Don’t let your business go down in flames like Kodak

Diamandis: “Your mindset is the most important asset you have.”

Diamandis: “You either disrupt your own company or someone else will.”

Diamandis: “Your mindset is the most important asset you have.”
Diamandis: “Your mindset is the most important asset you have.”

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With that quote, Peter Diamandis, an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions, and commercial space, set the crowd abuzz at the TD Ameritrade National LINC 2015 Conference in San Diego.

Diamandis told a story about Kodak that is a warning shot across the bow for all of us.

In 1975, Kodak invented the digital camera. And what did they do with it? Nothing! It would have been too disruptive to their highly profitable film business so they sat on it for years.

Despite Kodak’s lack of digital progress, the company thrived for the next 21 years and by 1996, it had a $28 billion market cap with 95,000 employees.

But the good times didn’t last. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

What happened?

As a Wall Street Journal article noted at the time, “Kodak’s top management never fully grasped how the world around them was changing. They hung on to now obsolete assumptions about who took pictures, why and when.”

One driver of change in the picture-taking business was Instagram.

In the same year as Kodak’s bankruptcy, Facebook acquired Instagram, a digital imagery pioneer, for $1 billion. And how many employees did Instagram have? Just 13!

Kodak refused to disrupt itself and it went kaput.

Diamandis: “Linear thinking companies are being put out of business by exponential technologies,”

Kodak was linear. Instagram was exponential. End of story.

Don’t you make the same mistake.

Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room for financial advisors is Robo technology. It is an exponential technology that can put you out of business if not handled properly.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It took 37 years for digital camera technology to put Kodak out of business so why should I worry about Robos? I’ve got plenty of time to get my Robo strategy in place, right? Wrong.

Diamandis: “The only constant is change and the rate of change is increasing,”

Robos are relatively small now but they are growing exponentially. Consider this. A $1 million revenue RIA company growing at 10% per year for 10 years will turn into a $2.6 million company.

By contrast, a $1 million revenue Robo company growing exponentially at 100% per year for 10 years will become a $1 billion revenue behemoth.

The point is simple—exponential technology and the companies that harvest it will eat you alive if you just continue with business as usual.

100 is the New 60

Robo technology isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about.

Imagine being 100 years old and having the health of today’s average 60-year old?

Some interesting things come out of that. For example, how would that change the way you do financial planning? How would it affect the traditional retirement age of 65? How would it affect our economy if people didn’t retire from their careers until they were in their 90s?

This is no fantasy. Diamandis co-founded a new company called Human Longevity, Inc., whose goal is to make 100 years old the new 60. It uses synthetic biology, one of eight exponential technologies identified by Diamandis, to create a modern-day fountain of youth.

What to Do Now

Robo technology and synthetic biology are just two examples of exponential technology and companies that are rapidly changing the nature of business and life. Don’t be like Kodak and ignore the changing world around you.

Here are 3 things you can do right now to embrace and profit from these exciting changes.

  1. Educate yourself. Go to conferences where people like Peter Diamandis are speaking (Thank you TD Ameritrade!). Read his books, Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think and Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World. Consider joining Singularity University, Abundance 360 or The Genius Network, which are three organizations at the forefront of exponential thinking.
  2. Develop and implement a Robo strategy. Ditch your high account minimums and create tiered service levels. Partner with one of the Robo firms such as Betterment, Jemstep, or Upside Financial to create an online investment service that meets the needs of increasingly tech savvy consumers.
  3. Change your thinking. Get rid of your scarcity mindset and think abundance. Think about how to apply exponential thinking to make the pie bigger for everybody.

Let me leave you with this final challenge from Diamandis,

“Where inside your company are you taking moonshots?”

Don’t settle for 10% improvement when 10X is within your grasp. Don’t bury your head in the sand like Kodak did. Be brave. Be bold. And be successful.

Steve’s note: If you want to discuss your Robo Advisor strategy, please contact me.

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Steve is the founder of Belay Advisor and a NYT bestselling author, podcast host, speaker, and financial advisor coach.

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