Friday, December 31, 2010

Enneagram 4 - Black

Healthy 4

Key Terms:

Level 1

Fours let go of the belief that they are more flawed than others and are thus freed from their self-absorption. Their Basic Desire, to find themselves and their significance, is also achieved and thus their problems with their identity and its stability are solved. They are self-renewing, redemptive and revelatory.

Level 2

Fours focus on their own feelings and preferences to establish a clear sense of personal identity. Self-image: "I am sensitive, different and self-aware."

Level 3

Fours reinforce their self-image by expressing their individuality through creative action. They are eloquent and subtle, exploring their feelings and impressions and finding ways of sharing them with others. Their creativity is highly personal but often has universal implications

A Letter from God

My child, do not be afraid. I have redeemed you and called you by name. I am always with you. I have given you Destiny, a sacred function to perform. I have given you the power to experience my peace and to extend it to others.

My child, my peace is always with you wherever you go. You can forget it, but cannot lose it. You are always precious to my eyes, and I love you. Love yourself today as I love you. Don't take yourself seriously. You did not choose me. I was I who chose you. All you need to do is be still and listen to my voice.

My child, I am always with you to protect you and watch over you. Put your trust in me, and you will never be harmed. Trust me as I trust you. Believe in me as I believe in you. I want you to laugh and smile more, because your salvation is already assured. Soften the brow of your face. There is no condemnation for those who believe in my mercy.

My child, let go of any fear of success or failure today. Each beat of your heart is a new creation, and I will always renew and refresh you. It is my will that you enjoy yourself today. Once you place this day in my hands, you can relax and be assured of my constant attention. I guarantee that I will never leave you alone.

- Your Loving Father

Definition of a Leader

A leader must listen to himself... to his inner voice of direction, strength and conviction. When this voice is not heard he drifts aimlessly through seas of fear and doubt. When this voice is heard and not followed he betrays himself and those around him.

A leader does have fears, doubts and failures - and conquers them. The inner voice is the foundation which holds firm against the waves of resentment and resistance.

A leader places himself aside so that the needs of others may prevail. He is gentle, strong, confident and unyielding as needed, always following the tune of his inner voice.

A leader knows fulfillment when he lives the freedom of the soaring eagle.

- Thomas Wilhite.

book: Getting Business to Come to You

formula for finding your purpose:

i could combine my interest in =
with my training & experience in =
to meet the need =
have for =

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marketing Can Do Better

Marketing Can Do Better
by: Umair Haque

Harvard Business Review
10:17 AM Wednesday October 20, 2010

Why are so many marketing campaigns brand-destroyers and money-losers? Why is "branding" becoming a devalued asset, whose returns are dwindling (witness Google building the world's mightiest brand with barely a penny of orthodox marketing expenditure)? Why do people and communities exact steeper and steeper discounts, price-cuts, and margin-crushing concessions from the beleaguered, besieged companies once known as the masters of the universe?

The half-life of companies is shrinking and the weary practice known as "marketing," adding little to no real value, seems powerless to help.

The unvarnished truth is that the fundamental assumptions behind "marketing" haven't changed for decades. Though you may be using slightly more efficient channels (like "social media"), more "creative" ideas, or more productive mechanisms (like pay-per-click), it's still a militaristic, adversarial school of thought that's largely about cramming "product" down the already overstuffed gullets of "consumers" by "targeting" "messages" jam-packed with illusory, imaginary benefits at them, in grand "campaigns" that make overblown promises ("See this beer? It's going to land you the girl of your dreams!!"). I'd argue that marketing as we know it is, still, largely about talking down. And that's not nearly good enough to send this Great Stagnation packing.

Marketing can do better. Here's how: Instead of talking down, start listening up.

Here is what I don't mean. Listening up doesn't mean surveilling your customers, and then discovering slightly cleverer ways to trick them (yet again). Listening up doesn't mean holding five thousand focus groups a year, and then price discriminating the daylights out of hapless customers. Listening up doesn't mean delving into mines studded with billions of seams of "data" about "consumers." Listening up definitely doesn't mean techno-stalking people in creepy, weird, and slightly sinister ways.

Here's what I do mean by "listening up."


The "up" is the really important part. It means having dialogues about what elevates and betters people, what raises them up to higher standards of living, doing, having, and being, what really makes them better of in meaningful ways that matter — and then igniting a movement to make it happen. When Wal-Mart talks to stakeholders in its ground-breaking value networks — as much as you or I might not like Wal-Mart — it's beginning to listen up.

