“Don’t just ‘be’ in the moment. Own the moment!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
AKA : “You’ll always have the opportunity to reinvent! What I really learned from frogs in Texas!”
It’s 2003. The dot.com collapse has happened. Business is in a funk. Nobody is making decisions about anything. Aggressive indecision is settling in.Speaking gigs have dried up since no one wants to talk about the Internet, technology and the future anymore.
It was a pretty dismal time.
Up to that point, I’d been online since 1982. In the 90s, I’d built a remarkable career riding the wave of the emerging Internet and technology acceleration, providing audiences worldwide insight into the disruptive impact it would have on business, and the remarkable business opportunities it was presenting. I’d been in the media all the time; had several successful radio shows; had put out 34 books; I had media crews coming to my house to interview me for the national news. Life was pretty amazing!
And then it all came crashing down. The dot.com collapse had the potential to kill my career. Things looked pretty bleak.
Rather than focusing on the downside, I began to furiously focus on reinventing. In my mind, since I’d been speaking a lot already about innovation, creativity, trends and the future – I became Futurist Jim Carroll.
Around this time, I had been booked to go on stage and headline a national SAP event in Toronto, Canada, my hometown. They asked me to come in and speak about what I thought might be the most important buisness issues of the day. They didnt’ really define my agenda or direction.
My mindset at the time was volatile. I was looking around me, seeing a world of opportunity – and yet being surrounded by people who had no ability to focus on the future. I think I was kind of pissed off, to be honest. In my circumstances. At the disbelief in how people had lost the initiative and their belief in the future. At how the world around me could place themselves into such a state of indecision.
I took the fire in my belly onto the stage – and became a dragon, an emotion of driven purpose, a messenger of action.
In real time, I made up a story in my head while I was on the stage. I told a story about some frogs I had seen on a road in Texas the previous week. I was speaking at an event at the Woodlands Resort in Houston; their irrigation system was spreading water onto the road. The frogs were enjoying it – until……
I made the story up on stage on the fly. I spun into the story of the frogs the problem in the world of business today. I spoke about my son and the power of initiative that I saw in him he was 3 years old.
I told the audience they had to get out of their self-imposed funk.
I told them to get over it.
The past was the past; the future is the future; they could choose one or the other but not both.
I was probably talking to myself. I had to get out of my own funk. I was yelling at myself on stage. This is how it unfolded.
It was magic in a bottle.
That little performance – captured above – was one of those moments that truly change my life. A fellow named Lloyd Adams – now the CEO of SAP North America – saw me catch fire on stage, and I guess the message resonated with him. He approached me after, and immediately booked me to headline a similar event for SAP in Chicago the next week. That led to another event. Another booking. SAP – through Lloyd – ended up booking me, perhaps 30 times – through the next few years.
A career reinvention based on a new message. A massive change in my circumstances.
It led to a book. “What I Learned from Frogs in Texas” became my parable of action, my story of moving forward, my message on reinvention. Fire, on paper.
My life and future changed. It all goes back to those 3 minutes (cut down to 2:20 for Twitter). From there, I never looked back. I turned the story of the Frogs into a book; the book into a keynote; the keynote into a reinvented career.
And listen to my closing line. “There’s lots more yet to come!”
Lesson learned: It’s never too late to reinvent. You just need the right spark! And never believe those who tell you the future has no more surprises. It always does!
Don’t be in the moment.