Arrogant newspapers, upstarts in t-shirts, and the practice of resilience

If I owned stock in one of GPS companies – like Garmin or Magellan – I’d be crying into my cup holders right now.

Why? Because Google has moved into the neighborhood with a better, cooler sat nav system for cell phones.

Oh, and it’s free.

Notice how this kind of thing seems to happen a lot nowadays?

You’ve been happily owning an industry for decades and then some t-shirt wearing upstart from a garage in Silicon Valley comes along and smashes your market.

The owners of The New York Times know what I mean.

It’s one of the reasons why I left the inky world of newspapers to learn all about online marketing and to set up my own business.

From the inside, even several years ago, it was clear that newspapers would be in trouble.  And so in particular was my job.

I was like a monk with a manuscript.

I’d sit there and spend what seemed like hours tweaking a story to get it to fit just right in the inches of space allocated to it in the newspaper. Sometimes I’d have to switch a six-letter word for a five-letter word to make a story squeeze in.

It was painful. And with the internet, it was unnecessary.

And this, of course, was with news that happened during the day… but wouldn’t be read until the day after.

My skills – I could foresee – were becoming redundant. And soon I would too.

(Indeed, just a couple of months ago the last newspaper I worked on in the UK was cut from daily to weekly, a move that left behind a bloody sea of laid-off editors.)

And if you think you’re immune, you’d better think again. Healthcare, education, banking, insurance, real estate. They’re all on the block.

Now, I don’t mean to scare you. (If you read Wednesday’s email you know that’s not my style.)

I’m just being realistic.

So rapid is the world as we know it disappearing (think 9-11, the economic slump) that anyone with hopes for the future is doing all they can to get future-proofed.

So how am I getting future-proofed? By building resilience into my business – and into my character.

And so should you.

First, get used to the fact that change is the new norm. And in this environment, the worst thing you can do is be shocked by change…and yet still do nothing.

You’ll end up like a rabbit frozen by the glimpse of a fox. And that doesn’t end well.

The newspapers – I could see – were so used to having things their own way that they were deliberately and arrogantly dumb to what was happening. So they did nothing – and the world moved on.

So being resilient means expecting change and being ready to bend with that change.

So how do newsletters fit in with all this?

Two ways.

First, they open up communication.

It’s awfully quiet if you live in a bubble. And then one day the oxygen runs out.

If you use a newsletter, you will get feedback from your clients. You find out what they need, what they want, and what they are thinking.

It’s like getting live intelligence from the market.

The key, of course, is to act on that intelligence.

Second, you’re building your personal brand – you are nurturing a relationship with your clients and prospects.

And when the world changes, that relationship is still there – because a relationship is 100x more powerful than just a transaction.

Your newsletter is like an insurance policy against rapid change.