Episode #101: Everything You Wanted to Know About TechNowism

My good friend and peer Carlos Dominguez (see The CXM Experience, Episode #41) has done something amazing. He has written a book. An entire book about a philosophy he calls TechNowism. For some reason, he has yet to publish it. But that won’t stop me from talking about it here, because it’s an idea whose time has come. TechNowism is a philosophy for embracing technology and adopting change. And you can learn all about it in today’s episode.

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It’s the CXM Experience. And as always, I am Grad Conn, CXO, chief experience officer at Sprinklr. And today I’m kinda excited about this particular episode actually. I’ve wanted to do it for a while. And I don’t know why I didn’t do it. We’ve had a lot of cool stuff going on. We’ve been we’ve been busy. But today I want to talk about one of my favorite people in the whole world, Carlos Dominguez.

I don’t know if Carlos actually listens to this podcast, so it’s highly likely that he won’t ever actually hear this. So I’m going to say all sorts of mushy things about him. That will be extremely embarrassing to him. And don’t even say… if you know Carlos, do not tell him that you heard this podcast. Do not tell him. Please do not tell him that you heard this podcast. Okay. Deal? Cone of silence, okay.

So, Carlos is chairman at Sprinklr. A 20-year employee of Cisco. A very good friend of mine. If it wasn’t for Carlos, I would not have ended up at Sprinklr. I would have ended up at another very interesting, highly respected tech company doing very interesting, highly respected, cool things. But he coaxed me into Sprinklr, along with John Chambers and a cast of hundreds. Let me talk a little bit about Carlos just as a person for a second. And then what I want to do is I want to talk about his book. His unpublished book. And a philosophy that he has called TechNowism, which I think is a super cool philosophy. And I think the fact that this is not published as a book is… well it’s definitely a loss for all of us. It may be criminal. But we’ll come to that in a minute.

Carlos was actually born of Cuban immigrants. His father was the Minister of Tourism in Cuba under Battista. And then when the Battista government was overthrown by Castro, had to flee the country. And never really was able to recover and never became a minister again, obviously.

He scraped out a living in New Jersey, and had a sone named Carlos, who, at some point managed to get a job at Cisco. Got to Cisco, spent 20 years there. Built multi-billion-dollar businesses when he was at Cisco. Ultimately ended up as a futurist, representing the office of John Chambers. And he’s a close confidant of John Chambers and has spent a lot of time with John. And John is, of course, one of our country’s most respected business leaders. One of our most respected CEOs. At one time was running the largest corporation in the world. Pretty amazing. I have had the pleasure and honor of getting to know John in his participation in Sprinklr because he’s on Sprinklr’s board. And he’s an important investor in Sprinklr. And it’s been a really great experience. Since we are on the CXM Experience, been great experience, getting to know John and understanding the way that he runs his life.

By the way, if you want a really great read, John Chambers has a fantastic book called Connecting the Dots. He has some great analogies in there. I wish he called the book something different. I know what he’s doing with connecting the dots, like he’s basically talking about how he connects different things and synthesizes ideas into a common platform. You know, kudos. I’m all behind that. But there’s this fantastic story at the very beginning of the book, where he falls into a stream while fishing in West Virginia. And his father screams at him from the shore “hold on to the rod.” The fishing rod, hold on to the rod, hold on to the rod, hold on to the rod. The whole time. He’s thinking, What’s he doing? Why does he want me to hold on to the rod? Doesn’t he care about me? I’m basically being swept down a rapids. And all I’m doing is holding on to this damn rod because he doesn’t want to spend five bucks to buy a new rod. That’s kind of what’s going through his head. Of course, what his father was doing was getting him to focus. Focus on something and not panic. And by not panicking, and by focusing, and by holding on to the rod, he was able to successfully navigate and survive those rapids, which someone else a few years later did not. So they were deadly. And, and he owes his father a great debt for that gift. And I think the book should have been called Hold on to the Rod. John, if you’re listening to this, for whatever it’s worth, if you have a second edition, I would rename the book.

