Why Old Guys Rule(d) and How Groms Get It On

Grom (grŏm)

1. A young surfer, typically less than 15 years old.
2. A term of endearment for beginning surfers.

I have been pretty wound up lately with the new addition, several simultaneous projects, and a lot of recent travel so I decided to catch some slow rollers out at Doheny yesterday. It was trunk weather, with the water comfortable cool contrasted against the lightly breezy 85 degree ambient temperature under crystal blue skies. Just the ability to know that you can go surfing is in of itself a form of therapy, and to be able to actually bust out on a weekday afternoon . . . ahhh, nothing like the “SoCal vida réal

Since it was a mid-afternoon session at Doheny, there were a lot of groms in the pond. A “grom” is the nickname for the young kids learning to surf. Living in classic SoCal surf waters, a lot of these “kids” can actually really shred. Groms have some advantage over the old guys because they are fearless, are light and agile, and they never get tired. I watched incredulously as one little grom caught wave after wave after wave, and with every wave he was trying something new – riding the nose, forehand re-entry, back hand snaps, and deep bottom turns. The grom was pushing his own boundaries with every ride, and I literally watched him get better during the session.

This week, I am out at America’s Insurance Health Plan conference in Las Vegas for the first time. My training and experience as a physician has always placed me in a suspicious and adversarial position relative to health plans. However, I am highly engaged in learning everything that I can about the industry in order to revolutionize it (anyone interested in helping me understand health plan creation – please contact me). My preliminary sense of the leadership demographic at the conference is that of a very entrenched network of “good old boys”. The demographic seems to be much older, much more conservative, and a lot more insulated from the disruption than has occured in other industries.

Tying these two vignettes together, you can begin to see my point. Having worked in open source, and with open source developers, I have repeatedly seen how the old men of the technology world got severely disrupted by the young groms of open source. Where are all the “young punks”, the health care groms if you will, who are out there taking risks, innovating, doing things that all the insurance industry “old guys” haven’t had the chuptza to get done. I believe the coming wave of technology that will “catalyze the consumer” is coming. I see the swell of innovation, the cresting of innovative companies, and crashing mashups of technologies that add real value to the consumer experience. And, just as in surfing , you wil either “get on” or “get rolled” by this oncoming wave.

Start paddling!

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Filed under Conferences, Innovation

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