The world has been going through a perceived crises for some time now. Unemployment rates are high around the globe and here in the United States the economy and jobs have been a pressing issue for the last decade.
During last November's elections there was a cry, by some folks, to elect people who will help the "job creators" - whatever that means. Never overly specific as to how those jobs would be created, the proponents of the "job creators" always tend to believe that giving economic breaks to, and loosening government regulations on, businesses will ultimately create those elusive jobs. But, I have a better idea! I've mentioned this in class many times to my university business students.
Here it is: do away with ALL government regulations on businesses. They can pollute as much as they want, ruin our water, air, and ground, to whatever extent they choose. They can also pay whatever wages they want as well...minimum wage laws would be done away with, totally. Soon, people would be hired in droves.
Plus, because there would be so much pollution, new companies would be formed to clean up all the mess our now non-regulated businesses would create. Ah...entrepreneurial ingenuity! Employment would boom! There would probably be more jobs than people to fill them.
Of course, there are MAJOR drawbacks. No one would be able to breathe clean air and respiratory sicknesses would skyrocket even further than they are now (the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries would then...need more employees too), our water would be a mess and unhealthy to drink unless heavily filtered, the plants grown in our ground would be contaminated (as would be the ground itself), the animals that ate the plants would, most likely, become less healthy (including us), and our overall health rates would deteriorate quicker than they are today (the U.S. is ranked 51st among nations of the world in life expectancy).
It is very, very, unlikely that the cleaner-uppers would be able to make our environment clean enough to negate the constant pollution emitted by the messer-uppers. And - most of us, and our children, and their children, and their children, would have an extremely tough time existing in such an environment, let alone have the money to buy much more than basic necessities.
But...people would have their precious "jobs."
It is interesting to me that people put jobs on a higher pedestal than quality of life. To paraphrase a Native-American Chief who was addressing the "White Man" about work and jobs - his words are so very prophetic: "What is this thing you call work? Everything you need is right here."
So, be careful what you wish for, strive for, and desire. Unless you fully think it through and attempt to make sure that it enhances the quality of life for everyone (including, of course, yourself), and everything, on this Earth...it can wind up being the cause of your own demise.
I am heartened and disturbed, feel hope and despair, and see the need for love as well as caution.
Over the past few months we have seen some horrible things in the United States. Children and their teachers killed in their classrooms, firefighters murdered as they responded to help others, and the terrible continuing vision of a sick society playing out, in real life, the violence they see daily in their video games, on their televisions and computers screens, and in their movie theaters.
Yet...I also see a growing awareness of the sickness. Things have been exposed and the awareness of people has been heightened. A call to action has been heard. Now that action must be implemented. Is it the history of our nation to be violent? Yes. Do we treasure our firearms? Yes. Are we an adolescent society filled with insecurities, led like sheep to the purchasing counter, and unaware of the manipulation of our food, media, and minds? For the most part...yes. But - we are now more aware that these things exist.
The general population is slowing changing its priorities. The realization that wars have zapped our resources and helped to slow our funding for quality education and healthcare is no longer denied. That we need to care for each other has become clear. A nation that ignores those in need of help will surely implode under its own greed. We are seeing a shift. Inclusion will make us strong. Lifting up those less fortunate will make us better. Spurring innovation will keep us sharp. Striving for greatness will help us lead. And...knowing that the most important resource a country (and the world) has is its people, will keep us kind, compassionate, and caring.
Be aware and you will see enormous possibilities. Let's make sure that everyone has a chance to, not only, realize their potential, but...reach it as well. Continue the shift my friends.
It's been about a month since my last blog post. That's very unlike me. But...connectivity problems and computer glitches have created a situation that made it difficult to write on this site. Hopefully, that's over for now. However, I wonder how much of those troubles were related to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath?
Which brings me to the topic of this post. Over the past six weeks I've had some automotive problems as well. While my car was in the shop, I rented cars. When I checked my bills I noticed that there was a stark pricing difference during one particular week. My charges were about 60% higher than during any other week. Upon inquiring I was told that it was because of Hurricane Sandy. I was startled...to say the least. Then I questioned the saleperson, "Shouldn't prices be lower when people are in need? Isn't it the compassionate thing to do in order to help people out during tough times?"
Of course, in our system of free enterprise, these price hikes are not unusal. When I posted my situation on a facebook page, someone else mentioned that the roofers were (rightly, in his opinion) charging higher prices to those folks who were affected by the storm as well. I find the whole thing distasteful.
We live in a paradox. Our value system instructs us to help the needy, while our economic system leads us to take advantage of them. I did some further investigation and found that the Governor of New Jersey had to render an edict against price gouging. That's says a lot about our morals - when the government has to stop businesspeople from taking customers "for a ride."
