Dancing with Disruption

Dancing with Disruption – The seven secrets to thriving on massive change so the most desirable people want to work only with you.

Hi this is Mike Lipkin and I’m very excited to share this message with you. It’s called Dancing with Disruption – The seven secrets to thriving on massive change so the most desirable people want to work only with you.

First let’s talk about dancing. Dancing is something that you do when you’re happy or having fun. It literally means moving your body rhythmically in a pattern of steps, especially to the accompaniment of music. It also means shifting nimbly or quickly. It requires partnering with others in some kind of performance. When you dance with someone or something, it means you’re in harmony with them. You share a common purpose. You’re a source of each other’s joy.

Disruption is a radical change that that shatters the status quo. It’s a crisis that rewards the fast and punishes the slow. It’s the introduction of a new product or service that creates a whole new market and completely replaces the existing one. It could even be a person that precipitates a fundamental shift in thinking, action and consequences.

No matter who you are, you’re experiencing some form of disruption – even if you think you’re not. You just don’t know it yet. Disruption begins long before you feel its consequences. So here is the fundamental choice facing all of us: struggle with disruption or dance with it. I can tell you that ninety percent of people struggle with it. They curse and lament it. They brand it as an affliction that must somehow be endured. The top ten percent celebrate it. They may even cause it.

Here’s Lipkin’s number rule of success: whatever you cannot avoid, you must embrace. You have to learn to like surprises not just the surprises you like. As the leading strategist, Clayton Christensen, says, “the breakthrough innovations come when the tension is greatest and the resources are most limited. That’s when people are actually a lot more open to rethinking the fundamental way they do business”. So the next time you’re tempted to run away from the situation, run towards it. The view is a lot better when you’re moving forward.

With great uncertainty comes great opportunity. Whatever sector you’re in, the possibilities are infinitely exciting. The new technologies are creating massive breakthroughs. Curious, clever, hungry people from around the corner to around in the world are redefining the rules of the game all the time.

We’re all playing catch up while we’re leading the way. No matter how well we’re doing, we fear someone else doing it better. And, of course, they are, or they will very soon. The more evolved we become, the more intense the competition becomes. It’s never getting easier. It’s never slowing down. It’s never becoming more forgiving. It’s only ramping up from here. If you love massive change, you’re going to love the future. If you don’t, you’re going to love irrelevance even less.

Either you’re the disruptor or the disruptee. You’re either doing the disrupting or you’re being disrupted. It’s binary. Neutral is not a gear you can move forward in.

It sounds gladiatorial. It feels like we can never feel safe. It seems like peace of mind or personal wellbeing are relics from a nostalgic past. The creed of speed appears to be accelerating everything everywhere. But perception is not reality. While the metabolism of change has indeed quickened in many ways, it is also stabilizing in many others.

According to the Economist, December 5 2015, the rate of new consumer product launches is probably slowing or in decline. Factories do not seem to be making things faster. Private sector workers are holding their jobs longer. CEO’s of public companies are enjoying longer tenure in their roles. Rates of depreciation are steady. Many industries are consolidating into oligopolies. Stricter compliance and regulatory constraints are inhibiting rampant innovation in many industries. Greater investments dictate longer time horizons. Global interdependent supply chains demand ongoing stability.

You can relax some of the time. You can enjoy the ride. You can count on timeless rhythms repeating themselves. Winning is not about changing for the sake of change. It’s about understanding the ebb and flow of your industry and catching the wave just before it breaks, over and over again. There is a time to paddle furiously and there is a time to sit, watch and dream. You have to know when to do what. It’s true that life is about luck and timing but we create our own luck if we get the timing right.

Whatever you do and wherever you are, you must find reasons to love the process. Passion fuels excellence. If you have a strong enough why, you will always discover a powerful how. Disruption is not for sissies. It demands an acute sensitivity to opportunity combined with a fierce commitment to execution, no matter what the odds against you. It demands skill and joie de vivre in equal measure.

I’m modelling my own best practice here. I’m striving to share this message the best way I can while I communicate my love for I’m doing right now. Can you tell?

As a disruptor, your number one fear will be figuring out how to do something you’ve never done before. The greater the game, the greater your fear. The odds will always be against you – at the beginning. You see things that no-one has seen. You feel a power and excitement no-one else feels. At first, you may appear to others as a modern day madman. Then you build your case. You attract like-minded warriors and game-changers to your cause. You achieve small wins. Colleague by colleague, customer by customer, you build your scale. Then, one day, you cross the threshold of experimentation into full blooded success. And that’s when the challenges really begin.

