Old dogs learn new tricks!

Standing out in a crowd of e-business executives is no easy feat, especially when the presenters and audience range from new companies that have quickly sprung into the industry limelight, to some of the old dogs in the shape of longtime industry veterans who are trying to recast themselves in new roles and demonstrate that they "get it".

A scan of the resumes of the speakers at last week's AIIA breakfast briefing revealed tremendous diversity in companies, in careers, in cultures, in education and in previous work experience.

The speakers by and large all highlighted how they "think big" and "act quickly" and also "act daringly".

In a IT business world that is full of horror stories, IS bashing, project overruns, blown budgets, stories we're all sick of, it's time we tooted our own horns. The industry's doing a great job and the world needs to hear about it. We're adding value and bolstering companies's bottom lines. Information technology is the best thing to happen to this country, and it's high time somebody said it.

"Man is most uniquely human, when he turns obstacles into opportunities".

Eric Hoffer - an American Philosopher

That pretty well sums up the key ingredients for determining if Australian entrepreneurs have a fighting chance -- not whether they have stunningly bright ideas; not whether they have the best and brightest whiz-kids on the founding team, and not whether the company has deep-pocket funding from the hottest venture capital team.

Ingredients for success emerged and included vision, culture, passion, marketing savvy and, yes, naturally good old-fashioned luck. As well as listening to everyone and taking advice from experts. But at the end of the day it was their decision and no one else's.

These founders and co-founders came from young Australian companies with the wonderful names of Bullant, dstore, Fishtech, Amicus, Start and Marketboomer. Dan Phillips, the executive director and head of Macquarie Technology Investment Banking, in his role as guest MC opened the session with insights into the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Australian (digital) young guns.

In today's workaday world, people talk about the Internet with a fair amount of interest and also a decent amount of scepticism. While we're aware of the new economy millionaires, few of them yearn to be in the new economy business world. The Internet's lack of ordinary, straight forward logic is frightening to most people. Most staff in the Internet space, on the other hand (and the more successful they are, the truer this is) share few of these doubts.

As precise as the term "new economy" may be, it can be expressed just as well as the digital economy, information economy, virtual economy, network economy or any of the other dozen or so economy contenders.

These group of enthusiasts take it as gospel that, whatever the name, IT is going to revolutionise everything -- business, government, education, entertainment and whatever. All these true believers had messages to live by, such as "to win without risk is to triumph without glory"; "where there is no vision the people perish"; and "a vision without a task is a dream; a task without a vision is drudgery".

Nostalgia trip

I can't help but feel nostalgic when I think about these presentations. These people are young, somewhat raw, ambitious, and void of cynical attitudes that prevailed in the boomer generation. Their digital futures are tied to a technology barely a few years, old in a popular sense, that could easily be the most significant achievement of this decade.

All of the presenters were under 35 years old and exuded confidence, with an underlying "matter of fact" tone evident in their voices as they discussed the early successes of their businesses. It was almost as if they take it for granted.

Also surprising was that while most had left rewarding and lucrative careers, they had all left for different reasons, and not just with the specific intent of going down the street to open up shop. In fact, it took months/years before the founding partners hatched their first concept(s).

These fast-growing, innovative and award-winning companies with new technologies have some very aggressive business plans. With their freewheeling looks -- shaved heads, casual clothes, and colourful socks -- it's a whole new exciting world. Daring? Maybe, but hardly unusual these days.

These Young Guns are charged with setting their company's tone, pace and agenda, They also lead its efforts to raise funding, strike alliances and win customers. And unless the company intends to grow and flourish as a private held equity -- a rarity in the stock market-crazed Internet industry -- CEO's are expected to lead the troops to the promised land of IPO riches. Or at least into the arms of a fiscally generous suitor, or whatever. There are no limits on the word whatever. That means you can create a vision for your life that has no limits and no boundaries and is exciting.

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