On Giving Thanks.

Thanksgiving.

Family.

Friends.

Food.

Warmth.

The brisk fall air that reminds you that you are alive.

Whether you choose to celebrate or despise the commercialization of the invented holiday season, Thanksgiving does serve as a subtle reminder of all things that are important. All things that are essential to being:

Family:  The people in our lives who give us the support and love we need to make a difference. The people that teach us how to love. They are the field which we sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

Gratitude: It turns what we have into enough, and more. A meal into a feast. A house into a home. A friend into a stranger. It binds our communities together.

Possibility: Every day offers us the opportunity to make a difference not just in our own lives but in the lives of others. An opportunity that is afforded to us as a result of the connection and the optimism we gain when we know we are in it together.

For a few days, we are reminded of the interdependence of life.

We couldn’t have the meal we share without the sacrifice and labor of others, from farm to table.  The food we share is the gift of the whole universe—the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

This Thanksgiving, instead of measuring your goodness by what you don’t do – by what you deny yourself, what you resist, and what you exclude. Let’s all agree to measure the goodness in us, and in everyone, by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.

Family Circles

Similar to Red Wood trees, we all have family circles.

Circles that offer us vitality. These circles are our parents, siblings and extended family. The individuals that you can always count on to be there, even when disaster strikes.

 

These individuals are the seeds.

The seeds from which we grow emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Our parents are the roots.

And our siblings and extended family play a myriad of roles:

They are the plow that tills the land.

The water that keeps us healthy and allows us to maintain our growth.

The fertilizer that helps us grow faster and bigger so that we can increase our yield.

I’ve written a lot about how we live in a connection economy and that the work of an artist is to create connections that change people.

It turns out that, the most important connection we have is the connection with our family.

Because family circles, no matter how terrible the damage, keep us alive.

 

Are You Testimonial Worthy?

What would the people you engage with say about you?

Three simple questions:

1. How do people experience you?
2. How do people experience themselves in your presence?
3. Would they recommend you to others?

In the old industrialist economy, little emphasis was placed on testimonials.

Because instead, it was much more powerful and easier to simply pay for endorsements.

In the industrialist era, the endorsement of Michael Jordan made more people drink Gatorade and want to wear Nike shoes.

People purchased George Foreman grills because they thought to themselves, “if it’s good enough for a guy like George, it’s good enough for me.”

However, the power of endorsements was largely in their scarcity at the time.

There were only a few major brands and a few major stars to feature in a scarce number of advertisements through a scarce number of marketing channels.

However, in the connection economy, there is an abundance of all of these things, largely decreasing the overall effectiveness of the famous endorsement.

In the connection economy testimonials have power and leverage.

Testimonials have power because in a world of abundance, a world of so many products, services, and talented people, someone has decided to speak up on your behalf, expecting nothing in return.

What is it that makes someone want to speak up?

Transformation.

Change agents.

An experience that changes how someone views the world.

An interaction that causes someone to pause and say “I used to believe this, but now I believe that”.

 

An opportunity that takes someone from a posture of not believing and not engaging to a posture of attention and action.

However, just as with endorsements, testimonials come at a price.

However, the price is not currency.
Instead, it’s the price of emotional labor.
The price of caring.
The price of being generous.

The price of showing up and doing work that is remarkable. Doing the work of an artist.

A price worth paying.

Being First Isn’t Important

Being first is not the objective.

Nor has it been for some time now.

Sure, back when we were hunter-gathers and scarcity ruled the world being first could be the difference between whether you and your family ate that day.  Being first was often a life or death outcome.

In the world of scarcity being first matters.

However, today being first is largely irrelevant.

Friendster, Myspace, Classmates.com, and Sixdegrees.com were the first social networking sites. Each had millions of users. Then came Facebook.

Yahoo, Excite, Magellan,  and Infoseek were the first information portals that focused on search. Then came Google.

In the 90’s china.com was the future of e-commerce and the internet in China. It was one of the first companies to IPO, tripling on its first day of trading. Then came Alibaba.

In a rush to get a return on our investment, being first for the sake of being first has become a cornerstone of what it means to be part of our culture.

However, our culture has shifted and the conditions in which we live are vastly different from our days as hunter-gathers.

Instead, we live in a world of abundance.

No longer is there a premium on being first.

Today, the winner is the company or individual that makes a connection.

The person who gains our trust.

The company that show’s empathy for the nuance of being human.

The person that is patient.

The company that is generous.

None of which has to do with speed or being first.

Today, the premium is placed on engaging with others, over and over again.

The people and the companies that are generous and care are the winners.

Not the one’s that are first.

The pioneers take the arrows. The settlers take the land.

 

A Dream Deficit

We need more dreamers.

More people that believe in the impossible.

More people that refuse to accept the status quo.

More people that ignore the propaganda of the media, who’s aim is to splinter our communities. To make us believe that we are in this alone. To indoctrinate us into believing that all we should worry about is ourselves. To indoctrinate us into believing that only seemingly “powerful” individuals and institutions can make a change in our world and that we should stick to watching cat videos and reading buzzfeed “news” articles.

We need more dreamers.

People that dream to create the new institutions that will lead us to prosperity in the post-industrialization age.

People willing to dream of a different way to educate and prepare children for the connection economy. People that recognize that the current model of education was built to cultivate obedience. Built to efficiently produce individuals that work in factories, follow orders, and never think to question authority. People willing to dream of an education system that fosters difference, is project based and cultivates creativity.

People willing to dream of a world in which all corporations actually care about their consumers. A world in which the health of the individual is prioritized before profits. Do we really need another can of soda? Do we really need another package of cigarettes? The answer is no. However, the incentives of the current system put profits before the well-being of the individual.

We need more people willing to question the incentives of the current system.

More people willing to change the incentives.

Dreams, by their nature,  are evanescent. They flicker long before they shine brightly. We, as a culture, must embrace the individuals that dare to dream.