A Follow-Up On: Seeing Beyond The Horizon

There are times, whether it’s during a speech, discussion, or other venue where I’ve made the statement along the lines of “Sometimes I have to remember that when it comes to explaining what I may see over the horizon, that I myself may be over the horizon to my audience at any particular time or subject.”

I don’t say this to be coy. The reason for it is to both remind myself, as well as my audience, should the need fit, that what I’m deliberating is a construct or view, if you will, via pulling together different pieces that may not be prominently displayed, or at the time are completely disjointed, seemingly irrelevant to the business of the day to the casual observer.

This is how “first mover advantage” or “first to exit advantages” are made and decided upon. And the reasoning why this is so important is to make sure it’s remembered by myself, as well as understood by the audience, for these two very distinct reasons.

First: Standing that far over the “horizon” inherently denotes, more than likely, you’ll be putting both money and all other valuable resources at risk (sometimes significant at that) on what will be nothing more than an educated guess based solely upon your own acumen.

This statement sounds innocuous, but make no mistake, this is where the true business leaders, visionaries, et al. work, play, live and die. Here is where decisions get made, parameters outlined, courses set, and the venture begins with full sails. It’s not for the meek. And understanding this in-full is a paramount function of any businessperson. For this is also where fortunes can be won or lost. Think: J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Georges Roberts of Teledyne™, Andy Grove of Intel™, Sam Walton, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs just to name a few.

The second part is this: Once whatever the idea, vision, or aberration comes into view for others to see (i.e., the proverbial horizon becomes visible to the masses) the competition to be able to exploit it goes exponential. This is where the “Me too!” or “Us too!” of the business persuasion begin popping up in more ways than the current #Metoo accusers in Hollywood.

Again, once it comes into view for all to see – regardless of how small, inconspicuous, or fuzzy it appears at the extreme – the floodgates for competition are broke wide open. First mover advantage is only instilled – if – by the time it reaches that point, you’re already fully engaged.

The above is far too important of a distinction to just assume an audience inherently knows this when I’m discussing certain issues. I fully understand that it’s incumbent upon me to realize, that it’s up too me, to make sure I’m properly expressing what I’m noting so that we’re all on the same page. If not, it can all sound like “crazy talk” depending on the circumstances.

Now, with the above for context here’s the reason for it…

The other day I received a note from someone who attended one of my discussions last year, which I subsequently wrote about, who noted the following. (I’ll paraphrase for the sake of brevity) To wit:

“When I heard your discussion about horizons where one of the examples you used (e.g., the iPhone®) I thought to myself, Yeah, sure, right, ain’t gonna happen. But then this story appeared in my inbox and immediately I thought back to your discussion. Once I read it I began looking around and seemingly overnight they’re everywhere in different main stream media sources. I truly understand your point now. I’m taking this moment as the horizon that everyone now sees. I can now see what you meant about being over the horizon, because as you were speaking it was hard for me to see where you might be leading or coming from. Nobody I know of has even dared contemplate such a scenario and I’m in the tech business! Thanks again for sharing your insights. -J.T.”

Below is a portion of what he’s alluding to. It was made in early November of 2017, the subsequent post published on the 14th. It was also Nov. that the now infamous Sean Parker interview debuted about social media. Before this? ___________(insert crickets here)

“Currently we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of what we now see as the most revolutionary product of generations: The iPhone®. It’s now ubiquitous in daily life for many, and all ages. It’s seems we’re doing more, and, more, and more with it every day.

However, what if I said to you to contemplate the following: In 10 years from today the smart phone, and the way it’s used currently, may/will be looked upon, or frowned upon, if you will, the same way that smoking and drinking alcohol of the 1950’s is viewed via today’s prism?

Watch any old movie or television program of the ’50’s and so forth. Or, you can use the current Mad Men series on AMC™ as a benchmark. People smoked and drank at their desks. Television hosts and guests openly smoked both on camera, as well as off. For many drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, regardless of where one was, was as normal as having a soda today, whatever the time of day.

The smart phone of today is the embodiment of both, in my view. Its usage for distraction and more is getting to the point of where laws are being either enacted or called for. Think texting while driving as just one.

I think this will accelerate from this point on in a very short time from here, because of the things we’re finding out about it as we go along. It’s probably the most habit-forming, time-wasting, attention distraction device we’ve come up with in a century. It’ll probably be said it also promotes tooth decay or some such idiocy to push the narrative for curbing its usage.

