Despite last week's venomous post, the Banff TV Conference was far from all bad. Met a lot of great people, reconnected with a whole lot more, and, most importantly, was made to think on my feet by a very curious question-asker.
In the oft-awkward Q&A postscript to a speech or panel session, getting the first question asked is a task akin to pulling teeth from an un-anestheseized (is that even a word?) Hell's Angel with a needle-nosed pliers. But after describing my pioneering history with Just For Laughs, Airborne Mobile and TXT-TV, someone mercifully raised his hand and challenged me with this astute query:
"HOW DOES ONE FIND THE NEXT BIG THING?"
Hmmm...an age-old mystery second only to "What's the meaning of life?"
A foolproof route to the Next Big Thing would be worth billions, perhaps even trillions, so I had to answer wisely. And in all modesty, I think I did when I blurted:
"TAKE THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE."
Here's what I've learned over the years--you never know. You never know what the next hit product is, or how well your show will do, or how much your house will sell for, or what your kids will be when they grow up...never mind predicting the Next Big Thing.
And here's what I also learned over the years--what most people THINK will be the Next Big Thing usually isn't. And if everyone seems to agree on a "can't miss," chances are that it will.
Hence my answer.
There's no guarantee, but history is filled with stories of defying the non-believers. It's a tough road to travel, but if people don't understand, don't agree with, don't see the future in your idea...there's a good chance that you may be onto something.
Remember the objective of the questioner--find the Next BIG Thing. There are hundreds of thousands of middling successes; things that incrementally improve or change the status quo.
But for the BIG win, you've got to risk it all, and go down a rocky, shrapnel-strewn road where there's a knock-down fight, not a well-lubricated fun-house slide with well-wishers patting you on the back as you make your merry way down.
Have fun...and pack armor.