Imagine a warm day. A beach. Tropical breezes blowing in from the ocean. Mountains in the distant.
You run down to the surf.
Your board is waxed and ready.
You jump through the first breaker and then stretch out and paddle.
The current is strong and your heart is racing.
Further and further out you go. You stretch to look around. The shore seems a ways off.
On you go.
The swells get bigger and bigger.
It’s almost show time.
You straddle the board. And wait …
Is this the wave?
Or this one?
Let’s go. No, not yet.
This looks better. Much better.
Let’s do it.
You stand. The wave lifts the board.
You feel its power.
Enormous power. Right under your board.
Centered on your board.
Your board is the sweet spot of the ocean. All of its eternal power is at your disposal.
Faster and faster you go.
Higher and higher you crest.
The wall is behind you. Steely blue gray with flashes of green and white and black.
The board cuts through the water like a board through water.
Like a dolphin.
The crest begins to tumble. The tube is almost perfect.
You crouch and scream from the joy of perfection.
This wave is perfect.
This wave will last forever.
This run will last forever.
I will last forever.
You are the board.
The industry you work in is the wave.
The wave is more powerful than the board.
In the U.K., 30,000 media studies students graduate every year into a fast contracting commercial media industry. Even if you’re the most brilliant person – with a first class degree from a first class university – the ride you’re going to have is going to be underwhelming. The wave has crested. The fun’s been had.
At the same time, 600,000 technology related vacancies go unfilled. Even if you’re an ordinary soul – with a so-so degree from a so-so university – the ride you’re going to have is going to be fabulous. The wave is gathering strength every second. Its crest is years away. The fun is all ahead of you.
When I was a young man – a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away – the wave I wanted didn’t want me. After the sting of its rejection faded a little bit (in truth though, never entirely), I found myself bobbing about in the water wondering what on earth I was going to do. Looking for waves.
In 1988 computers were still something of a novelty - far from cool and groovy.
For a cool and groovy guy, computers were a strange wave to ride.
I – the board – jumped on.
I somehow knew the wave was going to be big.
I was right.
Three trillion dollars big. And counting. (Not all of that mine, of course. But enough of it).
New big waves are forming all around you. Now.
Biotechnology. Artificial Intelligence. Quantum Computing. Space Exploration. Autonomous driving. Flying cars. Drones. Virtual Reality. E-sports.
Put your board on one of them. The ride will last a lifetime. Certainly a career.
Put your board – you – on them if you’re a coder, a scientist, a psychologist, an accountant, a writer, a seller, a humanist. A nerd. A cool and groovy guy.
It doesn’t matter what you can or can’t do.
Whatever your talent, your skill, your board, the wave will take you places you could never imagine.
The wave is bigger than the board.
If you’re brilliant and you chose the right wave, well, God love you.
Maybe there’ll be a building with your name on it one day.
If you’re an ordinary soul – like most of us are – picking the right wave is the difference between doing quite well (in the American sense) and quite well (in the British sense).
The wave is bigger than the board.
Remember though – picking the right wave is a talent of the board.
The board and the wave.
That is all.