Global connections, brain waves and corona

Written by : Tim Vasko | Published on March 25, 2006
Category: TechnEnomics TM

I'm just back from Puerto Vallarta Mexico for a few weeks. I didn't even go near a computer (well ok, once to check on an e mail from some new friends we met in Yalpa on the beach over a few beers -- we had agreed to meet up again and go to another secluded beach after the weekend -- but not until then). The only screen I wanted to be near was sun screen. I was ready for the break - and to "unplug" my brain and digits from the digital ..

I've been going to Puerto Vallarta since I was about 10 years old. A lot has changed in 35 years. I still remember the culture shock of walking through the open air market and seeing the beef and poultry, fish hanging with fly's (mucho moscas) buzzing around the stalls. It was a true experience for a young American kid. This time there was no culture shock at all -- unless you consider all the American-made franchises and local Mexican spots that were fashioned to be nearly indistinguishable from their North American rivals, creating a new kind of culture shock -- the shock of the evolution of global uniformity. Though the Mexican culture is still alive in Puerto Vallarta, I could have just as well have been in Hawaii considering the ever decreasing number of tell-tale signs that I was in Central America.

I must admit, I noticed what a hassle it was to have kept my promise to myself (and my wife and kids) to turn the BlackBerry off. Now I had to try to find a net connection after having told our new friends to e mail to my web e mail (the super secret, no business stuff one), where I knew if I connected and jumped online to get the directions to the "locals" beach up north, I wouldn't start thinking about business.

We were staying at a major hotel on the edge of the city, the Sheraton. The only Net access was at the business center, but it was closed over the weekend. So I trekked out with my son, and it wasn't tough to find a plethora of Internet caf©'s with lines of computers. It cost me $10 Pesos (about a buck) to get on a box for 30 min. It was about 10pm - the place was buzzing as fingers flew to chat, surf and sample info -- a digital "fast food" playground.

I've seen Internet caf©'s for years in my travels from Bulgaria to Bangkok. However, since I've had every connectivity device known to man since the SkyTel pager and a 9600 baud dialup International account with CompuServe (was it really just a decade ago we were still using dial up?), I've rarely (if ever) used an Internet caf©.

A thought struck me half a dozen plus years ago, when I was observing people glued to the rows of screens in a newly started Internet Cafe, and it struck me again on this trip as I stood in this cafe: this is how you have to connect with the "brain waves" of the collective consciousness of the world (your business customers and your market). If you want to stay in business keeping this generation of boomer customers engaged -- maybe even get their kids to do business with your firm when they become the next gen business buyers -- you must be communicating through the Internet.

The only difference between today and 1999 is -- if you don't have a good connection to your market buyers that's improving every day -- you're constantly falling behind. The telephone doesn't cut it any more; as a carrier of communication, it's the equivalent of the horse and buggy. At the pool, some hotel guests (or "Crakeberry" addicts) held those amazing little BlackBerrys and cell phones rather than a Corona (or they held them alongside their Coronas!) -- that's telling you where communication is going.

That's also how I knew I was on vacation and they weren't . . .

The next day we went down the road to the Mexican version of Wal-Mart called "Mega" to pick up a few essentials (cerveza, sun screen and float rings for my little daughters). It was quite upscale and but for the Spanish on the signs, you'd have thought you were in any North American competitor to Wal-Mart. And they are definitely a competitor -- Wal-Mart is just down the road about two kilometers. At the top of the escalator were a couple of bins that advertised the prices of some items with a sign "compare to Wal-Mart".

You can bet Wal-Mart recognizes the competition too -- just like anyone who is doing business in any industry selling to consumers and businesses should recognize this connected universe. I wonder, if your business is not connecting with those screens in the right way, and if you're not capturing your fair share of "brain waves" in competition with the other brands, choices, and production, and if you're not communicating the right way in this world -- in other words, if this web of connections isn't front and center in your business life (though my recommendation is turn it off in your personal vacation life at least) -- then the life of your business is bound to be shrinking.

The moral of the story? Disconnect for a moment and watch ( I recommend with a cerveza in hand) and you'll see the connections affecting your business every day. I got my nose out of my BlackBerry and into what's left of the Mexican culture for a few weeks, and once again I found confirmation. This world in which we live is getting smaller every moment -- no matter where the sun is shining at the beach.

We'll have to get going, it's Saturday morning, the phone just rang (remember that old thang) -- I think it's my sister in Beijing. Like the most played song on earth says, it's "a small world after all.." !
PS: After wanting to find a way to get to my Google personal gmail account and having to hunt down the Internet caf© to get that one important e mail for the trip to the beach, I came home to reconnect and found this very recently released link to get gmail over a BlackBerry or wireless device browser - check it out if you have gmail

I guess it will be another 6 or 7 years before I need to go into an Internet Caf© or whatever its equivalent is by then (or with the lightning speed of technology - will there be an equivalent?) . . .

Tim Vasko

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