Archive for August, 2009

The “Reset” economy

Two great ideas flew past my windshield this week – too late to be included in the recent presentation of BRAVE NEW WORLD, the seminar I presented to two Northern California NARI chapters last week – but too good to be ignored.

The first from Business Week quoted GE CEO Jeff Immelt who named the new economy the “Reset economy”, saying that people’s expectations are in the process of being ‘reset’ from the past decade.  This reset will impact everything from what’s sold and produced to the prices we pay.

The second, an even more striking article, is from the September 2009 Harvard Business Review.  The article, entitled “Doing Business in a Postgrowth Society”, states quite clearly that “Just as unlimited population expansion is untenable, so is unlimited GDP growth”.

The author, Yale Professor James Gustave Speth, goes on to say “Soon, developed countries will begin the move to a postgrowth world where working life, the natural environment, communities and the public sector will no longer be sacrificed for the sake of mere GDP growth and where the illusory promise of ever more expansion will no longer provide an excuse for ignoring social needs.  A postgrowth society will involve less consumerism and higher prices; quality of life will improve in ways too long neglected.”

Read the entire article at

If you’re interested, review the power point presentation on BRAVE NEW WORLD.Brave New World v4.

And send me feedback on these and other ideas, please.  Thanks … may the dog days of summer reward your patience!


Growing Old Awkwardly!

Sub title – Ballad in Plain A (for awful)!

A few nights ago I presented a talk entitled BRAVE NEW WORLD — or is it? to a NARI chapter which included 4 friendly faces, 5  counting the great Pella rep who invited me.  Therefore, I knew a scant 20% of the audience.

Although not quite a disaster, the 45 minute talk was condensed to a fast 30 minutes as we waited for the projector to arrive, the attendees were half what was anticipated as the evening was too beautiful to stay inside for even a moment, and because of time, I never properly introduced myself to indicate why in the world anyone should listen to what I had to say.

And then I delivered a brand new presentation on a subject I had researched for less than a month, although deeply and passionately researched – The Future in Remodeling.

Awful Indeed!

Since then I’ve ruminated on what would have changed the outcome and I realized this morning with blinding clarity the answer:

Do what you know, don’t try anything new or dangerous, stay put and stay safe!

I’ve fallen hard for this subject: the future came upon us as we were living in the present.  Is this the future we envisioned last year, the year before?  I doubt it.

Next year will come upon us based on what we do now …. so in fact the study of the future is as much a study of how effectively we act now on what we want to be then.

And I want to be challenged, I want to be excited about new ideas and prospects, I want to fall and fall awkwardly because I’ve tried something absolutely terrifyingly new.

But part of me wishes that those few days ago I had given a presentation I’d given many times before, on subjects I know inside and out …. and felt competent and graceful.

Or do I?  Can we really be alive and engaged if we only do what we always did?  Do we want to be a ‘one trick pony’, as Paul Simon sang, or do we want more?  If so, we have to be prepared to grow old not gracefully, but awkwardly.

In the meantime, I’ll be thinking it over, hiking on the verges of Mt. Tam, drinking beer on the beach and listening to The Felice Brothers.

You, have a good weekend too!

And if you’d like to read the entire presentation including lots of footnotes and an in-depth bibliography, download it from my website:  Go to ‘downloadable files’ and choose BRAVE NEW WORLD!

Brave New World … or is it?

In putting the final touches on a new presentation I’ll be giving twice this week in Northern California entitled “Brave New World – or is it?” I stumbled upon a great website entitled “” and read the article entitled “When Systems Collapse”.  Read it here:

I realized upon reading the article and the previous article even more fascinating entitled “Fourteen Future Trends for Business in 2009 and Beyond” [read it here:] that everything I wanted to say in the presentation had been included in the following comment from John Locke”, a nom-de-plume (nom de guerre) I assume:

“I look at the situation as being near the end of a big cycle, and the start of a new one. We’re in the midst of a period of creative destruction, and the economics of scale have flipped to favor the small instead of the big. So the solution needs to come from the groundswell of people taking action, not imposed as policy from above.

“Life is the opposite of entropy. It’s a constant struggle between vitality and bureaucracy. Entropy tries to even everything out, but pesky little life pops up to make things complicated. It’s really a great time, an exciting time, a nerve-wracking time to be here. The main point is, big corporations are running headlong off a cliff. Today Microsoft is suing a company over Linux–corporations are desperate to keep innovation at bay for their own self-preservation.

“So a call to action is great, but you should be calling everybody to action, to find ways in their own communities to make sure people can stay in their homes, have enough to eat, and reward companies who support their communities. It’s time to recognize the true consequences of the accounting systems that ignore human, natural, and manufactured capital and only account for finance. No central decision-making body can do this for us, we need to do it for ourselves, stop patronizing places that destroy communities by sending jobs overseas, start helping companies who create jobs.”

The next quote from George Soros [Source: Wikipedia:  “Global financier and philanthropist, George Soros is the founder and chairman of a network of foundations that promote, among other things, the creation of open, democratic societies based upon the rule of law, market economies, transparent and accountable governance, freedom of the press, and respect for human rights.’]

“The recession will last a long time. “Look, we are not going back to where we came from. In that sense it’s going to last for ever.”

The ideas in these two quotes combined to make clear that only by identifying the future trends in OUR OWN BACKYARD can we act, rather than react, to promote future wellness in ourselves.

And from this flow, future wellness in our companies, in our communities, in the world.

Howard Gardner, author of, among other seminal works in the field,  “Changing Minds: the Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds” says “To change minds effectively, leaders make particular use of 2 tools: the stories they tell and the lives that they lead.”

Determine today what you can do, what we can do, to promote that future wellness that protects us, our kids and grandkids.

After my most recent trip I determined that I would reduce the real “garbage” as much as possible, recycling absolutely everything I could.  After three weeks between trips I averaged less than ½ of a grocery bag full of non-recycled garbage — mostly things like shampoo bottles (I checked, not to be recycled), the aluminum tops on some yoghurt containers and a toothpaste tube.  Everything else went to compost, to paper/plastic/glass recycling.  I felt good!

Water was next – although Seattle and the Pacific Northwest tends to have sufficient water for long showers (second in the list of reasons I moved here in 2006 from the San Francisco Bay Area which tended to experience droughts every other month), I’m timing my showers.  I haven’t resorted to the trick of my Oakland friends – put a bucket in the shower to collect water until heated to the proper temperature: they save enough to water their container plants and they’ve got a large container garden.

This is small potatoes, I know.  Next will be driving – I’ve been able to work with most clients via the web and thereby cut down driving, the Prius gets around 38 mpg in city driving but the monthly (or more frequently) plane trips really blow my carbon footprint.

My goal in the next year is to become conversant in the language and technology of healthy homes. I’ve signed up for a class on the subject at the Seattle MBA, an NAHB member.  I’m excited to learn about what changes, both macro and micro that can lead to both safer homes and better companies.

And as the first line of this post indicated, lead us to a better Brave New World!

More on this next week!