“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising; it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there.” — Billionaire Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
Winning election 2016 came down to, at least in part, the slogan of Make America Great Again (MAGA), an idea that proliferated in and was embraced by middle America and resonated with conservatives everywhere. Millions of people believed that somehow we could practically turn back the clock to the good ol’ days, conjuring up simpler times of eras gone by. For instance, the 1950s seem to be a longed-for time frame.
Along with the economic recovery from the Great Depression and our collective victory with allied nations in World War II, the great inventors in the U.S. could spend less time worrying about basic needs and safety threats and focus on making America great. The general economic stabilization and growth of the 1950s led to the inventions of an affordable version of cathode ray tube televisions for every home, the transistor radio, fiber optic cables, computer modems for military defense purposes, integrated circuits and more. Certain high-tech gadgets were just in the beginning phases of development, and production and had not yet advanced to the degree of being the norm in the workplace. Automation inventions started to slowly creep into manufacturing (one example, the seamless pipe mill) and the oil industries (closed-loop process), leading to some uproar among labor unions and industrial owners and investors. But still, memories of frustration, job loss and high-tech advancements of yesteryear seemed to have all but disappeared with the triumph of MAGA; and to those who supported that idea, the reality of any so-called disruption economy became a mirage.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has always been a leader of invention in the global economy, and conserving the past without living in the present, focused on the future, is an existence of futility. And the founders of such companies as Apple, AirBnb, Uber and Facebook all knew what inventors and creators of the past did; that progress by adapting to technology and putting it to use for convenience’s sake is the only way to proceed and that those who reject it will simply be left behind.
This week, we feature homegrown inventors and those who back innovation. They are a part of the disruption economy (on somewhat of a micro-scale), forward thinkers who look for ways to change the status quo to make life easier and less cumbersome. Ventura County regrettably seems to be stuck in a time warp, rejecting progress and change in order to keep things just as that original wave of transplants always remembered them being. That includes lack of planning to entice high-tech companies, not approving initiatives to improve transportation, failing to create a balance between affordable housing and industrial land use, and not focusing on compensating with other comparable jobs for job loss in certain industries as automation takes over. Also, retaining our skilled young adults to work in growing science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields seems to be somewhat of a low priority, at least in the grander scheme of things. But with this stubbornness, only harm can come of reluctance to prepare for a high-tech world. We can only hope that forward-thinking policy makers, inventors and investors will help advance Ventura County into the future. Perhaps master innovator Nikola Tesla said it best:
“Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life.”
The future is and always was now.