I just got back from the Johns Hopkins Alumni Council’s Leadership Weekend. As the representative for the Hopkins MBA program, I am extremely fortunate to have access to some incredibly talented and smart people. In fact, my experience with the council last year is what provided the impetus for me to devote all my time and energy to creating the most effective and efficient tool available for students and alumni to engage, network and share experiences and common interests.
However, as brilliant as most people in the room were, the conversation reinforced a theory I have long held. I call it the ’Porsche Theory: 1960 vs. 2006.’
The Porsche analogy is this: a 1960 Porsche is an extremely nice car – no one would refute it. Its better built than current models. It’s proven itself.? However, a 2006 Porsche is superior (more people buy them) simply because the technology has evolved. They are easier to use. They require less upkeep. Could you ’soup up’ the 1960 and make a truly kick ass car? Of course, but if you haven’t sunk any money into it already, it’s a big undertaking. The corresponding theory is this: as ridiculously smart as some people are, if they don’t stay current on news and technology, the value of their smarts becomes a declining asset.
Listening to the concerns expressed at one of toady’s ? ’town hall’ forums, it was amazing to hear how one of the greatest academic institutions in the country has fallen so behind the times in terms of technology, networking and alumni engagement.
Here I was in a room with a Nobel Laureate, a politician, the head of major bank in New Yorkâ€œ the problem was not one of IQ level. The problem is a failure to keep current, a failure to have reinvented their strategies as technology has evolved.
During the meeting, someone had to explain the concept of a podcast. During the entire meeting the microphones were broken and the lights dimmed on and off. I was sitting next to a trustee.
Other highlights: one member had never heard of text messaging. Another suggested we devise something similar to ’MyFace.’
I do not write this to be critical it is simply to point out the importance of remaining current. For Johns Hopkins to really solve their alumni engagement issue they need to engage in open dialogue with younger people who have the technological knowledge they do not.
During the town hall meeting I was one of probably five people under the age of 30 and I was the only current student. For a meeting with 100 people present, that’s severe under-representation. If you want answers, you need to go to the source: expertise is niche, IQ is not. Stay current and with technology and it doesn’t matter what your SAT score was. It doesn’t matter what your grade in Calculus was. You can be of value to the ’smartest’ people in the world.