Listening up means spending time actually talking to your customers, about not just their "wants" and "needs" but about their hopes and fears, their opportunities and threats, their greatest achievements and biggest regrets. It's not just about sating immediate desire with lowest-common-denominators, outsourced from the lowest bidder — it's about learning to help people achieve long-term fulfillment, in inimitable, enduring, resonant ways that rivals can't. Facebook's making many mistakes, but perhaps the biggest is slanting its platform heavily towards lightweight, subprime — and low impact — stuff like Farmville, and away from services that produce lasting, meaningful, high-impact gains.

Listening up means empowering as many people inside your organization as possible to spend time talking to your customers to have those conversations, and empowering them to talk to one another openly. To get there, it probably means rethinking the shape of your organization, from tall, to flat, to networked, meshy, and circular. Ask yourself: why is it that the only person you ever really talk to at most companies is either a powerless cashier or an even more powerless customer service rep, five billion layers of management removed from the boardroom? Because most companies, as much lip service as they might pay to the latest hip management idea, are still talking down.

Listening up means letting your fiercest critics rip away at you — and hearing them. It means empowering people to be heard, instead of just trying to shout them down or drown them out. It means responding honestly, instead of dissimulating and misdirecting. Here's my favorite example of just how much companies feel they have to misdirect and dissimulate. Why is it that customer service reps, in an act of farcical bureaucracy so awfully absurd it's worthy of Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition, have to fake their own names, and call themselves Bob, Steve, and Jim — when you know and they know their real names are probably Anup, Priya and Bayani? Because most companies can't deal with even the simplest, most basic level of human truth.

Listening up means investing not just in "market research" but in people. Relationships aren't just idle promises: they're patterns of mutual investment. Essential to the art of listening up is making those investments, so people can be heard. Pepsi Refresh is a simple, tiny, limited, imperfect example of investing in people, a small step beyond merely conditioning them to buy, buy, buy more self-destructive stuff (yes, Pepsi's in the sugar-water business — but at least a tiny chunk of its marketing bucks aren't anymore).

Listening up means asking questions that matter — and then being tough enough to hear that, just maybe, yes, you really, honestly do suck at having real, tangible, lasting benefits. No company's made it this far — yet. But you know who's getting a bit better, faster than others? Oddly, it just might be Steve Jobs — now notorious for responding to random emails about Apple. Hey, he might never admit he's wrong, but at least he responds to, well, people. How many other CEOs do you know who do that?

Listening up is the emergent, complex, and unpredictable joint creation of shared values, that build common cultural foundations and let customers and companies feel like they're part of a shared movement. It is more than a commitment to transparency, it is a deep dedication to real dialogue (as opposed to this). Yes, it's the lofty ideal — and no company I can think of has gotten all the way there, yet.

But there are some wise elders, young firebrands, and revolutionaries on the frontier. In recent history, I'd trace it back to the Cluetrain Manifesto gang. Today, Doc Searls' VRM is a giant leap towards building an economy where organizations listen up--instead of shout down. Jerry Michalski, with understated elegance, has been listening up for years. Philip Kotler's masterful Marketing 3.0 is in large part about moving from shouting down, to listening up (with emphasis on the way, way up). Jennifer Aaker's insanely, tremendously awesome Dragonfly Effect is an ode to doing meaningful stuff that matters — by listening up.

Getting from where we are to where we need to be is going to be more like a climb, and less like a stroll.

But here's what you might get in return. Instead of merely discovering the next "feature-set" for your latest, greatest snoozer of a product (yawn — It got copied by approximately four hundred different factories in Shenzhen, Da Nang, and Johor Bahru even before I finished this blog post) you might discover how to change the world. You might gain a little bit of empathy. You might smoke out your own weaknesses and limitations. You might discover what more abiding passion, bigger purpose, and steadfast perseverance really mean — and can do. You might just learn how to topple the status quo. And if you keep at it, you might even be able to ascertain how to, in your own tiny way, sow the seeds of prosperity.

If you can do that, the people formerly known as "consumers," the hard-working folks who've gotten a raw deal in this Age of Austerity, the ones who are inured to the cries of buy, buy, buy, the folks who have been tuning you out, well — they probably won't just be grateful. If you can actually help them flourish and prosper in meaningful ways that matter, well then, maybe, just maybe, they'll start to respect, admire and even love you a little bit for it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

content is king


Soapbox December 2, 2010 ET.Michael Eisner
The former Disney CEO has reinvented himself as author and new-media entrepreneur. Seeing the potential to reach larger audiences than ever before via the Web, the complex mogul talks about the transformation of media from caveman days to those ahead and how content really is king


This is the greatest time in my career in the media. Was it easier when I worked at ABC and there were only three networks and the least objectionable program was still a big hit? Sure.

I don’t think I’m doing anything different now from what I did at Disney when I walked into Imagineering or animation or live action or television development. My interest was always: What is the show? Because if the show is right, everything works out.

