Are You a Visionary?

Disruptive Technology

To me, the salient characteristic of someone with vision is the ability to see the future, and take you there. They do in such a way that when you look back, you're able to see the dots they connected as they did that.

Steve Jobs was such a visionary. Some people do their best thinking while driving, or engaging in physical activities like walking, running, others like to flip through photographs and images. Where do you do your best thinking?

When it comes to visionaries, Jobs is a pattern hunter:

Steve Jobs “stood back”: “You can’t really predict what will happen,” he said. “But you can feel the direction you’re going. And that’s about as close as you can get. Then you just stand back and get out of the way, and these things take on a life of their own.”

He saw the world of personal computers, then how technology would evolve to be an extension of our lives, and led the creation of a series of products that literally disrupted the way we thought about technology.

Forget optimization. In a crowded market you need to stand above the competition with truly disruptive technology and not apart with a "me too" plan done better.

We need more visionaries

SxSWInteractive As we say in our dual panel proposal for SxSW interactive next March: Neither innovation nor best practices are good enough anymore. It is the value of your promise and the wisdom of the trade that earns your place in the market.

Disruptive technology is both meaningful — relevant, private, and personal – *and* commercially viable (even in the early stages).

A technology is disruptive when it helps a business make and keep the best of all promises and get in exchange the things that go to making that business stronger, more resilient, and enduring.


The hardest part for visionaries is to sell their ideas. The best thing you can do about skeptics and naysayers is to embrace them, educate them about your roadmap, take them along, step by step. The prize is your business – the product and service that is the asset worth trading.

Conversations are markets. Vote now, add your questions and comments, and we will find a way to have the conversation. Your business depends on your vision.

Are you a visionary?


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0 responses to “Are You a Visionary?”

  1. Ghandi is often credited with saying, “First the ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.” I take comfort in this thought, as it reminds me that having my ideas ignored, made fun of, and even contested means I’m on the right path.
    Have fun at SxSW, Valeria. 🙂

  2. The problem with Visionaries is they are often Deviants, and until they’ve found at least minor success, getting backing for their ideas, is almost impossible. Society, in particular Foundations & Philanthropists, needs to do a better job of embracing and supporting the Idea People.
    I friend had this to say about me in a blog post about the situation in Detroit:
    “Because resistance to change is a big problem. And if we don’t figure out how to get over it, or around it, or through it, it will slowly kill us.
    Here’s an example of what I mean. One of the smartest, most creative, purest intellectuals I know is exactly the kind of guy that needs to be sitting in a group that has been tasked with developing creative solutions to problems. But society looks at him and says, “He doesn’t quite fit the mold,” so they discard him and his ideas – when those ideas are precisely what we need right now.
    Being able to inspire and motivate people of different backgrounds is our greatest hope, I believe, at inventing our way out of this mess.”

  3. Inspiring.
    But it seems that most 21stC visionaries are self-declared, right? Most of us possess certain characteristics but only a handful can breathe a vision to its conclusive existence (and beyond).
    One of the most repeated questions I hear relates to how ‘visionaries’ get funded, supported, noticed (in that order, too). Well, isn’t that part of how a visionary becomes one – they do what they do and then people notice, support and fund them? How long did it take Dyson? Kroc? Liszt? Arthur (as in, King)?
    Oh, and let us remember that visionaries are not limited to the techno-sphere, either (even though I understand that’s where this specific discussion wants to be led towards).

  4. I often remind myself that if people are not pushing back too hard, I’m not pushing the envelope enough. It will be a good discussion, regardless of whether it is accepted by the judging panel at SxSW.

  5. There’s a complication, which is many experts have become very good at what was and rarely challenge their own assumptions… that is until it’s too late and the market has passed them by.
    I’ve made a career and a life out of not fitting any mold. In fact, I purposefully keep an open mind on new applications of ideas, anchoring my experience on a core philosophy. On a related thought, often the idea needs development and it needs a new context. So it takes stamina to be willing to go long term to make it happen. Part of that conversation includes facing rejection at worst, being passed over in the short term at best.

  6. vision + persistence and stamina
    How many just gave up because they couldn’t afford to do it enough to be noticed? It’s a very lonely place.
    Indeed, I was introducing a specific discussion, so yes, much more to talk about when broadening the scope.

  7. Right. I’m starting to figure that out for myself now, too. If nobody’s dismissing, deriding, or otherwise detracting your idea, it’s probably not much of idea, as it’s clearly not impacting anyone.
    “If an idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it.” 😉

  8. Thank you for the excellent information Valeria! We definitely do need more ‘Visionaries’…they are typically great ‘Entrepreneurs’… and ‘The Global Economy’ definitely needs entrepreneurs!

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