I can remember awaiting the release of The Guinness Book of World Records. For those fascinated with things like how tall the tallest man in the world is, or who’s the fastest human on the planet over 100 meters, getting our hands on the latest edition was a great event. I remember my first copy in 1976. In the preface, was a photo of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard and the twins who wrote the book, Norris and Ross McWhirter.
In 1954, Sir Hugh Beaver, The Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, got the idea as a Guinness promotion, to compile an authoritative book of facts and figures. Intended as a reference to settle pub arguments. The twins were given the task of researching and writing the book. 63 years later, Guinness are still updating and publishing the book.
You could argue the longevity of the book is due to great branding by Guinness, combined with one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time. The book and the brand have become synonymous with world records, the world over.
Much of the allure to purchasing the annual, was having the answer to almost any question in your reach. Well almost.
And it could settle arguments!
Owning that much ‘power’ became an attractive advantage. Hence the hype and anticipation each year around December, pending the release.
With the advent of the internet, and the increasing access anyone instantly has to the endless amount of information it holds, the hype has dwindled. As too have the sales of the book. For years, The Guinness Book of World Records was an annual best-seller. I had a bookshelf full of them, until not so long ago.
It’s tempting to become nostalgic about days when having the upper-hand was as easy as owning a book. Today, the information is there for everyone. The ‘ power’ now lies in the hands of the masses, rather than the few. There is momentum, as inertia is overcome and knowledge spreads exponentially.
As the margins of advantage dwindle through shared information, the real ‘power’ lies with those who care. Caring enough to find the advantage, seek out the solution, doing more, trying harder, digging deeper, and failing more often. It’s more exciting and fun, plus, who want’s to be a know-it-all anyway?
Originally published at https://www.leapfirst.co.za on July 26, 2020.