2016 has just passed; we can sum up three “black swan” events during this year:
On March 15, AlphaGO beat the smartest chess player of the world, Li Shishi.
June 24, the British held a referendum, decided to come out of the EU, many people did not expect that.
November 9, unexpectedly Trump was elected president of the United States.
These are the three well-known black swan events of 2016. In addition to these events, let’s talk about others that are related to entrepreneurs. An obvious feature of the year is that boots are flying in the sky, too many things happen, we cannot see them clearly, it was like history in the making. Because the macro environment is uncertain, many people feel at a loss, but there is a class of people that will not feel that way; that is our entrepreneurs.
In the world of entrepreneurs, there are only two things: problems to be solved, and methods being tried. These two things put together is called “opportunity”. We have to redefine what is an entrepreneur, three conditions: as long as he is trying to constantly improve his awareness of the world, to achieve an update of collaboration, to pioneer in the new frontier of human civilization, he is doing an unprecedented thing.
All of these people, whether he is a migrant worker, or a freelancer, and whether he is working for a company, or for his own self, we call him an entrepreneur. As Mr. Zhang Ruimin once put it: “An entrepreneur is someone flying an airplane falling off the cliff because of a mechanic failure. He has the ability to control the plane, fix the problems, and then fly up again in the new direction.”
The first black swan: “time battlefield”
For me in 2016, there was a particularly shocking moment, that day I saw these words by Wang Weigang: “with limited time divided by infinite information, the result is zero.”
Because each person only has 24 hours a day, a little time, you can spend your hours on your phone or internet tools, or to pay attention to other things of the world, but time is a fixed pool. When I realized this, I found that I had seized the first black swan in 2016: time is a battlefield.
Inspired by this, I made a concept called “National Total Time”, GDT. The concept of national total time, which does not fluctuate as much as the gross national product, is almost a concept of a fixed amount. Of course, the state has been trying to increase the total amount, for example, by encouraging people to have a second child. However, the data of the past few years show that the average Chinese spend on the internet 26.5 hours a week, this number basically is stabilized, and hard to make a breakthrough. So assuming that China has 1 billion Internet users, assuming that every day on the Internet we spend 5 hours each, for Chinese market, the total national time is only 18250 hours. This is the pond we can count on for the total amount.
In 2016 Zhang Xiaolong, the prominent product manager of WeChat, said these words like a God: “WeChat has basic values, a good product is use and drop, it does not hold the user’s time”- but today we have exactly the opposite judgment. Because every industry should know: consumers pay for your product not only with money, but with time. Time is what we strive for on this battlefield. There will be two things that are particularly valuable in the future: first, is to help others save time. Second, to help others save time and waste it again on more beautiful things.
Second Black Swan: “Service Upgrade”
One day I met Zhang Yiming, founder of Today’s Headlines. I said to him, I walk in your opposite direction. I do not mean that I am hostile to him, ah, I said, you practice the so called “maternal logic”, that is, for her child, the mother will always give and give more, those things that you like. But I always feel that my business career should go in the opposite logic, the logic of the fatherly love. First of all I have to stand taller, see farther, I have to know what a good thing is, and then I will solemnly with some rudeness tell my users to follow that this is a good thing. I call it “fatherly Love algorithm “. In this algorithm, there must be a place, to offer the best service that your users do not know they are the good things. This is a new trend of service upgrade.
Over the past three decades, all enterprises in China, we are familiar with this word: shortage. So we assume that a business can do well if they have these three things: First, your productivity is not big enough, increase your productivity; Second, your quality control is not good enough, make sure your quality is excellent; Third, lower your price. We will then think that this business is a good business. However, from the time of shortage to the time of abundance, the Chinese people spent 30 years or so. We now need more entrepreneurs, or in the future a great business is: tell me what I need! Better division of labor, more professional service in your segmentation. Chinese economy is calling for these people. You will find this kind of business everywhere: Do not sell me a fitness card, ok? Send someone to stare at me, watch every meal of mine, do something to cut my fat! Do not show me samples of suits, or do all the measurements or ask me about buttons and colors … … you make the decisions and directly make my clothes for the whole year. I am willing to pay the price!
All these services are upgraded, with a rude attitude, ignoring the attitude of my needs, directly give me the result – that is what I want. In a world where consumers do not know what they want, it’s a big chance in 2017. See, there will be such a business, they will not lure the market with low prices, they can easily make a profit. They provide you with something that money cannot buy, so there is no marketing problems.
