Closing thoughts on #ISYS8621: from the Fresh Prince & Paul Revere

To sign off on what has been a continuous stream of unique and unusual experiences for me this semester, I have put together a song in the tune of the Fresh Prince of Bell-Air. If you are not familiar with the sitcom that launched the career of Will Smith, you can click here to get a quick refresher. Enjoy!

Now this is a story all about how my life got twist-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute if you bear with me
I’ll tell you how I got introduced to an NFT.

In West of Ireland born and raised, I came to BC to get my MBA
Chilling out maxing relaxing all cool, learning from the experts at the Carroll School
When after a while I got up to no good
Started messing ‘round with my Robinhood
I bought one little stock and when that was a flop
I tried to chase my losses with Bitcoin and GameStop

I called out for some help and then it became clear
I had to take Professor Kane’s class in my final year
If anything I was scared that blogging was a pain
But I thought hey forget it, TEACH ME ABOUT BLOCKCHAIN!

I turned up to Fulton with my mask every week
And I’d yell to my classmates “YO what’s up fellow geek”
Now at the end of the semester, I can finally say
I’m a Luddite no more, transformed to the digital way
.

While I have Your Attention…..

Now that you have survived that awful attempt at artistic creativity, I will share some more original insights on what has been a great class with even better people.

I started out on my transformation journey in the hope that I would become an expert in all things digital technology by the end of the semester, a blockchain whiz and a “crypto connoisseur” if you will. But that isn’t the case and in fact I’ve learned far more important lessons. So while I may not be a digital grand master, I now have a better understanding of the managerial decisions that these technologies can solve for. I am reminded of the term “affordances” that we talked so much about over the semester and that it is not about becoming an expert, but instead understanding the capabilities of different digital technologies.

Along the way we’ve seen the good, the bad, the very bad (that Verge article on Facebook content moderators still haunts me), the risks, the rewards, and of course the responsibilities that accompany the digital era. Through our classmate’s excellent presentations I’ve learned how technology is impacting and changing every industry from healthcare to entertainment, supply chain, education, finance, medicine, sports…the list goes on. But there has been a common trend behind the companies who are successfully driving these initiatives. They are the ones who have laid the foundations for digital transformation, not only by having a robust digital infrastructure in place, but by having the human capital and the ingrained cultures which promote continual learning in a digital environment. And so, a vital lesson I have learned is that It is not about having all the answers, it’s about knowing the right questions to ask.

The star of the show truly was the class Twitter feed. Twitter turned the class into an “always on” learning experience and I lost track of the number of times that I logged on this semester only to learn something new from a tweet posted by a classmate. With #ISYS8621, every day truly is a school day and it was also fantastic to see the level of passion that our classmates brought to Twitter (am i right @shaneriley88?)

Listen to the Gen-Z Paul Revere

I am now filled with hope for the future of work, and I no longer live in fear of a digital dystopia becoming a reality. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be the Paul Revere of the digital age. I will ride my digital horse through the towns of cyberspace and I will still yell “the robots are coming; the robots are coming”. Because people need to know the truth, that our artificially intelligent friends are indeed on their way. But they are not here to steal our jobs, they are here to free us from the drudgery and toil of the repetitive tasks that we face in our daily lives allowing us to focus instead on the things we love, and to find more meaningful work in a digital world. If everyone accepts these realities then we can lead from a collective position of strength rather than a position of fear and trepidation, that constrains innovation for fear of becoming obsolete.


To circle back to my first blog, I showed a picture of my “not-so-tech-savvy” dad trying to write a text message. And well, the text finally came through a little while later (picture on the right), but I fear my dad has missed an opportunity.

But I haven’t missed my opportunity, and in fact I have gone ahead and minted an NFT to join the craze. And so, as a parting gift I leave you with the Digital Dad. You can check it out right here and if I can generate enough interest I will happily pay the Ethereum “gas” fee to put it up for auction.

To close, I think we can all agree that the first few weeks of class made us feel a little uneasy, but if stepping outside the comfort zone felt comfortable straight away then everyone would be doing it. And that’s the main lesson I will take away, which is true not just for me but for the many companies who have been forced to accelerate their digital transformation. It might not be what you’re used to or what you’re comfortable with, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a worthwhile leap of faith.

