I was sitting in the lounge at the car dealership a few days ago, waiting on my free oil change. Well, they call it ‘free’ - it was probably included in the price somewhere on line 267 of all that car paperwork. Anyway, the lounge is actually very nice, and everyone waiting with me had at least one thing common. If you’re not sure what that is, please stop reading.
Even though my car is not a Ford and my wife’s T-Bird wasn’t ready for an oil change, maybe it was the fact the car dealership was celebrating its birthday, but anyway, I had a thought; what if Mark Zuckerberg and Henry Ford changed birthdays? The following is where this thought led me.
Back when Henry Ford was born, the world was so much smaller. Most humans didn’t travel more than a few hundred miles their entire lives. Their social world was their local community. People lived and learned from those around them. Outside influences only came occasionally, when the stranger on horseback showed up at the saloon.
Yes, newspapers were around and were a great source for stories from afar. The world, however, did not see any real value in learning things they believed had no immediate impact on their lives. If you were a farmer, you didn’t particularly care that some newly married prince had a baby. I guess if the prince had had the baby, they may have cared, but I think you get the point. Back when Henry Ford was born, the word transportation had a much slimmer definition. Once, I heard Simon Sinek say that Henry Ford’s intention was not to be known as the man who sold cars, Henry Ford’s intention was to change the way people traveled; he was determined to change and disrupt the transportation industry. I think his intention succeeded.
Take a moment and go back in time to those dusty roads; the mixture of horses and automobiles filling up the thoroughfare. What all those travelers were excited about was the ability to get somewhere faster. They imagined different places they read about or heard of, and they now had the means to get there. Henry Ford’s disruption had occurred. Even the common man was able to replace the transportation of the past with this new invention. People not only could travel farther quicker, their appetite for exploring and learning made their lives more enjoyable.
This new form of transportation, this new invention, was the tipping point of what I call the communication evolution. People back in the 1900’s were extremely limited in their ability to communicate. Their communications were mostly a rehashing of what was in front of them. They had very little information from abroad, and back then abroad was the next city down the road. Another state was just as far away as another country. Almost all outside communication came from the more affluent, those who could afford to travel. These affluent travelers had their own communities of like-minded, educated, and equal-in-wealth individuals. The common folks had their community as well, and very rarely did they intersect.
When you think about it Henry Ford not only disrupted transportation, he somewhat disrupted communication as well.
Back in 1863, the world had inventions and technologies to bring people together. Henry Ford just figured out a way to accomplish it for everyone and not just a select few. In 1903, Henry Ford began a change which effected many industries. He lit a spark in the world of manufacturing with the assembly line, which proved vital in both world wars; he gave the oil and gas industry their edge on world economy, and he gave a desert land far way wealth. He began changing the landscape of towns, cities, suburbs and neighborhoods. His friend Firestone became the world’s largest tire manufacturer, and of course, let’s not forget Edison - all his Fords needed lights.
Obviously, I am not implying Henry Ford created or invented all these things and the consequences of some of them. The message is- the world was changed by the automobile, and Henry Ford innovated the delivery model, giving other innovative people opportunities to capitalize on.
Ok, it’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to enter. Mark Zuckerberg and Henry Ford, regardless of what you think of either, have changed the world; and in Mark’s case, he continues in changing it. If Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1863, with his capacity in creating the world’s largest community, as he has today, what would Mark have done in the 1900’s, what would his community look like? Would he have re-invented the telegraph system? Would he have reinvented the photography of the day? Would he have created a platform where all people of all cultures could express ideas and personnel goals and ambitions?
Whatever Facebook would have been in the 1900’s, would it have given the common man, as well as the wealthy man a means of equality in communication? Would Bell have collaborated with Zuckerberg on an even better telephone? Would the telephone in the 1900’s have the ability to show a picture of the caller? What would scrapbooks look like? Would the local community woman gather in the park and share their family and life stories they’ve written in scrapbooks, they purchased from Facebook? Then work together in creating a community scrapbook by combining all their work? Would Zuckerberg be the one who invented the glue stick?
In my thinking - “It’s not the invention that changes the world, it’s the innovation caused by what’s invented that changes the world.” RJS
Over the next couple of decades, we will witness where Mark Zuckerberg goes. No one has a crystal ball, but with a little imagination, here is what I see. A different system of how humans get visual content; a world of advertising so precise its messages will be welcomed by those who get them; entertainment delivered in ways that will redefine how we consume it; benefits to our well-being through invisible computer technology. Mark Zuckerberg is just one of many innovative thinkers, and the technologies today allow for so much more collaboration than anytime in human history. Those of us who welcome change are granted the ability to help change along.
When you look at the Mark Zuckerberg’s or the Henry Fords of the world, many would say they were in the right place at the right time. I – disagree. I believe people like Mark Zuckerberg and Henry Ford “create the right place in their time”. Their creativity allows them to explore things in their mind that others won’t look for, or others simply ignore.
In closing, if Henry Ford was born in 1984, where would your imagination lead you? Would Uber be called Ford? After all Henry didn’t invent the automobile, he disrupted the industry which delivered them. I’ll save that for my next oil change…
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