A Flash of Brilliance – A Lifetime of Growing

This month marks my five year wedding anniversary to the most incredible person I have ever met – my wife Sarah. We took time away over the weekend to take a step back and really reflect on what we each mean to each other, and share an experience that we knew we would remember for years to come.

We spent the weekend at the Mohonk Mountain House, a 130+ year old retreat in the Shawangunk Mountains in New Paltz, NY. The place harkens back to a time when people spent the “season” there with friends and familiy, hiking, in discourse on world affairs, and experiencing the beauty of nature. The weekend was quite simply: Perfect.

So it’s with these feelings in mind that I read a phenomenal article in this week’s New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell that compares how our culture feels about the two ways we experience genius: The precocious genius and the late blooming genius. And of course, I put these thoughts into two different contexts:

  • Marriage
  • The state of publishing

So the article shares stories about geniuses – primarily artistic geniuses – and compares those who appear fully formed, such as Picasso, and those who struggle their entire lives through mediocrity, only to hit upon genuis late in life, such as Cezanne.

In my five years of marriage (I know, a mere blip for some of you), I have learned that you need both:

You need to experience brilliance at the start,
yet constantly work to find a new brilliance as the relationship evolves.

Extending this to the business world, any company – any brand – needs this as well. To inspire and engage their audience and their industry at inception; but also continue to challenge and reengage them, working hard to meet their ever changing needs.

For publishing, an example would be that the soul of a magazine brand is perhaps not the magazine itself. That is just a delivery mechanism. Their true purpose is how they serve the needs of their audience. Taking away these parameters also allows for boundaries to lift – and new ideas to form as to how brands can evolve.

Yes, brands need to keep the essence of that original relationship with their customers. But without evolving together – without constantly challenging the status quo – the business will always be at risk.

Many are feeling the mounting pressure of the economy, and of market shifts due to digital media and tools. Do these changes represent an opportunity or a problem?

Power has shifted and the rules have changed. So many industries are being reshaped: media, journalism, marketing, and advertising included. And thinking about how to respond to these tremendous market shifts, I seem to come back to a quote by Scott Johnson has always stuck with me:

Caring is a powerful business advantage.

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