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Disruption can be many things: scary, exhilarating, expensive, and even revolutionary. One thing it’s not is passive. Turns out very few people enjoy having the status quo questioned, especially those benefiting from the way things are.

But when we settle for less than optimal experiences as consumers, it creates opportunity for visionaries to create better experiences. And in a circumstance of disruption (like COVID), businesses that survive will be nimble, flexible, and seek out opportunity. JoyGenea and Michelle talk about disruption is the first half of this episode.


M:  Hi everybody! This is Michelle from BadCat Digital.

J:  And this is JoyGenea with Solutions by JoyGenea and welcome to…

M: If These Heels Could Talk.

J: Today I really wanted to bring a topic to the table and we started talking about it actually at our last podcast. 

M:  Yes, we did.  We started talking about what, JoyGenea?

J:  Disruption.

M:  Yes we did.

J: And the power of disruption.  2020 is the year of disruption.

M:  I think you’re right.   And kind of wondering if Covid is going to be the person of the year on Time magazine.

J: But it hasn’t just been Covid. 

M:  It’s Black Lives Matter.  It’s a whole kind of feeling that things are shifting all over the place.  The thing that I kind of have always thought about disruption is that people don’t like people who disrupt.

J: No.  Disrupters are not people we like.  They’re not people we hang out with.  We don’t party with them most of the time.  I will share with you…

M: They’re people who scare us.  They’re people who push and push and push and make us feel bad about ourselves or make us feel guilty or –

J:  And they probably lack empathy.  They probably lack a variety of things because it takes that to create large scale disruption.  And not all disruption is good or bad.  It depends on which side of the equation you wind up benefitting from for you to decide.  Like that’s the reality of it.

M:  It is agnostic.

J:  It is.

M:  In terms of for morality.  I’m calling a flag, JoyGenea, because I disagree with your statement about empathy.  I think those who disrupt are noticing problems, petty things that most of us just have -what is the word you used? Settled for.

J:  Yes.  My favorite.

M:  Yes.  So a lot of us have settled for something.  A disrupter sees that we’re settling.  That we’re not happy with it but it’s just the way things work, so whatever, I guess I’ll do it that way.  Nobody’s offering me an alternative and the disrupter says I can offer an alternative.

J:  Yes.

M:  Is that empathy?  Isn’t that empathy?

J: That would be empathy.  I’ve experienced greater disrupters as more aggressive and really not – Empathy means you might, you’re probably gonna, slow down and understand the other people whose total business is your…

M:  So maybe what I’m talking about is empathy for the situation and the world at large and what you’re talking about it is a lack of empathy for the people immediately surrounding.

J:  The people that have to put it in to action

M:  The people immediately surrounding the disrupter.

J:  Yes.

M:  Yeah. 

J:  And that’s at least been my experience and what I’ve read about people that have really changed markets and so forth. They’re not always….

M:  I always think about Tony Stark when I think about disrupters.  I think about Iron Man and I think about Tony Stark.

J:  Well he’s got some –

M:  Flash and kind of not a nice guy but he’s smart and he’s wealthy and he’s gonna fix it and figure it out.

J:  You and your iphone.  Talk about a disrupter.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Steve Jobs would stand.  Amazing man.  I’m sorry.  He’s an amazing, amazing man.  He did not wander around making besties with everybody.

M:  No, no, not at all and we will say that, and maybe this is a subject for a future podcast because I think you just stepped into something kind of really interesting there.  The whole Jobs/Wozniak thing. Because Steve Jobs didn’t make anything.  Steve Jobs sold things.

J:  That was the implementor of disruption.

M:  Yes.

J:  And he had amazing ideas.

M:  Amazing ideas and he also had a partner to execute on those ideas who would have no interest in selling things or being out in front, just really wanted to play with cool tools.  So I think that we’ll talk about that partnership in a future podcast but I think that’s a great example of a disrupter.  Somebody looks at something like a Walkman or a CD player and says ugh. 

