Adaptive social fitness – in all its abstractness

The above title can be re-framed as: How to always be working on the hottest themes throughout your life? 

stay hot

Warning: this is an exercise in trying to convey a seemingly abstract concept in completely abstract terms.

I happened to be in a meeting recently where panelists with a variety of backgrounds were discussing a red hot emerging theme – across the spectrum: from research until creating markets that don’t currently exist.

The speakers were eloquent and most of the audience seemed to have gotten some take-home message – true mark of a nice event.

I am well versed in that ‘hot topic’ across the spectrum mentioned above. But the speakers used examples mostly of technologies/sub-fields that are already being actively pursued using other names. Thus despite knowing enough reason from research to innovation to business case for this ‘hot field’ I asked the speakers: ‘all the efforts you talked about are already being pursued – so what differentiates this hot topic’. Not sure if I caught the speakers on their bad day or they had not thought about it that way; only one of them attempted and that was no convincing answer.

  1. Later that evening I met one of the attendees of that event who walked up to me and said “I was thinking that I have been working on one of the existing fields that you asked about. Now I know I can say that I am working on this red hot field“.
  2. One of the panelists in the event made a statement (paraphrased) “adaptability to environment is what determines success and happiness more than genetics” (at least in the context he made that statement).

If you take the above two statements and observe the world, lot of people known and unknown, with clout and without, keep throwing various new words into the society and some catches (or crudely, some sticks to the wall). Success of most people relies on adaptability in terms of re-positioning themselves with these new hot themes that jive with the society and are rising, and re-position what they do to fit with that – ‘Adaptive Social Fitness’.

That way you will always be working on the hottest themes through your life.

Share what you think in the comment section. Or if you or one those who do not like to share your thoughts, or one trying to find your place in a ‘hot field’ try using this approach.

One thought on “Adaptive social fitness – in all its abstractness

  1. Here are summary of useful comments communicated by email between 05/08/15 – 05/10/15 (used here with permission).


    Very nice ….Suresh though I am not sure I quite understood the hot topics bit totally……..as it was explained as promised abstractly. ..However, definitely agree with direct proportionality of social adaptability to success! — Shikha: Fri 5/8/2015 10:54 PM


    Suresh, Yes, I agree. A good example is “Systems Biology” –F.A.: Sat 05/09/2015 9:34 AM


    Question: Suresh, interesting musings. Now, in a general sense, I wonder, does it really matter what one works on: old stuff, hot stuff, novel stuff, etc. — Sai: Sat 5/9/2015 10:49 AM

    Suresh Gopalan Response (abridged): Good Question Sai. It is certainly true of all research and market driven fields. Example of former is Pharma/Biotech/healthcare, of latter is VC. My guess is, it is the same in all fields. Say one doesn’t like their job, or gets WFR’ed – getting a new job if that person can relate their past to a current hot field will certainly help. Many people do actively try to reposition in their organization if they are ambitious enough.


    Question: Did I sense a certain disapproval of this great moving-up-the-ladder skill Suresh?
    But seriously, is this not what brand managers do all the time? And I keep hearing all this hype about “personal brand equity”.
    And in certain professions, of the political kind, it is all about re-positioning all the time, depending upon whom you are trying to convince! 🙂 — Manu: Sun 5/10/2015 8:35 AM

    Suresh Gopalan Response (abridged): Certainly not disapproval Manu. To elaborate: I observed that many people not already successful do not know, and I wanted to use that as a theme. Very few people can create these fields/topics (pioneering leaders), mostly even for them AND for nearly everybody else (leaders or ‘not yets’) that is a route for success. Finally, the short article pointed out a pattern of how ‘sometimes(?)’ themes created are merely a newly coined word that is already served by all the existing fields. As new theme/field/word gets popular everyone else can get their existing skills to fit it – if they consciously do it (like the person who came to me and talked, mentioned in the blog).

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