How I learned to love Big Data

Right now you are probably sitting in front of a powerful device.  You have the power to write a book, produce a music album, or make a blog post.  You don’t need permission from anyone other than yourself.

I was raised with a mindset that you should do what you’re told.  I expected to have an employer tell me what to do by giving you tasks, and as long as I completed them, I would be successful.  However, I noticed that the world I live in today doesn’t fit that world view.  The industrial age is ending.  Maybe it took me longer to catch on than other people, but now that I’ve noticed this, I cannot un-see it.  And I can’t not take action about having seen this truth.

I just finished another book by Seth Godin, the Icarus Deception, that helped me bring these thoughts into words.   This makes 4 of his books that I’ve read, just to give you an idea.  They are filled with simple, yet invaluable, inspirational ideas.  He teaches you how to recognize things for what they are, and take action.  Here, he points out that man of us have forgot part of the story of Icarus.  He was warned to stay away from the sun or his wings would melt.  But, he was also warned to stay out of the water or he’d sink.  The takeaway was that if we try and soar to high we’ll get burned.  So, instead, we play it safe.  But the days of the industrial workplace are going away.  We need to take action and become artists to be successful.

“Don’t think!  Thinking is the enemy of creativity.  It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy.  You can’t try to do new things.  You simply must do things” -Ray Bradbury

I read a few books by Seth Godin before I really got to know who he is.  Then I really gained an appreciation for his writing and contributions to society.  Linchpin motivated me to step it up and become invaluable at work.  This is obviously a work in progress.  Ideally, we could all start fresh at a new job but most of us have built up reputations that got us in our current state.   All we can do is commit to improve.  Like weightlifting, you won’t improve daily.  Improvements come in waves and are noticeable when looking at the big picture.  This reminds me of another subject I’ve been reading on, Big Data.  I love saying that.  Big data recognizes that we have more information than we could ever possibly analyze, but by looking at big data we can clearly see trends, and notice the faults of analyzing smaller amounts of data.  Think scarcity versus abundance.  Picking a customized option for yourself versus picking a safe option that will please everyone (like pie!).

The second book I read of his was Poke the Box, which I enjoyed even more.  He talks about taking action and taking risks.  I’m embarrassed to say, but it wasn’t until I read his 3rd book , All Marketers are Liars, that I recognized his name and had to look him up on the internet.  And I’m so glad I did.  He has many speeches on youtube that are free for you to check out.  Some are very inspiring.  If you don’t just want to be a cog in the corporate system, I highly recommend checking out his work.  I personally found him at a time in my life when I was becoming fed up with just earning a living and not being passionate about my work.  Asking for new responsibilities in the work place got me no where, and I realized I lacked action and forcing the responsibilities upon myself.   Something that I saw other people doing, but rather than take action myself, I was overwhelmed with feelings of jealousy and anger.

I’ve learned to squash those feelings, which were basically facets of my own fear.  The amount of data we have access to is accelerating so quickly, and we now have so many options.  From what we buy to who we bang,  the internet has given us a sense that we can get anything we desire.

If you’re interested, you can find a lot of his stuff for free online.  Even a collaboration work with author Malcolm Gladwell.  Start here and then I’d suggest picking up a hard cover book for you book shelf.  Seth is known for making very original, interesting cover designs.


Permission Marketing and Unleashing the Ideavirus are next for me.

I’d also like to mention that when I emailed him about a fact in his book, he replied within 24 hours.  The fact he just replied was astounding, and I had to thank him for that alone.  It was about something he mentioned in one of his books, that all eggs are actually anti-biotic free, even though some companies print that on their carton to increase sales.  I still think the part about antibiotics is a little washy, but it’s not on Seth, it’s on the FDA.

FDA regulations don’t permit any eggs to be sold where the antibiotics that might be given to chickens are based in any way to the eggs:http://www.uspoultry.org/faq/faq.cfm

So, it would be even more accurate for me to have written:

All eggs are hormone free, and even when chickens are given antibiotics, the eggs themselves are all antibiotic free, so a carton that says, “antibiotic free eggs” is telling you nothing at all.

I just have this gut feeling that when a chicken is exposed to anti-biotics it is passed onto the egg, but I’m not going to fight it.

So, don’t get overwhelmed with big data and our world of options.  Be different and take action.


2 comments on “How I learned to love Big Data

  1. You hit a few important ideas in rapid succession with this post. I like the way you tied it off nicely.

    I’ll have to look Godin up.


  2. Thanks man. Here’s a great talk to listen to, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qESbS8jg9F4.


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