Coping with “It’s all been done” syndrome …

Sometimes I get down on myself.  You see, dear reader, I’ve been trying to think up a good application to write for WP7.  I’ve thought of a few good apps, a couple of mine are actually up in the marketplace and earning money.  But, then I say to myself, “It’s all been done before!  Every possible fart-flashlight-tip-calculator application that can be made has been made.”  And that gets me down.  But, I have a way around that and I’m going to share it with you.  And then, I’m gonna circle back around through the .com boom and land on why I love cloud computing.  And that get’s me up again.

Think I can’t?  Let’s see!

When I’m down and I think to myself “you’re a guy who builds other people’s ideas, you don’t come up with ideas yourself,” I don’t think of this guy …


… and I don’t think of this guy …


I respect both of them and marvel at their accomplishments. Both Gates and Jobs have the characteristic that I am looking for.  But no!  I think of this guy …


Looks familiar, no? Oh you know this guy – it’s James Dyson.  I don’t know him personally – he might be a complete ***.  But, I love this guy! Can you imagine sitting down one day and saying “f*ck it! I’m gonna re-invent the vacuum cleaner”?  Can you imagine the ridicule this guy has taken in his life?  Everybody this guy knows has probably called him nuts at one time or another.  His own mother probably told him he was nuts while vacuuming her floor with a Hoover.  We’re not talking about a bacteria that eats CO2 and poops out oil … no!  We’re taking about vacuum cleaners.  Hoover has been around since 1908 and Oreck has been selling vacuums by mail since 1963 – how much innovation could be left in this area? A lot apparently.

What’s the characteristic here?  What’s the driving force?  Disruptiveness!  Plain and simple disruptiveness! All three of these guys see a situation and say “I can do better!”  I don’t need to regale you with the accomplishments of the first two, but can you imagine just for a minute saying to yourself (and being perfectly serious), “I am going to re-invent the way music is listened to and sold.”  And this is why I love cloud computing – it’s disruptive!

Do you know why the .COM boom happened?  I’ll tell you why.  One simple rule: People will believe any lie that they want to be true or that they are afraid is true.  Every single brick and mortar giant in 1999 was deathly afraid that there were two guys in a garage somewhere with a better business model to sell widgets than they had.  Every CEO believed it – every one.  Every venture capitalist believed it – every one.  And they spent.  When Ask Jeeves went public in 1999, I browsed to the site and asked it a simple question “How can a company with no revenue be worth $1.5 billion?”  It didn’t know.  Maybe if it had been able to give me a good answer, I would have bough the stock!  (As it turns out, it was valued at $1.85 when sold in 2005).

What does that have to do with cloud computing?  Here’s what: right now, every company that has been saying to itself “it would take a huge investment to get the type of computing power necessary to match our business model” now has something to fear.  The power of the enterprise is being brought to the garage.  All you need is a good idea.  Notice I didn’t say an original idea.  I just said a good idea.  Even if it’s been done before again and again and again, it can be done better.  Is it a lie?  I don’t think so.  But, in the end, does it really matter?  Soon enough, everyone is going to believe it, either because they want it to be true or because they are scared it’s true.

So if your sitting there and thinking that there’s no opportunity left, no innovation to be had, think of James Dyson.  Look at everything in your office or on your physical desktop or your PC desktop.  Look at every application on your phone and every web site you browse to. Look at every business model you can think of and think to yourself this one simple thing: It can be done better.  Be like James Dyson and say “f*ck it! I’m gonna do it better!”

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