As I passed the lines of lottery
hopefuls last Friday afternoon — the jackpot
was at $540 million — I couldn’t help but
chuckle at the sheer volume of suckers that
would be left holding a losing ticket. After all,
if more people enter, doesn’t that lessen your
But here’s a painful truth I don’t like to admit:
I will never win the lottery. The people
who win the lottery and become fabulously
wealthy do so because they believe they can
win the lottery. Winning requires a core belief,
and the more folks that believe, the bigger
You gotta believe.
In many ways, that was the essence of the
“Breaking Through: Innovating Cable TV” event we hosted
last week in midtown Manhattan. Transformative change
doesn’t happen until first someone believes it can.
Innovat ion is on the tip of every tongue in the
cable industry these days. The Society of Cable Telecommunications
Engineers is focused on innovation
as it tries to bridge technologies so a volcano of devices
can all talk to each other. Comcast CEO Neil Smit has
committed to rolling out new products and services as
soon as his team can think them up.
And Peter Stern, chief strategy officer at Time
Warner Cable, sketched a future in which viewers’
most-desired shows would play on TVs in
order, much like the music service Pandora.
Multichannel News recognized Time Warner
Cable last week for innovation — not just on the
technology front, with Start Over, Look Back
and TV Everywhere, but in packaging too, with
its TV Essentials.
Despite those efforts, our keynote speaker,
John DiFrances, ruffled feathers when he sternly
warned the crowd, “You are standing on a burning
platform,” in effect, reminding the audience
that with an onslaught of new competitors and
new devices in a maturing video market, they
had no choice but to innovate.
After listening to Peter, other strategists, engineers and
a great panel of veteran headhunters, you begin to understand
it’s not enough for employees to want to be innovative.
Desire without action is inconsequential. Innovation
does not always come top-down — nor does it always
come bottom-up. And it hardly ever comes when people’s
vision is clouded with pessimism.
It only comes if everyone believes.