Or. . .how to tap into the genius swirling around you!

A famous film director famously said “forget film school.”  If you want to learn to direct movies, rent DVDs and watch the directors’ commentaries, “It’s all there.”

And while not literally true, you get his point.

Chris Anderson, TED curator and WIRED Magazine Editor, talks about Crowd Accelerated Innovation in the January 2011 issue of the magazine.  He observes that innovation, or progress, accelerates as information is made more available:

As more people — thousands — post dance videos on YouTube, dance technique has improved and is evolving faster.  Because dancers can see and study other dancers’ technique.

After TED Conferences started making their talks available on the net, free, the quality of TED talks improved (presenters can now see more TED speakers and study the more popular ones, as judged by the number of online views).

Think about it.  Now you can “hang out” with many of the top people in your field by following them: reading their blog posts and tweets, or watching their videos.

Does it work?  Of course it does.  BUT, you have to do it.  It’s hard.  And here in lies THE RUB.

THE RUB (for small business marketing)

Take film school.  You show up at specific times and consume what they give you and move through a structured program (structured by people who know a lot more about film making than you do).

With directors’ commentaries you have to find them, watch them, and not just watch them but process what they’re saying.  Then put that new information into practice with your work.  It’s all on you!

Take hiring a marketing consultant.  You state your problem, the consultant does his or her thing and you expect things to improve.

Following a handful of people who know more about marketing than you do takes time, effort and discipline.  And you need to implement and test any new ideas.

The rub is we’re not used to skimming the thoughts and ideas of a community and testing them, at least not if you’re over 30 years old.

But it’s something you need to be doing.  Because maybe you don’t need to hire a marketing consultant.  Or go to film school or hire a personal trainer.  The cool thing about following people: it help’s you understand more clearly if, for example, you need to hire a marketing consultant.  Or go to film school.  Or hire a personal trainer.

Following people is a great way to find out. It keeps you thinking, exposes you to new ideas and inspires new ones.