But if you are still working in the media business, you would have to be a troglodyte, or in a wheelchair and drooling and incapable of thinking, not to be involved in new media.

I’m intrigued that in this technological world you can create entertainment that could reach 60 million people. But it is selective. Farmville reaches 60 million people, yet there are other games that reach no people. It is all about the selection.

The media have as much opportunity today as they have ever had. The creation of content has never been more important. It’s wide open for all sorts of new creative ventures. The dissemination of content to every nook and cranny of the world has never been easier. It has gone from paintings on cavemen’s walls to the ability to digitally beam movies, television, news, information and music into every cave in the world. The need for entertaining, informative, provocative and important ideas has never been close to what it is today.

I don’t think it’s all about the user generation of material or democracy in media. It’s still about human beings coming together and deciding what is and isn’t interesting.

This is the power of an idea being translated into a mass media: We’re buying “Another American,” a show about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” by a guy who spent three years interviewing people in the military. He put on a one-man show in a theater the size of my office and it was only produced on Sundays and Mondays in New York. It could have been done 3,000 years ago.We’re going to translate that to a digital experience going out on mobile phones and Internet connections for an audience that instead of being 30 people in a theater could be 30 million around the world. It’s an example of how far we’ve come—and how we’re still dependent on an individual mind.

I’m a big believer in what Woody Allen said: If “show business” were not a business, it would be called “show show.” No matter how articulate I like to be about the importance of entertainment to international trade and American culture and expression and democracy, it’s still a business and you have to be able to afford to do what you do and there has to be a return. I saw that I could play in this world of creating games with FameTown, that I didn’t have to be a conglomerate. I like that you can do it economically and entertainingly.

“If you’re working in the media business, you’d have to be a troglodyte, or in a wheelchair and drooling and incapable of thinking, not to be involved in new media”After Disney, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I found new partners. I’ve always liked being part of a team, whether it was with Barry Diller [at Paramount] or Frank Wells [at Disney] or my wife or new people—finding the Shawn Fannings [of Napster] of the world. I believe in the idea of partners. I’m not a sole practitioner. Never have been. It’s more fun having somebody else there to commiserate with and celebrate with.

I used to be the youngest person in every organization I was at. My partners were always older. And then I woke up one day and I was the oldest person and my partners were significantly younger. Now my partners are generationally younger. When I left Disney, I brought Andy Redman with me. He was 25. We’ve worked together for five years absolutely the same way I worked with Frank and Barry and others—every day talking 22 times a day. And he is 38 years younger. I like young ideas.

I’m kind of back to doing things the way I did at the beginning of my career. When I started, I was the lowest person on the 37th floor at ABC. Everything is given to the lowest person to do. Now I do it all myself with a few people to help. All of a sudden delegation is not as available to you as when you had 125,000 people working for you. And that’s good. They say if you do the New York Times crossword puzzle it sharpens your mind, it keeps you young. Maybe being closer to the action does the same thing.

I know this is hard to believe, but I fly commercial. Disney had its own planes, but my wife, children and I traveled commercial when I wasn’t on Disney business. Now I fly private and commercial. As bad as airline travel has gotten—inconvenient and nasty, and you can only take one suitcase and it’s stuffed to the brim, and everybody’s fighting for the overhead racks—it’s so nice to have a little Kindle with your newspapers and magazines and the books you’re reading. What a great thing for content creators. I’m not talking about the economics—that will work out in time.

I would much rather hire an executive who has taken courses in history and philosophy and language and art, and English and Russian literature than somebody who has only studied a single element of one subject. When my son wanted to go to undergraduate film school, I called George Lucas, who told him: Don’t go. Learning to make a movie is like learning to drive. Anybody can learn to drive. It’s where you drive that counts.

A lot of people can learn to write computer code and understand the inner workings of the technological revolution we’re going through, but if you’re going to be in content, I would rather you understand what makes a good narrative. To find people who can make you laugh or cry or smile or get upset or learn something about yourself. Those people are rare. They are rarer, frankly, than the others. We always talk about the lack of engineers in America. I would say we lead in what is most important to create all this, which is the education system for liberal-arts students. To me, that’s key.

For people coming into the entertainment businesses, the openings are enormous. However, the rules of drama haven’t changed. Denouement has not been replaced by dead ends. You still have to have characters, you have to have an emotional reaction, and you have to learn something from it, preferably. Those things don’t go away.

I don’t know the third act of the transformation of media. I don’t even think we know the second act. We’re probably still in the first act or the prologue. I’ve gone to conferences where some people are getting carried around on top of shoulders like they just won the Super Bowl, and two years later it’s “whatever happened to that guy?” I sat at the Allen & Co. conference a couple of years ago and this guy Mark Pincus [CEO of Zynga, the company behind Farmville] was sitting at the table. Who knew that two years later he would have the best room at the lodge?

