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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Prosperity, The Search For Meaning, & Business

Daniel H. Pink, author of the new book A Whole New Mind, argues that the "left brain" intellectual tasks that "are routine, computer-like, and can be boiled down to a spec sheet are migrating to where it is cheaper, thanks to Asia's rising economies and the miracle of cyberspace." The U.S. will remain strong in "right brain" work that entails "artistry, creativity, and empathy with the customer that requires being physically close to the market.".
He argues that the US is grappling with what he calls as the "abundance gap", a widening gulf between material prosperity and overall satisfaction. The ownership patterns of automobile and houses in the US clearly display the depth and reach of prosperity. The self-storage industry is a $17 billion-a-year industry - larger than the motion picture business. That's abundance. Surveys repeatedly have demonstrated that Americans are scarcely more satisfied with the way their lives are going than before the explosion of prosperity. A growing pile of evidence reveals that past a certain (and surprisingly low) point, more money and more things don't produce greater satisfaction. For entrepreneurs and investors, the abundance gap has two important consequences.
- First, to recruit talented people, organizations must now offer purpose along with a paycheck. Since more Americans have embarked on Fogel's "quest for self-realization," the way to attract talented individuals and keep them happy is to offer a sense of significance. As GE CEO Jeff Immelt has said, "The reason why people come to work for GE is that they want to be part of something larger than themselves."
- Second, the abundance gap represents an enormous business opportunity. Companies that aim to close the gap are poised to do quite well: For example, health care ventures that focus on wellness; travel operations that offer customized, meaningful experiences; publishing and education companies that provide materials to help customers lead those purpose-driven lives; consumer products companies that also aspire to some higher social purpose; and so on.
With basic needs available in abundance, there's a premium on products, services, and experiences that close the abundance gap and that help people in their search for meaning. These businesses would spread prosperity and happiness together.

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"