Over a century ago, Russell Conwell, founder and president of Temple University, became famous for his traveling lecture, which encouraged listeners to find the “acres of diamonds” in their own backyards. The story has impacted millions of people and is still relevant 130 years later.  The story is based on a parable Conwell heard while traveling through the middle east in 1870. The story has been retold and refined by many; one of my favorite versions is from Earl Nightingale.

“The Acres of Diamonds story of a farmer who heard the adventures about other farmers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales so excited the farmer that he sold his farm and left his family to go prospecting for diamonds himself. The rest of his life wandering the African continent, searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Finally, worn out and dejected, he cast himself into the sea and drowned.

Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm happened to be crossing the small stream on the property one day, when suddenly there was a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. It was a good-sized stone, and admiring it, he brought it home and put it on his fireplace mantel as an interesting curiosity.

Several weeks later, a visitor picked up the stone, looked closely at it, hefted it in his hand, and nearly fainted. He asked the farmer if he knew what he’d found. When the farmer said, no, that he thought it was a piece of crystal, the visitor told him he had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farmer had trouble believing that. He told the man that his creek was full of such stones, not all as large as the one on the mantel, but sprinkled generously throughout the creek bottom.

According to the parable,  it was the discovery of the famed diamonds of Golconda, one of the most productive diamond mines on the entire African continent. The moral is clear: If the first farmer had only taken the time to study and prepare himself to learn what diamonds looked like in their rough state, and to thoroughly explore the property he had before looking elsewhere, all of his wildest dreams would have come true.” Earl Nightingale – Lead the Field

We all have acres of diamonds and your farm is growing and expanding daily. There is an urgency to recognize this because as it grows, it is getting washed away. Not only that, but there are also poachers and squatters on your farm, mining your diamonds for their gain.  The vast majority of us have no idea the value in our land, how to see it, and mine it. Of course, if you are reading this, you know I am referring to data and the untapped opportunity that is our digital capital.

Data, like diamonds, has significant value, not really in its raw form but in a refined state. Every day we generate data, most of which you never see or have access to. Sometimes we throw it away, sometimes it sticks around a while and is deleted or becomes inaccessible. One thing you can be certain of is that if it can be, it is being harvested and mined by others.  Most of us don’t see value in data or understand it; we think it is worthless.  The problem is that we are looking at that rock on the mantel and see a rock, a rock that looks like every other rock. It’s just a bank statement. It’s just a crappy receipt. It’s just logging of my searches.  It’s just location information.  It’s just a tweet. It’s just a…

But, if you knew the rock on the mantel was a diamond, and that your backyard, creek, and farm was full of them, would you throw it away because you don’t see the refined product or know what to do with it? No, of course not. You would, as would I, go out and start collecting as much of it as possible. You would find a safe place to store the stones for use later.  You would organize and categorize them by size, weight, and composition.  Then you would find an expert to help you refine them, and maybe someone else to help you take them to market. Or you would hire a trusted agent to manage the end to end operation for you. After all, what do you know about the market, pricing, and trading?  You need help, experts who can guide you along the path. Going it alone does not work. We need assistance and we need to go together.

2014 Game of Stones – Discovery

In 2014, you may recall the “fake” reality show on Discovery called “Game of Stones.” These gem hunters would travel around the world looking for and mining rare gems.  There was a point in each episode where the team would go back to some hidden storage unit and master gem cutter would go to work, refining the raw stone into a beautiful gem. It’s an intense, high-pressure job as hours of work could end in utter disaster with one minute mistake, and all is lost.

Game of Stones – The Tanzania After Show: Cutting and Polishing the Stone

The point is that most of us are not master gem cutters, nor are we master data miners.  When it comes to our data, we need help, help from a trusted third-party.

Our goal for Roamina is to be that trusted third-party, acting as an agent on behalf of individuals. A full-scale, end to end data mining operation at your service, extracting hidden value found inside your data. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more on how we make this happen.

But for today, prepare yourself. Open your eyes to see, and know that your data is valuable. It has value beyond what you realize. It has value in the present and the future. It has unique and amazing properties. It is your endless Acres of Diamonds.