I remember talking to Barry in the 1960s about making entertainment like a phone book. You go to H for “Happy Days” and you dial it up, like you were ordering a pizza. We had no idea what we were talking about. But it was this concept of entertainment given over to the consumer to decide what he wanted to see.

Sometimes you have the right idea but you’re too early, or you have the right idea but there’s one tweak that’s wrong. We sat there and were very encouraged when Bill Gates was demonstrating his Tablet PC, but it wasn’t until now that the iPad has shown everybody the promise of what the tablet can be.

We shouldn’t complain about how technology is ruining our lives and our businesses. It’s not. You’ve got to adapt and move on.

Edited from Alan Deutschman’s interview with Eisner

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spiritual Self-Confidence

It's important to have self-confidence. It's even more important to have spiritual self-confidence. Spiritual confidence is that unique and palpable sense of absolute conviction that cannot be affected by external or internal fluctuations. It's being absolutely sure. It's knowing, before you know, that you know. It's the highest gift and blessing that comes only from the deepest insight into the true nature of things. It can also be the most precious jewel that is freely transmitted from the awakened heart and mind of a true spiritual master to any and all who would receive it. Absolute conviction destroys existential doubt and frees the human soul.

The Eastern traditions say that doubt is one of the biggest obstacles to the profound discovery of enlightened awareness. The sparkle of ecstatic conviction in the eyes of a saint expresses the liberating joy and fearlessness that are testimony to powerful spiritual self-confidence. Unfortunately, madmen, monsters, and megalomaniacs from the East and the West also gain their power from absolute self-confidence. But that's not a confidence that comes from knowing that mystery which is ungraspable. More often than not, it's a confidence that comes from fear, from overwhelming arrogance, from the puny ego, or from ethnocentric pride. It's a confidence that comes from a desire for power and an aspiration to dominate. The kind of spiritual confidence I'm speaking about comes from a very different source and from a very different part of the self.

Some people claim that absolute conviction of any kind is dangerous and should never be trusted. But the kinds of people who make those assertions are hypocrites. They are hypocrites because they stubbornly express an absolute conviction in their own perspective while simultaneously proclaiming to others the futility of such a position!

Spiritual confidence is the heaviest anchor in the midst of the unending storm that is life and death. It is an unshakable confidence in the inherent rightness of being here -- confidence in the rightness of finding oneself in the very middle of the life process, even in all its chaos and complexity. Having this kind of confidence is of the utmost importance for anyone who is convinced that they deeply care about the way things are -- and even more so for the bold and courageous warrior who wants to create something truly new, who would dare to be the one to step forward, to stand for and bear witness to that which is higher.

It's especially important to have this kind of confidence in times like these when there is so much turbulence and individual and collective insecurity about survival. Without this kind of confidence as a constant reference point, we may find ourselves at times without the emotional, psychological, or spiritual resources to fight the good fight. And those who care more than anything else about the perennial quest to transform the world into a powerful reflection of that which is sacred cannot afford to allow even a moment of doubt or fear to overshadow their soul. Why? Because that may be the one moment that counted the most! In other words, we can't afford not to have spiritual self-confidence if we want to change the world.

The kind of powerful conviction that I am referring to fills one's heart with a love that is not dependent on external circumstances for its fullness. It's a love that is unshakable, unmoving, and indestructible. Such love -- a love that transcends yet simultaneously embraces the world -- is what compels human beings to evolve, from their own deepest depths, and to become better citizens of our world and our cosmos. Knowing the mysterious source of that love is knowing before thought that life is good. That inherent goodness is who we really are. And that's what we discover in deepest revelation.

Have confidence in that and change the world.


Huffington Post
written by: Andrew Z. Cohen Founder, Editor in Chief, EnlightenNext magazine
Posted: December 7, 2010 11:40 PM

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Confucius about battle...

Organizing the battlefield
Published on December 7, 2010 in Stories. 3 Comments 2168

This is to be my main appearance at the Writers’ Festival in Melbourne, Australia. It is ten o’clock in the morning and there is a packed audience. I am to be interviewed by a local writer, J. F.

I step onto the platform with my usual feelings of apprehension. Felton introduces me and starts asking me questions.
Before I can finish what I’m saying, he interrupts me and asks me another question.
When I reply, he says something like ‘that wasn’t a very clear answer’.
Five minutes later, there is a feeling of unease amongst the audience; everyone can sense that something is wrong. I remember Confucius and take the only possible action.

‘Do you like what I write?’ I ask.

‘That’s irrelevant,’ F. replies. ‘I’m here to interview you, not the other way round.’