They do not believe in any knowledge, they don’t know what is surplus, or what a shared economy is. Shit!
Good things, good service, they should make a profit, why share for free? Professionals provide professional services; their leaders should earn a decent income and satisfactory profits.
Next, I have to give an example of what we do. When we launched our app “Dedao” in 2016, we seemed to act against the trend of time and asked our users to pay for our knowledge. In essence, I find that in all areas of knowledge dissemination, people seem not to provide services, but products, such as the publishing Industry; does the publishing industry sell products or services?
Products of course, books. After a book is sold to you, their service ends. As an editor, I don’t care about the rest. I only care, the moment you pick up the book, you make the decision to place an order or not. Look at another industry, the media industry. Is the media industry serving you? Of course not, they are serving the advertisers, they want only your time. Let’s look at education, is education a service? What is his service? Why they have the right to hold our graduation certificate? Why send a counselor to watch our daily life?
Education is essentially a system born out of a modern society, it is not at all a service industry. For over two hundred years, shouldering the responsibility of delivering knowledge to the public, there are these three industries. But I think that now there is an opportunity, that is, to provide knowledge services. A better service has a potential for increase in the market.
The third black swan: “intelligent revolution”
For the third black swan, we focus on talking about artificial intelligence. The intelligent revolution has come quick and in a sudden. In 2016, almost all of the big companies in Silicon Valley, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, all invested heavily in this area, no matter what their main business is, they all bet on artificial intelligence.
Chinese companies do the same. Baidu is the most anxious, because we know that Baidu is not doing very good this year, right? So this year, Robin Li directly said, “mobile Internet era is over, do not play there, the next step is artificial intelligence, at which we are strong.” In preparation of this lecture, I have been able to visit the experts in artificial intelligence.
Some people say that artificial intelligence is China’s greatest “virtual character”. Who is the greatest virtual character in China? Every mother has said that person – “other people’s child” – TA, a hard to imagine and obedient but perfectly stupid child. In mid-March this year, Li Shishi played in a war against AlphaGO. In fact, Li Shishi won a round. Imagine what happened that night: Li Shishi was at an interview, ate dinner, slept, while AlphaGO lose, with no emotions at all. It is a machine; that night it played a million rounds with itself.
Chinese people feel the most tragic about this: the more intelligent is working even harder than you. Did you ever try to get up early and make a voice piece at 6:20 every morning? Of course, it is artificial intelligence. Even if you make it wake up early, work really hard, it has no complaints. This is a significant difference between machine and human. What are the so-called civilized people? What is a knowledgeable people, what are these people like?
Our education is a process of accumulation, that is, we always try to simplify and abstract for understanding of the world. From the first day of schooling, we learn words, sentences, chapters; we learn the formulas, principles, theories. We are trying to understand the world through the simplest ways, because our brain’s bandwidth is limited, because the passage of knowledge through this bandwidth is narrow, we can only employ this approach.
Therefore, the greatest principle in the history of human knowledge is called the Ocalum razor principle. Simplicity but not complexity. Tell people the simple methods, do not engage in complex things. But artificial intelligence is not the case ah. Artificial intelligence has infinite energy, ah, why should it be simple? There is no simplification in its world. My friend Dai Wenyuan told me this: the thinking habit of human is looking for simple ways while machines’ thinking habit is working with complicated things.
The fifth black swan: “cognitive tax”
There are too many internet celebrities now and we do not know many of them.
In the past, we learn about this world by learning, the process of cognition. But in a world of countless internet celebrities, we are at a loss.
Our limited knowledge makes the world slip quickly away from us, gradually out of reach.
Let’s name a few internet celebrities: Huiyi Zhuanyong Xiaomajia (app for memory) has 28 million fans on Weibo, title used for live broadcasting valued at 2 million yuan. Delicious Dajin, celebrity at Taobao, her brand of dress sells for ten million yuan on a single day, now making 100 million annually. Another celebrity, PPD Jiaomei, her online broadcast sells for 300 million yuan for 5 years. Tongdao Dashu (fellow uncle) just sold his business for 200 million cash. Another hot celebrity is the virtual character “Hatsune Future”, doing concerts around the world, with countless fans and tens of thousands of songs.
Our generation will spend the whole life shifting from the physical world to the virtual world. A group of people may share a culture, weird to most and unimaginable for many. The growth of the Chinese film market is weak, but why so many companies crazily join the business? Yes, the film companies, the game companies, producing contents, have their IP. It is not just intellectual property, to heal the consensus of the world, there is something more valuable in there!
