Todd Harrison: Human capital is the greatest investment
The greatest opportunities are born from the most profound obstacles, and that will again prove true.
I was in Palo Alto for the YPO Digital Media confab last week and spent some quality time with the folks at Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It was an eye-opening experience: While portal usage is down (-24%) and search is flat (+1%), growth in social media has surged 52% year-over-year.
While there was litany of factoids, tidbits and nuggets of wisdom, my greatest takeaway was one of perspective. In the words of Roger McNamee, the insightful co-founder of Elevation Partners: "Eight-year-olds will never know what a personal computer is; in their eyes, an iPhone or an iPad is the computer."
I could rattle off some of the emerging themes: how the mobile platform was a persistent pattern across the Valley, how strategies are shifting from "pages" to "people and social patterns," or how spending on social media will surpass email marketing in 2012.
But they pale in comparison to perhaps the most important dynamic: For the first time in years, there's a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't affixed to the front of a train. These kids - the millennial generation - will pull this country out of our seemingly endless economic abyss. They will demonstrate the distinction between real-world experience and applicable skills.
Given that the destination we arrive at pales in comparison to the path we take to get there, there will be plenty of speed bumps, detours, potholes and roadblocks. But there's an upside to being naïve: Instead of acting on the frustration that so many of us feel, these kids are more likely to think outside the box to identify creative solutions.
Todd Harrison is the author of "The Other Side of Wall Street" and the founder and CEO of Minyanville, an Emmy Award-winning financial media platform. Read him daily at www.minyanville.com.