Friday, January 6, 2012

12 Thoughts for 2012

Yesterday I sent out my first newsletter from my new homepage. 2011 brought many big changes for me, including a long hiatus from the blog (for the second time...sorry) where I adjusted to 1) being newly married and 2) launching my first business. Below is the newsletter I sent out, and I encourage you to read it, visit my personal homepage, and subscribe to my mailing list. I am planning to resume blogging during this month of January, with some increased focus given my entrepreneurial interests. However I will maintain my continued commentary on the big picture, given this is a presidential election year, and the year some people predict doom (I say doom is always possible, but so is salvation: it all depends on how we all decide to act). 

The Question: What does 2012 mean for… ?
  1. The Planet: This is probably the make or break year for carbon emissions and climate change. New policies, technologies and attitudes can steer us clear of catastrophic consequences, but time is running out.
  2. US Politics: The GOP field is depressing, though I most interested in Ron Paul’s campaign. Some of his stances are posturing and others are simply wrong, but overall he has a coherent and honest philosophy of government that is unwavering. If he could win the nomination it would mean America could finally debate at the presidential level some important issues. 
  3. US Politics: Mitt Romney might be the best candidate on the GOP side from the standpoint of managerial skill, but I don’t trust him. He panders and shows no ethical compass on issues like torture or wealth inequality. 
  4. US Politics: Obama’s recent decisions, NDAA withstanding, show signs he may be learning how to lead. He will get my full support this year if he can finally demonstrate the proper combination of pragmatic, visionary and courageous leadership.
  5.  Social Movement, Protest, & Revolution: 2011 brought us the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. These events emerged from long-standing and growing dissatisfaction with social and economic injustice. In the US, we must contribute to these movements by maintaining pressure on elites to address these injustices, lest we find ourselves with armed rebellion or a police state on our hands. Around the world, we must make sure these movements stay peaceful and constructive, so that opportunities, like the fall of Qaddafi or Mubarak, can be quickly seized for building a more fair and sustainable world.
  6. Economics will be dominated by uncertainty. “Disruptive innovation” is now the goal of every respectable start-up and even many a Fortune 500, so expect to see the unexpected. Resource management, in a world now with more than 7 billion people, will continue to produce shocks due to scarcity and waste due to inadequate accountability systems. We will see plenty of both positive and negative consequences from advancing globalization. 
  7. Social Class, Consumerism & Family Values: Americans, rich, poor, and middle class alike, are on the cusp of a social transformation. While the middle class is disappearing, people everywhere are being forced to realize the shallowness of consumerism and material accumulation. However, the rapid pace of media saturation and the resentment over lost, vulnerable or unreachable social status are the main obstacles to our culture reclaiming the lost values of family and community. If we can highlight the value of family and community, we can strengthen democracy and ease the pain of economic volatility.
  8. Entrepreneurship: I am starting my own business, and learning how much of a career switch I have made. Transitioning from a “job” with paychecks and bureaucracy to the lean, nimble and uncertain path of steering my own ship is exhilarating. This is now my life, and I invite you to join me in seizing your inner-entrepreneur (if you haven’t already). Start something. Design and build a system. Solve a problem. Own your destiny.
  9. Education: The reform movement is confused. Easy fixes continue to crash against the reality that building knowledge and growing good people is extremely hard. Government elites and private philanthropists need to spend more time on the ground, and smart, hard working people with experience in the trenches need to spend more time involved in building system wide changes. I have little hope for promising national transformation in 2012, but some of the foundation for change is laid with the common core. Some ideas are getting refined in public debate, and some disruptive innovations, such as my very own Fate of Civilizations will improve outcomes on a broad level.
  10. Communication & Social Media: Tablets, 4G, “sign in with facebook,” facetime, 4square, Yelp, and a million other new tools continue to reshape how we work, think, and most importantly, interact. The most important “technology” that everyone can adopt, however, is free. Customize your own system for leveraging and controlling your communications systems. Own your inbox, own your time. We probably won’t hear “crackberry” mentioned in 2012 (unless someone is referring to RIM’s new lowest stock price), but people are still cracked out on communication technology. In 2012, make sure you are early adopter of some technologies, but thoughtfully pass on others. Make sure to value real face to face interaction with people and unplugging on a regular basis. And make sure to enjoy exercise and nature. There will always be a new widget or app to try out, so do it, after you have dinner with a loved one, or take a hike through the woods. 
  11. My personal life is going well. I am so thrilled to be starting the year happily married to a wonderful woman, and with plans to spend another year in New York City with so many family, friends and opportunities. I am looking for new ways to teach, learn, and improve myself, my station, and my community. This year, through entrepreneurship, activism, writing, studying, sports, relationships and adventure, I am excited for the possibility for enrichment, enlightenment and success. 
  12. This newsletter is an experiment. As a committed absorber and processor of ideas and information, I feel I have something to offer the world in a newsletter. This is the first email I am sending you, and I hope you enjoy it. I currently plan on writing newsletters quarterly, since this is new to me and I don’t want to overpromise on frequency. However, at times, I may send out other emails, and I hope you will let me know what you think, and share them if you like them. 

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