All industries shows quietly a sense of real estate logic: consensus is extremely valuable. This is like a piece of land, only this much, get your own quick. It is equivalent to a piece of land, some say. This generation of businessmen have to give these little young celebrities so much money, to the advertisers so much money, they have no other choice! Right? Yes, they have no way but to pay this “common cognitive tax” – this is the fourth black swan.
For entrepreneurs, there are two options: the first is to pay this cognitive tax; the second choice is to play in more and more brutal cognitive wars. This involves our understanding of the nature of business, in fact, business is cognitive. With the “double 11”, Jack Ma builds a cognition for all Chinese people – “double eleven”, this awareness has been occupied by Ali, JD once a year, “double eleven” , will this practice be smart or silly? On the surface it looks very silly, because once cognition is occupied, there will be no chance for late comers, or the late comers have to pay a huge price. So now every year after the “double eleven”, JD only announces the increase rate over last year, and afraid to announce the actual sales figures.
But I think Liu Qiangdong is very smart, because through “fighting the cat”, he created for himself a new cognition and build a new understanding: “I am Ali’s only opponent”, which is very valuable in the capital market. You all know in 2016, a lot of people said bad about Xioami, “Xiaomi to die, as their mobile phone sales fell.” But the future of Lei Jun, and his phone is really tied together? Xiaomi tries to shout out a strategy: use our phone to connect all your electrical appliances, so in your home everything has something to do with me. When Xiaomi decided to plug-in with boards, suitcases, more along the industry chain, it creates a new understanding. Xiaomi is not just a cell phone, and it is becoming a “cheap and good” brand. Next year Xiaomi will be large-scaled with shops, selling a lot of things with a cognitive accumulation to let you buy.
The sixth black swan: “Community Crisis”
Practice is the only standard to test the truth, but when the truth is no longer important, the “basis of civilization” is shaken. This is one thing that all intellectuals in 2016 were awakened to. At the “post-truth” era, less people care about time, but about the position and attitude. Look at the intense quarrels that happened in 2016, and you will find a truth:
This is somehow emblematic of his relationship to history, which he regarded as decorative, richly colored, and manipulate — “the nail on which I hang my novels.”
Guo Degang and his apprentice Cao Yunjin had a fight in 2016, you really care about the truth? Read the number of words, read the number of gossip, the truth is still among the fog. You are actually shown with two accounts: apprentice is ungrateful to his teacher or the strong shall not bully the weak. You only choose a position; there is no truth. In the past we believe that cognition originates from the facts, but cognition is now a fact that it is not the fact extracted from other facts. The existence of those entities that we must deal with is a fact in itself.
When all kinds of ideas are justified, you will find that the fifth black swan is taking off, called “the community crisis.” In the past, human beings used a variety of ways, strong ties were formed by the community, but in the Internet age, mobile Internet, followed by the era of artificial intelligence, we will find that these ties are one by one to weaken, or even collapse. Community is a cornerstone of human civilization; in our human history, different generations of people are not the same. Born into a community, you can rebel, you can escape, you can rebuild, but your mind is spearful, your fate is stable. This generation has been thrown into a time of torrents; you need to build your own community.
After two and a half years in business, I am deeply aware of one thing: entrepreneurs should take the initiative to assume the responsibility of establishing the community. We entrepreneurs are misunderstood in certain areas:
First, the entrepreneur is always in the wrong, we shall never make it this life. Second, entrepreneurship is in the vacuum, no one tells you what is right, what is wrong, or where to go. Third, “an entrepreneur is an eternal fugitive.” More than two years ago, we stepped into the capital market, then it becomes a must to be listed in the stock market. In the past our most important thing is to make money, but now the capital market not only wants you to grow, but sustained growth, grow faster and faster; when you are in the pursuit of growth, you will find that the investors want more-than-expected growth. … … This is a no end of the escape; this is our destiny as entrepreneur.
Fourth, “we are forever defeated.” For any industry, there shall be a calibration. What is the height of your life? What is the pride of your time, that peak? For us entrepreneurs, that is your final resting place, in other words, when you die, or when you retire, if your business is not up, if your career is not in the rise, you are a loser.
As an entrepreneur, we have something that others cannot understand: the unique fate, entrepreneurs are a community. We can use a number to calibrate the past year and the next year. 2016 has only the last minute left; 2016 has its own progress bar. You know that in 2017, we hope to push it to become bigger. As long as the progress bar becomes bigger, that is, our lives grow up. As Shakespeare wrote, “All past are prelude.”
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