J:  And my phone.  And my this and my that.  Why aren’t these all just together?

M: Yeah.  How come we can’t put the speakers inside?  How come we can’t do it like this?

J:  Here I’ll just read disruption.  Actually, it’s from Wikipedia but it was about disruptive innovation. An innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market or value network, displacing established marketing leading firms products alliances.  Basically, it disrupts an entire sector.  An entire industry.  And creates that and so as I’m thinking about this year and what kind of gets me excited while we’re in this transition phase…

M:  This moment of earth-shaking shifting.

J: Right and figuring out what is next. I’m like this is disruption on a level I’ve never experienced.  There was one thing, like 9/11 was a disrupter and that created an entire generation.  Like that was the line where they shift and they say oh. And World War II was a massive disrupter of life as it was.  It shifts everything and another generation is created.  There are these huge things.

M:  These huge world events.

J:  And then we literally, that’s the line where a generation is a drawn and another comes out of it. And we are standing in that line right now.

M: And there’s something scary about that.  There’s something exciting about that.  There’s something anxiety-inducing about that.  I mean, that’s I think the emotional exhaustion that a lot of us (I won’t speak for anybody else) but a lot of us are feeling is from that kind of constant living in this state of never being able to find your bearings.  And constant disruption.

J:  We disrupted our jobs and now we’re looking at them and rethinking them differently.

M: Yeah.

J: And then we disrupted school.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Which was a market that needed some shaking up.

M: Yeah.

J:  So now they’re looking and rethinking how they’re doing it and they’re coming up with some amazing ideas.  I’m hearing some amazing things and I know some of my clients are excited about some of the stuff that there talking about for this fall.  They totally disrupted the non-profit fundraising world.

M:  Oh my gosh, yeah.

J:  You’ve been kind of dancing there a little bit.

M:  We’ve been kind of digging into that.

J:  Share.

M:  Well the biggest thing that’s happening is that you know non-profits, kind of especially here locally, and there are all kinds of different non-profit models out there.  Fundraising models.

J:  So were gonna talk about the Humane Society type of place or Big Brothers Big Sisters.

M:  And what that model is is let’s get a bunch of people together and use the societal pressure of being in the same space and you know the kind of the desire to be ‘in,’ the desire to be ‘a part of’ and we’re gonna use all of that to try and get people to give us more money.

J: Right. 

M:  And so what that looked like here was the gala and the gala worked and everybody did it.  It was the Gala Event and you would get a cool dress and be in the room and the tickets would cost $150 for your $12 dinner and then they would have a bunch of different stations other ways for you to give. They do an auction…

J:  And you gave.

M:  And you gave.  Like the whole thing was about being there.  But it was about being seen.  It was about being there and that’s not gonna happen this year.

J:  Nope.

M:  And frankly it might not next year either.  So huge non-profit budgets are built around these events and these events ain’t gonna happen and if they do they’re not gonna happen the same way. They’re not going to be as well attended.  They’re not gonna have the same atmosphere.

J:  Completely disrupted.

M:  Because that’s what we’re finding.  We’re finding that even when restaurants opened again, people didn’t flock back to the restaurant. 

J:  The first day. The first day or two.

M:  The first couple of days, maybe the first week. Yes.  And now you can go anywhere that’s got open seating in any time of day and it’s pretty empty.

J: Mmmm Hmmmmmm.

M: Because we can live without it.

J:  Yeah.  Turns out.

M:  Turns out.

J:  We didn’t know. 

M: We didn’t know.  And so –

J:  But now we do.

M:  So when you’re talking about hospitality, what does that do long-term for that industry.  What have we decided permanently that we don’t want to spend money on anymore?

J: And that’s the question in this folk’s area for all of these things that are in disruption.  Is we don’t know.

M: Right.  Nobody knows.

