We knew this day would come…the natural "Dip" of painful change and
the awkward place of transition. Moving from the most highly trained
manufacturing workforce in the world – during the industrial age – to a
highly skilled workforce in the information age takes painful change
and transition. Think about that time in your life…usually somewhere
around high school graduation… that point of boldly declaring what
you’re going to be when you grow up. Now think about the journey to get
there. People all lined up at your graduation party, card and money in
hand giving you tons of moral support in your effort to be the next
great brain surgeon or Bill Gates or maybe even Bill Clinton – God
Forbid. Then came that one course.
As Seth Godin writes in his recent book, "The Dip" for pre-med
students its Organic Chemistry. All the great intentions and well
wishes are out the window when it comes to passing Organic Chemistry.
It’s the natural barrier that we as a society put up between a yahoo
for a brain surgeon and a brain surgeon for a brain surgeon. The Dip
eliminates the meek and the mild, the faint of heart.
I recall back in May of 2004 when nearly 2,000 people stood up at
"The Max" and declared at the inaugural CreateDetroit event "I AM
DETROIT." It was the new economy working class’ rallying cry, the bold
declaration of unity and solidarity as we marched toward that vision of
a new Detroit prospering from the knowledge and creativity of the
masses. You would have thought you were back in the 30’s during a union
rally or something. The whole concept was formed from the work of a
book entitled "Rise of the Creative Class" for goodness sake.
But then for some strange reason we all went back to work the next
day. Back to the grind in our region that was built for a different
past age. Since that time some have continued to journey, continued to
live out the dream of moving to a knowledge economy. I drank the
Kool-Ade and I’m trying to do my part. After all it just takes every
person in the City to do the same, that’s all. It’s not easy, necessary
change never is.
The question we must ask ourselves as a
region: Do we have what it takes? Are we the yahoo or we the tough
gritty hardworking never quit people that we’ve always claimed to be.
Organic Chemistry is our current course. Report cards are coming home
soon. Are you ready to give up or are you just starting to dig in?
As a self-proclaimed marketing guy, I often find my way to the sales
and marketing section of the local Borders to find what’s being touted
as the latest and greatest book that’s guaranteed to improve sales and
drive more traffic to your brand or business than ever before. Upon a
rare occasion I actually find something that has at least a bit of
useful information. More often than not the latest Seth Godin title is such a book. So is the case with his recent work "The Dip."
Dip" not only has some useful information about marketing and
entrepreneurship – when to quit, when to stick, how to tell the
difference between the two – it has a message I feel would resonate
well in Southeast Michigan. The message is – be the best or get out of
As the title of the first chapter of the book so aptly states "Being
the Best in the World is Seriously Underrated." We should identify what
areas, we as a region, can make the bold claim "We are the best in the
Being like someone else - or in this case some place
else really means a cheap copy of the original. Mediocre at best. Think
the recent release of the Microsoft Zune…the mp3 player game is over.
As a matter of fact when is the last time you even used the term mp3 player?
It’s so over that we don’t even refer to mp3 players as mp3 players –
they are iPods. Game Over. Yet all the might muscle and marketing
dollars of Microsoft couldn’t get the Zune in the game. According to a
recent Bloomberg Report,
the iPod has about a 69% market share with all mp3 players compared to
Microsoft Zune’s 2.5%. Some of you may ask “Why would Microsoft try and
compete in a space that has been locked up for some time now?”
The better question is what are we doing in business, in life, or as a region that’s merely an attempt to be just like _____?
The Dip is a reference to the time between starting off with a bang
and then naturally slumping for a season. In sports they call it the
sophomore slump. The city is all abuzz over a wildly successful Super
Bowl and then BANG – job losses at the Big Three and declining
marketing share send us back into The Dip. The reality is that low
point is not only an essential place of decision, it’s the necessary
step between being mediocre and being the best. Those that endure The
Dip will come out winners. Many great ideas die in The Dip. Many
average ideas take off and become best in the world because of
someone’s ability to endure and persevere.