Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?

Yesterday I was watching a new program that started on British TV called "Million Dollar Intern".

A fantastic show where the premise is around this exact theme - Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

The show takes young self-made super successful entrepreneurs (who started businesses in their teens or early 20s), and places them as a “Consultant” within more established businesses that are currently struggling.

The fun part is, the young entrepreneurs are placed under the guise of inexperienced interns (no one but the business owners are aware of this).

It was interesting (and sad) to see that as the years had gone by these once successful businesses had lost their spark, focus and ability to generate healthy revenues. So why is that?

Well on yesterday’s episode it seemed the owners had lost sight of their vision, passion and enthusiasm and instead were bogged down with the day to day operational costs of running their venture (in this case a historical costume company with a total rent of £1,000 per day).

Our smart Million Dollar Intern picks up on this within the first two hours of being there. It was almost as if the owners couldn’t see the woods for the trees anymore.

Our intern highlights the fact that their low energy was dragging down the energy of the rest of the staff. This bled into everyone’s approach, most of all their marketing activities. There was no excitement, no fresh ideas or sparky approach to a simple activity such as distributing flyers on the streets to encourage people to enter their shop.

So where did our intern identify the biggest problems?

  1. As mentioned, the loss of focus and enthusiasm
  2. Lack of vision
  3. Too much of doing the same without generating a new approach or new ideas

The business owners were completely stuck with their old one dimensional business model, which involved pulling in the odd tourist from the streets of London whenever they could and attempt to make a sale.

What were they missing? They had got so caught up with the way they knew their business worked and never considered exploring new markets for the SAME business.

Our young intern quickly identified new market areas – a primary one being the British public, and not just tourists. Probably the largest market segment staring them right in the face!  

He broke it down into further business segments:  we had stag/hen parties, corporate functions, schools that were teaching Tudor/Victorian history as part of their curriculum. I’m sure we could think of some more but you get the idea.

These are marketable, executable and most importantly scalable segments in the market ready for them to penetrate, but they simply hadn’t stretched their vision to notice.

So can a new dog be taught new tricks? Absolutely. I talk about this quite a lot in my trainings, blogs and articles, since times are changing at a phenomenal pace, and it's imperative to embrace new tools, platforms and business ideas to stay in the game.

Taking this topic into the corporate space now, how quickly does technology change? Our processes? The perceptions, demands and requirements of our customers and clients? Our competitors?

Our competitors are no longer even in the same domain anymore.  Who would have imagined that mobile phone technology would be a threat to the big camera producers? And yet the mobile phone industry has taken a huge slice of their market.

We are being forced to think outside the box.

Let’s bring this down to an individual level now. As a professional, are you keeping up with the changes? Are you daunted, threatened or being smart enough to embrace the changes?

Let’s face it, today you can be in your 30’s and be considered an ‘old dog’ as that’s how quickly things are changing.

Ask yourself, could you be viewing things differently? Could you be doing things differently? Where can you add value to your role, your team, your function, your division, your organisation?

To keep up with the world around us it’s vital that we choose to evolve with it. Why not discuss your work with someone new? Someone fresh?  Someone young? A fresh pair of eyes and a fresh perspective could teach you a new way of doing something, and perhaps a better way.

After all it's the next generation that is fully immersed in the technology wave that is digital media. This very digital media that allows us to expand our reach, our businesses and our horizons.

Have you been doing the same things in the same ways over the years? Are you looking for bigger and better results? Do you think an old dog can be taught new tricks?

If so, what can you do today to give this theory a try?

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