J:  You won’t know until the lights go on.  The doors open.  And we start, you know, we start moving around freely in a different capacity and we’re no longer scared. 

M:  Yeah.

J:  And dealing with this.  It is interesting to see disruption happening through Black Lives Matter and the conversations that are coming through that.

M: It’s amazing. 

J:  And that is disruption.  I mean that is.  We’re not going back to what was.  We’re just not before the George Floyd.

M: I really hope not.  I really, really, really hope not.

J:  We’re not.  I know we’re not.  This doesn’t go away overnight people.

M:  No. 

J:  Let me help you out.

M:  No, no, no it doesn’t. 

J: But we don’t go back.

M: We need more than you know the NFL teams and the syrup bottles changing.

J:  But how does disruption start.  Like when you really dig into disruption.

M:  Yeah when you really dig in, it starts in these kind of small ways and then builds and builds and builds.  And it has been. I mean it has been building and building.  When I think about disruption on an industry scale so what we’re talking about is disruption that’s more circumstantial.

J:  In this time it went.

M:  In this time.

J:  In this time it became circumstantial but it really filtered out throughout business.  Like the Plexiglass company did not think that this was gonna be theIR year. 

M:  Yeah, oh my gosh, their year. 

J: You know somewhere a Plexiglass company is having a board meeting and those guys are popping champagne and they are like dang.

M:  The vinyl floor sticker people.

J:  Oh my.

M: The vinyl floor sticker people are having a good year.

J:  They are.

M: The hand sanitizer people are having a good year.

J:  They’re gonna have to write this year off and not compare next year to this year.  It’s just not gonna be fair at all.

M: But when I think about this, I think about circumstantial disruption which kind of happens to all of us and there’s really not a whole lot we can do about it except react.  Right?  But then there’s also a disruption that’s driven by and directed by an intent and of course no matter what anybody says the coronavirus is not a person. It has no intent. It’s not targeting anybody or anything.

J:  It doesn’t discriminate.

M:  It doesn’t discriminate.  It’s just doing its thing. How we respond to it that’s where all those other things come in.

J: Yes.

M: But when we’re talking about Uber or we’re talking about Kodak…  When you have this like intent to disrupt.  So when we’re talking about Kodak, we were talking about the kind of dismissal of a disruption.

J:  Oh absolutely.  Kodak completely – they’ve done analysis on it. Completely thought digital was a joke. 

M:  Digital images.  Nobody’s gonna want those low-quality pictures.  Nobody’s gonna want it.

J: Who’s gonna care?  No one will use it.  They’re not gonna…

M:  What actually turns out – and this goes back to my original point about empathy.  That what nobody wanted was the two errands it took drop off your film and then pick it up again.  The $15 price tag for a set of prints.  I mean it got pretty pricy at the end.

J: And then you didn’t want the double sets of the phots that didn’t turn out because you go through the pack and be like ooo that didn’t work.  That one didn’t work and that one. 

M: Yeah, yeah like you maybe get 10 pictures.

J: All of sudden digital offered you the opportunity to see it first and be like oh that one didn’t work I have to take this again, everybody get together.  Like that family photo that never turns out because, you know, Aunt Sally takes it with her finger over the lens. 

M: I will say one of my most unbelievable behavioral non-changes is the family photo with 6 people taking pictures with their phones.  Look, you can send the picture that you take instantly.  I do not have stand here smiling for 15 minutes while 7 different great-aunts take pictures with their phones.

J:  They don’t know how to share.

M:  I can have one person do it and send it to everybody.

J:  It’s amazing. 

M:  In an instant and then it’s in their phone but they don’t know how to do it.  So I still have to stand there and look at the sea of camera phones and people doing videos accidently.  So this is something that behaviorally has shifted.

J:  That’s a disruptive idea by the way.  Right there.

M:  What?

J: An app where you can do that – take the family photo and goes to everybody right there.  I just dropped it.

