What’s Past is Prologue—Part One

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Last night I finished another class on my way to completing my masters in communications. These classes have helped me to come to a conclusion about my business…and myself. When I started working on my masters, I was full of self-doubt. Owning a successful publicity/public relations business for 25 years, one would think I would have great confidence. However, the opposite was true. With the new digital world and Web 2.0, I found myself wondering if I could keep up with this new generation of communicators.

In my field, it seems that the younger person is the one valued with having creative and fresh ideas. To be significant you need to use an iPhone, know and use text language, download the latest apps, blogged regularly, post on Facebook often with over 1,000 friends and you dressed “down”.  Therefore, two years ago, when I turned 50, I began feeling like the outdated model. I found myself buying the latest technology, learning a new language, downloading thousands of apps that I never used, coloring my hair, religiously, to keep the grey from showing and wearing clothes that reflected the latest trend instead of my nice corporate suits.

In my classes, I have been intrigued with reading about all the technological changes that occurred at the turn of the twentieth century and how these changes affected culture. It is interesting to juxtaposed this history on the turn of the twenty-first century and see some similarities today. I read that this was a time of cultural extremes and that most Americans were deeply ambivalent being poised between fear & confusion vs. inspiration & awe. Isn’t this the same reaction we see that is being played out today in the new digital world with the onset of social media?

People were afraid of the telegraph, the telephone and even newspapers. It seemed that each new change brought about fear in people that life as they knew it would change and that this change was usually seen as “for the worse” and not “for the better.” But as history has played out, the changes defined a new paradigm for people and were basically good changes that helped their world and shaped a new culture. While we all may chuckle at their attitude, I think we are experiencing these same emotions today with the internet, digital and social media. There are those who are fearful non-adapters and there are those who embrace the change moving full steam ahead launching new businesses and programs.

I find myself wrestling with these same emotions today: fear, confusion, awe, and inspiration. But, I believe we will learn to adapt and we will learn to work in this new media age. What we can learn from history is that some things will fade away (telegraph, newspapers, land line phones) while others things will come to the forefront for a time (iPhone, Facebook, iPad).

As a communication professional however, it is even more important that we learn to adapt to these changes because we will be the people deciding on what to communicate, to whom, and when/how to do this effectively for our business, churches, and ministries.

Last week, I told you that Diane, Rick and I were going to meet for two days with our business coach, Fred Lybrand. We did and it was good. We redefined who B&B is and what we are now focused on. But more about that in the rest of the post….

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