“Hustle” is the most important word — EVER!

As I have for many years, I try to examine the world of technology from the side of the disruption, not the side of that which is being disrupted. The longer I do that, the more I’m convinced that media people need to come over here — at least occasionally — because the view of what’s happening is entirely different than what traditional media people see.

One thing that has never changed for me is the reality that the tech community — and, by proxy, tech media — is way out ahead of traditional media, both in terms of vision and practical application for the flow of information. Media is so driven by revenue (and that means revenue attached to content) that it will always lag real technological innovation. But what’s troubling is that once media latches onto something from the disruption that can be monetized, all else is set aside in favor of what may or may not be the gravy train that media companies seek. If it doesn’t make money, it’s ignored, so the best we get is elements of the disruption bolted on to the increasingly archaic business model of ad-supported content.

Alien mothership from the film Independence DayMany people wrongly interpret these events as where the two worlds (the disruption and that which is being disrupted) “touch.” The reality, however, is that the worlds never touch, for one is overtaking the other. Think of those giant alien ships from the film “Independence Day” as their shadows loomed over the world’s biggest cities. The only time they “touched,” was when the aliens destroyed the cities. A shadow is not touching, not in science fiction and not in disruptive technologies.

Broadcasters and print executives live in a static world. The templates for success need only to be filled with fresh content, but everything else sits still. Elaborate and sophisticated industries have sprung up around this, not the least of which is advertising, but the essence of what drives business is the foundation of a static world.

But the disruption does not sit still and routes around this static world. There was a time when the Web consisted of static sites with static pages, but that’s long been replaced by the live, dynamic Web. Browsing has been replaced by searching and subscribing, but media companies cling to static representations of their core businesses. To the tech community, the Web is cyberspace, a fabulous and innovative place where people meet, information flows and commerce is conducted. To the media community, the Web is a series of pipes for the transportation of content, or perhaps more realistically, a series of pipes leading to their distribution points.

So you see the conflict and why there’s really no “touching” taking place whatsoever.

“Where’s the money?” is the relentless cry from media company board rooms, but it’s the wrong question. The only answer is the same one that everybody involved in the disruption knows well — it’s all about hustle. Gary Vaynerchuk (a.k.a. “GaryVee”) says it well in this video clip from the Web 2.0 conference.

Do yourself a favor and watch it, but if you can’t, here’s the relevant part:

“Stop crying and keep hustling. Hustle is the most important word — EVER. And that’s what you need to do. You need to work so hard. Guys, we’re building businesses here. This isn’t about parties. We’re building businesses!”

Traditional media people don’t know how to hustle, and this is where we’re getting beat. The disruption doesn’t ask for the business model; it goes out and makes one happen, even if it takes a whole lot longer than anybody thought. GaryVee’s two key words for business success in the new world are “patience and passion.” Of these, we cannot possibly have too much.

I had a discussion this week with the head of a major media web unit who made the comment that he knows what he could and perhaps should be doing, but that he’s making too much money doing things the traditional media online way to just up and stop. He knows, as most of us do, that the world of online traditional media — as is — will never replace the dollars being lost by our legacy platforms, even though the revenue we are making may be significant. It’s damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t. (See: Let’s Be Serious: Online Display Ads Will Fall Sharply In 2009)

But we’ve got to stop crying and keep hustling, especially in these times of uncertainty and opportunity, for to do otherwise is to cede defeat to the alien spacecraft looming overhead.

(Originally published in AR&D’s Media 2.0 Intel newsletter. Hat tip to Fred Wilson.)

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