I love history. I love to read and learn what has occurred in the past because it helps me to understand where we are today. As a good student of world history our lives changed drastically with the advent of the industrial revolution in the 19th and 20th century. An explosion of economic development was spurned by the rapid development of machinery and processes for making goods. We moved from farmers to urban dwellers working long hours in factories and offices. and our culture changed… we began living in cities, and working for other people, and redefined our culture from agrarian to urban industrial.
But changes seems to be under foot. Like the clouds gathering for a thunder storm, business as we know it has been changing, slowly at first but exponentially growing in changes daily since the economic crisis we have experienced. My father’s generation knew one job for their work career, and retired after a loyal 30 years of service with a lovely gold watch, promised retirement income and in some cases a big juicy dead turkey. His loyal 30 years of service was rewarded, celebrated and applauded. and his benefits were good, health insurance was the best they could offer even into retirement years.
Wow, the right to work, appreciation for loyalty, benefits, retirement, health insurance…. these were all things that were ingrained into my work mentality. But sadly, as the work world we know is changing, the pangs of economic stability have seemed to reduced the capacity or willingness of corporate america to hold these concepts with the same vigor. In my generation there has been a noticed distrubing movement of thought from the idea of doing for the greater good to looking out for myself. The value of employee loyalty has given way to a million small grabs for power, position, posture, and prominance all done with the goal of looking out for number 1. Benefits are something that has been widdling down and growing smaller and smaller for most, to the point that about 1/3 of working americans no longer have health insurance, and the unemployement numbers are higher too….
I am slowly beginning to think that all of these signs are birth pangs of a change in how we live and do business. Like the industrial revolution, i believe we are beginning to see a turn from the ability of corporations to do business as usual to a reduction in capacity because of the combination of economics and our strong desire to look out for number one. And there seem to be indicators that the market is shifting because there are less jobs to be found, reduction in benefits, forced reduction in hours, and often stories in the news of risky behavior with investments of retirement funds. At the other extreme are the heads of companies with multi million dollar salaries, golden parachutes, private jets, and mansions. The rich are getting richer and the middle class is slowly going away.
So here is my theory. The idea of corporations, or factories, or gathering places of commerce is slowly returning to the simple way of doing life…. the shoe maker is once again making shoes, and the butcher is setting up their shop to sell you his offerings. Local people seeking out local goods, and bringing them to a local market. Wow, it worked for most of human history, until the advent of the industrial age…. It is to this end that I believe we are coming…. finding our way in that simple world of local commerce as we improve our own local economy is a great idea. Sure it is not the glamourous life of power and wealth, but it is a life that satisfies our soul. It is an honest business, simply done, meeting the needs of someone else, providing an outlet of our talents and creativity.
I have been reading and following a blog by a guy names Seth Godin. He has been the source of my “AH-HA” moment. If you have a moment catch this video and send me your thoughts on what he says. I would love to know what you think.