our groups for men or women.
How To Have a Secure Vision
According to Michael Hyatt, there was one executive at Kodak who advised they should go digital - a vice president named Don Strickland. “We developed the world’s first consumer digital camera and Kodak could have launched it in 1992,” he said. “We could not get approval to launch or sell it because we were afraid of cannibalizing film."
I’m amazed how some people’s vision is to be exactly the same five years from now as they are today. Are you the same person you were five years ago? I have compassion for myself in 2015 … but I’m not going back to being that man!
Somehow, though, we think we can “preserve” the 2020 versions of ourselves. Do you want to be, in 2025, the person you are today? I don’t think many people will want back the difficulties we’ve all faced this year. So let’s not make decisions about tomorrow, based on fears we feel today.
I think it’s better to start thinking how Steve Jobs did, four years before the World Wide Web was invented - “The most compelling reason for people to buy a home computer will be to link it into a nationwide communications network.” Now that is a vision statement I can get behind! Our mastermind groups online depend greatly on that nationwide communications network Jobs talked about!
At the time he said that, computers were mainly tools used by large businesses. There was always a lot of data for them to process, but with computers, they didn’t need to hire hundreds of people to do it. Jobs was intelligent enough to observe that families were no different, and would welcome a version of it that helped them manage all the “data” of running a household.
Can you look around today, at something enjoyed mainly by large businesses or organizations, and wonder what it would look like for the average family to possess their own version of it? I think of executive or personal assistants. It’s expensive to hire a human being to do it … but what if you could invest in an AI robot, for the same price as a car, and it lasted you 10 years?
Well, that technology isn’t here yet. But there’s a human investment you could make today that would 10X your brainpower - you could join a business mastermind like Iron Sharpens Iron. Click here to apply for one of our groups for men or women.