‘But it is relevant. You won’t let me finish my thought. Confucius says: “Whenever possible, be clear.” Let’s follow that advice and make things absolutely clear: Do you like what I write?’

‘No, I don’t. I’ve read two of your books and I hated both of them.’

‘Fine, now we can continue.’

The lines of battle have been drawn. The audience relaxes and the atmosphere becomes electric, the interview becomes a real debate, and everyone – including F. – is pleased with the result.


Drucker on what to sell...

Drucker’s “The Practice of Management” influenced Yanai “to first think what customers want and provide more value, rather than what a company wants to sell,” the billionaire said. He declined to be interviewed for this article.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Living with doubt

... is almost always more profitable than living with certainty.

People don't like doubt, so they pay money and give up opportunities to avoid it. Entrepreneurship is largely about living with doubt, as is creating just about any sort of art.

If you need reassurance, you're giving up quite a bit to get it.

On the other hand, if you can get in the habit of seeking out uncertainty, you'll have developed a great instinct.

Posted by Seth Godin on December 05, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ken Wilber's take on saving the world through cross-cultural communication

Ken Wilber's take on saving the world through cross-cultural communication

Philosopher Ken Wilber says that to solve the world’s problems, we need to take a more integral approach by changing the way we communicate our message across cultures.

Jurriaan Kamp | April 2009 issue

Ken Wilber, philosopher.
Photo: Julie Harris
Ken Wilber’s mission is simple: to make sense of our times—to explain what we need to do to eradicate poverty and save the environment, to name the two most crucial issues. These things have long been dear to me too, so I bought my first Wilber book about 20 years ago. Over the years, I turned the pages of most of his books but somehow never connected with them. Despite the obvious alignment of interests and missions, I had a hard time understanding and relating to Wilber’s message.

So when a trusted friend recently described Wilber as “one of the most important philosophers of our time” and suggested I interview him, my reaction was, well, not immediately favorable. But then I thought I should give it one more try. So I ordered some more books by Wilber. When I paged through the first one, I quickly came to my old conclusion. Then one early Sunday morning, I opened A Theory of Everything. An hour later I was surprised to discover I was still reading, immersed in Wilber’s brilliant analysis of the challenges of our times.

It may have taken 20 years, but my eyes, ears and heart had opened. Wilber convinced me that there are certain recognizable patterns in the development of people and cultures and that, by understanding these patterns, we can come to “a theory of everything”—an integral vision that brings together the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual worlds and invites us to be a little more whole, a little less fragmented in our work, our societies and our lives. And that’s how, in early February, I found myself standing in front of the building that houses Ken Wilber’s loft, overlooking the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado, with snowcapped mountains in the background. The temperature was 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius)—this is early February in Denver?!—which raised questions about global warming, one of the topics I was hoping to discuss with him.

Wilber’s apartment reflects the integral approach that is the theme of his books. Modern technology and sleekly designed furniture seamlessly blend with images and artifacts of ancient Asian spirituality. Even Wilber’s appearance expresses his thinking. His tall, strong body isn’t the body of a philosopher who sits around reading and writing books all day. It’s clear that his brain isn’t the only thing Wilber, 60, exercises. His integral philosophy is more than an intellectual exercise, too. It’s an urgent answer to stubborn, practical problems.

Wilber started looking for answers almost immediately after he graduated from college as a biochemist. By then, he’d realized that the humanities provided a much more interesting field of study for him. “The Sixties had brought a huge influx of Eastern traditions, such as humanistic and transpersonal psychologies,” he recalls. “We were looking at Eastern schools and attempting to integrate these philosophies into Western schools. I was much taken by these incredibly important ideas that we had a chance of discovering.”

Wilber explored this marriage of philosophies in his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, published in 1973. “At first, the two approaches seemed to fit perfectly together,” Wilber says. “The Western model went about two-thirds of the way [toward an integral philosophy] and that’s where the Eastern model appeared to pick up.” But there was a problem. “The new merged model seemed to imply that to get to the Eastern spiritual experience, you had to go through all the stages of the Western developmental model. And we just knew that was not right. Meditation state experiences can happen at every stage of the Western developmental model. The full course of human growth is going through both of these developmental sequences at the same time.”

This integrated approach has been at the center of Wilber’s work ever since. And over the years, he’s found he’s not alone. Dozens of studies, he writes, have shown “a remarkably consistent story of the evolution of consciousness.” There’s disagreement about the details, but the general message is that humanity evolves through a series of unfolding stages, beginning with simple survival and moving into an enlightened spiritual experience, not unlike the pyramid of needs devised by the 20th-century American psychologist Abraham Maslow. The flow is from “me” to “us” to “all of us.” Along the way, people and cultures move through distinct stages with distinct values.

