Solving Our Biggest Problems Begins With You And Me


I was watching Wired magazine's Chris Baker the "Angry Nerd" rant about how TV Networks Are Running Out Of Original Ideas (see clip below). His rant confirmed what I think and write about often, resulting in this post (thanks Angry Nerd). You see solutions to our biggest problems lie not in repeating what we've done but in doing new things. Without embracing this idea, many things (even television content) will probably get worse before they get better.

As the Nerd points out, more and more television represents remakes of existing story lines, often based on public domain plots which networks can use royalty free. I particularly liked Baker's comments on Disney's content strategy. It reminded me of Lessig's view that big media dinosaurs are trying to control the Internet.

What you see in television is what you are seeing in every industry every day: a battle between the status quo, which seeks to wrench ever nickel out of existing assets, models, and ways of doing things; and a group of new leadership that believes the status quo is the problem so it must be undone. 

Put this in context: only 14% of US parents believe their children will have a better life than they do. Personally I think much of our world today suffers from an overdose of Band-Aids when what we need are cures.

For hundreds of thousands of years humans lived in a local, linear world focused on survival. The degree of change was minimal, until now. Survival based on a slowly changing world is in our DNA and it leads to us not giving the level of thought we need to about important things; from the food we eat to where we work. From governments to educational systems and from health care to fitness there is often more effort in participating in and defending the status quo even while many of our biggest problems continue to get worse. The problem with a status quo philosophy, as Seth Godin has shared, is its resulting in a Race To The Bottom . Solutions do not lie in a race to the bottom.

I'm an optimist and believe there are answers, one of the most important being for all of us to question more. Yes that means YOU (and me of course). Don't accept the status quo. Don't participate in institutions that offer the same answers, even when they are cleverly wrapped in and disguised as a new message. This takes diligence and effort but its needed to change things. A recent example that got me worked up is the First Ladies work on healthier food for children, which is steeped in special interest defending the food industry status quo. There are many other examples. Reward brands and people that are REALLY doing things differently because they represent a new way. Don't fall for Coca Cola embracing clean water for the world, when its a principal driver behind global obesity.

The good news is that in the age of the Internet and of the individual there are many groups and people who are impacting the world in a new way. Take a different approach. Be a non-conformist. Be a leader. Really make a difference. Solving our biggest problems begins with you and me. If you are one of the 86% of parents that really believe your kids will have it worse than you, get off your ass and do something about it. Believe me you can make a difference.

What do you think ? I'd love to hear your views and thanks for taking time to read the post.

Bryan O’Rourke is considered by many to be a thought leaders on technology, health club and wellness trends. He has been quoted in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit . To learn more contact Bryan here today .


Highlights From IHRSA 2012 - WOW

Wow, last week was quite an IHRSA event. I just penned a note of thanks to several IHRSA leaders because I thought this years convention in Los Angeles was really great. There were so many highlights I can't get to them all, but thought I'd share a few for those who might have been unable to attend.

First, Simon Sinek and Guy Kawasaki were super keynote speakers. A little tip for those who did not know is this; when you contribute to the IHRSA Industry Defense Fund, you get very special access to these speakers, literally almost one on one. So consider making a contribution today before IHRSA 2013.

Second, a roundtable conducted by the people from Virtual Fitness Planner and InTouch featured a panel of 5 of the leading club operators in North America. It was exceptional and the room was packed. Thankfully I got to participate along with super stars like Patch Evans, Rich Drengberg, Mark Miller and Jamie Nelson. Daron Allen and his team created an interesting exchange centered around my recent research, The 2012 Trend Report - 12 Interesting Trends That Health Club & Fitness Leaders Should Keep An Eye On - hit the link and you can get a free copy. The tools that Virtual Fitness Planner and InTouch introduced are pretty cool. Check it out.

I really enjoyed attending a wonderful dinner Thursday night, hosted by Michael Bruno, owner of Land America, Star Trac Fitness, Core Health and Fitness and StairMaster - Schwinn, among others. Michael and his wife Lin Qing are the most gracious hosts one could ever meet. Attending were the who's who of the health club and fitness industry at one of the most touted Italian restaurants in North America. My partner, Robert Dyer, was there along with the Lynne and Victor Brick, Mark Smith, Tony de Leede, Patch Evans, John Baudhuin, Ed Trainer, Sal Pelegrino and many many others.

What IHRSA would not be complete without visiting with our Gold's Gym Friends and the GGFA team. It was good to see CEO Jim Snow, our friend Tim Keightley and others. Another great GGFA event hosted by Ginger Collins. Thanks to the Gold's Franchise community.

Finally, I can't forget to mention my visit with Bud Rockhill, CEO of Spectrum Athletic Clubs, one of the best operators I've met as well as Phillip Mills CEO of Les Mills, who always has something engaging to discuss.

Well that was only a taste of the fun filled and educational convention that IHRSA 2012 was. My thanks go out to Joe Moore, Pam O'Donnell and Meredith Poppler, to name a few, and all of the IHRSA staff for their hard work in making this a memorable event. Please attend next year and let me, Bryan O'Rourke, know, what did you think about IHRSA 2012 ? I'd love to know if it you thought it was as great an event as I did.

About the author

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, and shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He consults with global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank is Chair of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee, is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a partner in Fitmarc, Integerus, Fitsomo and the Flywheel Group. To learn more contact Bryan here today .