November 18th, 2010
Total Distance for today: 0 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 377 miles
LOCATION: Richmond, VA
STATUS: Preparing for some talks at high schools in Richmond and calling ahead to Raleigh, NC
I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get any schools in Richmond. The one that was looking really promising looks to be a no go because of scheduling issues, and I’m running out of time. This was kind of expected. I was so distracted by work on the Entrepreneurial Academy and other Detroit project stuff that I really didn’t get to hit the phones the way I needed to when I should have been calling ahead to Richmond. I’m working pretty hard right now to make sure that doesn’t happen in Raleigh. This game requires constant vigilance and persistence.
New Forms of Value: Creating and Sharing Vs. Profiting
(read time: approx. 5 minutes)
I’d like to take a few minutes today to elucidate some ideas that have been swirling around my head for some time. Bare with me: I’ve never written about these ideas, so they could be a bit jumbled as they come out. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the emergence of new forms of value. The old model and mindset for business is primarily concerned with monetary profit as a measure of business success. While this is still and should remain a primary business motivator, progression in societal goals and technological capabilities has altered this to some extent. As more and more of the “Baby-Boomer” generation begins to come into retirement, many people are coming to realize that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is simply not enough to make up for an unfulfilling or uninteresting life.
More and more, people are demanding fulfillment and self-expression from the work they do. This is true among employees, employers, and entrepreneurs alike. The creators, assigners, and doers of “new work” want more than just a monetary return on their work. They want to find value in the creating and the making. THAT changes everything, because the core motivation is being altered. This evolving motivation of created and shared value stands to be more adequately satisfied, as we move into the “Creative Age.” As we move forward, more and more people will “make” their jobs, rather than “doing” them. Creation brings with it intense levels of self-expression, and ultimately, satisfaction. For an example of a cutting-edge creative worker, look at the modern young web-designer who uses the myriad of free tools at his disposal to compose a visually-appealing and highly functional website, while understanding little to no code! Composition of the seemingly more complicated base-elements into new forms of value will become the norm as we move forward. We don’t just stand on the shoulders of giants anymore: As we continue to openly share information and value (especially over the web), we will also begin to stand on each other’s shoulders. In the new economy of “giving” and “sharing,” we give a little and we take a little, leveraging the expertise of others, and sharing our own expertise as well.
Chances are, you’re already living and working in this economy without realizing it! Do you remember the last time you benefited from free access to Google Maps, free and useful blog content, or free connection through social media? You probably do, because it was probably within the last five minutes! Make no mistake: You may not be “paying” for these services, but you are certainly getting something of great value. The entrepreneurial and business community is still trying to find creative ways to monetize these incredible free offerings, but we might notice an interesting truth: The people who created these things for us usually did so with only partial regard for money.
I like Mark Zuckerburg (founder of Facebook) but not just because he’s the world’s youngest billionaire at 26. It’s not even because we share the same birthday! I like Zuckerburg, because he is a minimalist who is scarcely motivated by extravagance, material goods, or perhaps even fame. He is motivated by his desire to create beyond himself, and that desire has given us a pretty incredible tool in Facebook. Do you remember when you used to worry about losing or not getting a phone number, because you may never be able to find that person again? How easy is it now to find and connect with just about anybody online? It’s absurdly easy, and we owe it to people like Zuckerburg.
You shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that I’m only talking about shared value via the internet. The same concept of creating incredible value and gaining satisfaction through your creation applies to offline pursuits. Talk to Michael W. Pritchard, creator of the Life Saver Bottle and System, and you’ll see someone motivated by something much bigger than personal monetary gain. He wants to bring safe drinking water to the entire world without the need for massive and impractical infrastructure in third world countries. If you buy one of his innovative bottles, one bottle is also shipped to someone who can’t afford one in a third world country.
People who embrace the enhancement of social value as a partial or total stimulus for business development recognize that only so much fulfillment can be found in the selfish-satisfaction of our personal wants. Once our needs are met, the greatest joy is to be involved with interesting projects that help to reshape the world according to our visions. Often, that happens apart from a total focus on profit. Some think society is degrading; I tend to think we are on the verge of great progress in regard to societal goals. That’s why I’m helping to found the “Dream Fund,” which will be a non-profit that my sponsor (APV), Dillon, and I will use to help people reach their dreams. Actually, it will help to fund the Detroit project I keep talking about. I want to be involved in interesting projects that allow me to create and share value with the world. What could be more valuable than a project that will ultimately help others to do the same?
What are your primary motivations? It is great to enjoy incredible experiences; believe me, I value them much higher than possessions, but the greatest experiences and satisfaction will always be found in the creation and sharing of value with the world. Do you create beyond yourself?