“That is not an excuse for pigeonholing people and cultures, but a useful tool to understand at which altitude they are flying so that we can communicate with them,” says Wilber. He points out that each stage “transcends and includes”; the new level goes beyond the preceding one, yet still includes and embraces its values. Wilber compares the process to a cell that transcends but includes molecules, which in turn transcend but include atoms. “To say that molecules go beyond atoms is not to say that molecules hate atoms,” he writes, “but that they love them: They embrace them in their own makeup.”

There’s a catch though. To work together, cells and molecules and atoms must speak the same language. The same applies to people and cultures. Wilber observes that while globalization is turning the planet into a village, the world is rapidly disintegrating. In the past, most people were born and raised, married, had children and died in the same culture. Their lives developed within the same value system and those were largely the same as those of their ancestors. Now, thanks to globalization, many different value systems have been brought together. People travel, and their ideas and convictions travel with them. That often results in a failure to communicate. Some cultures speak the language of “me”; some speak the language of “us’”; some speak the language of “all of us.”

Wilber’s integral model is a kind of universal translator for this cultural cacophony, an ambitious attempt to integrate all the languages into a single theory of everything. According to Wilber, value structures fall into four major classes, which he calls “I” (self and consciousness), “We” (culture and world view), “It” (brain and organism), and “Its” (social system and environment).

“Why do we have all these theories?” Wilber asks. “Because they work. The problem arises when we try to make one theory the only approach. That does not work because it is a partial approach. The world needs to come to terms with different value systems. Development goes in stages and there is nothing we can do about that. We need to create social organizational structures that take [these stages] into account. Otherwise, we will have more social violence and more disintegration.” The challenge in addressing global problems is to address these different value systems in their own languages.

Take global warming, which Wilber describes as “the first issue that affects everybody everywhere on the planet. [Former U.S. Vice-President] Al Gore is saying that the entire world needs to change its behavior. But he says so in a language that is perhaps understood by 20 percent of the world population. Gore assumes that people will respond from rational self-interest based on sound science, but that’s the least of the motivations of the majority of the population of the planet.”

Other cultures, Wilber argues, may respond to the threat of global warming from different values. African cultures are dominated by feudal clans, he says, so they may adopt environmental and energy policies when these are phrased in a language that relates to how they may benefit their clans. Similarly, Hindus may change their behavior to honor Gaia rather than in response to rational self-interest. “Al Gore has to ‘language’ his message in at least four different value structures to get, say, 80 percent of the world behind him,” Wilber says. “Anything less than that will simply not work.”

According to Wilber, politics, too, could benefit from an integral approach. Take the classic conflict between conservatives and liberals over welfare. Liberals argue that people are poor because of lack of government support; conservatives argue that people are poor because of lack of family values and work ethic. In Wilber’s vision, both are right. It isn’t “either/or” but “both/and.” His ideal government approach: “‘We will do everything to help you but at the same time we want you to do everything to help yourselves.’ We need to find the way to reach out to touch all dimensions, interior capacity and external capacity. We need to recognize where you can help yourselves and where you need help.”

Multiculturalism is another issue ripe for an integral approach, Wilber says. He sees the Netherlands, a small, relatively homogeneous culture with a large immigrant population, as an important test case. “You cannot insist on one value system,” he says. “That leads to civil war. The Netherlands is the most evolved country with a single culture in Europe that has dealt with the issue of immigration longer than others. It has grown to a level that’s most conducive to an integral approach.”

Wilber cites integrative medicine, which unites Western therapies and ancient Eastern methods, as a clear example of how an integral approach can work successfully. He also describes how groups like UNICEF get results by casting development aid projects in the context of local value systems.

At the 2006 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, former U.S. President Bill Clinton described Wilber’s ideas as crucial to successful development programs. “I worry about all these grand ideas that we all promote here working to benefit ordinary people,” Clinton said. “If ordinary people don’t perceive that our grand ideas are working in their lives then they can’t develop the higher level of consciousness ... to use a term that candid American philosopher Ken Wilber wrote a whole book about. He said, you know, the problem is the world needs to be more integrated, but it requires a consciousness that’s way up here, and an ability to see beyond the differences among us.” Says Wilber, “It is easier to build artifacts than to build consciousness, so we continue to build artifacts but not enough of the consciousness behind those.”

So is more consciousness what the world needs now? “Take a wide view,” says Wilber, as he stares at the mountains from the windows of his loft. “Why are human beings here? Not just for greed and ambition. Try to expand what you think we are doing here. What are you doing with your life? How can you refresh your own vision? Look inside, and hopefully you are not disappointed about what you find.”

Jurriaan Kamp, who only speaks English, Dutch, French and German, is the editor-in-chief of Ode.

