5 Big Questions on Innovation (from bpinetwork.org)
Mark Manney, CEO and Founder
I’m Mark Manney, founder of Infobeing.com. Infobeing is creating the People Economy to set you free from your job. I’m also the guy who, 10 years ago, escaped corporate office life in Seattle to travel the world, start a virtual sales agency, and make music with the band Abscondo.
After earning my BS and MBA from the University of Colorado, I spent 6 mostly miserable years in Seattle selling enterprise...
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How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?
It is tempting to say that there is no industry sector for what we’re doing, but in fairness we might compare Infobeing.com to social media like Facebook, Ello, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. These sites offer a Web 2.0 experience that is becoming obsolete for a few reasons.
Social media contributes to information overload by providing a massive amount of irrelevant information. This makes us feel physically ill. Information overload is becoming a real problem. Infobeing.com is different because it is designed so that users spend minimum time on the site and maximum time living, doing, and becoming.
Another problem with today’s social media is that there is no real mechanism to meet new people in order to easily form mutually-beneficial relationships. These sites are designed primarily for staying in touch with existing friends or, occasionally, meeting someone new in a random way. Infobeing is designed for the purpose of helping you meet the new people you need to know in order to move your life forward.
Social media leads to stagnation and inaction. It is passive. Infobeing uses the potential of the network world to create a People economy where everyone is doing what they want, what they are good at, just as they live in freedom and maximize their earning potential. This isn’t happening on Facebook.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?
Today people remain stuck in a “corporate economy” paradigm. Our most important economic relationships are with brands, corporations, and companies. The vast majority of our purchase of goods and services are with organizations.
My view is radically different. I’ve spent the past 10 years traveling the world and living mostly in Eastern Europe. Things are done a bit differently here. Relationships between people are valued most. If you need something fixed, need to hire someone for an odd job, or need some help…people look to other people. There is a massive person-to-person economy that is based on cash transactions or even “favors for favors”.
The Infobeing People Economy replicates this in the online world. We provide a new option for people to form relationships and conduct transactions for goods and services with each other. This is a radically different paradigm where we begin to trust each other and work together based on mutual wants, needs, and skills.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization's culture, and how is it being optimized?
As Founder and CEO of Infobeing, Innovation isn’t a conscious focus of mine. I don’t set out to innovate. I simply do what I think makes most sense, with essentially no regard for what anybody else is doing. This is one of the benefits of living abroad, away from conventional wisdom, for so many years.
Beyond this, I think innovation is allowed to thrive, and will continue to thrive at Infobeing, because our goal is not only to maximize profit. We are founding Infobeing as Public Benefit Corporation. We will be auditing our performance against a charter that includes 5 requirements for serving the public good. We’ll remain completely ad-free, we will improve the overall happiness of our users, we will help our users achieve greater freedom, we will strengthen the local community through direct-democracy, and we will aim to do no harm to the planet.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
I don’t care about changing an industry. I care about changing lives. People have access to amazing technology, but they don’t know how to use it to live in a better way. Infobeing is concerned with improving your quality of life in both the online and off-line world by making it easy for you to meet all of the people you need to know.
Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?
Follow your intuition. Meditate. Listen to your inner-voice first and let it drown-out any voices of conventional wisdom. The purpose of your life is to bring your unique perspective to the world. Failure to innovate is failure to believe in yourself and act on those beliefs.
What is the next step beyond Web 2.0?
Outside of the venture capital community, today’s best and most radical ideas are getting shrugged off. Intellectual breakthroughs and creative pursuits, no matter how brilliant, are drowning in a sea of information overload and big data. Yet there is this one exception; the startup. This is why, as a creative intellectual and an artist, I am foremost a startup founder.
Not long-ago, rock bands were still being funded by labels because new music still excited us. Now new technology excites us and it is the startup that gets funded. The best startup has the power to change the world. If this potential to change the world is precisely what brings the big financial returns, then let’s think even bigger!
Web 2.0 happened 10 years ago and it’s time for another significant shift. I can point to an example of what’s coming next because I’m building it. The next phase of our online evolution goes beyond social media. Now begins the era of the alternate economy. It is entirely possible to create a virtual economy, featuring a virtual currency and even an element of direct-democracy, on a global scale and with minimal funding.
Consider the failures of today’s economic system. Most of us remain stuck in an outdated employment model. A job is one way to earn a living, but jobs come at a great cost to your personal freedom, time, and energy. There’s nothing inevitable about earning a living through a series of monogamous commitments to one company at a time. Jobs limit your potential for personal growth and only tap into a fraction of your capabilities. We can do better!
The social networking potential of the online world offers you that chance to create something better. Why not create a system that allows you to form mutually-beneficial relationships with new people? With a systematic way to meet and work with others based on mutual wants and needs, you can grow, gain experience, and ultimately earn more income just as you live in freedom. This concept can be the core of an alternate economy and we can call it the People Economy. While today’s Corporate Economy is structured around the relationships people have with companies, the People Economy emphasizes dynamic economic relationships between people with compatible wants and needs.
In this new People Economy I am proposing, users will be connected to all the right people. We can also plug-in a virtual currency to facilitate economic transactions in this virtual economy. Would a currency that is directly tied to the needs, wants, talents and skills of every participant in the economy not have the potential to strengthen against real-world currencies? A currency backing a better economy is simply a better currency!
Alternate Economies are about creating integrated, holistic systems to improve the way we live and work. As we listen to so many people complaining about or protesting governments and corporations; do we not recognize a market demand? Do we not see this deep dissatisfaction as a market opportunity to offer them what they want? What these frustrated people of the world (our customer base) are really asking for is nothing other than a better life! Our competition (corporate and government institutions) are too self-serving to accommodate their needs. We, on the other hand, can!
Today’s entrepreneurs have yet to understand that we are the ones responsible for creating a better world. No other group is willing or able. Each day we continue to tinker with million dollar ideas, we miss the trillion dollar idea that will improve the lives of billions.
Investors, too, have failed to comprehend the scale of this opportunity. The startup community has become rigid, overly-confident, and too dependent upon conventional wisdom. This has led to a failure to see the forest for the trees. Let’s go somewhere new. Let us create a new forest!
The entrepreneur and the investor may soon come to understand that we (and we alone) have the power to transform the world. No amount of success or influence is greater than in founding and enabling an entire economy. To build an alternate economy is to seize the opportunity of a generation.
Reprinted at bpinetwork.org