08.10.2011
OUR NEWEST COLUMNIST - MARK WHITNEY'S: "DREAM SMALL. AIM LOW" - Every Day’s A Workshop

Every Day’s A Workshop

Have you noticed how people bond or don’t bond with technology, based on how old they are?

Twelve years ago, when we moved from Vermont to San Diego, my Dad went to a yard sale, where he finallybought an answering machine. To this day it still plays the previous owner’s greeting.

We get Mom hooked up on email. She writes the entire message in the subject line.

It’s different for my sons. My oldest son, Michael, will be 27 next month. He’s not known a day on earth without a personal computer in the house. I remember telling my then-teenage sons how lucky they were to have unfettered access to the Internet. When I was their age, if you wanted to see a lonely housewife jacking off a horse, you had to know a jockey.

There’s never been a better time for creative souls. If you write, they will read you. If you sing, they will hear you. If you bring your show, they will find you.

The world isn’t changing; it’s changed. It’s done. Are you on board? Whenever I see my Dad these days, he’s like, “Tell me again what it is you do?”

A few years back, he told my youngest son Chris, “I saw Dad’s internet.

”Today, Michael and Chris have an Internet of their own. Julie used to worry that Chris spent too much time playing video games. Not anymore. Chris went into his room at 15 and came out at 19 making six figures. He sells repair kits for video game systems and other peripherals. Replace your broken XBOX or buy one of Chris’ $20 kits. The parts are proprietary and they’re manufactured in China. Why? Because Chris had some ideas about how he could improve the XBOX. That’s when he sent an email to some guy in China named “Wilson.”English is Wilson’s second language. He must have been absent the day they taught “no.”

Chris mocks up a design and clicks SEND. “Can we do this?”Wilson says “yes, absolutely.”

Then he figures out how to get it done. Four years later, Chris is the front office and Wilson’s the back office. Chris wires five figure checks to China on a monthly basis and on an annual basis, Wilson — a Buddhist — sends Chris a Santa card.It’s a virtual partnership that doesn’t depend on a team of risk managers. It’s two young men — who have never met offline – helping each other build a better future. It’s not, “Don’t! Stop! No!” It’s “Plan. Execute. Revise. Repeat.”

We take action for reasons that are quantifiable; tangible reasons that are known to us. Life — I am learning — is not about the known reasons. It’s about the unknown reasons revealed along the way.

Unknown reasons fuel the insight and wisdom that comes from the simple act of throwing a little action at a new idea. I bought Chris a computer in the fifth grade because his handwriting sucked. The unknown reason — the reason revealed to me years later — was that he might have a life rooted in global, self-determination.

My Dad just left a voice mail. He needs help – again – changing the channel. “You know, Dad, it might actually be easier for you to get in the car and drive from New England Sports Network to ESPN.”

Every day’s a workshop; another opportunity for unknown reasons to be revealed. My Dad doesn’t have to be an early adopter of new technology to understand that this is the best time ever to be an individual with a new ideaHe can see it in the smiling eyes of his progeny.


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