By Bradley Stockwell
It’s true; money doesn’t make the world go round—conservation of angular momentum does. However, history doesn’t mark itself by Earth’s rotations but by the movements of the economies that create it. So yes, with this perspective, the cyclical movements of history are governed by money. As a physics student, I enjoy drilling things down to their foundations and at the bedrock of every change in history you’ll typically find the economy. Trends, fashion, technology, music, art, politics, war—are all reflections of the economy. Why is that? Because we as a general society identify ourselves with the way in which we earn a living and when that changes, it has a trickledown effect on everything else in our lives.
The recession marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new and (call me optimistic) better era. Adapting to the recession emboldened us to step out and find smarter ways of making a living; to finally change the many things that led us into the recession anyhow. Thanks to the internet, more people are starting businesses and launching new ideas now than ever. Online crowdfunding has given a platform on which to present and fund ideas and the online business is a cost-effective solution to sell that idea. Great things happen when massive amounts of people start pursuing their dreams—new industries are created (including the alternative lending industry in which I’m currently employed in), business practices are improved and technology advances. In the last five years there’s been an explosion of entrepreneurs and small business owners—many of whom were victims of the recession, who are shaping a better and smarter economy. Thanks to social networking, there’s been a great shift towards the empowerment of the individual; whether it be the products we buy, the media we consume, or most importantly the jobs we hold—every facet of our lives is now becoming individualized. Companies are beginning to see the benefit of having an open ear to not only their consumers, but also their employees, giving rise to a new type of entrepreneur; the intrapreneur. In fact entire business models are now shaped around the intrapreneur such as the ‘sharing industries’. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are allowing people to use their existing resources, like their car and home, to earn a part time or full time living; helping the economy boost itself on its own terms. Not to mention they are also improving the taxi and hotel industries by forcing them to adapt to this new influx of competition. These symbiotic business models, where the company, the employees and consumers all benefit, are precursors for how I think American business will look in the next ten years.
It’s an exciting time to be alive. I believe we are at the beginning of a great change in humanity because of changes happening in the business world. As I stated earlier, when the economy changes everything else soon follows. We’re starting to realize the value of open-sourced sharing of information and the empowerment of individuals. While these seem like conflicting concepts, they’re not. Both need each other in order to create a competitive atmosphere and we, especially as Americans, know competition drives advancement. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Solar City, is the embodiment of this idea and I believe the archetype for the 21st century CEO. Every patent Tesla Motors held was recently released for ‘free use’ to drive the progression of electric car technology. Not only will this certainly spur the success of Tesla, but it will also contribute to the success of a recovering automobile industry and will combat the now present threat of climate change due to carbon emissions. Not to mention Tesla’s direct-sales model is also trying to kill everything we hate about buying a car from a dealership. See everybody wins—the company, the industry, the consumer and humanity.