The world is changing.

We live and work in the digital age.  Everything that we do is based on the reality that we are globally connected via technology, at all times.  But what if all of that technological potential were really just an escape from reality, instead of something that helped to enhance it?

This is the premise for the bestselling book, Ready Player One, which has been picked up by Steven Spielberg and set to hit movie theaters next March. The trend of gaming has exciting new parallels for the world of digital entrepreneurship and how we can best use technology to help us create a better world.

Life in the digital age has become a game, and entrepreneurs are going to be the ones who get to change the world through its use.

In this book and soon to be movie, players live in a dystopian future, where everyone wants to escape to play a game called OASIS.  In the year 2045, people are ditching world problems to find hidden Easter eggs hidden inside the video game. Whoever finds them will inherit the massive fortune of the game’s creator, and be able to pull themselves out of the economic disparity that plagues the world of the characters we’ve read about and will soon be able to see on screen.  Before he died, the creator of OASIS, hid the eggs in order to create a lasting legacy in hopes that it would encourage everyone to partake in binging on this highly addictive escapist activity.

Source: Fan Art

Why Is This Relevant?

We can’t deny that we are all eager to escape the real world just like the characters in this plot. We are constantly trying to catch up on our text messages, Facebook mentions, and status updates.  “Just a minute, I have to check my phone first,” has become a completely acceptable phrase in social gatherings.

As baby boomers and millennials grow further apart in terms of employment and lingo, it appears that everywhere we look we are faced with the merging of two separate worlds.

Entrepreneurs know this, and so do savvy internet marketers.  In the 1960’s and 70’s, the world responded to catchy TV spots.  Before that it was radio, and today it’s Facebook advertising.

We’ve adapted to the new way of marketing as entrepreneurs and customers everywhere have become increasingly aware of everything that is going on.  Transparency is the new “buzz word” as unhappy customers can flock to social media to raise standards. Even CEO’s are getting in trouble and being called out online.

In the world of the millennial, he or she is trying to become a hero–to win back a chance at the future that they were promised.  With many millennials being underemployed or unemployed, it’s not surprising that many turn to Netflix to binge away their problems. However, many have also reawakened to the fact that we need to evolve as a species.  Climate change isn’t the only thing that people are thinking about.  Instead, they are looking at ways to be intentional with how they create their world.

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we’ve seen twenty-somethings become billionaires in the last decade and watched as the world became more connected as a result.

However, every generation relies on these tools today, and tomorrow I’m almost positive that everyone will be using technology in their business in even newer ways.

Enter the Digital World

The digital world is like playing a video game.  Ready Player One is a metaphor for how we are using the digital world to escape real life interactions.  But unlike the book, these interactions are extremely valuable and can impact the world in positive ways.

We aren’t just escaping, we are exploring.

We need fulfillment, and we need to be connected to community.  The online world gives us that connection, but it also helps to reinforce the real-world work that we do.  We can’t be like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach where he is literally on vacation all the time.  We need to be grounded in a strong community.  But in order to do that you need to be about something that is bigger than yourself.  You need to have a mission.

One of the biggest things that we can do collectively, is to come together and use our creativity.  Unlike in Ready Player One, this post titled Ready Entrepreneur One is more about how we can each do our part to create the type of world that we want to live in.

The technology we use to help us achieve that is going to be vital.  We also all need to start accepting that we live in the Digital Age, and that we need to leverage that even more.

As entrepreneurs we can get sidetracked by routines, systems, and old pre-digital habits.  However, we need to constantly remember that in the digital world you can do anything.  It truly is limitless!

Going online or using your smartphone is like putting on your super suit.  You are literally able to leverage a power that is so much larger than just yourself.

Online followers receive your influence seconds after you launch a blog post or upload a podcast.  How can one man have all that power?  In the past it took what Seth Godin would call “getting picked.” You needed to be on television or be a columnist at the New York Times.

Today, any entrepreneur with a smartphone can get their content found. This technology allows you to transform from Clark Kent into Superman.

