By Paul Shearstone
The trouble with the internet is it presents itself wrapped in a cloak of timely-legitimacy regardless of the ‘time’ in which it is read. … Paul Shearstone 2008
I received an angry email the other day from Peter de Jager. For those who may have forgotten, Peter was [and still is] a respected international Speaker/Author and Computer guru. In the late 1990s, he enlightened the world as to the dangers of Y2K and warned that when the clock struck 12AM 2000, computers better be prepared to adapt to the next millennium. If not, the potential global consequences could be dire.
He was right and although he can’t take all the credit, the world listened and the crisis was essentially averted. [Article: ‘Doomsday Avoided’ ]
However, in the year that followed, there was no shortage of de Jager-detractors who, in light of the calm that Y2K ushered in, were all too eager to publicly vilify him. Why? Because the potential pandemic disaster everybody got ready for never materialized. Instead of receiving thanks for his services, agenda-driven hindsight-specialists castigated him in all medias for causing the world to spend $Billions on what they deemed, unneeded, upgraded, computer systems.
History has vindicated de Jager but to date, he has never received the recognition he so rightly deserves. His service to the world extends far beyond Y2K. For example, on 911 when the towers came down, companies like Cantor Fitzgerald [a large Bond Company], were back in business within 24 hours, despite the total loss of their entire computer network. They can thank, in part, Peter de Jager for the impact he had on the corporate world in his pre-Y2K recommendations that clearly demonstrated the importance of ‘backing up all data’ at mirror sites: in Cantor Fitzgerald’s case, New Jersey.
At the risk of sounding a ‘de Jager sycophant’ the point of this article is not to aggrandize him but rather to address why I received an angry email from this man whom I respect.
In 2001, I wrote an article entitled “Chicken Little and the new Disintermediation Myth!” I likened Chicken Little to those at the time, prophesying the belief that thanks to the internet and global fulfillment, the middleman on the streets and channels [resellers] would become extinct. My opinion then was, it wasn’t going to happen. So far, nearly a decade later, I have been proven correct.
In the article, I compared this type of thinking to what ultimately led to the many ‘Red-Faced’ futurists that got Y2K all wrong and the now historic Dot-Com meltdown. The article, mentioned Peter de Jager for the simple fact that in 2001, he was the Y2K icon for the ‘time’. He was also a political Y2K lightning rod whether one believed in him or not.
I’ll admit my intent was to be provocative with the knowledge that anyone could rightly challenge my views, but with one caveat; legitimate criticisms, must be couched within the framework of the ‘time the article was written’ – 2001.
Going back, minutes after de Jager’s angry email arrived, so too did a Google Alert informing me a Spam Blogger had reposted my article from 2001. Since there was no reference to when the piece was written, readers – de Jager in particular – were free to assume that it was current, which of course it was not!
Nearly a decade later, in spite of what we now know, my article appeared to be dragging up the past, shifting the blame for what happened in 2000, resulting in unnecessary discomfort for Peter’s feelings and reputation, as well as my own.
Ironically, this, for me, was not an isolated incident.
Several months ago [May 2008], I receive another angry email, not so courteously written as de Jager’s. In fact, it was downright vitriolic. It came from an American VP of Sales who had read my article “What Successful Sellers Know - Others Don't ... The Subtle Art of Closing” To say the least, he took unkind exception to it.
The article stated that most sellers think the Close takes place at the End of the sale but in fact, successful sellers know the Close can often start even before a contact with the customer.
I likened this strategy to what was going on in the world at that time. The day before [Wednesday, October 29, 2003] on CNN, the Networks and all the papers, George W Bush stood aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in front of a sign that read, “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”.
It was thought, the war in Iraq was won and it was won in only days.
I used this example to illustrate that the success of the mission could not be measured in the few days of fighting but rather the many months of preparations by ‘Special-Ops’ forces that worked behind the lines – ahead of time - ensuring the strategy was victorious. It certainly fit with the core message of my article which was in sales, the success of the sale is often predicated on the quality of the Close which starts with preparation at the beginning of the sales process, not the End.
Fast forward to 2008 keeping in mind that George W was wrong in his Iraqi War estimation and think about a VP of Sales that reads my article for the first time and thinks that its content is Current.
It bears repeating: The trouble with the internet is it presents itself wrapped in a cloak of timely-legitimacy regardless of the time in which it is read. Or to quote Copi again, “In real life, context is critical”.
The methodology with regard to when a Close takes place, will stand the test of time. In contrast, the ‘Times’ themselves, more specifically, their ability to serve as legitimate example-evidence, have a limited shelf life. Clearly, five years of USA/Iraq history, in tandem with the appearance of the current legitimacy of my ancient article, posted on a spammer’s Blog… had come back to Bite ME!
The Bottom Line:
The unbridled nature of the internet has its strengths and weaknesses. One being, it exists in an eternal state of recent authenticity. It would bode well for readers and bloggers alike to temper their interpretations until they can time-frame the context or circumstances in which the editorial / blog was written.
Paul Shearstone is an International Keynote Speaker / Author. He specializes in Motivation, Selling and Corporate Resilience Training. For more information on Paul's keynotes and seminars, or to invite him to speak at your next successful event, we invite you to contact him directly: www.paulshearstone.com firstname.lastname@example.org 416-728-5556 / 1-866-855-4590.
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