But Shel and I had a great time without you. We talked about a ton of things, family (all good), the Republican debates (!) and he had me laughing out loud. But mostly we talked about his new book, Lethal Generosity.
Here's the gist of it:
Robin Carey (RC): How did you come up with the book's title and approach?
Shel Israel (SI): The book title began with (Robert) Scoble, as with so many other things. We were in a bar in Seattle and he was recalling his first job in a camera store. I started collecting stories about companies that loved the customer so much that they were willing to take a risk to get and keep the customer. It's a willingness to truly do what they talk about: that's to love the customer first.
What's new is that now technology is putting the customer in control... because the customers you have are influencing the customers you might get. What happened next was I used the term in Twitterville - Mollson challenging Labatts. I tried to find more stories like this but I couldn't find enough stories to make a book. But then what happened? A couple of years go by, and they started coming fast and furious. Technology was now enabling customers to give themselves experiences like never before.
RC: How do you explain the success of businesses that practiced a different model, i.e. Microsoft with the PC, Apple with iOS, Pharma companies, etc, which hold on to their IP?
SI: The book by no means says that this is what's true everywhere. For a long time, companies that don't practice this - and for that matter that use traditional marketing - will survive. Companies that use 'command and control' will be using 'command and control' for as long as they can, but they will be disrupted.
But what I'm seeing is a trend. The ones that use generosity will prevail. The examples I use, like Uber and AirBnB, and those that use mannequins with beacons, for example, will be the ones that are successful in the future.
RC: You're decidedly optimistic about the future of tech and especially Millennials. Why?
SI: I tend to use the word "hopeful" over optimistic. The things that some people are predicting could happen - the world could end in 50 years as some environmentalists predict. But frequently, and throughout history, we see technology making things less deadly, things like smallpox, for example.
Millennials are the first generation to use technology natively - like oxygen. They look at our generation, the Boomers, and they think hey, we invented the Internet and Mobile. But they use the tools to harness the network much better than we did, and they use them to solve problems. They'll make these technologies vastly superior to what we left them and at a very rapid rate.
They may not be able to save the planet... but they will be able to extend it by 50 years ago.
RC: You have many interesting examples of lethally generous businesses and as with your previous books, you bring to the forefront some amazing new technologies and companies. How do you find them? And from your past books, which were the most predictive of success? Which ones in the book should we be sure to watch out for?
SI: All the technologies that Robert Scoble and I look at are ones that have endured even if the companies have not. For example, in Age of Context, we talked about sensors in stores... which are now beacons. We talked about LTEDirect in the current book - and that alone will change the future of marketing. This means that we won't have to go through the cloud and will be more secure. It'll also be peer-to-peer and that's a very different world.
How we find them? We ask the question what is this company doing and where can that go.
Shel Israel's new book is a good read and, especially for a business book, a page-turner. Order it here.