Anyway. Let’s come back to Carlos. Carlos, very heavily involved with John, with Cisco. And was a great part of my experience with Sprinklr when I was at Microsoft. Carlos and I had many adventures. I was a big customer for Sprinklr. Sprinklr did a lot of really good things for us. We often got into situations where Sprinklr needed help from us. And so I would gently and very lovingly hold them hostage, by making them develop custom pieces of functionality that I needed, in order for me to re-up on certain contract permissions. It was an amazing relationship. Because I was able to get incredible levels of functionality from Sprinklr. And I was able to help them get through some of their business rhythms.

Here’s the secret. I mean, I don’t even know if Carlos would want me talking about this. But again, since Carlos probably doesn’t listen to this podcast, I can say whatever I want about him. First of all… here’s the mushy part. Carlos brought me to Sprinklr. Carlos and I have had a relationship now stretching back probably six or seven years now, I guess. And very deeply for probably about five years. And I would argue that in the grand scheme of all the people that have had an impact on my life, there’s a non-zero chance that Carlos may have had a bigger impact on my life than any other single person. It’s a tight one, in a way. Peter Neupert. He’s way up there. Peter had a potentially slightly bigger impact in my life. Pretty big impact because he brought me to the US. He brought me to Microsoft. Sean Nolan. Sean was the one who really advocated for me. I’m a super weirdsmobile and Sean’s the one who’s like, we need a weirdsmobile. So in I rolled. Sean had a huge, huge impact on my life and I owe a great debt to him.

But boy, within that group, Carlos is right up there. Because Carlos got me to New York, he got me to Sprinklr. And I wouldn’t be potentially alive today if it wasn’t for Carlos. And certainly I would not be in the personal situation I am in, which is great. I’ve got this amazing girlfriend who I met in New York, named Rachel, who I would never have met, if it wasn’t for Carlos. And I don’t even want to think what my life would have been like if I hadn’t gone to Sprinklr. So, Carlos, I love you. And thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Again, he doesn’t listen to this. So this is just between us right now. We’re just enjoying the fact that if Carlos was listening to this., he’d be extremely uncomfortable right now.

So now I want to talk a little bit about something Carlos wrote. And you don’t see this very often. Carlos wrote a book. He wrote an entire book. And he never published it. It sits in this near perfect state of almost ready to be published, but never quite got across the line. And so I want to talk a little bit about this book, because I think it’s criminal, quite frankly… I’m ready to send the cops over to Carlos’ house. This is an arrestable offense, to write something that’s this good and this powerful and to not let the public read it, and not let the public have it. I think it’s a crime.

Let me talk a little bit about this book. The book is… I’m not going to go into the title of it because I’m not sure the title is very good. But he has a philosophy. And this philosophy is called TechNowism. And you have not heard of that before because he never published this book. But TechNowism is not a cult. It’s not the latest craze in club music. It’s not the rallying cry of robots. It’s, it’s a positive and practical 21st-century philosophy that celebrates and embraces technology. Importantly, it’s a mindset for embracing and adopting change. And boy, we need to do that. TechNowism is a process with a set of daily practices. And it’s applicable to both businesses and individuals, regardless of whether you’re at the top or the bottom of an organization.

I think the important thing about TechNowism is that it’s an insurance policy against becoming obsolete. And I am a huge, a huge fan of this idea, right? My dad does not listen to this podcast either so I’m gonna say something about my dad right now that he probably would not respond kindly to. But this is, I think, an interesting observation. My father was, I think, a very innovative person for many years of his life, particularly when he was working in the advertising agency business in the 60s and 70s in New York, on Madison Avenue. He did some very cool things. For example, my dad invented the angled broom for O-Cedar, and Drackett Industries. I actually remember sitting in the garage, watching him saw a broom at an angle, and took it in to a pitch to the client. So the angled broom, invented by Charles Conn. And many other things, he’s a very cool guy. But he allowed himself to become obsolete. As computers came out, instead of embracing them, he was like — I remember him saying this to me — he said, I’ll use a computer when I can talk to it. Now, of course, you can actually talk to a computer today… Siri, Alexa, Google Home. But when you don’t stay up to speed, when you don’t stay up to date, it actually becomes very hard to adopt the next stage and eventually get to a point where you can’t get there.