That’s the amazing part about this technology–it doesn’t take nearly as much time as it used to.  As we begin to become more and more integrated with the digital world, we see that it’s easier than ever to find inspiring blogs, or get premier coaching to learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.  Today, you have the entire world all existing on social media–literally anyone you want to connect with is there.  Look at the world’s biggest celebrities–they have massive influence on the people who follow them.  Considering that someone like the Rock, has nearly 90 MILLION people following him on instagram, it shows that people are ready to engage and that the stage is transforming before our eyes.  As Gary V says, if you aren’t ready to jump into hyperspeed you are going to get left behind.

We Are Babies

When it comes to technology we are infants.  I’m not suggesting that we are stupid, but we are literally crawling, figuratively speaking.  We have barely scratched the surface, and one of the things that we are starting to see is updated user experiences.

Everything is being gamified.  When you use UBER on your smartphone it’s UX looks like a videogame.  You are literally watching all of the little cars zoom around you until one picks you up.

Social media sites even provide games to keep you hooked so that you will stay longer and view more ads.

But this isn’t just a great way to increase revenue, it is also reinforcing something that is very important to the work that I do in creating learning experiences.

Games Teach Us Faster

When you were in preschool you weren’t told to sit in your seat, be still, and expected to complete all of your homework like you are in high school. Instead, the teachers have to make it fun because their students are all so young that they don’t really understand the concept of work, or responsibility.  The teacher creates games and songs that enhance the learning experience.

Now the same principles can help you to learn things like a foreign language, or any other new concept.

My old high school has replaced their bulky textbooks with iPads and other software that creates a gamified learning experience.

But that’s not all.

Games are changing the way that we can think about solving problems, collectively. And the internet is on the forefront of helping us to get that message out.

Entrepreneurs Can Use Gamification As Well

Do you sell a course or product? Need to educate your audience about what to do and make sure that it isn’t bogged down with technical mumbo jumbo? My business partner, celebrity real estate agent, Josh Flagg, and I realized that we needed to create a fun way to help agents learn the luxury market.  So we created an app that creates questions and can send push notifications to help students engage better with the weekly course material

Keep in mind that this is for an online course.  I haven’t seen anything this cutting edge for other products, but I’m always really curious as to how people are integrating gamification into their entrepreneurial ventures.

We’ve found that students enjoy the learning reinforcement that our game provides, and that their answers are improving as we reincorporate new material with the course.

The Freaks Shall Inherit…

Chris Brogan’s book The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth teaches us that it’s the “weirdos” who are willing to do things differently who are going to make the biggest splash in entrepreneurship.

With the power of technology it’s all about the dreamers, the inventors, and the “crazy” ones with ideas that are new and radical.  The companies that truly innovate are started by the entrepreneurs who will become artists.

Marketing in the digital world is a game, you use your smartphone and that’s your gamepad–your remote control.  Industries everywhere are being disrupted–from the hotel industry being taken on by AirBnB, to the restaurants who are using YELP to inquire about waitlists.

But the best way to make it in the digital world is by helping people.

All of these companies from Apple to YELP are expanding the realm of what is possible in the real world.  They aren’t playing a game that makes you feel good for a few minutes like Atari.  They are literally helping you to streamline your life, saving you both time and money.

We’ve created a society that idolizes gamification. But in order to get better at the game, you need to become the best version of yourself first.

We all have a virtual character, the “second self.”

The Second Self

Our second self is the self of our media/digital image.  Or, in other words it’s our “online self.”  This is what I help my clients to really specialize in–navigating the digital world.

For entrepreneurs, this is your “company’s image,” but not the company itself.  This is the realm of its reputation, it’s branding, and it’s “character.”  The future is all about becoming notable both in society, and then the next level after that is helping mankind.  That’s exactly what Elon Musk is doing.

When you help enough people get what they want, you get what you want. That’s how you help billions of people, that’s why you become a billionaire.

