To really understand something, you need to get a little dirty. It is in the weeds where you learn the most.

May 21, 2021

I released my first software package in 1990. It was called RunningCounts and it was the first-ever fitness tracking software. Much to my surprise, and joy, it was an instant hit. It was borne out of my own need to become a better runner. I’d played hockey my entire life and at 6’ 190 pounds, road racing was a challenge to say the least. All those skinny buggers had a distinct advantage.

To build RunningCounts, at first for myself, I was already in the weeds struggling to become a better runner. As a result, by the time RunningCounts became a product, it was great.

Last night in Studio 39, three talented standup comics – Brian McGuiness, TJ Del Reno and Jeff Cerulli – live streamed a show called Retro Bits on VUit. It was ninety minutes of the most fun content I have ever been a part of. You see, not only did I build out Studio 39, but last night also I ran the switcher, cameras, lighting and sound. Why? Because it is in the weeds where you learn the most. Not only that, but I also love the pressure. All of it makes me a better, more informed leader. All of it makes me build a better product.

Getting a little dirty also makes us different. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in an interview talking about the line between content creator and viewer is now very straight and short with few, if any other players in between. I always say, “This is the future. If you are a middleman, your days are numbered.” Depending on the reporter, I typically get asked “What do you mean? Give me an example.”

Sure, I say. Take last summer for example. The extremely talented comedian Michael Somerville used Studio 39 for his popular podcast Greetings from Somerville. One night his guest was the former CEO of Bausch and Lomb, Steven Robins. I set up the cameras, the lighting and the sound ahead of time. At the top of the hour, I flipped a switch, and we went live. People all over the country tuned into the live stream.

From Studio 39, Somerville went straight-to-OTT, directly to the viewer, no middleman. For fun, and to make some money, Somerville triggered a few ad pods.

The line between content creator and viewer is getting shorter, straighter and it is now including advertisers. We know that, because we are willing to get in the weeds and get a little dirty. I know you cannot shape the future unless you understand the past. You cannot shape the future unless you understand the present. All that gives you better insight, insight which will prove invaluable if you are brave enough to try and shape the future.

Get a little dirty. It will pay off.