Because outside of our comfort zone is an even more exciting place, referred to by author Daniel Coyle as The Sweet Spot:

That productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where you make mistakes—and mistakes make you smarter

The Sweet Spot

And by signing up to the class of #ISYS8621, I have been truly fortunate to get a 16-week experience of the Sweet Spot.

Best of luck to all of you and stay in touch! (hit me up on TikTok)

7 comments

  1. lisahersh · ·

    Connor, that was definitely NOT an awful attempt at creative mastery – it was brilliant! I now must insist that you perform it live on Wednesday’s final session ;)

    I 100% agree with the points in your blog (although I’m unsure what the market for Digital Dad is…). I think the continual learning provided by Twitter, the focus on learning from peers, understanding how businesses should approach learning about new technologies, and how those firms need to be organized structurally and culturally to actually reap the rewards will be what stays with me for years to come. While I’m not an active Twitter user, I definitely think I’ll be continuing to keep an eye on #ISYS8621 to learn about what the students in future iterations of this class are talking about, so I can extend my digital transformation education.

  2. therealerindee · ·

    Two things. 1) I did not realize you had the talent to fill in the lyrics to the Fresh Prince rap, but I am pleasantly surprised 2) I cannot believe you made an actual NFT, and I LOVE it.
    I agree with Lisa, you have to throw this down in class. Anyways, great minds think alike in gifs and also in our decrease in fear surrounding the robot takeover. I’m with you that acceptance of AI’s can get us to a better more digitally advanced place, and I’m excited to see what that looks like. Going to miss seeing your tweets.

  3. Chuyong Liu · ·

    Love the lyric Connor! I have to second Lisa about having you perform it live on Wednesday’s final session. I also realized throughout the process that it is nearly impossible to become an expert with all the fast changes in the digital field but it is definitely possible to stay informed, especially if we are in a group that constantly sharing thoughts as we did for Twitter. And keeping up with things is already a very valuable capability that not every leader in the world has. Combining this open-mindedness with our other skills such as leadership and business acumen I believe we could all create a lot of value!! Lastly, thank you Conner for your warmth and friendship, it’s been real!.

  4. alexcarey94 · ·

    This was so funny- caught myself laughing out loud while reading it. I agree I think you should perform this in class- it would really be a good close to the semester!! Maybe you can even get Professor Kane to write a second verse… (kidding) but overall I really liked your post! It has been great hearing your perspective in class- I agree on there is a lot more to be said about just knowing and being informed on digital technologies than being an expert. This will help us all understand what might be coming and how we can adapt with tech in the future.

  5. shaneriley88 · ·

    Well done, sir! The Sweet Spot resonates a lot for me when applied to DX. We need to be willing to accept and drive change in our respective work places, society, lives….everywhere. I’ll miss our banter about class and you twitter/blog instigation (#gungaloo?) Thanks for always being willing to push the class conversations to the higher level- that sweet spot if you will.

  6. Divya Jha · ·

    Conor, how creative! Is there anything you’re not amazing at? You’ve been an absolute treasure of information, insight and inspiration in our class and your final blog post is ample evidence of that. Your Digital Dad NFT deserves to see the light of the day! And I fully agree with your view about the need to step outside your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. I’ve learnt this in my MBA journey too. Congratulations on graduation and I wish you the very best for the future!

  7. williammooremba · ·

    It’s not unusual to learn from anyone
    It’s not unusual to have class with anyone
    But when I see you hanging about with anyone
    It’s not unusual to see me smile
    I wanna laugh*
    *Entire lyrics should be done to the Carlton dance
    What an excellent blog post. As others have echoed the fact you made an NFT for it is just a chef’s kiss. I agree that understanding the implications of technology can be a lot more important then necessarily having to know the exact technical details. Also, the idea of working outside of comfort zone/current abilities was something I super resonated with. In fact, that concept is a good portion of why I chose to join the MBA program in the first place. Thank you, good luck and have fun.

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