Focus on the Future

“It’s not about memorizing information and getting a lifetime job anymore.” ~ Larry Langs

That statement sums up why it’s so important to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. I always say that my engineering degree, more than anything, trained me to think strategically (about everything!). Of course, certain formulas are drilled in my head forever (shout out to Ohm’s Law), but ultimately I know how to find solutions to problems while having access to minimal information. I’ve built my career using that skill set. It’s the ultimate competency required to “build something from nothing” as so commonly recited by the startup community. Particularly among those in STEM careers, there’s no lack of talent with this skill set. As an advocate for increasing the number of students who pursue STEM majors and careers, I use this information to encourage them and incite optimism about their futures as they begin to understand that it’s not about memorizing formulas, but the application of the information learned.

Mr. Lang followed up his statement with this:

“Being able to pivot and constantly adjust is the core competency of the future.” ~ Larry Langs

The speed at which technology is changing the world is unprecedented. The internet is the greatest invention of our lifetime, enabling abysmal access to opportunity, relationships, information, and innovation. It’s difficult to keep up with all the new technologies and endless solutions to a single problem. A software created today could be outdated by the end of the year. For example, a better, quicker, easier solution to the same problem could be introduced overnight utilizing artificial intelligence and natural language processing devices or a wearable device, minimizing the novelty of software introduced 8 months earlier that solves the same problem. That’s why I always advise startups to build their MVP quickly (but only after proper customer discovery!), utilizing existing technologies and open source code as much as possible. If you take too long perfecting a software for a yet-to-be-proven business model, it’s likely to become irrelevant before gaining any traction. In the beginning, you’re testing the market and the functionality of your solution, monitoring how your customers engage with the software. Once you receive feedback, you’ll need to make changes to your product (many!) anyways, so it’s wise to avoid over-developing product features and remain agile in your approach.

“Make sure that whatever new thing you’re working on is attached to something that has an accelerated future.” ~ Larry Langs

*Drops mic.

I had the pleasure of noting Mr. Lang’s quotes because I attended Flashpoint’s Tuesday Night Speaker Series at Georgia Tech this week. If you are unfamiliar with Flashpoint, it’s a first-of-its-kind startup engineering studio on Georgia Tech’s campus that works closely with founders utilizing methods of behavioral economics and startup engineering. It’s led by Dr. Merrick Furst, a Distinguished Professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, former President of the International Computer Science Institute at Berkley, and a former professor and Dean at Carnegie Mellon.

Flashpoint is preparing for it’s annual Conference and Demo Day to be held at The Historic Academy of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. It’s free to attend and tickets can be reserved on Eventbrite. If you attend, you can meet and network with more amazing minds like Dr. Furst and Mr. Langs!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. I am Monique Mills, the Principal of TPM Focus. As the Principal of TPM Focus, my goal is to help new entrepreneurs build a sustainable business on a strong foundation. I’m known to assertively speak on topics I’m passionate about and this is one of many.