Monday, April 15, 2013

Bridging the Technology Divide

You have missed the digital revolution.  It’s over.  If you didn’t get on the ride by now, it’s too late as it already took off.

When I was 10, I had a great idea I wanted to invent.  A battery operated desk fan I could use in school.  (My school didn't have AC at the time!)

I told my father the idea and even made a prototype of my idea.  Students in my 5th grade class bought it from me for $2. A lot of money in 1980 and to a 10 year old!

But - My father told me then that anything worth inventing had already been invented.  He said, “There are no more inventions left," and told me not to waste my time.

To this day, I remember the moment he said this to me.  Where I was sitting in our car, and where we were driving.   That 5 second statement has resonated with me for a lifetime.   Later that exact product was sold nationally - but not by me…  Maybe it was my 5th grade teacher!

Today, I have a 10 and 12 year old.    How would they feel and react if I told them not to use technology?  Told them it was too late for them to learn?  They can’t use it to communicate with their friends via email or text messages.  [Picture of kids on abacus and/or rope phone]  Facebook and social media.  Cannot use it to research that school project or type their homework paper.   All because they MISSED THE RIDE…

The reality is many people create excuses to not take advantage of the technology resources we have.  

-       I’m too old
-       I’m too busy
-       It will change tomorrow anyway

You cannot compete today if you do not use technology.  You’ve heard this, and many of you know this, but let’s explore this further.

I entered the commercial real estate business in 1991.   22 years ago when I started my company I needed a phone and fax machine.

If I didn’t have a fax machine, I would be out of business!  I faxed contracts to my clients and other brokers.  I even sent out fax blasts to prospects.  

It was an exciting day when I upgraded from that thermal fax machine – you know, the ones where it curled up page after page on the floor and eventually the text faded from the paper.  I upgraded my technology to a LASER fax machine.   

Faxing was great!  I didn’t have to type up a formal letter on the typewriter and mail the contract or overnight it with FedEX for $10.    Instead, I could hand write a cover letter throw it on the fax, dial the number and off it went. 

We have evolved and continue to evolve.   

It’s an exciting time for us in Commercial Real Estate, as technology has made communication and collaboration much faster, more efficient, and less expensive.  

Contrary to popular opinion, after teaching technology around North America for the last 5 years, I have discovered that we do not have a generational technology gap.     I’ve taught 20 year olds that have not embraced technology and 80 year olds that have mastered technology, blogs and social media.

Our Generational Divide is Collaboration.    Today’s youth have been surrounded with information –  for FREE.   They share their knowledge readily and collaborate with their peers and competition in order to achieve their goals, whether that goal is a class paper or to close a $20 million commercial deal. 

Our older generation, my age and above, have been taught that information is money.  Knowing that property is listed when someone else doesn’t know – gaining information and keeping it confidential.  That is ingrained into our daily business.    The younger generation doesn't understand why would we not share our knowledge and information to collaborate with others in order to close the deal even faster or grow our business?

But the younger generation typically doesn't comment on this "collaboration gap".  They just walk away confused of our actions but keeping their comments to themselves.  

Maybe they can’t say something - BUT I CAN!  To inform you it’s time to share your knowledge and collaborate with that information.  You will be shockingly surprised on how your information will manifest into something significant and maybe even life changing if you collaborate and share it – freely and openly. 

I challenge all of you to continue to evolve with technology – read short blogs, take classes, and buy the cool gadgets.   Learn them, use them, invent new uses for them!  I’m here to say that THERE ARE INVENTIONS LEFT TO BE INVENTED!

That’s the easy part.   I also challenge you to collaborate.  Collaborate with your team and learn from the 20-somethings on how they share information.  This will be difficult as you are retraining your behavior.  If necessary – REINVENT yourself.   

Information will make you wise, but sharing information makes you the
EXPERT and a LEADER!  Todd A. Kuhlmann, CCIM

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.