Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kobayashi Maru

My wife discovered some unused movie tickets while she was cleaning and we decided to take the family to see the new Star Trek movie. As we were driving to the movie theater, I shared memories of my childhood with my three teenagers. The first time I watched Star Trek, it was on a black and white TV. Now, we were about to see my childhood heroes on the big screen. How exciting to share this experience with my family.

Since my wife had never really seen more than a couple of episodes, I decided to give the family a little background on this group of people who had a mission to go where no man had gone before. I shared the story of the "Kobayashi Maru", a no-win scenario that star fleet cadets had to face. No matter what choice the cadet made, it led to certain death.

The day before the big test, James Kirk reprogrammed the computers so that he could win. He shocked everybody with his "creativity" and became a hero that lives on more than forty years since Gene Roddenberry created the original series.

My wife looked at me with a huge smile as we watched Kirk on the big screen. There he was on the bridge showing no signs of fear as the enemy approached. The "Kobayashi Maru" was repeated for my whole family to see and we were sitting so close to the screen that I felt like I was on the bridge as Kirk did the "impossible" and conquered his 23rd century Goliath.

One of the biggest problems that I see every day in our world is that many of us think we are facing the "Kobayashi Maru" scenario and there is no way to win. Instead of getting creative, we give up.

At Zoom, the attitude is that if there is no current way to solve a problem, we need to invent a way. Sometimes, the best way to win is to get the customer to look at his problem differently. Some customers believe print is dead. We show them how we tie new internet technology to old ideas and how our new "hybrid" is better than any other solution on the market. In essence, we are doing just what captain Kirk did...finding a way out of the "Kobayashi Maru".

The lesson I learned from these fictional characters, is that even when I am faced with certain death, I refuse to give up. I am thankful to have a wife and business partners that have the same attitude. Success comes from changing your mind-set first.

Live long and prosper!

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