What has happened to treating people fairly and with compassion? If you study our financial system you'll also see that credit card companies charge people who have bad or questionable credit higher rates than those who have good or excellent credit. It creates a "catch 22." How can a person improve his or her credit when he or she is being "legally price gouged" with exorbitant interest rates and fees? When I was a kid they used to call those types of interest rates "loan sharking."
Can our economic system ever be fair? I doubt it, but...it's possible. What we all need to do, as consumers,
businesspeople, and leaders, is to teach fairness, compassion, and kindness. Of course, businesses must make a profit. But they can do so without taking advantage of their customers and employees. For that to happen, I believe that we need to adjust our societal moral compass. It only takes the realization that when a business treats people right, they create good will, positive "word of month" advertising, a lot more customers, and...loyalty. It works every time!
Many students, seminar/workshop attendees, and friends, ask me what they can do to start the change process. My video outlines some initial steps that anyone can take.
Ambiguity can be a daunting thing. Lots of people have a very low tolerance for ambiguous situations/problems/ and the puzzles of life. Yet...there is a simple way to deal with the enigmatic things that face us in life.
People tend to become overwhelmed when situations become too complex. They often would rather walk away from the process, wait until it either goes away (which it usually doesn't), or hope that someone else finds a solution (which may take a lot of time). However, if you stand back and take stock of what may seem like, the enormity of the situation, you may find your answer. Think about a picture or a jigsaw puzzle. Each, from afar, looks like a complete graphic image, but...as you get closer, you realize that both are made up of little (often tiny) pieces, or pixels.
A easy way to deal with ambiguity is to break the situation down into smaller segments as well. If you wanted to start a business, you wouldn't find a store, rent it, and then try to figure out what you wanted to sell. No...you'd think about your idea and the passion behind it, decide on which products or services you wanted to provide, figure out who you wanted to sell to (demographically), search for the best vehicles by which to market your products (and research as to why they are), recognize who you need to help you build your organization into a success, project out your financials (such as cash flow, your break even point, and expenses), develop a name, logo, and design your store and website. Plus, do whatever else you have to do to make your new venture into the dream you envisioned.
So...how does one deal with ambiguity? They turn it into amsmalluity! Relax, put things into perspective, break things into manageable segments, accomplish one thing at a time. And - before you know it...you will have turned that ambiguous situation into a satisfying result!
We live in a world of comparisons. Each of us is compared to someone else when it comes to our intellect, physical appearance, profession, lifestyle, hobbies, likes and dislikes, religion (or lack thereof), political stance, and the material goods we possess. I guess that's called selection. Yet, our culture has taken it to new levels. Marketing thrives on making us feel insecure, imperfect, and never good enough until we buy the product or service they're peddling.
I teach marketing (as well as a number of other business subjects - including; ethics and leadership) and start each semester by explaining the rudiments of marketing as I see it: "Getting people to buy what they really don't need, with money they really don't have." Explaining that, to me, sets the course on a realistic path. Knowing that, may help students see things from a broader perspective and, hopefully, add some insights into why this system persists and how to make a difference within it or change it.
Yes...there are some excellent companies that don't exploit the vision of sucking every dime out of consumers pockets, making them feel like a "lesser person" and actually providing the populace with things they really need at a fair price, without taking advantage of their own workers in the process. The trick is to get more of them into our society.
But, of course, there's that thing about imperfection that most companies use to haunt us. You're not attractive enough unless you buy this car, those pants, that electronic device, these makeup products, hair coloring items, teeth whiteners, or that dress. How could you possibly land the woman or man of your dreams with a body like that? Eat this food, drink this drink, take this pill, join this gym, buy this equipment, and you'll find the love of your life in no time flat!
Let's be honest folks...making people feel like they're insecure and imperfect is what, quite often, makes consumers buy the things they really don't need.
Once you realize that you're actually perfect in your "imperfection," you become teflonesque (not letting marketing and advertising stick to your thought processes). Yes...I know - you must be wondering how I can say these things when I teach it and owned a marketing, advertising, public relations, and management company for almost 15 years. Well, I can, because I know it for a fact. That's what it's all about.
So recognize that in your imperfection, you're perfect...period. Yea...you may wanna slim down (you can always do that by doing pushaways and exercising at home on a regular basis), or buy something that makes you feel good (a book, some music, some new clothes, fine wine, and/or healthy food), but do it through getting other people's thoughts on the items (ok, maybe some occasional advertisements may pique your interest, be informational and useful too).
Once you accept yourself for who you are...marketing, as we know it, becomes the reality that you're being led, used, and manipulated. And - when you know that in your heart, it's very tough for anyone to sell you what you don't need, with money you don't have.
So...think about it. Try being a "non-stick" human. It really can give you a feeling of freedom and a new degree of contentment.