Disruption occurs to outside observers as a sudden breakthrough. The truth is that it is an excruciating grind. The “big idea” is never a big idea at the time. It is the seed of a possibility that requires obsessive tendering in order to flower. Other people are amazed by your results because they don’t see the genius and guts that make the impossible possible.

Doubt is not an option. Ambivalence is not allowed. Anxiety must be banished. Fatigue must be overcome. The only thing that matters is changing the world. It’s as simple and outrageous as that. That’s why I’m creating this video. Somebody, somewhere will be inspired into action that will make a difference to their community. Hey, if that person is you, my mission is accomplished right here.

I’m not talking to you as a someone who just wants to survive on change. You’ll find a way to do that by yourself. I’m talking to you as someone who aspires to thrive on massive change so the most desirable people want to work only with you. What will that take? How can you adapt, navigate and pivot in a way that inspires, delights and thrills others? How can you build the stamina and tenacity to become unstoppable? How can you find the breakthrough that is so compelling it’s worthy of your life?

I study disruptors for a living. I literally talk to hundreds of them every year. I work with them. I act as a co-pilot for many of them on their flight paths. Together with my fellow wizards in the Environics Group, I also research the trends that are defining the new realities. I have discovered the seven secrets to thriving on massive change so the most desirable people want to work only with you. They are simple but they’re not easy:

  1. Become someone who knows. There is a reason why I use the word secrets. I define a secret as a formula or knowledge that is only known to a few. If you own a secret, you have the power to share it so you can turn the few into the many. Secrets are everywhere – hiding in plain sight. The difference between someone who knows and someone who doesn’t is the willingness to do the work, find the information, talk to the people and formulate one’s strategy. The data have been democratized. Everything is out there if you’re willing to search for it.
  1. Have an audacious ambition. If you want to be a disruptor, you can be humble, but you can’t be modest. You have to dream big. You need a dream that’s bigger than anything that gets in its way. Other people may call you crazy, monomaniacal or misguided. They may even call you nasty or narcissistic. I call it audacious ambition. What are you out to achieve? Is it so big that others are too afraid to go after it? That’s what I’m talking about here. So I want to be the one that you tell all your friends, colleagues, and clients to watch because I will excite them into unprecedented action.
  1. Be simultaneously analytical and creative. There may be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap? There may be hundreds of ways to do something but which one way is the best way? You may have a hunch, but do you also have proof that your way is the right way? Disruption demands left and right brain firing together. Your intuition may alert you to the opportunity but it’s your intellect that builds your business case. That’s why you need wingmen or women to complement your capacity. Fly social not solo.
  1. Be prolific. The more you lose, the more you win. 1.0 is always imperfect. You will hear the word “no” hundreds of times more than the word “yes.” The best way to get ready is to do things before you’re ready. The best you can do is get it as right as you can the first time and then get better, stronger, smarter. Disruptors try a lot more things than disruptees. They fail fast and they fail forward. 
  1. Communicate like magic. If you want to be a disruptor, you have to be a great communicator. You have to cast a spell on the people that you are recruiting to your cause. Words are everything. They literally have a chemical impact on others. Seriously, the right words generate oxytocin – the love hormone, whereas the wrong words generate cortisol, the stress hormone. They open people up or they shut people down. So tell your story in a way that opens people’s hearts, minds and wallets to you.
  1. Be a talent magnet. Disruption demands the boldest and brightest partners. They are revolutionaries that hunger for the thrill of upheaval. The best talent goes where it earns the highest return. Reputation is everything. From Aristotle to Zuckerberg – disruptors transform their partners to powerhouses they could never have become on their own.
  1. Play like a champion today. Disruptors may not always play at their best but they play their best every day. They bring their A-Game no matter who they’re playing. They leave nothing on the field. They know it’s always today and today is the only day there is. When you watch a disruptor at work, you feel their intensity and passion. Everything matters. There is no such thing as small. They’re all in, all the time.

So that’s how you become a disruptor: become someone who knows. Have an audacious ambition. Be simultaneously analytical and creative. Be prolific. Communicate like magic. Be a talent magnet. And play like a champion today. This is Mike Lipkin and let’s go make some waves and rock a few boats. Hoo-ah.

3 thoughts on “Dancing with Disruption

  1. Louise

    Mike, I love this. It motivates me. Thank you. It is also important for someone that wants to be a disruptor dancer to feel the peace inside themselves, to trust in the future, to know their own talent so they know they can make a difference in the world and who they are. Witout this inner peace and knowing, the hectic is hollow. It start within. Tools like, meditation and yoga and motivators like you just provide can help everyone be their best and bloom into wanting to make a difference. Thank you!


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