Spark.Me 2017: Dr. Max McKeown on Shaping Our Future

Spark.Me 2017: Dr. Max McKeown on Shaping Our Future

This year’s Spark.Me opening keynote speaker was someone we have tried to bring to Spark.me for the last 4 years, and all the effort certainly paid off! Listening to Dr. Max Mckeown, a best-selling author, strategic coach and behavioral psychologist, share his insights into how to navigate the turbulent times we are living in, was a true privilege. I am pretty sure that everyone listening to his talk felt the time fly.

By actually drawing the path to innovation, from the very beginnings of the human race to our high-tech 21st-century civilization, on a white drawing board, Max visually presented the ways humans shape their future. He taught us with the three concepts we require to succeed: innovation, strategy, and nowist mentality, and in this post, I will try to share them with you. 

Now don’t go jumping to conclusions just yet – you won’t have 1$ million in your pocket by the end of the last paragraph, but I certainly hope you will be on the right path to succeed in your endeavors.

“Innovator” is not the same as “Inventor”

Our Secret Weapon
What distinguishes us from other species? How can a human defeat a cheetah although it’s faster than a bullet, not to mention him? There is only one answer – our brain and intellect are our secret weapons.  What is speed to a cheetah or strength to an elephant, intellect is to a human.

People often misunderstand the concept of innovation. According to Max, innovation is new ideas made useful! So innovators are not necessarily inventors. They don’t invent new ideas, they borrow (read copy ☺) them and make them useful!

For example, when Max was a child, he used to watch a futuristic TV show with his father. Every time they would watch it, a new product idea was presented. Max’s father always got excited about the show and felt like he could have thought of those ideas himself. In fact, he was also the one who thought of the vacuum-cleaning robot! But what made him angry was the fact that, opposite to the people on the show, he did not have any money on his bank account.

Things don’t work that way. Having a great idea by itself is not enough. If you just sit on the couch, watching TV, and waiting for someone to put money on your bank account, you will get nowhere.  If that was the case, we would all be as successful as Elon Musk just by having some inspired thoughts. You need to bring your ideas to life, and you need a strategy for that! Strategy is about shaping future.

What Max felt the need to highlight here is that strategy is not a document – it is a living thing. It’s what gets you from somewhere you are to somewhere you want to be, with what you have.

Dr. Max Mckeown

The Waves of Innovation

Max claims that human future is powered by desire. As he says, a desire to share thoughts was physicalized with the invention of the telephone. Physicalization determines traditional patterns of usage and innovation is what changes these patterns.

Have you ever used a rotary dial phone? I had it in my house when I was a child. I used to call people by randomly spinning the dial just for fun and it drove my parents crazy!

Do you remember Nokia 3310? It was my first cell phone and I felt so proud when my father gave me a Nokia in my fourth grade. I was allowed to use it only when traveling outside my hometown without my parents and I used that time to play Snake as much as I could.

Blackberry, does it ring a bell? You can probably guess where I am going with this.

An initial idea is updated every time there is a new wave of innovation, and each wave brings a new usage pattern. However, we as humans tend to stick to old patterns and that can be an issue.

In the beginning, talking on the phone was an expensive hobby. When our grandparents used to call us on our house phones, they would try to keep the conversation as short as possible due to the costs. Nowadays, the average cost of a phone call is much lower but some patterns still remain. Our grandparents still hang up as quick as possible, although the cost of the conversations is at its lowest level ever.

So how do we make sure to survive the wave of innovation? When facing the wave, you have two options. The first option is to be stranded, get left behind or get smashed by it. Just like most of our grandparents who complain about new technology without trying to understand it

The second option is to surf on it and shape it! You start by understanding the wave and making sure you know what is happening at all times.

Dr. Max Mckeown

Who Shapes the Waves?

Max has a special term for people who are able to share the future. He calls them nowists.

A nowist is a person who keeps moving forward.

Nowist mindset keeps you moving forward, keeps you enjoy the doing of a thing and it also allows you to take advantage of the unplanned opportunities because instead of thinking for a long time you seek to minimize your regret by getting on with it.

Max says that best entrepreneurs are always nowists because they keep moving forward.  Entrepreneur or not, don’t you think it’s time for you to start seeing the world through eyes of a nowist?

I warned you – don’t go checking your bank account for that $1 million. However, I am sure you were at least intrigued by the concept of nowism. If you want to learn more, I encourage you to check out Max’s talk on Spark.me 2017 stage. And while you are at it, check out other speakers as well! 🙂

Spark.me is one of the most carefully curated business/internet conferences in Southeast Europe. It presents an awesoME place for people all around the world to brainstorm new ideas, share experiences, and enjoy listening to the world-class speakers. The conference is the crown part of .ME’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, and we are proud for making it happen since 2013. If you want to find out more about what lights our spark, check out: www.spark.me

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