Scott Scantlin’s new book The Relevance Gap is a much-needed aid for anyone who wants to make sure they won’t be left behind as we move into the third decade of the twenty-first century and beyond.
Scantlin begins by defining the relevance gap as “the distance between where you are and the speed of the world changing around you.” If we don’t keep up with how the world is changing around us, we will be left behind. For most of us, that means staying on top of ever-changing technology, but it is more than that. It is realizing the skills you already have that you can evolve and use to stay relevant as the world changes around you. Scantlin once asked his ninety-four-year-old grandmother what her secret was and she replied, “Stay away from senior living facilities and never stop moving. When you stop moving, you die!” Scantlin reminds us that the same is true in our career-we are either expanding or contracting; there is no in between.
Scantlin spends considerable time discussing how the world is changing and how the younger generations are driving that change. He discusses how Millennials and Gen Z, unlike earlier generations of consumers, are not driven by survival or the need for extreme wealth, but rather, they want to belong to a community and make a difference in the world. We need to keep up with them by adapting to their communication preferences (they’d much rather text or use social media to communicate than talk on the phone or have an in-person meeting), and we need to get behind the products and services that serve the causes they support. As Scantlin says, “By 2020, Gen Z will account for about 40 percent of all customers, and they’re prepared to speak with their dollars.”
Doing things the old way also will no longer work in the future. A perfect example is how taxi cab companies are suffering in the wake of Uber. Scantlin states: “The future of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and blockchain does not belong to big business; it belongs to the creators of disruptive innovation who make things simpler, easier, and more affordable. For example, Netflix owns no movie theaters, Uber owns no taxi cabs, Airbnb owns no hotels, and LegalShield owns no law firms, yet they are dominating their market categories. What do they all have in common? They are disruptive, technology-based companies that connect the consumer to the product through a mobile app.”