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Technology That Changes Habits

One aspect of modern society that has greatly changed over my lifetime is how my entertainment is consumed. I'm squarely in Generation X. There is probably a wide range of generations reading this article, from Baby Boomers to Millennials - I would be surprised if we appeal to any Y's or Z's. Do they even consume opinion columns not on TikTok? That only feeds my point of how entertainment consumption changes. Nevertheless, changing of personal habits over time, through technology adoption, is a common theme whatever generation you happen to find yourself.

Changing personal habits seem to be more rapid as technology advances much quicker than it used to. For example, as a child, I was so excited for Saturday morning cartoons - the only time you could consume a wide variety of shows like Mighty Mouse or Jabber Jaws. After School, it was always syndicated re-runs of popular 60's shows like Brady Bunch, I Dream of Genie, or Gilligan's Island. In prime time, you had to plan your whole evening around when Dukes of Hazard aired, or the Incredible Hulk. If you missed it, you had to wait several months when the programming cycle turned back to re-runs. It was a real downer when you were in front of the TV at the right time for your favorite show only to find out it was, in fact, a re-run you already seen. Even as a teenager, Thursday night NBC lineup was a "don't miss" lineup of Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court. VCRs eventually allowed for the recording of your favorite shows to be viewed at another time and made movies selectable at the video store. Then DVRs allowed you to not only easily record entire series, but also shift time and pause shows in real time, which took a lot of stress out of entertainment consumption. That evolution I just recalled covered a span of several decades. YouTube only started 18 years ago and has brought another technological leap with it.

Nowadays, if you're like me, you could find yourself watching videos on YouTube at the end of the day. Or maybe over lunch or at your kids/grandkids sporting events. Personally, I've lost all interest in aired network TV and most streaming service content is mindless drivel and needless drama (with notable exceptions for the Queen's Gambit and Ted Lasso - both worth watching IMO.) YouTube is the go-to time-killer to put my brain in alpha mode to relax. At least I can be discerning on the topics and personalities I am willing to devote my time to. The YouTube algorithms are very good at recommending videos to watch, which they have predetermined based on my viewing habits. I usually take the bait...and down the rabbit hole I go for what could be hours on end. I am often quite impressed with content creator's effort to generate new and novel content. They are just normal people with a passion. They scour the digital landscape for news and clips, do their research and analysis, create compelling graphics, write their copy, expertly edit their video recordings, etc. There are even people making money with "reaction" videos were you get to see them experiencing something like a band, video game that is already played, or a popular movie for the first time. How crazy is that? Watching someone react to something you enjoy? Yet, reaction videos can garner hundreds of thousands of views and provide a paycheck for the "content creator." Crazy times indeed.

At the beginning or end of EVERY SINGLE ONE of those YouTube videos I watch, there is always the pitch to like/subscribe and comment. This plea is so they can make more money based on YouTube's compensation plan. Good for them. That's how they get paid and are able to dedicate more time to what is obvious that they like to do. I will gladly punch that 'like' button since it does not cost me anything and improves my recommendations from YouTube (e.g. people who like this usually like this...) Another thing I noticed creators saying is that the comments section for their videos drives much of the future content. Interesting. Ideas come from the audience and consumers of the content produced. That would be nice. If anyone reading this column wants my "thoughts on industry" for any suggested topic, I'd be up for responding. I would be shocked as well.

Although I'm new at "creating content" myself with writing this column, believe me, it's old-fashioned in the sense of 1.) topic selection based on experience, 2.) stream of consciousness writing for ~20 minutes, 3.) editing and 4.) more editing after marinating over some time. I carry around a small notepad to capture ideas of topics as they come to me to write about in the future. This seems to be a good process as I feel I have much to bring into the business conversation after all these years 'in and around' the paper industry. Yet, there really is no "conversation" like I thought there would be without engaging with the audience. I kind of feel like I am talking to my dog.

It is a difficult muscle to develop in solution selling, but you need to ask for input, critiques, and ultimately the "order". This is like a pulse really. Constantly taking my customer's pulse. Adjusting. Providing responses more on target or of more value. Keeping the dialogue going and showing enthusiasm. I have enthusiasm for this column for sure (both as a new writer and a long-time solution seller.) As for the writing, there is no compensation for doing it, but I feel like I can get people thinking, learning, adapting, and most importantly...understanding perspectives to remove friction from commercial relationships and to seed overall innovation in our business. My thesis is that this advances our industry overall. It bears out the incentives to do so.

In conclusion, since technology is constantly shifting our habits - personally or in business operations - it is good to leverage conversation and comments to adjust your message. We want to make sure we are delivering the right content to make our customers happy. In solution sales, you have to always be asking for the order, and if decisions are not ready, find out why, adjust if necessary or just be patient. Just like the good old days of watching network TV.

Steve Sena (stevesena@me.com) is a Cincinnati native. He obtained degrees in Paper Science & Engineering from Miami University in Oxford, OH and an MBA concentrating in Economics from Xavier University. He's worked for a broad array of leading producers, suppliers, and converters of pulp and paper grades.



 


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