When you can't change the direction of the wind – adjust your sails. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
All over the media we read, hear and see reports of the imminent death of the American Dream as aptly heralded in the below link:
Call me a contrarian or perhaps Pollyanna, but rather than the demise of the American dream, I see the dawning of a new era of innovation that offers prospects for millions to improve their lot in life – aka The American Dream is alive and well.
The US is slowly growing out of the worst recession since the Great Depression; it is not surprising that many will focus only on what is (right now) instead of what can be three, five, or ten years from now.
Let's look at some circumstances and trends that bode very well for the future.
An explosion of new technical innovations are only just beginning to become part of the mainstream, including:
- Nanotechnology – ability to employ lighter, stronger materials in many industries
- 3D printing – ability to rapidly print new products, including human tissue, costs are falling
- Crowd funding brings capital to millions of small business owners, launch new products
- Internet of things – connected consumer products predict failures before they occur
- Social media – allows anyone to promote themselves or products to millions at minimal cost
- Wireless apps – ability to monitor fitness, discover disease and ailments quicker
The above are just a few of the forces that are changing our daily lives for the better. New technology typically takes at least 10 years to become mainstream. The interaction and combination of the above elements will produce opportunities and products and services undreamed of a few years ago.
An entrepreneur in the mid-70s (when most think the American Dream was alive and well) had to go to a library to do research – the Internet as we know it today, did not exist. There were no PCs, desktop computers, cell phones (much less smart phones).
The cost to start a small business was much higher then. There was minimal support available for business owners other than mentors and printed material. Capital to start up a business typically came from friends and family and sometimes from bank loans (though they were difficult to obtain). Put more succinctly, business start ups tended to be limited to those who were highly educated, with access to capital – typically some family wealth. The average person of limited means and less education was very unlikely to be successful in starting a small business.
Today, anyone can start up a small business for less than $100. The Internet gives them free access to an almost endless repository of information and data, including crowd funding. There are many resources for promoting business and getting noticed at minimal cost. Many new product ideas have been successfully funded through Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other sites.
So, the American Dream is dead – really? What could kill it other than recalcitrant attitudes?
Along with the explosion of new technology has also come dramatic changes to the workplace and career environment. Some people are not too happy about the changes because they'd much prefer to do things as their parents did.
It is not possible to change the direction of these winds of change, but you can adjust your sails to succeed.
More about that in the next blog post.