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Symposium 2013

Proposal - Putting Money Back In Its Place

The Challenge

Innovation as the foundation of economic dynamism and prosperity is a complex process involving contributions from various players. In particular it deals with the transformation of basic science into ...

Innovation as the foundation of economic dynamism and prosperity is a complex process involving contributions from various players. In particular it deals with the transformation of basic science into rival proposals that improve the well-being of mankind. For more than 200 years technological innovation has driven economic development. All growth is based on innovation. The process of innovation involves complementary contributions from science, from entrepreneurs, from the financial markets, from the investment community and from government.

For 100 years the world has been on a fairly consistent march towards more and more free enterprise, and deeper and more sharp edged caverns of capitalism.  And for approximately 80 of those years the world was not on a bad path.  People (entrepreneurs) created things of real value to other people, and society too, and in the process of us paying for them, productive new industries were stood up (think of the automobile industry, the wired and wireless telephone industries, etc), people were hired, and a middle class was born. And on the backend of this, the entrepreneurs themselves often got rich, enjoyed fame and lived what most would call an exceedingly successful life.  But somewhere long the lines of the last 20 years, the bi-product strangely became the product.

Versus worrying ourselves about creating something of real value to society and the people within them, many (no, most) actually just fast forwarded their discussion to the profit and money part.  Take an average conversation with almost anyone doing almost anything in the past 20 years, and you could add the same basic tag line.

So why did you go into business? To get rich. To make money.

So why did you become a Wall Street or London banker? To get rich. To make money.

So why did you sell that company, or buy it in the first place?  To get rich. To make money.

So why did you become a professional athlete?  To get rich. To make money.

So why did you become a drug dealer?  To get rich. To make money.

It's about the only time that I can think of when the fancy guy on Wall Street, and the hustler working in the gritty neighborhood of my childhood street, where I grew up, are the same guy.  Everyone seems to have come down with the same bug -- greed with little other purpose.

When the bi-product (cash money and getting rich) becomes the product (producing something of meaningful value to society and individuals within it), all the bets are off. Society, countries, communities, companies, and the individuals within them, cannot help but ultimately fail.  We have all lost our story line.

 

We Need A New Storyline

We need a more dynamic, holistic and engaging storyline for society -- and all the actors within it.

We need a new storyline that creates and nurtures real, new sustainable customers organically (through real wage increases and real job creation, or by changing the individual dynamic, such as raising credit scores, as we do here at Operation HOPE in underserved communities of the U.S.), rather than 'manufacturing' so-called new customers, by giving them say a predatory subprime loan that they do not understand, and ultimately cannot afford.

A storyline that says in parts of the world where women are mistreated and left out of society, you will never succeed until you treat women with respect. You simply cannot succeed with half of your population oppressed and sitting on the sidelines of life. In fact, there is no successful society today in the world that oppresses women as a matter of state policy or acceptable social norm.

A storyline that sees the so-called poor as an opportunity for emerging market growth, rather than a dead weight which must be shunned, ignored, or worse, spurned and turned away.  We have consistently raised credit scores at Operation HOPE on average of 120 points over 18 months of intensive financial literacy counseling in our offices.  There is nothing that changes your life more, other than love or God, than moving your credit score 120 points (in the U.S.).  To put this into context for countries without credit scores -- if you have a 500 credit score, you are a check cashing customer. But if you have a 670 credit score, you are a prime bank customer.  And also, everything about your attitude about life, and yourself, changes.  The poverty state of mind I so often talk away, begins to fall away, and it is replaced with an empowerment mindset.  The civil rights focus of consumer protections, most be coupled and partnered with the silver rights focus of consumer empowerment policies, partnerships and possibilities. When you do this, you create individuals who are not only not burdens to society, they are increasing individual pods of untapped economic energy, opportunity and aspiration, waiting to be born. Hope, made real.

The real focus of success should not be on the narrow minded agenda of 'making money,' but rather creating real and sustainable value for society and individuals too.  When you do this, you not only have an opportunity to get rich, you also build sustainable wealth (and personal legacy) too.

 

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