M:  It auto-populates.  So like people would sign up for everybody’s pictures right at the beginning.

J:  Yup. And then you just walk around.

M:  Those do exist but here’s the thing.  Here’s the thing because those do exist.  I’ve been at weddings where people have had those but here’s the thing.  It’s a behavior that people aren’t ready for.  So this is back to that question of disruption, and it really only takes a hold when people are ready for the idea that is being introduced. 

J:  And sometimes it can be brought on by circumstances.

M: Sure.

J:  But also it can come naturally like Uber and this is one of the things I encourage businesses and so forth.  If you are in an industry that you can see disruption is starting to happen – I won’t lie I was extremely excited when books went to ebooks because I knew we were on our way to getting audiobooks.

M: Right.

J: And me not having to check out cassettes and CD’s from the library to get audiobooks.  Like an excited person on the sidelines.  And some of the first e-books software, you could easily have them speak at you and so I did choose to adapt in some ways and support that market even though I don’t like reading books on a tablet.  I still bought some of the stuff because I wanted the market to move that way so I was supporting a disruptive industry. When Uber came out, I went oh that’s kind of creepy to get into some stranger’s car. But I went wow the last two taxis I had gotten which had been in Minneapolis and our current location.  They had shown up and they were smoking, they were on their phone texting while were driving.

M:  Oh my gosh.

J: They were talking to people while were driving.  Like they were doing a million things.  I wasn’t even there and I just paid them a large sum of money.  Waited for them to show up.

M:  For like 25 minutes.

J:  And when Uber came along and went you know what I want that to succeed because I won’t settle for this anymore.  This is not…  Like I can’t rate this person.  This person scares me and I’m concerned I’m just gonna be driven off into the sunset potentially.

M: Right.

J:  I’m just like no.

M:  All of the things that the cab industry thought that they had an advantage on.  The licensing.  The security.  The bonding. The certifications. 

J: Which only happens in really large cities by the way.

M: Right. And all of the logistics that they do. It turned out that people didn’t care. 

J: No. Air BnB.

M: Same thing.  Totally disrupts the hotel industry.  10 years ago we would never have thought to go on vacation and stay in somebody else’s house. Eww. Weird.

J: Right.

M: But –

J:  Now we’re like ohhhh we could stay in this treehouse.  Ohhh look at this amazing mansion and have a room in. 

M: And right now, I’ll tell you my husband and I went on a road trip to a small town because we wanted to get away. We just wanted to get away a little bit but you know what, I don’t feel like staying in a hotel.  I don’t feel safe.  So Air BnB, VRBO those are my options and we were able to find something just our size with no shared anything so that we could socially distance and take the little trip. Get out of town for a little bit.  We would never be able to do that at a hotel. 

J: So disruption is agnostic.  Just like you had said. It’s how it participates in our lives.  How it affects us.  Is how we choose that.  One of the things that really comes back to mind, again back to poor Kodak.  Is the fact that they just had such denial. 

M:  Yeah.

J: And so disruption does happen. There have been industries though that have identified it early on.  They’re like oh there’s a disruptive force and there’s a lot to learn on this.  We’re an existing company, can we turn the Titanic before we hit this iceberg.  That’s really – and there have been some really large companies that have been able to maneuver themselves around to be able to actually cut off major disruption.

M:  So the visual I’m imagining when I think about a disrupter is of like a big rock in the middle of the road.  Like a boulder on the highway.

J: Huge.  Like it’s stopping passing.

M:  And you’re just like cruising along and you see this boulder. Now if you don’t see the boulder coming (coronavirus).

J: Right.

M:  You know whatever and some people are going to get smacked and some people aren’t and it kind of feels really like whack-a-mole, like you have no idea who’s who or what’s what or why.  It’s truly agnostic.

J:  Yes.

M: Because it’s about chance and luck and all of these things but if we’re talking about disruption with an intent, that boulder was put there for a reason and if you just keep driving into it…  I mean at what point do we not get to complain about that.