“Ready Entrepreneur One”

The game in the book “Oasis” is like being in the Google, Facebook, Instagram environment that digital entrepreneurs have become obsessed with.  I mean, when you can put in $1,000 and make $2,000 with Facebook ads it’s sort of a no-brainer.

Technology has become the ultimate barrier to entry in the entrepreneur’s journey.  Whoever can navigate it the best, and leverage it–is going to win time and time again.

In essence, this is augmented reality.

We are creating brands that are judged by the number of followers we get.  Comments are rewarded with social shares, and even articles are being rewarded for the number of times they get reposted.  It’s kind of crazy, because everything is being gamified.

Everything has become point based.  Don’t believe me? Look at Reddit, or your site’s current ranking based on Google.

In some ways, this reflects the hierarchy of real offline life.  However, as we redefine the American Dream, we have to learn to be interdependent–to work with others and to use those interactions to help us grow our own brands.

Entrepreneurs have been helping each other for decades, in this new online world it’s even more important.  For example, launching courses becomes exponentially more powerful when you have JV affiliates.  Spreading the word about email, helps when you join groups on social media sites such as LinkedIN or Facebook.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to model others who have become successful.

Hire an industry expert who can teach you the ropes of updating your content and embracing the jump to the digital world.

The world needs your business.

Are you ready Entrepreneur One?

So how do you succeed in the Digital World?

Learn to Play in Different Environments

Master everything there is to know about working in Google Search Environment, finding the ways to leverage the algorithms and get your content and websites to the top of the list.  Learn how to get major traction on Facebook, and make sure you know the constantly updated algorithms that go along with Facebook ads. You need to learn how to be strategic about your moves, and make sure that you aren’t breaking their terms of service–otherwise you can lose your page and all of the followers on your profile. Remember, the smartphone is like a window into the digital world and it helps you see further into the future by connecting you with people who are on the edge of their fields. It’s amazing how similar the world of entrepreneurship is to that of Ready Player One.  I mean we are all searching for the best conversion rates on Facebook adjust like the characters in the story are frequently logging in to search for treasure.

The Smartphone is the new TV

I realized this five or six years ago, and knew that it was what I needed to focus on with my consulting clients who are entrepreneurs. Everyone is able to create content, so why not leverage it to win the game? When you are using your smartphone, you are tapping into someone else’s inner circle, their intimate space and that can be tremendously powerful in influencing them to follow your brand, or support your cause.

You’ve bypassed the chances of them ignoring you, since it is front and center.  A phone vibrating in your pocket is incredibly challenging to ignore.  Just look at the graphic above! These technological advancements are designed for us to create the reality that we desire, and to make it easier for us to become the entrepreneurial heroes that we deserve to be.

Entrepreneurs Are the Way to Change

Entrepreneurs can adapt to gamification by treating our own technological advances as the medium to create.  By making strides to change the world, you can not only enhance yourself, but you can become a more creative problem solver.

Author and game designer, Jane McGonigal, discovered that gamers are able to exert tremendous amounts of problem-solving effort in her book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World.  In her viral Ted Talk she explains that the effort that children and older gamers put into learning how to play games, is nearly as much time as they spend at school!  She believes, and I concur, that the more addicting games become–the more we need to incorporate them into society.  Gaming can be used to change the world by making it easier for people all around the globe to think more creatively about solutions to real problems.

However, I’d go on to add that it’s not just games that makes it easier to solve global problems–it’s the ease of social media, blogging, Youtube videos, and dozens of other apps and services that allow entrepreneurs to work better.  Entrepreneurs are the real movers and shakers in society.  They take their dreams and instead of finding a job that compliments their skills and hands them a paycheck, they find ways to create their own work and make it profitable while serving a purpose.

Welcome to the Digital Age.

Welcome to the Entrepreneurial Renaissance!

Are you Ready Entrepreneur One?

 

Image credit: JAAP BUITENDIJK/WARNER BROS