Well, if you’re a Zen Master like Suzuki, you take up the challenge. Here’s what he said:
“All things change.”
And that pretty much wraps it up. It means that not only should you not get too attached to things (because all things change) but you also shouldn’t get too worried when things are bad (because all things change). When it is bad, it is going to get good again. When it is good, it is going to get bad again. You can’t do anything about it, so stop worrying.
Take the CD-ROM business for instance. I was there when the hype surrounding CD-ROM games was high: Almost as high as the hype around the Internet. Millions were spent launching hip new companies (anybody remember Rocket Science?) and millions were lost when the bubble burst.
But CD-ROMs are coming back in the form of DVDs. The Shrek DVD alone has enough material on it to be its own season on the WB Network. But what a difference from the original incarnation! A storage capacity of over 6 Gigs, 10 times the amount of a CD. Interactive games. Websites. Trailers. Documentaries. And a full-length movie with 5.1 surround sound! And, best of all, at a third of the price of the old CD-ROMs. And they are selling like hot cakes.
Go back further in the game world and you’ll see the same thing happening. Video games were huge business (remember Atari?), then the bubble burst, and then Nintendo came along. First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.
So as we look to the Internet, and particularly marketing and advertising on the Internet, it is best not to pay too much attention to either good news or bad news. In fact, although I make my living to a certain degree prognosticating the future, I don’t know what I’m talking about any more than anyone else does. All of our crystal balls are cracked and grimy. Look at the slew of “analysts” who used to be the darlings of Wall Street and CNBC (who made, by the way, a ton more money being wrong than I have): they’re out on their ear - disgraced, denounced, and wrong, wrong, wrong.
Here is the only thing you can count on: All things change. Marketing on the Internet is going to change. Advertising on the Internet is going to change. The Internet is going to change… in ways we can’t even imagine right now. And all the conferences, white papers, lectures, and newsletters in the world are just fillers to help us pass the time while the change happens. And hopefully give us an early warning as it happens.
And all you refugees from the corporate world who don’t think you can escape by going back to “traditional.” That changes too. Ask a few middle managers at IBM about stability and job security.
But there is a way out. The Buddha gave it to us 2500 years ago:
Breath. Relax. Focus. Don’t become attached to things: ways of doing business, business plans, technologies, ideas about how you market and advertise on the Web, what works and what doesn’t, the bad news, the good news, job titles, salary, magazines, websites. Stay open. Keep your beginner’s mind. Keep learning. Be ready to change your mind at all times.
As we head into next year and another 12 months of struggling with this thing called the Web, I hope you (and I) will keep this in mind: All things change. This too shall pass.
And whatever you do, enjoy the ride.