The Power of Exponential Growth

Recently, Corey Condello, a 2010 iSchool alumna, let me know that her cousin Zach was competing for a new promotion that Oprah is sponsoring to give away a TV show (presumably to fill the hole that she’ll create when she leaves daytime TV, but that’s besides the point). What’s important is the power of exponential growth, and the good that it can do.

It all started with the video that Zach made for Oprah’s contest. Now, it definitely helps that the video is well-made, and that Zach is a funny guy.  But what really helped Zach was the exponential power of social media.

I first learned of both the contest, and Zach’s entry, through a tweet, short and sweet:

Check out my cousin’s video for the Oprah “Your Own Show” contest. He’s hilarious and his message is universal- #vote

Admittedly, I was thrown off by the Oprah reference, and didn’t click through right away. Then I saw this tweet:

“This Is Hilarious, You Should Watch It of the Day” – blogged about Zach’s video! #soawesome

John Mayer, who has more than 3.3 million followers on Twitter, had posted Zach’s video entry into his own personal blog. From there, Zach’s video only continued to grow.

It wasn’t long before the video, and the contest, was picked up by traditional media. Zach’s video has been featured in both TIME Magazine and New York Magazine. It has also been featured in Entertainment Weekly and other online outlets.

In fact, the response has been so great, that in less than a week, Zach’s video has rocketed to the number one spot on Oprah’s list, with nearly three million votes (twice as many as the second place video). It even prompted Zach to post a video thanking the entire Internet for helping him realize his dream:


With continued success, like being featured in the Official SXSW Blog, chances are good that Zach will find himself hosting his own show soon, all thanks to a three minute video, a dream, and the power of connected human beings.

John Mayer even responded to Zach’s video, promising to write and record his theme song, and even go on tour with him:


If that doesn’t seal the deal, I don’t know what will.

Good luck, Zach – I’ll be tuning in and wishing you the best of luck, right after I go tell everyone I know to vote for you.

Shay Colson

A 2010 iSchool graduate, Shay Colson lives and works in Seattle, Washington. He uses technology to solve problems for government, organizations, and also real, actual people. You can find him on Twitter @shaycolson.

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  • mmclarke

    Awesome. I would tune in and check it out.

  • Eric Cleckner

    This is hilarious, Zach would be the most entertaining personality on TV. He’s got my vote.

  • Remember – this is a marathon, not a sprint! The contest ends at midnight on July 3rd – and some of the other videos are gaining momentum. You can vote as often as you want – so keep up the support!

    Good luck, Zach.

  • I had this experience while I was at the hotel lobby in Shanghai using one of their computers. Most of the sites were blocked, like Facebook and Twitter. They could at least have a “Welcome to the Great Firewall of China” landing page. I tried to get around it, relying on advises from guidebooks. They said if I can go through a proxy site, I can get to the pages I want to visit. I tried all the proxy sites I knew and were suggested in the guidebooks but to no avail. Resigned, I was content browsing through Yahoo and some Chinese sites that I could not even understand or read.