Everything You Know Could Already Be Wrong

We’re all smart people – but, times change. 

Jimmy Iovine tells a story about how at the point when Interscope Records (his record label) was on the top of the world, he thought Napster was going to ruin everything. 

As a kid from Brooklyn, he knew the value of walking into a store and buying something, and also the attractiveness of stealing. In fact, he “had a feeling this stealing thing could really catch on.” 

Jimmy sold music for a living. People stealing music went at odds with his living. 

He went to see Intel founding member Les Valdez and see what he could do. Here’s how he tells the story (emphasis added):

Fear, at times, makes us protect and defend what we think we already know. But sometimes in life, you need to learn a new lesson. And between you and me, in my experience, the most intelligent people that I meet are the ones who can best articulate what they don’t know. That’s not what I did with Les that day. I just kept trying to tell him how I thought things should be.

After listening to me for 20 minutes, Les finally spoke. He looked me in the eye, and said, “Wow, Jimmy, what a nice story. But you know what? Not every industry was made to last forever.” That statement was so profound and so true and so insightful and — to me — so devastating, I nearly retired right there and then. I walked into Les’ office thinking I was Elvis, and I was gently reminded Elvis was dead.

The lesson Les taught me is one I believe is increasingly important to learn in the fast-changing world we live in today. Think about this: EVERYTHING YOU KNOW COULD ALREADY BE WRONG.

We’re all smart people. But, times change. 

Don’t be caught thinking your Elvis when in reality Elvis is dead. 

Figure out what’s next and keep moving forward. 

h/t Jimmy Iovine’s 2013 USC commencement speech

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