What if moments

What if moments…

For work this morning I hosted a webinar with media futurist Gerd Leonhard, who by the way has a wealth of information and insight to pass on and he is extremely generous in knowledge sharing on his website, slideshare and youtube channels, so do check him out. Right, I had what I would call one of those ‘what if’ moments, with some of the information he shared.I am very much an ideas person and always have been, as a child I was even called up to become a contributor on a childrens radio show, because I wrote in with all the great ideas I had to improve the show. Back then I also was extremely shy, so speaking in public on the radio was about a marathon too far out of my comfort zone… Some things do change over time! 🙂

If anything becoming a tv-expert came as a natural progression in business, so I guess that confirms my belief that people evolve and develop as they mature, just like great wines become better.Anyway I digress, just after graduating with my degree in international marketing and languages, I entered the then known ‘Coca Cola National Enterprise Competition’ with a business idea for instant online automated translations, which back then was not possible. I remember my assigned mentor continuing to tell me that my idea wouldn’t work and that there wasn’t a market for it, maybe that should have been my stimulus….

Haven’t all great entrepreneurs and innovators come across one of these?Even back then he didn’t stop me from continuing to explore the idea and I did enter the final top 20 stage of the competition, what stopped me in my tracks at the time is that I didn’t have enough funding to attract a top localisation software programmer to make it all happen. In 1997, they were firstly few and far between and the good ones cost a small fortune, which my little startup didn’t have. The best localisation softwares then were able to give a good translation, but nothing quite accurate and most of it still needed human intervention and supervision to make sure the language worked both contextually and grammatically.

In today’s webinar Gerd mentioned how media content will be instantly translated into whatever language you like it to be in the next year or 2, automated sub-titling is already underway. For those of you watching TED talks, pretty good too to see this technology in action. In 1997 I let go of the idea albeit reluctantly with the hope that in time it might be cheaper to do, but then I guess life happens and I lost the passion and connection with the whole idea in the first place. But this morning made me think, what if I had pursued it and what if it did get funding and what if I had created that technology … Nice thinking!!The fact that the idea already got enough validation to be selected for the final stages of a competition, should have given me some back-up that it had mileage and I guess I did also passionately believe this at the time, only the simple mathematics didn’t work out and I am not convinced the technology then was capable of what it can do now. It did encourage me to startup again and to achieve success in business too, so the lessons definitely helped. But….you know … what if

I am sharing this because sometimes, it is very much the what if questions that hold us back. It is easy to find those naysayers no matter where you are and what you do, they will find you as if by magic with an opinion that your project will not work. But what if there was no obstacles, unlimited funding, unlimited resourcefulness? What if success was guaranteed, would you go for it?

When I coached and mentored startups, I definitely made sure I took the resourcefulness approach as opposed to the it won’t work way I experienced, which is also why I used the get the weird and wonderful projects from Enterprise Ireland in my region, because if nobody else could make sense out of it, it came my way, which was fun and also rewarding to see their progress.

In my view, the ‘what if’ is a make or break question …
What if you couldn’t fail?
What if success is guaranteed?

I am glad for my what if moment, even if the idea has passed my passion for it, it is still well worth considering moving forward. So what is your what if?