J:  Well and at what point do we just admit that that’s –

M:  Not the best way to do it

J: Well, it’s choosing the death of your business.

M: Yeah.

J:  Denial is a choice.  People like to think that pretending something isn’t happening isn’t an option.  It is an option.  But in this circumstance, it’s not going to lead to higher profitability.  It is not going to lead to success.  It’s going to lead probably to some pain and some shift in your life. 

M: So I think the thing that we’re trying to say is that the earlier you see that boulder…

J: Yes. The earlier you identify it.

M: The more choices you have to get around it.

J: Because you can choose to sell.  You can choose to look at that boulder and be like if they have my stuff and I don’t bring it to that level…

M: You can choose to pull over to the side of the road, rebuild your car into something else and then go around the boulder off road.  Like I’m just trying.  This is really not a great metaphor but I was just trying to come up with some sort of visual.

J: Transformers.  I’m in on it.

M: Yes.  Transformers that’s it. Yes. Optimus Prime can get around that boulder.

J: Right.

M: And –

J: Transform.

M:  You know transform it.  And we don’t know what the road is on the other side and that’s why it’s scary.

J:  It is. 

M:  And it’s easy to sit and blame the boulder.

J: Call it names.

M:  Call it names and say I can’t believe that people are liking this boulder.  It’s so ugly.  It’s blah blah blah.

J: And if the boulder’s big enough, it’s on the news all the time.

M: Right. 

J:  So there’s lot of people giving opinions about boulders.

M: What could you possibly be talking about, JoyGenea?

J:  Varieties of things actually that are on the news. Pull up the news right now that are on there all the time as part of our disruption.

M:  Maybe you’re seeing the boulder from one side and to the people on the other side it looks completely different and you don’t know what it looks like until you get over there.  So this all begs this big question.  What’s disrupting right now?  What do we see coming?  What boulders do you see?

J: I see education being disrupted right now and –

M:  Higher education especially.

J:  Yeah.  And that is an environment I love. Education. I am so appreciative of teachers.

M: Yes.

J:  But having been a non-traditional student and learner shoved through that environment.  And you are also not a traditional.  You’re highly gifted.

M:  Yeah.

J:  You were shoved through the same standard environment that I did not fit into my space.

M: I also have to say that you know utilizing, even in K-12, utilizing schools as stop gaps for all of these different things that are disproportionate in our society. Schools have stopped gaps. I mean schools have washers and dryers now for the kids that are homeless and don’t have clean clothes.  The big conversation at the start of Covid was, we can’t close school down. Where are these kids going to eat? 

J: That’s huge.  That wasn’t a conversation by the way when we were in school. 

M:  N.

J:  That was not a conversation 20-30 years ago. 

M: That’s not the job of the public education system.  The job of the public education system is not to prop up socioeconomic inequalities. That’s not it’s job. It’s job is to educate but that’s a role it has taken on because it’s where all the kids are.  So they see it.

J: So we need to identify and have the different conversation that’s in that.  And I believe that is what’s happening. The awareness is finally there. 

M:  Yeah.

J:  Of the magnitude what’s school (air quoting) has become and what we’re asking of that space and what we’re asking of teachers in the entire educational system. 

M:  Oh my gosh.

J:  Exactly.  It is a great space for disruption and new process.   A new system. There’s plenty there to use.

M:  There is a lot of great research out there and there’s a lot of experiments and there’s a lot of things that have been done in a lot of different communities.  A pile of programs that can be built on.  There are things in other countries and in other spaces that can be adapted and built on.  It’s not like people don’t have ideas.  It’s just like they can’t push them forward.

J:  People get scared.  They see the boulder.  They get scared.  If you get too many people in your group choosing denial, that’s where it gets stuck.  And it’s really.

M:  And now it’s just a pileup in front of the boulder.

