I may have mentioned this in passing once or twice before: I don't actually like technology. I'm not a gadget person. I don't see why I need to upgrade my Blackberry to something more "open" or "current." I'm not the first to rush into the latest social media Web site and I still can't figure out how Google Wave is going to revolutionise the way I communicate. What I do care about is making technology accessible to people who are currently cut out of the arena. Whether it's fear or finances or some other barrier, I am passionate about leveling the playing field for people who feel left out. Last night I got to spend a little bit of time with two others who are also passionate about making their industry accessible.
When you think of inaccessible professions and hobbies I'm sure there are a lot that come to mind. Last night I got to spend an evening with my IP/trademark lawyer, Megan Langley Grainger, and wine and social media expert, Gary Vaynerchuk. Both have an unbelievable ability to make their topic of passion accessible to those around them. They use the English language when talking about their passion. They care deeply about the people who come to them for help. They know how to share their passion in a way that makes you cheer for them as they cheer for you.
In case you've never heard of Gary Vay-ner-chuk ... he has an online wine show, Wine Library TV. Every week day he publishes a new 10-20 minute show where he tastes and rates a few different wines. Do I watch every episode? No. But I do dip in from time to time and always enjoy what I do watch. I watch a litle bit because of the wine, but what really keeps me coming back is my fascination with Gary's personal brand. He has transformed his family business into one that is 20 times the size of when he first started.
In his talk last night Gary referenced his ability to see emerging trends and profit from them. He passionately shares his knowledge for "free" on his site (free as in beer, or wine in his case) but has also managed to grow his business by understanding that people like to have a way to give back. He calls it the "thank you economy", others have called it The Gift. It's interesting to see how popularity and success are tied to our ability to consume and reciprocate through payment. I think there are lessons for the open source world on how to be successful by making our passion more accessible.