Updated: Jun 21, 2020
“The masses (by definition) aren’t pleased by the new; they are pleased by what others think.” -Seth Godin, business author
If you were told that the state of ‘Nebraska’ is an idea - a concept - you may not understand. You could misinterpret this to mean that the state is less than real – nebulous, without reality, without purpose and without ‘motive action.’
It takes reflection to grasp the value of an idea.
But think about this: your own physical image is the materialization of your idea of yourself within the properties of matter. Physicists have told us this. The initial power and energy of that idea of yourself is what keeps your image alive.
Ideas, then, are far more important than you may realize. If you can accept the idea that your own existence is multidimensional - that you are connected to infinite probabilities - then you may catch a glimpse of what is behind the word, “Nebraska.”
You’ll understand then why it’s very tough to explain the ‘Nebraska concept’ in words that inspire today's young buyers and recruits.
That is why the new word, “NEWbraska™”, is effective. It is just familiar enough to keep our idea of our state alive while opening us up to an infinite variety of possible identities and business innovations. By using the word, “NEWbraska”, the state now becomes connected to ‘all things new’ – a breathtaking expanse of innovation, change, risk, experimentation, failure, rapid learning, glory, technology, victory and resolve in hyper-connected industries and communities.
NEWbraska is a story of beginnings that would appeal to our pioneer forefathers. To them, Nebraska was, indeed, an existential idea with multiple probabilities, an idea that came to them in dreams. These dreams didn’t exist apart from their strenuous daily existence; they were intermingled at a psychic level with humble, tangible tasks, each of them being symbolic.
At one level, these pioneering tasks were mundane. At another level, they were ideas of unimaginable magnitude.
And here we are today, sitting in one corner of the universe next to one letter of the alphabet – a small “W” - that has been waiting to transform us into a living parable of early-morning freshness and compelling possibility.
With a W carefully placed in the first syllable of our state’s name, we can be understandable, but also emergent and pioneering in a different way from our ancestors.
All of these high minded ideas about our internal reality ignore one component that has external. economic importance. Nebraska needs more well-educated, tech-savvy people; they are the bait for big fish employers, big fish budgets, big fish salaries and big fish tax revenues that keep bridges, roads and schools intact.
In the past, the state has wooed these people with logical, tangible pleas and ploys. We are still losing 3000 young people per year because policy makers and CEOs don’t understand what Nebraska’s natives are escaping from: sameness. A status quo mindset in our state's business sector.
College professors have infused our youth with an appetite for new challenges, new strategies, new titles, new cultures, new values. new products and new bonuses. "New" is the carrot, tuition repayment is the whip.
Most importantly, these young recruits crave meaning. (This is why philosophy is the second most popular course at Harvard behind “Introduction to business.”) They are surrounded by technological bells and whistles, but they are isolated psychologically. They see an environmental, viral and perhaps a nuclear emergency ruining their lives and wonder how to cultivate an internal buffer, a stable sense of “OK-ness.”
They are too distracted by their phones and burned-out by their work-life to figure it all out.
The anxiety is real. They are marrying later and having fewer children because of this complexity. Research documents rising rates of addiction, domestic violence and mental duress. One out of every five young men has contemplated suicide!
Employers don’t want to wade into this philosophical morass. Managers are focused on efficient project management, reliable suppliers and predictable cash flow. (This mentality is left over from the industrial era when bigness was everything.) They simply want to return to the pre-Covid-19 operating paradigm. But many are being pushed into discussing ‘higher purpose,' social responsibility or racial diversity with their apprehensive employees. Most of those conversations go nowhere. As a result, 43% of young workers are planning to leave their employers within the next two years. The pandemic has accelerated these trends.
In the face of all this 'stuckness,' the word ‘new’ has great importance – even when it is sandwiched into the name of a state for marketing purposes. The visions and inspirations associated with NEWbraska increase the vigor and intensity of employees’ private dreams. They know instinctively that in this crazy world, “newness’ must be a part of every company, every career, every product line, every business dialogue.
Young workers sense that newness is the ‘great giving’ behind all dimensions of work, all dimensions of living. It’s all part of a pattern that was started by our great, great, great grandparent-pioneers in the late 1800s.
‘New discoveries’ were part of everything then. Next came applied creativity and innovation, then eventually, success. Then came industrial systems which optimized success. Then came digital systems which optimized success (and profits) still further. All this 'success' eventually fossilized into a ‘dry-bones-culture-of-routine.' Today, mindless routine has little appeal to young workers who crave high impact projects built around 'quantum' ideas. - and rightly so.
As we begin the post-pandemic chapter of business activity in this state, one three-word principle must become the prime moving force:
"New is now!"