Reinventing Capitalism: Putting Soul in the Machine

Reinventing Capitalism:
Putting Soul in the Machine

A Quick Re-Vision of Western Civilization
by Howard Bloom

Howard Bloom
Bio & resources
The early part of the twenty-first century gave the Western world one skull-cracking slap after another. The downing of New York's World Trade Center; the battle with militant Islam's holy warrior; the crash and scandal of major corporations like Enron, Worldcom, and Arthur Andersen; and the growth of China to superpower status—these were wakeup punches. They handed us what may be our greatest opportunity and our greatest responsibility since the Great Depression and the Nazis threatened to topple the Western way of life in the 1930s.
Osama bin Laden's threats against America and against the “false religion” of freedom of speech, secularism, spiritual eclecticism, human rights, women's rights, and gay rights have the potential to nuke us into a new dark age. As you read this page, over ten thousand Wahhabi madrassas, “suicide bomber factories,” salted on every one of this planet's continents, are teaching children to make holy war against you and me. The West, these kids are told, has nothing left to give the world but immorality and decay. The teachers in these madrassas peddle passion brilliantly. They feed the hunger for meaning with the junk food of emotion—violence and righteous fury. But could the madrassa teachers be right? Do we in the Western system have nothing worth struggling for? Do we have nothing that's worthy of idealism and belief?

Our civilization is under attack. But many of us don't want to defend it. Why? There's a void in our sense of meaning. We've been told that “the Western system” is one in which the rich stoke artificial needs to suck money, blood, and spirit from the rest of us. We've been told that the barons of industry work overtime to turn us from sensitive humans into consumers—mindless buyers listlessly watching TV while growing obese on the artificial flavors, chemical preservatives, and cheap sugars of junk food. And some of that is true.

But the problem does not lie in the turbines of the Western way of life—it does not lie in industrialism, capitalism, pluralism, free speech, and democracy. The problem lies in the lens through which we see. Capitalism works. It works for reasons that don't appear in the analyses of Marx or in the statistics of economists. It works clumsily, awkwardly, sometimes brilliantly, and sometimes savagely. So we need to dig down to find out why.

We need to reveal the deeper meaning beneath what we've been told is crass materialism. We need to see how profoundly our obsessive making and exchanging of goods and services has upgraded the nature of our species.

The Western system is not at all what we've been taught to believe. This is not a mindless consumer culture destroying the planet in an orgy of greed. It is the most creative and potentially idealistic bio-engine this planet has ever seen. But if we fail to open our eyes and spot this reality fast, everything we believe in may easily disappear.

We need to stare a blunt fact in the face: Many of today's corporations are creatively and morally asleep. But you and I can wake them in a most ironic way—through a strange-but-vital upgrade in the richness of our lives. We can re-perceive the tale of capitalism's rise. We can lay out a new and far more insight-saturated story of our origins—a factual creation myth. And we can use this genesis story, this re-perceived tale of our history, as a key to the quandaries of work and daily living. We can use it as a cornerstone of a new view of our future in a world of instant change.

We can reveal a central secret of the Western system—we're not mere digits in a numbers game; we're feeling people woven in emotional exchange.


Here's a basic fact of the Western way of life: Hard as we may find it to conceive, capitalism offers more things to believe in than any system that has come before. Nearly every faith, from Christianity and Buddhism to Islam and Marxism, promises to raise the poor and the oppressed. But only capitalism delivers what these ideologies and religions profess, century after century. Capitalism lifts the poor and helps them live their dreams. The proof is in the mega-perks we tend to take for granted. Here are some examples.

In the early 1700s, cotton clothes were a luxury import that only the super-rich could afford. The masses worked from day to day in stiff fabrics that housed insects and that scratched and tortured the skin. Changing into new clothes every few days or laundering them regularly was impossible. There was little sense in bathing if your shirt carried last month's stench. In 1785, capitalism introduced the power loom and changed the very nature of the shirt on man's back. By the twentieth century, capitalism had made a T-shirt of cotton—the fabric of kings—the norm for even the poorest sub-Saharan African.

In the nineteenth century, capitalism gave us another universal: soap. Statistics show that Westerners grew dramatically healthier and added decades to their lives beginning in roughly the 1840s, when the soap-and-cotton revolution kicked in.

In the early 1800s, sending an urgent letter to a relative on a distant coast took months or weeks. Then capitalism built the telegraph system and made sending messages across continents and seas a matter of hours. In the 1990s, a mesh of multinational corporations took another leap. They built the mobile phone system and made it second nature to ring Taipei from Tampa and Bangalore from Boston while you were walking down the street.

In the mid-1840s, a trip from New York to California took over half a year either by wagon or by sailing ship. Your odds of dying on the way were roughly one in five. Then in 1869 there came a capitalist masterpiece, the transcontinental railway, that snipped the trip down to a week. In the twentieth century, capitalism gave the average citizen jet wings and slivered the New York to LA trip from roughly one hundred hours down to five.

