Maybe we need a kick in the decency pants instead? Do we have the guts to read this and do something about it?
“Here’s a tiny suggestion. The “best” investment you can make isn’t gold. It’s the people you love, the dreams you have, and living a life that matters.
Now, some among you will probably roll your eyes and snicker: “Hey, bro, want fries with that naivety …”
If we all invest in gold, the price of gold skyrockets. If we all invest in stocks, managers tend to get rewarded (whether or not they’ve performed). But if you were to have the impertinence to invest in what (really) moved you — let’s say you wanted to be a musician, an artist, or a chef — and you kept investing in those ambitions, towards the lofty goal of being the best in the world at your dream, and if a few other people also invested in their dreams, and then several more followed their lead — well, eventually the economy’s gears might begin to move with a different rhythm. And multiplied, your pattern of investments in your dreams — acting classes, music lessons, lectures, books, seminars, travel, and so on — would begin to set incentives for people doing useful stuff, who were able to help you meaningfully accomplish those dreams. And we’d probably begin to devalue the micro-bubbles in socially useless stuff (like gold) and dilute oversized managerial rewards.
The same is doubly true for investing in the people you love: spending your resources to spark their talents or to create meaningful life experiences with them — instead of just buying stuff for them. And the same is triply true for living a life that matters: if you were to invest in, for example, social businesses, instead of the equity of orthodox corporations, or to choose where to work not just based on the immediate paycheck, … you’d be rebuilding the engine.
Here’s what I’m not suggesting: that you impoverish yourself financially to enrich yourself spiritually, intellectually, relationally, and emotionally. Authentic prosperity is probably more about achieving a balance.
What’s this never-ending crisis really about? Both Tyler Cowen and I have called it a Great Stagnation — so what’s stagnating? I’d say: human potential itself. Hence, a megacrisis that never ends: at root, it’s a crisis of underinvesting in human potential, and overinvesting in lowest-common-denominator junk; a crisis of too many plastic widgets chasing too little imagination, wisdom, connection, and purpose. Perhaps the safest investments of all are the human, social, and emotional ones. They’re what give human life texture, depth, resonance, and meaning.
Authentic prosperity isn’t about stockpiling chits and bits that you can — if you’re lucky — sell to the next guy before the house of cards collapses in on itself. It’s watching the people you love grow and flourish, making the dreams you’ve dared to nurture and safeguard come roaring to life, and, above all, living a life that matters long after you’re gone. That’s the stuff not merely of shareholder “value” — but of authentic, enduring, human worth. Hence, I’d gently suggest: the economic sparkplug missing from our so-called prosperity won’t be invented in Silicon Valley, manufactured in Shenzhen, hawked by Madison Avenue or Wall Street, or ordained by Washington. It will be found in the pursuit of wisdom, grace, humility, courage, and great achievement. It’s the hard work of investing in the people you love, the dreams you have, and living a life that matters.”
The above is a excerpt of a powerful blog by Harvard’s Umair Haque. I was reading Gretchen Morgenson in last Sunday’s business section of the New York Times as she outlined the greed and immoral behavior demonstrated by Morgan Keegan, the Memphis investment firm and how they deceived investors in the toxic mortgage crises we have all been impacted by. It made me want to puke. In fact the great recession is ground hog day reading about the thirst for others’ money regardless of the people hurt in the process. Much analysis by researchers demonstrates that it was mostly intentional and without the moral compass we owe each other. Over the last 40 years, from my perspective as a CEO, too much talent has been committed to creating the wrong wealth. We can do something about this. We control the money, time, and talents we have.
- Take an honest assessment of what you’re investing in.
- Build a mutual fund around the people you love, dreams you have, and living a life that matters.
We’re Gold in the Character Triangle,