In The Future: After Fifteen Minutes

You better know something...

Rant Starts Here:

When my career abruptly ended 10 years ago after almost 30 years of working for the same organization, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, although I only appreciated it to a small degree at the time. It wasn't known then, that it occurred at the beginning of one of the worst decades of American consumerism, celebrity worship and over-the-top-you-name-the-poison. Not to mention one of the worst historic acts of terrorism (September 11, 2001) also occurred at the beginning of the decade, which the American people just seemed to skip over. The lessons came much harder, faster and earlier to me than for most people, who are now feeling the effects of the worst recession since the last Great Depression in the '30s.

Those who have known me a long time will verify that I've been consistently saying since the middle of the '90s the following:

Nothing that has happened in the past three decades can be blamed on our leaders in business, religion, Congress or Administrations. The blame is laid squarely at the feet of the American people.

We have several generations with a large majority of people that have no idea what a bad time, era of difficulty or a period of deprivation of goods is like. They're spoiled clueless. To them it is more important to look good, feel good, have things and far worse, to collect people as objects to enhance their status, not valuable assets to enrich life. The car you drive is more important than having good character on a journey.

My concern for over a decade now, has not been how I or people of strong character I know, will handle tough times when they come along. We'll be fine and adjust. I weathered difficult financial circumstances in the late '60s, when I arrived in this country at 14 years old and had to start working right away. It wasn't horrible, we weren't poverty stricken, my family was rebuilding an exciting new life and reinventing ourselves in America. Rather, I'm more disturbed by how a lot of the population will react when they realize they're not entitled, no one owes them anything and what once came easily to them, is now difficult to obtain or impossible. I want to avoid them by all means.

It has seemed rather obvious to me that since the '93-'94 recession, consumption has been racheting up out of control with only one ultimate conclusion. Since the late '70s and even more so in the '80s, skills and knowledge have been deemphasized and we embraced what I refer to as the MBA Marketing Culture that has no respect for attention to detail. The Cult of Personality and selling image was more important than actually producing something and doing what you said you would do. "It is better to look good than to actually know and do something."

I refuse to participate in the negative of this Economic Crisis. Ninety percent of life is NOT just showing up and getting a pension, social security and health care benefits. I see a link between what is happening economically and the social values of the past few decades and I'm not sure there is a choice about a Second and Third Wave in this Great Recession. I'm not buying the Recovery Kool-Aid...we ain't seen nothin' yet. If you do not want to be responsible for yourself and anything you may have done in the past that is causing pain now, I can't be around that. On the other hand, if you made mistakes with debt, relationships, priorities, careers and own up to them and work to repair the damage and reinvent yourself, no one is more for you than I am. It is to everyone's advantage that responsible people get a break if they need one (public money giveaways are not a break).

Since the late '70's I've watched this country thin it's brains and culture out, aspire to less knowledge, become underachievers, more delusional and too comfortable. We have become infatuated with the idea that "everyone is a winner." As for me, since I can remember my desire has been to engage with people smarter and know more than I do because they envisage things I do not and I want to constantly, continually visualize and learn. That is my American Dream. I'm attracted to people who want to engage themselves to be better but I also realize that it's not for everyone.

What I have found, especially over these past 15 years, is a lot of people are too content at being complacent. I'm willing to throw lifelines to those who have the willingness to grasp and go higher and seek to rise above. To me giving collective power lifts to affirmatively raise the masses higher, which essentially dilutes the value, is a waste of time and resources. It might be a product of decades of my training people but I've discovered that many people tend to attain a comfort level of mediocrity and stay there. People, like water, seek their own level. It's foolish not to recognize that people have different IQ levels and abilities and there is nothing wrong with that, it's a product of nature and humanity. Not all people need a college degree or a high-paying job to be considered a success in life.

A successful life can mean many things and a lot of them have nothing to do with career, money, fame or appearance.

Back in my early Bell System days I worked for a Traffic Manager who probably had no idea that he would have a lifetime impact on me with a few simple, direct concepts. To him I was probably just another one of those hippie kids they forced the company to hire. He was definitely "old school", a product of a military stint and a cowboy from Arizona days of yore. He did watch over me though and gave me quite a few good rules on being a leader. If I was beginning to get a little slipshod he would strongly but not too sternly say: "Son, you need to get your papers in order." If I offered up excuses he responded: "Son, charm works for 15 minutes, after that you better know something."

Since my involuntary "separation" from my career I've experienced and learned a lot and fortunately am probably as prepared as anyone for what we are likely to see in this country. We're in a highly unusual period and looking at history, macro and micro, distant and recent, the world has been here many times before. It seems to me that in this Era of Great Disruption, you better know something.

End of Rant.