The Western system accomplished in three hundred years what it would have taken evolution over three hundred million to achieve—it gave us the equivalent of new arms, legs, ears, eyes, and brains.

No other civilization in the history of this planet—not the Egyptian, the Roman, the Muslim, the Chinese, or the twentieth-century Marxist Russian—has ever come close to lifting the downtrodden in these ways. None has ever done so much to elevate, empower, and create a brand-new category of humanity, a brand-new niche of comfort and prosperity: a massive and productive middle class.

The middle class is an economy-and-culture engine that even Karl Marx, in his Communist Manifesto, praised for creating “wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals.” Yes, the same Karl Marx who hated the middle class. The same Karl Marx who turned the word for middle class into a curse word: the “bourgeoisie.”

But the middle class is something we usually don't notice—a sea of humans the Western system has raised from the ranks of the downtrodden . . . and has uplifted permanently. How have the Western system and its sidekick, capitalism, pulled off deeds of this magnitude? How has the Western system done it without really knowing its own nature? And if capitalism is such a miracle worker, why does it need a radical upgrade?

Because while the West does far more than it gets credit for, that's nothing compared to what it can ultimately achieve. Yes, the capitalist system has performed its share of miracles—and its share of atrocities. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City in 1911 killed 146 women—most of them younger than twenty-three years old—in less than fifteen minutes. In 1984, a nighttime leak of forty tons of methyl isocyanate gas from a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, sent a toxic cloud crawling across a forty-square-kilometer residential area housing half a million people. The result was death for 28,000 and lasting illness for another 120,000. And by 2001, one Texas company, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., had offices in 63 countries and owned 1,200 radio stations; 135 clubs, theaters, arenas, and stadiums; 19 television stations; and 770,000 outdoor advertising displays. In 2004, Clear Channel was on the verge of bridging the gap from the free market to monopoly and was capable of determining what information you and I do and do not get to see.


We have to retell the history of Western civilization in a way that hints at the rich ore beneath the slopes and plains of our history's terrain. We have to peel back the lumpy outer skin of capitalism and show the beating heart within. A semi-brain-dead capitalism has given vast new powers to humanity—powers like the ability to light our homes at night with electricity and add five hours a day to the normal human's waking life. A capitalism that knows its mission, a capitalism propelled by the troika of empathy, passion, and reason, can work far greater wonders.

Imagine what it would be like if at every staff meeting you were expected to put the care of the multitudes we mistakenly call “consumers” first. Imagine what it would be like to go to work each morning in a company that saw your passions as your greatest engines, your curiosities as your fuel, and your idealisms as the pistons of your labors and of your soul. Imagine what it would be like if your superiors told you that the ultimate challenge was to tune your empathic abilities so you could sense the needs of your firm's customers even before those customers knew quite what they hankered after. Imagine what it would be like if your superiors asked you to do what artists and psychics do—find your hidden selves in the hidden hungers of those you serve. There is an implicit code by which we in the Western system live—a code that demands that we uplift each other . . . and that we do it globally.

The “human resources” creed—the real business of business—should be one that comes from the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay:

A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.

Mine every greed, mine every lust.
And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief.

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the soul is high.

People are the ones who demand. We do it because we desire, we hanker, we hunger, we're eager, we're roused. Or we're deadened, we're hurt, we're unsatisfied, we need. Consumerism—that wretched sin—isn't what it seems. Capitalism is what we do each day, and it can generate in our daily lives and in the place we work the exuberance of satisfying others, the exhilaration of feeling wanted, the elation of creativity, and the knowledge that we've contributed to something far, far bigger than ourselves.

We desperately need a reinvention and a re-perception of the system that has given Western civilization its long-term strength and its recent weaknesses. We need to wake up capitalism to its mission—a set of moral imperatives and heroic demands that are implicit in the Western way of life. By reinventing capitalism and injecting our own souls into the machine, you and I can raise the bar of human possibility.

We stand at a choice point in history. We can wake up and smell the coffee of our civilization—its pep, its drive, and its power to add to human lives. We can see the ideals and the creative imperatives that capitalism now hides. Or we can go with the flow of the current zeitgeist and condemn all that we have as mere consumerist trash and every workday move we make as an attempt to pick the pockets of the poor. If we fail to see the force of secular salvation, the power of messianic capitalism, in what we do each day, then we will yield the planet up to those who insist on taking the Western system's transformative powers away.

Howard Bloom, a recent visiting scholar at the Graduate Psychology Department at New York University and a Core Faculty Member at The Graduate Institute, is the author of two books: The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century.