In Disruption (oops Conversation) with Jay Samit, CEO of Sea Change International

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An American digital media innovator, Jay Samit has pioneered advancements in music and video distribution, social media, and ecommerce. Loves magic and still practices that as one of his favorite hobbies. He is the author of the bestselling book Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation. Jay talks to brandknewmag.com in this freewheeling interview.

Q: Tell us something about Sea Change International, the kind of work it does and the brands it works with?
Sea Change was at the absolute forefront in developing VOD (Video on Demand), is the pioneer in multi screen technologies, and works with the leading telecom giants including the likes of Liberty Cable, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Dish, DirecTV etc. Sea Change facilitates the sophisticated back room support that these telecom and cable goliaths need.

Q: In your experience of working with and consulting for leading organisations, what are the areas that you see that are of concern and what do you recommend doing to address the pain areas?
The bigger the organization, greater their culture of operating in silos, completely delinked from ground reality. In a sharing, collaborative economy, this old model just doesn’t work. A lot of them are struggling because they are neither able to ask or address the fundamental question ‘ What satisfies the customer? ‘ Because doing that is the antithesis of corporate culture.
The digital ceiling is not a glass ceiling and organisations and people should look at the world as a huge consumer centric software in a zen like way where solutions and needs can happily co exist, dynamically.

Q: You champion the cause/need for disruption- Since when did the compelling need for ‘ disruption’ begin to occupy your mind space?
My concern is that not very far from now there will be a need for jobs for 2.3 billion millennials and a lot of them are not going to have jobs. Economies like Greece, the emergence of factors like Isis are going to weigh very heavily on countries and continents. Some way to address this challenge is to foster a culture of technology entrepreneurship, start ups etc that will disrupt conventional business models and go onto create jobs. An organization like Uber today employs around a million drivers worldwide who need not be bossed. Hierarchy, structure, controls etc, in fact anything that restrains, inhibits can all take a walk.

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Q: Were you always inclined to write a book or you felt your experiences at mega corporations like EMI, Universal, Sony etc provided the perfect platform which normally is the driving force?
I always used to write. And I love writing. I used to be editor at my college(UCLA) magazine. I did ghostwriting for a very famous American celebrity and it became very popular. I contribute to the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis. So writing is something that I am really passionate about. The migration to writing a Business Book like Disrupt You was a natural extension of my love for writing. And just like any other writer, I did not want to let go off the fantastic game and life changing experiences and insights that I learned from my stints at EMI, Sony, Universal Studios(apart from my own first start up Jasmine Multimedia). That Disrupt You is on the best seller list and doing very well in multiple geographies is a testament to the fact that there are good take aways for readers within those pages. Makes me very happy.

Q: What has been your biggest take away from the book Disrupt You?
Firstly, for me, quite honestly, it has been a hugely humbling experience. The learning, the unlearning, the process, the journey, the destination, everything. It’s a different kind of enrichment, rejuvenation.

Secondly, when I hear from young talented people sharing their next ‘ billion dollar idea ‘, it gives me a huge high. There is incredible talent, ideas, energy and passion out there and if there can be a consistent, reliable method by which those can be tapped into, the world will go places. I am happy to be doing my own little bit in welcoming, whetting and supporting some of these mega ideas that I believe will definitely make a positive dent in our future.

Q: Are there more books in the pipeline? Would it be a sequel or would you be on unchartered territory?
Once a writer, always a writer. It’s addictive. Of course there is one. It’s not a sequel, but the attempt would be something path breaking. Having said that, pardon my saying that my first book Disrupt You is just a few months old and when I get asked when is the next one due, there is a nice, happy kind of pressure on me. Currently, am soaking in the learnings, success and experiences of the first book while parallel ideating and planning my second.

Q: With IOT(internet of Things),org, Mobile phone penetration – where do you see Digital Media, E Commerce, Content distribution headed towards?
Am terribly excited about IOT.Imagine the possibilities. The entire world has become a giant piece of software. Everything is digital. Your mortgage is digital, your credit card is digital, your music is digital, your phone bill is digital, one can go on and on and on. The reality of leading a lifestyle that hasn’t existed before has come home. Governments the world over are recognizing that. Did you know that 40% of the US Federal budget goes to IT?

Q: Which are the industries in your opinion where a massive shake up is warranted and the time is ripe for something truly disruptive?
Allow me to reword the question, we should be asking which are the industries that don’t need a shake up as most of them desperately do.
The energy sector( and the potential that solar brings to the equation not just from a sustainability point of view), education, healthcare are ripe for the picking

Q: What is the technology that excites you most?
I believe that ‘wearables‘ will change our lives forever. Imagine you reminding your grandmother in a completely different country and time zone to take her medicine. Motion sensors that alert neighbors etc etc.
Self driving cars is another thing that fascinates me. I would love to take my grand kids around and show them the entire country. Imagine moving around the country with your grandchildren with your living room, bedroom and study?

Q: Pearls of wisdom for young entrepreneurs from around the world?
Remember that most of who feature in the Forbes 400 list are self made. You need to have just two things: Ideas and Persistence.
Everything else can be hired. And just don’t give up on your dreams simply because somebody else did.

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