J: Well it’s like any new thing that you bring into.  When I have to teach people (you do this too). When we’re teaching new people about a new innovation that’s coming along that they’re a little bit scared of.  If we get one person in that office space –

M: To take it on.

J:  To take in on.  To have buy in. 

M: To own it

J: To love it.  Own it.  It happens and it happens because they help lead the rest of the people.  Exactly.  And I feel like a lot of the disruption that’s happening if we get some strong leaders behind that to help demonstrate and lead what is possible behind on the other side of this.  The boulder.  As we transform to get around it.  It could be amazing.  You could tell like that’s what gets me excited about the possibilities that are there right now because when we settle, which I felt like a lot of things had settled in the world and in the space.  When we settle, we just get so damn comfortable.

M: Well and –

J:  And we’re so afraid of the change.

M:  Something that I see we’re settling for right now is a lot to do with our industry because I see people settling in a couple different spaces.  I see people being mildly annoyed but ok with.  A very disruptive advertising on digital media and I also see people getting mildly annoyed but ok with software as a service and then combining those things together.  Social media now – Twitter, did you hear this week?  Twitter has a new project a new subscription project.

J:  I did but explain more.

M:  They’re testing a subscription platform for Twitter now.  I’m gonna be really honest, I cannot imagine paying for the privilege of using Twitter.

J: Yeah.

M:  But other people can.  Other people rely on it.  Other people use it.

J: What you get when you subscribe.

M:  An ad-free experience.

J:  Ohhhhh.

M: So think about that from their business model, the social media business model has always been advertisers support through revenue but if their business model changed to subscriptions… Now I’ve been talking about this for about a year and a half.

J: Yeah, you have.

M:  Because we have clients who say I don’t need a website, I’m running my business through my Facebook page.

J:  Oh now we got a whole different conversation.

M:  Free.  Because if social media starts to rely on subscriptions instead of ads, because maybe there’s an ad boycott.  Now your paid subscription might not be free and maybe it will be tiered by the number of followers you have.

J:  I think they’ve already built some of that in.

M:  I know they’ve already built some of that in.

J:  Ok I was gonna say.  Just for those that don’t know.  That’s already built.  They have been building this from the back end.

M:  People have been building this for years.  There’s no way that Twitter comes out with job positions for this project publicly until they’re ready to. 

J:  Yeah.

M:  So people have been building this and thinking about this for years and the engineers of Facebook, now you’re talking about some disrupters. 

J:  Yeah.

M:  As we move forward with this conversation about disruption.

J: Which obviously we will pick this up again because we’re running out of time and we’ve already covered enough for today.

M: Enough disruption for now. We will disrupt your time next week talking about disruption and I’ll put some more time and thought into a metaphor that’s better than a boulder.

J: I like my transformer.  You can’t take that away.  Ah no.

M:  Optimus Prime.  I think there’s a huge conversation happening here and I absolutely love the idea that we’re kind of drawing a line but also a parallel between circumstantial disruption and this more intentional industry disruption.  I think the biggest plus at the end of it all is somebody’s gonna make money at the end of the day.

J:  And why shouldn’t it be you?

M:  That’s right. 

J: So that’s our encouragement for this week. Just start looking around at the disruptions.  Start identifying it and start seeing where it’s affecting your business and near you.

M:  Take a deep breath and stop being mad about it.  Stop being mad about it.  We’re over it.  We’re over being mad now it’s time to move forward and figure out – do we chip the boulder?  Do we walk around the boulder?  Do we climb boulder?

J:  Do we decorate the boulder and have a party?

M:  Yeah.  All kinds of things are possible.

J:  Maybe we’re supposed to stop here and have this great party and do something else.

M:  Maybe there’s a cliff on the other side and the boulder’s actually saving us.

J:  Could be.  And that’s not bad either.

M:  Nope.

J:  So hang with us next week to find out a few more details about disruption.

M:  Enjoy everybody.  Thanks.