Transformation Group


The TG Blog

In Search of Next

This is the fourth time in 30 years that I have started a company. Each has had to do with technology and business.  Each has focused on what brands show do to flourish in changing times and most important of all, each has helped professionals and businesses figure out what to do next in changing times.

In 1987, I started SIPR. It was the first PR agency to serve only internet startups. Others in the PR business joked that I would be paid in freeware. In fact, I was paid from time-to-time with stock and that turned out to be a pretty sweet deal in more than one case.

But that wasn't the important part to me. My deepest satisfaction came from seeing tomorrow at least a day earlier than most people. I had entrepreneurial clients who dreamed dreams and had backers willing to pay the price to make them come true: Sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn't. When it didn't the same players regrouped, dreamed new dreams and off we went again.

When the dotcom bubble burst in 2001, I teamed up with Gary Bolles, who had recently stepped out as an executive of the Ziff Davis tech trade publishing empire. We started Conferenza Premium Reports. It was a subscription-based email newsletter.

Conferenza never made much money, but Gary and I got to pick and choose whichever tech conferences we wished to attend. It was at those conferences where we could put our fingers on the pulse of an industry ecosystem and get a very good sense of what was coming next in the tech industry.

We flourished for a couple of years, writing with greater depth and often better connections than many of the trade editors who competed with us. Then one day, at a conference produced by Esther Dyson, I noticed a new form of competition. Tech writers and insiders like Doc Searls, JD Lasica, Ross Mayfield and Dan Gillmor were producing content in real time and distributing it over the Internet for free. Instead of competing, the were collaborating.

It was something called blogging. Gary and I were among the first to see what was coming next to the publishing industry and we knew that Conferenza would soon be toast.

But I fell in love with what would so be called social media. I got excited and decided what I wanted to do next was write a book about what would soon be called social media.

For this I would need a partner, someone better known than me particularly in the nascent social media industry. The first three people I asked turned me down. The fourth person was Robert Scoble, then Microsoft's leading blogger. The book was called Naked Conversations and changed the career and lives for both Robert and me.

From then until now, I’ve written seven books, all critically praised and the three most successful of them co-authored with Robert who is now universally recognized as a global thought leader in determining what’s next for business in technology.

My third enterprise, also with Robert is Patrick Brewster, our self-publishing business. It is named for Robert’s oldest son and my pet dog. Self-publishing has forced us to focus on what is coming next and we have been fortunate to be right most of the time in our predictions.

Our most recent book, Fourth Transformation has been extremely well received. We think it’s the most important one we have written—or may ever write. It talks about the larges wave of change in the history of digital technology.

Mixed Reality is what is next today and it will still be that for as far into the future as we can see today. We have been studying the subject since 2011, and have spoken to so many of the pioneers who are turning their dreams into the reality of the near term future, a reality that has already begun to change Brands, retailing, education, sports, healthcare, communications, entertainment and so much more.

In forming Transformation Group, we get to follow our hearts and minds as so many entrepreneurs have been doing for Millennia: it also affords Robert and I a significant economic opportunity. We are at the crossroads f something complex and, well transformative. Every organizational thinker needs to understand it and get some guidance on how to direct themselves into this new world.

And here we are to help big brands flourish during these transformational times. 

Shel Israel3 Comments