You know that person who is always just having a little bit too much fun to really be running a successful business? They never really gave up playing a musical instrument, or maybe they surf every morning before showing up to the office. They probably make a habit of cycling 100 miles at sunrise, race dirt bikes on the weekends, or indulge in some random act of sailing, golfing, mountain biking, hiking, or just walking the streets with an eye open toward the art and sound all around us.
How on earth does that person, with all their “hobbies," ever get any work done?
I’ll tell you how. Successful, innovative, visionary people do not have hobbies. They just live, every single day, with the utmost gusto. Nothing is saved for later, everything is an opportunity to inform, change, move. Right now.
The audio and video technology industry and its various application segments were built by people who not only took their work home with them, they made work have real purpose in their lives. The cast of founding characters includes the small-town radio and PA operator who insisted that “moving pictures” could be shown outdoors in his hometown after he came home from the war. The powerful, fashionable politician who decided that she could build AV hardware in America, and who supported our industry’s trade shows from the very first moment. The crazy consultant who put on skates to install quad sound systems at roller discos. And a multitude of guitar collectors, program language readers, garage tinkerers, and cineastes who want to improve the way things work for customers and for themselves.
When we look for those who will change our industry, we don’t need to crunch numbers or talk about years of experience, we must look for leaders strong enough to defy expectation. The past proves that those who did it right, did it differently. They were iconoclasts. They challenged convention and never lost sight of the goal, even when the research got chaotic or the science had to be pushed in the right direction to reveal new possibilities.
We have the privilege of working in an industry where innovation never ceases, both in terms of technology and in the way in which we conduct business. While those shifts continue, the attributes of leaders remain constant. They see the world differently, finding possibilities for improvement where others see obstacles.
So who is it? Who’s next? There are examples everywhere, but to really discern who is capable of creating change, one must learn how to interpret the signs. It’s not enough to just be a certain age, these individuals simply show up at work in a distinctive fashion.
Even if they are not at their desk precisely when the whistle blows, they are always applying new knowledge to the work that must be done. They don’t just clock hours, they extend each moment to contain more than what is expected. They commit to tasks with unique ambition, logging extra time in the field when a project offers the sense of achievement that comes with meeting a challenge.
This is the driving factor exhibited by industry leaders past and present, and as a result, it’s fairly easy to create a comparison and recognize the signs of burgeoning talent. But it’s essential to remember to look for talent on the periphery of our industry as well as within it. Sound designers, musicians, software geniuses, live sound engineers, charismatic sales professionals—these have always been a source of talent for AV. Now it’s time to seek new contributors to those fields and talk to them about what they might want to create for our industry.
This month we set a framework for the future by presenting The Nine, exemplars of talents we’ll need to move this industry forward. After consulting our top peers in the industry, we selected representatives with the most vibrant new ideas in business and a passion for every aspect of life. The Nine serve to illustrate that the work/life balance is no longer a simple equation of “working to live” or “living to work." It’s about living to the fullest at work and in all aspects of our constantly changing times.
A broad range of talent is represented across The Nine, as you’ll see in the profiles on this page. What we learn from the spectrum of interests represented by this group’s energetic pursuit of goals is that work is what you make it. Technology has shifted culture so there is no longer an “every day” pattern in work or life. Each day is different, hour to hour, minute to minute. This has always been true, but now we have to give each minute the space to live up to its potential.
There is a tremendous amount of potential within The Nine and beyond to those who are inspired to employ technology in a quest for change. We are lucky to work in a business that prizes enthusiasm and harnesses new ideas for the growth of businesses. Every day, let’s strive to keep things interesting, and watch The Nine for new ideas on how to have fun with success.