My favorite scene from Star Trek, The Voyage Home. Star Trek Three, The Voyage Home. There’s this great scene… Four. Yeah, Four, the Voyage Home, where Scotty picks up a mouse in a late 90s computer, or late 80s computer, I think. And he goes “computer,” and he expects it to be voice activated, right? Which is what we’re getting used to now. And I think that if you allow yourself to become too far behind, it’s hard to adopt to the next level. And so I watched my father essentially become obsolete, because he didn’t want to stay up to date.

And what I love about TechNowism and what Carlos is advocating, is that the mantra is leverage the present and prepare for the future. When we think about leverage the present, there are incredible technologies and tools in the world, which we may or may not be aware of. But for every challenge that you and your company face, a solution is probably out there. From any unexpected place, disruptions can come unless you stay current on the latest trends and shifts. And there’s a lag, right. So, a lag often occurs between the general adoption of value adding applications. And the opportunity is to leverage the present to shorten the distance between the tools you need and the tools you’re using, to keep you a step ahead of the other person. And then the trick is to scan what’s available, commit to experimentation. And to learn from those experiments to adopt, or drop, what you’ve tried. It’s a continuous process of change and change management. And it takes a fair amount of effort. But I do believe that this idea of constructive destruction, and constant change and constant searching and being comfortable with failure and being comfortable with things not working is a really important part of how to stay current, and how to continue to prepare for the future.

Essentially, you’re adopting a practice of constantly learning the latest and best tools out there. It separates you from the crowd. And as an executive, you’ll spot trends that can revolutionize your business. And as an individual you stay current, and you become a change agent inside your company. And most importantly, as a leader, you can create high performance teams. I’m a big believer in creating learning cultures and high-performance teams by forcing people to think about new ideas, new trends, new ways of doing things. It keeps people sharp, and keeps people interested.

Carlos, you’ve got to publish this book. Okay? He basically talks about applying TechNowism in a few steps. The first step is to create awareness. To see the world that we live in today, pick your head up and check out the new tools and trends. And then look at the five forces that are changing the world. I’m not going to go into it right now because hopefully he’ll actually publish it. And then make a decision. The decision is, I want to make sure that I don’t become obsolete. Don’t do what my dad did and say, Hey, I’ll wait until it’s all perfect. be committed to constantly evolving, changing and staying current.

We have millennia of proof that change is the key to evolution. Survival of the fittest. There’s nothing permanent except change. And you’ve got to continuously embrace that. Do people like change? No. The CDC has this amazing study that when faced with certain death unless they change their eating and exercise habits, about 80% of people will choose certain death. Which is amazing, right? You will die if you don’t change your habits. I’m going to choose die. I’ll choose die. People hate change, right? So, how can you want change? And then how can you want as much change as you can handle? How do you create adaptability in your own personality? And how do you really embrace it?

The five-step process that Carlos outlines is scout, to look for new things. Experiment, try stuff, fail. Break it, it’s all experimentation. Measure, how did it perform. Learn from what you’ve measured. And then leverage that and take it to the next step. And then this leads to five behaviors and I’ll talk about this probably more in another podcast. But let me leave it with TechNowism. Great idea. Great concept. Carlos has got to get this out there. I’m going to basically start talking on TechNowism probably every week or so, until I have talked about the entire book. And Carlos will be left with no choice but to actually publish the damn thing.

For the CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, and I will see you… in the future and… next time.