What can Avatar teach us about timing?

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It’s late. It’s 1:32 am and I just got back from seeing Avatar. (If I need to tell you what Avatar is, you may want to just dip your toes into popular culture a little deeper.) I can’t sleep. As you’ve heard, the movie is amazing. I’ve heard it described as the Star Wars of this generation. I didn’t think of it that way. Yes the special effects were amazing and it is most definitely a game changer. But more than Star Wars it reminded me of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.

For those of you too young (or not geeky enough) to remember Dark Crystal (or Jim Henson for that matter) it was an epic tale about innocents (plural of innocent) saving the world and the balance of nature being restored. (I’m paraphrasing here since it’s late.) Jim Henson is the creator of The Muppets and driving force behind Sesame Street in the early days. He was a puppeteer who pushed the boundaries of what could be done. (His business partner is responsible for the pre-CGI Yoda.)

James Cameron waited years to create Avatar. In the process he invented a new type of 3-D camera. He is also responsible for inventing some SCUBA equipment for the movie The Abyss. As I watched the movie, I felt as though Jim Henson would have wept at what could now be done. (I think Disney would have felt the same about Wall-e.) If he were alive, I can imagine him wanting to redo The Dark Crystal.

In business/marketing, as in entertainment, timing is everything. Henson was ahead of his time. Cameron patiently waited till the right moment. Just like surfing, you must wait till the right moment to launch your business. If you launch too early, you’re thrown into the reef below. If you launch too late, you get to watch as others ride the wave in to the shore.

1 comment

  • Posts like this always make me stop and think about one question: Who is “ahead of their time” today, and will the rest of the world catch up in time for them to shine?

    PS- Love the surfing reference, think I’m going to paddle out in the am even though the water temp is a cool 56 deg.

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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