In many ways, I, and people like me, are considered “old school” or “retro.” Someone recently complimented me on an Alice Cooper t-shirt I was wearing, saying he really liked its “old school” look. I still use expressions from “back in the day,” such as groovy, psychedelic, cool (instead of hot, meant to describe something in a positive way), and freaky. And, first and foremost, I still love The Beatles! Mom and I had a long running debate on whether The Beatles were a passing fad or whether they would become a huge part of world culture forever. I was right; The Beatles came onto the worldwide music scene in 1963 and their music is as relevant today as it was then. I recently attended my high school reunion (Yay for the Fort Myers Senior High School Green Wave!), where dinner was provided by a long time local restaurant, The Farmer’s Market. Upon being served barbequed chicken in the buffet line, I remarked to the server that I had rarely had anything at The Farmer’s Market except fried mullet. He smiled and said, “Wow! You are really old school!” and I thanked him for recognizing this. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy many modern conveniences and today’s rock music is, in my opinion, just as good (albeit different) than the music I listened to when I was younger. But the old school and retro groove is still an important part of my life. I wear bell bottoms, Birkenstocks, and peace sign earrings. There is a groovy lava lamp gurgling on my desk as I write this, near a Magic 8 Ball that I consult with some frequency. I know what I like and I see no reason to eschew these retro things just because they are old. Old school? Retro? As The Beatles once said, “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
I don’t know when a part of one’s life, bell bottom pants for example, take hold as the norm such that later they become old school. And, while Melissa is more retro that I am in terms of fashion, etc., she’s newer school in keeping up with modern rock music than am I. She does this, in part, by making new (hard) rock a part of her varied listening routine listening to a variety of music, depending on the time of day and day of the week. In thinking about old school in business, I think about the tools of the trade. I’ve written about some of them in various posts, most recently, about adding machines (albeit electronic versions). Over my career, I have utilized tried and true tools, as well as more modern “newfangled” ones. It wasn’t that long ago that I had to think about what a smart phone would do for me/us. My first foray into the more advanced phones was a sleek Palm Pilot. I’d been using a Palm organizer and adding a phone; it even had a simple camera, which at the time, was pretty amazing. An iPhone soon replaced it and the world of such things took off, including iPads. In our world of trial consulting, we have mock jurors complete surveys, using paper and pen. For many years, we were “old school” such that the data from the surveys had to be manually entered into a spreadsheet for later statistical analysis. We then modernized and invested time and money into a scanner and software that could “read” bubbled responses on the surveys. While, at the time, this was a bit retro in large environments, like schools, it was new school in the trial consulting world. Now we are considering a next step, using tablets for data collection. Though some of our competitors are already using this technology, old school has served us well; it is reliable and doesn’t require battery power! So, in my life, I find a place for old and new school. I still use a hand held light meter sometimes, despite the amazing abilities of modern digital cameras. Whatever gets the job done!