O’Reilly Media Ignite November 16, 2011

We believe we are the only ones. The only ones that aren’t cool. That we alone “don’t get it”. Trust me. We are not alone. I work with people from 6-92, low income, C level executives, students to business owners and I’ll tell you now that we are all the same and have the same fears.

(Click here to watch a 5 minute video of my Ignite presentation titled “Everybody’s Afraid”.)

You may assume it’s about how old you are and that you’re too old to learn. That’s not it at all. We are ALL learning and adapting to new technology every day and no one has it all figured out. I get frustrated with those that call themselves experts or “ninjas” because that implies that they know everything. That’s impossible. It makes me laugh to hear someone call me an expert when I’m introduced to an audience. My response is, “I know more than the average bear”. Please know that it’s okay to have and ask questions, in fact, that’s exactly what you should be doing.

And kids today? They aren’t smarter than you, I promise. They have it way easier than those over the age of 30. With punch cards, DOS, and floppy disks, we’ve had so many forms of technology to adapt to that those that were born with touch sensitive tech simply don’t know how far we’ve come. Yes, they’ve been using technology practically since birth but that doesn’t mean they have the advantage. You can catch up. They may know how to push the buttons but frequently they lack the critical thinking skills when it comes to using it appropriately. This is not about age. It’s about experience.

If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”, you know that 10,000 hours of practice will make you an expert. Get in there. Play with the technology. Ask questions (no one will think you’re dumb). Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It gets less and less scary the longer you work with it. The best way to learn is by doing. And the truth of it is, when it doesn’t work (often), that’s when you learn the most.

The bottom line is, tech is here to stay. From our cars, to our phones, our entertainment, business, banking, healthcare, shopping, and travel, technology is present and advancing. The sooner you put down your fear, the faster you can adapt. Remember, adaptation is what survival is all about. There’s no point in being afraid of it, it won’t bite you. Accept that change happens every day, all day long. The sooner you accept it, the easier it’ll be. Take a deep breath, step into change, and you’ll be alright. Promise.

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