Founder’s Corner #7: How Interactive = A New Business Paradigm

By Max Thomas

Catchy title or sincere sentiment? Watch and decide for yourself. Either way, in this month’s Founder’s Corner I focus on what I think is so incredibly exciting right now.

THIS is a great time to be involved with anything interactive. During the dot-com era, “online” exploded and it was new, but it was still not fully integrated with day-to-day business. Today, everything is interactive, from how we do business, to how we communicate with each other, to how we shop and consume, even to how businesses deal with customers. What’s more, as we all have adapted to the changes in interactive devices and channels, our thinking has evolved as well. We truly have developed a new mindset in how we communicate and live day-to-day.

These observations are not new but I’m making them again here because I think sometimes we forget just how monumental they are. They’re so huge that the very structure and nature of organizations are changing as well. It’s incredibly exciting. (There! I said it again.)

In this month’s Founder’s Corner, I talk more about these changes and what I see as an opportunity to create new paradigms of business organizations. My intention is to explore how organizations can evolve so that they better support all their stakeholders (this includes employees and owners), customers, as well as the industries they’re in too.

I’m so excited that I plan to focus on this topic here on Thunder’s Founder’s Corner via interviews with other thought and business leaders. As such, I encourage anyone with an interest to please contact me with your ideas and suggestions via @ThunderMax or max [@]

It truly is an exciting time for interactive as well as the businesses and people who make it all happen. I’m psyched about what’s coming. Thanks for tuning in!


Hi I’m Max Thomas. Welcome to this month’s Founder’s Corner. Today, let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things. Just kidding.

We’re not going to talk about sex. But I got your attention and aside from my Salt-n-Pepa moment, it is a good segue because today I want to talk about what feels good. And yes, sex feels good, but that’s another conversation. What I want to talk about is how good it is to be in this industry. And I’m talking about interactive, the interactive industry. It’s really amazing to be in an industry that is growing, that is expanding and that is changing the way people work, the way people communicate, the way people interact. I think we don’t see it every day because we’re in the trenches, so we’re not quite as aware of how large the shift is.

So, let’s go back 20 years. 20 years ago, none of this existed. Yes, there was innovation with software and there were changes with how companies were working, but the web didn’t exist and not as much was happening that’s interactive. 15 years ago, the dot-com happened, the dot-com boom, and I was there, I remember. I was co-founder of a dot-com, and it was an awesome time. Great things were happening and everything that was happening with the dot-com was new and it was all up here and all traditional business was still here. And there was some connections, because some awesome companies came out of it, like Amazon, Yahoo, but there was still that disconnect. Today, there’s a complete connection between what is interactive and what’s online, but particularly interactive and how companies are working.

So, basically, the way to do business today is interactive and we see that because every day, we see how if a legacy company hasn’t changed, it goes away or another way to put it is legacy companies all had to change or they’ve changed in a way that they’ve disappeared. This is so huge and we read about it, we hear about it, but it’s so huge because not only is business changing in the way we transact, but the way we think is changing and we see that so clearly in how we spend our daily lives. We function differently now than we did before because of our devices and because of how we communicate with our friends and our family, as well as with businesses.

I keep saying this is huge and it is a mind-set that has shifted. All you have to do is spend time with a little kid. Spend time with a one-year old child and you’ll see that they’ll go right for the tablet. They’re interacting with a tablet. When you give them a newspaper or a magazine and they’re like, “What is this? Nothing’s happening.” And what’s so large and it’s a subtle shift, it’s not that this person, I know he’s one, or she, is one year old, but she’s not looking at, “Gosh, here’s a magazine and here’s a tablet and I prefer the interactive.”

What’s happening is that it’s only the interactive and the old paradigm is just going away. It’s not even going to be around. And so, the interactive will shift and get more innovative and change in our lifetime, but that old way of the print, just as a symbol, is gone. So, it’s new and what also fits with this is that you read a newspapers… I just said newspapers, oops! You read stories about how the elderly or older people who are out of work can’t get a job and they claim that it’s ageism, but what’s happening is that the skill set tends to skew to a younger demographic.

So, younger people tend to know these things. But it’s more than just a skill set. It’s a way of thinking. And that’s what I’m talking about with this evolutionary shift that has happened in how we function. It is so large. Recently, I started studying French and I started studying French because I want to learn French, but honestly, if I can order in French at a restaurant, I’d be so psyched. The real reason I’m studying French is to change my mind, is to get me to think in a new way. And this is so vital because it keeps me from trying to do things the same old way. It gets me to think in a new way and I have to say one of the first persons I heard this from was Avinash, when he talked about challenging yourself every month to learn something new because it’ll change the way you think. He’s right and I’ve chosen to do this through a language. Well, this ties into the idea that the way we’re thinking now is completely new in the way we were functioning and doing business.

So, if you’re watching this video, and you start thinking, “Gosh, where is he going?”, where I’m going is, it actually brings the opportunity that we can create new paradigms for business. So, here’s what I mean and it’s subtle. Yeah, Thunder’s a growing agency and we can say, “Gosh, we want to inspire and look like a bigger, older agency, more established,” but rather than that, what if we take the perspective that what we want is to actually change the way we work and change the way we function internally, so that it supports us and it supports the demand that we have for our services and it supports our industry. In other words, create a new paradigm. And 20 years ago, I would have said this and it would have reaped youthful idealism, but 20 years later, I can say this with a lot of conviction because everything is changing and it’s really exciting. It’s really a good thing.

So, what I’d like to do is treat this Founder’s Corner as actually a stay tuned because I’d like to use this as a forum for exploring new ideas in terms of how companies function and how they can define themselves in the new paradigm, not only with Thunder, but also with other companies and to see what they’re doing. And so, if you have suggestions or thoughts, I encourage you to please e-mail me. E-mail at Max [at] or tweet at @ThunderMax, that’s @ThunderMax and I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

So, thanks for tuning in today and I hope that today you have your Salt-n-Pepa moment too.

I forgot the most important thing and that is the people. The industry is good. Interactive is awesome. It’s changing, it’s growing and one of the best joys of being in this industry are the people we get to work with because we’re working with people who are thinking, “How do I do something new? How do I do something differently? How do I engage with a prospect differently? How do I get someone to connect with a brand in a different way?” and if I were developing apps, I would be figuring out, “How do I get someone to improve the way they interact with their friends or their family?”

It’s really amazing that I get to spend all day working with awesome people who are thinking of new ideas and a new way of doing things. This is so important because, yeah, it fuels the growth of what’s happening and it fuels all the innovation, but it also fuels the possibility of creating new paradigms for business and new ways of functioning internally and externally. So, that is a key piece.

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Max Thomas

By Max Thomas

Max is a nationally recognized digital marketing specialist who is an expert on search engine optimization and data-driven digital marketing who has spoken at SMX and SMX Advanced, LMA Southeast, LMA Tech in San Francisco, WordCamp and other industry recognized conferences. As the founder and CEO of ThunderActive, Max has lead his team (with offices in San Diego and New York City) to success for clients in legal, real estate, life sciences, consumer goods and new tech. A Columbia undergraduate with a Yale MBA, Max is an Impact Circle Member for The Trevor Project and is an advisor to start-up companies and angel investment networks, including Gaingels and Serval Ventures in New York.

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