Recently, I had an email exchange with some old friends from high school. After catching up, someone started talking about music, and we started compiling a list of “one hit wonders” from the 80s–Men Without Hats, Dexys Midnight Runners, and if you grew up in Italy this list is not complete without Tipini Fini, Sandy Marton and Tracy Spencer! The conversation inevitably turned to the downfall of today’s music (compared to the glory days of classic rock bands like Rush), and that’s where I noticed something interesting.

How was it that, some 25 years later, friends who were once passionate about music—both as listeners and musicians—could not reference a single group they liked from the past 5 years (or ten)? Was modern music really that bad, or had they all just tuned out?

I found myself feeling like the teenage son and talking about bands they’d never heard of (thanks to my own nephew and sites like Rhapsody and Spotify) like Arcade Fire, Beirut, Momford & Son and Fanfarlo, who I think are just as good and innovative as their fathers’ (and perhaps grandfathers’) bands were in the 70s.

To be fair, I don’t think my friends are no longer able to appreciate good music (I hope!). I admit that I’m also at fault for losing touch with modernity in other areas. Instead, I think it has more to do with having devoted less time to keeping up with a former passion over the years. Because they lost touch with today’s music, unfamiliarity automatically turned to criticism, and the past was assigned a mythical superiority that the future cannot match.

I’ve noticed this same phenomena in other areas of life, particularly in the business world. In many cases, you have people who have climbed the corporate ladder into management roles and, for various reasons (too many responsibilities, too little time, investment in company politics) become out of touch with the innovations and technological developments of their industry. As with my friends and music, this dynamic has anchored them to approaches, solutions and technologies that may not be modern, but in their eyes, are known, safe, superior.

Awareness of new technologies and innovations is relatively easy today compared to years past. Today, we aren’t left to wait outside the neighbourhood record store for the new Radiohead CD or for our issue of Rolling Stone (or Mucchio Selvaggio for Italians) to arrive in the mail. As with Rhapsody for music, there are many applications and outlets available that even the passive user can keep up with. Any number of options can keep us plugged in to our every area of interest.

Of course, having time to devote to what’s new or on the horizon is certainly a factor, but in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the alternative, and it can have a lasting impact on almost every area of our lives, from business, right down to your individual CV.

 

Author: Luca Scagliarini


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