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Why Future Midwest, TechCocktail & all these “Tech” Things Should Matter To You

It’s easy to get caught up in the feel-good energy that happened around the last weekends’ events. Whether it was seeing the seeds of new innovation at TechCocktail, the future of technology and marketing at Future Midwest, or the all-out rock-and-jam out at the Detroit Music Awards, there was a lot of good that happened this weekend.

However, I did notice that there’s a disconnect. It’s great there’s so much going on the #FMW10 hashtag on Twitter (you may need be logged in to see it). But, why should someone who’s not a digital native or Twitterati care? Why does what happened in the Royal Oak Music Theatre at Future Midwest with a few hundred people critically matter to the rest of the regions’ millions?

Because this space in some form, undeniably, is not only our past – but our future. Whether you’re working at an automotive line that is progressively getting more and more technologically complex, a waiter or waitress at a diner that serves the occasional nerd a coney, or a CEO who is looking to keep their business alive – and grow it – in the face of the challenges, due to sheer necessity we need, and are, embracing change and bringing those dollars into Michigan.

Return of the Crazies

Southfield native and former Digg CEO Jay Adelson blew the doors off with his keynote and the reason was is that it wasn’t about particular technology, or a tactic, but the overall strategy.

“You need to find that screw that’s loose and loosen it a bit more.”

Jay doesn’t look like your typical CEO, or high net-worth individual. With his lanky appearance, t-shirt and jeans, he’s the neighborhood geek.

Our neighborhood geek.

There were a lot of screws loose in the past – the kinds of screws that made us first in so many things. I think it’s only fitting that Detroit, where we were the first to assign individual telephone numbers, where we were the first to have concrete roads, the first to bring people together through so many kinds of infrastructure networks leverage the greatest network that the world has ever seen, the internet, to resurge. After all, the car wasn’t invented here, but we perfected it. I lobby that we can do the same with mobile, internet, and media technologies. No, it’s not steel and plastic. But the automobile is the most complex and technology-full consumer product ever developed, so we obviously have the talent to do this if we apply ourselves.

We just have to be okay with being crazy enough to do it. We need to get over the idea that failure is a bad thing. There is no such thing as a guaranteed job, and accept that. We need to embrace that not everything will work, but we WILL try again. Because that’s the only way to move forward.

Be Ready Because Tomorrow Will Come

Michigan (and Metro Detroit) is not going to look like it does today in ten years, nor, frankly, how it did a hundred years ago. It will never be how it was, but it can be even better. It’s up to us, as a state, as a region, to decide what it WILL look like.

I love ideas that people think are insane. If I had a dollar for every person who said urban farming is the dumbest thing ever, I’d have enough money to start one the size of a city block. I remember reading how every industrialist and leader thought Thomas Edison was never, ever going to find a filament that would work for his lightbulb.

It turns out that the people who didn’t want him to find that filament had a vested interest in the status quo. They were owners of whale oil sellers and gas moguls.

In that vein, I say question anyone who defends the status quo here, those who say it cannot be done. There’s a lot of people with a vested interest to keep things the same, just as there was then.

It’s up to us, individually and as a region, to willfully, purposely, and successfully ignore them.

Now is the time to put your space-helmet wearing cow hooves to the ground. Together, today, we’ve got a region to build.

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3 comments on “Why Future Midwest, TechCocktail & all these “Tech” Things Should Matter To You

  1. Nice job! You really captured the spirit of what Jay Adelson was talking about. I was there. And you're right. His message should resonate with anyone who wants to be a part of making this region great again. It can be done. We have the brain power and the resources to do it. All we have to do is get a little crazy and take that first step of the launching pad

  2. Because of reading your blog, I decided to create my own. I had never been interested in keeping a blog until I saw how helpful and passionate yours was, then I was inspired!

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