I can see ‘age restrictions’ of all types whether for the device itself or content available. Use in classrooms, boardrooms, meetings, and more I can see being socially outlawed in the very near future. Already it’s becoming common to see a sign stating ‘NO CELLPHONE USE ALLOWED’ in certain venues. I am of the opinion this is going to accelerate, not maintain current levels. Which begets the next questions, if this has any validity:

How would your business be impacted – if – that were to be true? What preemptive positioning could you take before hand? What resources would you put or commit into the initial stages? How much commitment would be legitimate? At what point, or what signaling, would warrant an escalation of resources? Or, at what point should the entire notion be jettisoned? And so on, and so on.

And, now since I just brought this notion forward: can you see the possibility of it?

And here is that article that caused his note yesterday. To wit:

Via the Wall Street Journal™ : “Silicon Valley Reconsiders the iPhone Era It Created”

“The smartphone has fueled much of Silicon Valley’s soaring profits over the past decade, enriching companies in sectors from social media to games to payments. But over the past year or so, a number of prominent industry figures have voiced concerns about the downsides of the technology’s ubiquity.

“Those are the kinds of concerns spotlighted in a letter to Apple on Saturday from Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs, which control about $2 billion of Apple shares. The letter urged the tech giant to develop new software tools that would help parents control and limit phone use more easily, and to study the impact of overuse on mental health.”

Then there’s this I just randomly searched for on my own as I was typing this. It’s from CNN/Money™ just two days ago, again, to wit: “Investors to Apple: Fight iPhone addiction among kids”

“California State Teachers’ Retirement System and Jana Partners — two major funds that own about $2 billion in Apple (AAPL) stock between them — are pressuring the tech giant to take a stronger stance on the mental health effects of excessive smartphone use by children and teenagers.

The investors pointed to a number of studies highlighting the detrimental effects of smartphone addiction. They include being less attentive in class, insufficient sleep and a higher risk of depression and suicide.”

This doesn’t mean I’m always right, far from it. I don’t have a crystal ball or any other such contraption. And if someone says they do? Don’t just walk, but run and fast. I’m just using the above as a real-time example as to help clarify my world or business lens to those who are either new or don’t fully understand what I mean when I have used the analogy of “being over the horizon.” Nothing more.

And for those of you (because I know you’re out there) who think all the above is just bunk and I’m trying to either game a situation or insert myself as to appear as if “I knew” something no one else did. I might shock you with – agreeing with you. Because as I am typing this, in my own head, I can see or hear that being a fair question. So to that plausible assumption I offer up the following…

Back in October of last year I penned an article titled, “Are Tim Cook’s Days As CEO Numbered?”

This question made headlines across the media crystallizing by appearing on the front-page of the Drudge Report™. It was also met with guffaws and snickers across the business/financial main stream media for even contemplating such an idea. Then, two significant monumental announcements took place .

First: Out of nowhere, Eric Schmidt of Google™ suddenly resigned. Nobody thought such a thing was remotely possible, never-mind would take place out-of-the-blue. Mr. Schmidt is the executive equivalent of stature to Mr. Cook. So, if it’s now happened there? It’s surely a plausible contemplation in regards to Mr. Cook, is it not? The reason for the exit is immaterial. Just the idea that such was even a remote possibility was near absolute zero as one could possibly get.

Second: The holiday shopping season began and ended – and Apple’s “Mr. Supply Side Extraordinaire” Tim Cook, once again, missed an entire holiday shopping season with what many are deeming the most important new product of the last few years. e.g., The Home Speaker Assistant aka HomePod®. And now, it’s not just me in the wilderness pointing out the obvious, but suddenly there are ill-winds showing up on behalf of Mr. Cook’s obvious miss. To wit:

Again, from the WSJ™ January 6th: “Tim Cook Stumbles at His Specialty, Shipping Apple Products on Time”

“As Apple Inc.’s longtime chief operating officer, Tim Cook was known for ensuring that new products hit the market on schedule.

With Mr. Cook as CEO, though, Apple’s new gadgets are consistently late, prompting questions among analysts and other close observers about whether the technology giant is losing some of its competitive edge.

Of the three major new products since Mr. Cook became chief executive in 2011, both AirPods earbuds in 2016 and last year’s HomePod speaker missed Apple’s publicly projected shipping dates. The Apple Watch, promised for early 2015, arrived late that April with lengthy wait times for delivery. Apple also was delayed in supplying the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, two critical accessories for its iPad Pro.”

The above styled questioning is usually the first signs as the brewing storm suddenly appears on the “horizon” for all too now gander at. For when the paper-of-record for Wall Street suddenly starts questing just what the heck is happening at one of its most beloved investment stories? Let’s just say – everyone is now going to be questioning – everything.

But before I brought it up? The possibility was met with either laughter, or crickets. Let’s just say, as far as Apple should be concerned, I don’t think it’s going to be anything resembling a laughing matter going forward from here.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr