Friday, February 5, 2010

{business will change the world}

The path that lead me to Sseko was a long and windy (windy as in twisty, not blustery. although, at times, the word blustery would have been appropriate) one. Along the way I made some pit stops, mistakes, and friends. One of these friends is named James. James is dreaming about the way business will change the world. Friends like James are among those who gave me a little extra umphh that I needed to take the plunge. Nothing like a "Well if he can change the world..." to kick me into action.

(**Note that the emphasis on he was to illustrate that he is in fact a he, and I am a she. A rather competitive she that likes to keep up with the he's. Not to intonate that if James can do it anyone can, because if fact, James is rather talented. End note.**)

This is the most recent edition of "Business Will Change the World" from James. To read the original, and more great and provoking thoughts go

Business is the most powerful force shaping the world. I don't often use superlatives like 'biggest,' 'best,' or 'most powerful,' because they are usually wrong. But today I'll make three assertions, and they will all be superlative. Although these can't be definitively proven, there is evidence by the freighter-load to back them up, and it's headed your way.

1 - Business is the most powerful force shaping the world.
2 - Business is the most powerful force shaping your life.
3 - Your business decisions are the most impactful part of your life.

Assertion # 1: Business is the most powerful force shaping the world.

Perhaps the biggest change in human culture since the advent of agriculture is happening right now - billions of people are moving from rural lands to cities, following the promise of prosperity offered by business. In Africa and Asia 1 Million people per week are showing up in cities, looking for a future. As people move off the farms and grazing lands that used to sustain them, they become consumers. Business's influence in the world grows with every new family that arrives on the outskirts of a city.

Some of business's other accomplishments: The percentage of the world population living in extreme poverty has dropped by half since the early 80s. The average person's income in the world today is 50x more than it was in the late 1700s, at the kickoff of the Industrial (i.e. Business) Revolution, and that's adjusted for inflation. Today there are over 1 billion cars on the roads. There are over 1 billion computers running Microsoft Windows. There are over 1 billion people using the Internet.

Maybe bigger, we're changing the composition of earth's atmosphere, and the huge majority of that change comes from business - even the gases attributed to cattle are largely from industrial (i.e. business) farms. With me now? Let's move on.

Assertion # 2: Business is the most powerful force shaping your life.

Look around you right now. How many of the things that you see were made by a business? Business is why your world looks the way it does - all the stores and restaurants and cafes and furniture and gadgets and styles and movies - all business. The paycheck that covers your rent and bills comes from business, even if you work for a non-profit or the government. Business is where they get their money.

Even more fundamentally, since business so profoundly shapes our world, our choices must often conform to the mold that business has built around us. Many of our biggest decisions: our professions, hometowns, whether to buy or rent, when to marry and retire, are deeply affected by business.

Assertion # 3: Your business decisions are the most impactful part of your life.

What you buy and how you use it, where you work, and what you invest in - your business decisions - have a greater impact on the world than any other part of your life. The things you buy touch people around the world - miners and smelters and farmers and fabricators and stitchers and assembly line workers and cargo ship deck hands and retail managers and janitors. Your purchases fund the entire supply chain. Your work and investments support businesses that do similarly, on a larger scale than you personally.

Almost all of the resources that you use - oil, minerals, trees, electricity - are connected to these decisions, along with almost all the greenhouse gas emissions that you're responsible for.

Let's recap. Business is the most powerful force shaping our world, and shaping your life. And your part in business is the most impactful thing that you do. Business will change the world and you will support it, whether it does what you like or not. My questions for you are: Can you shape business as it shapes the world? If so, how, and why don't we? Discussions of these questions coming next.

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