Excerpt from Exhilarated Life: Discovering Inner Happiness
The Free Range of Business
What is the intrinsic nature of business?
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What do free-range chickens, Jack Russell terriers and the color beige
have to do with the intrinsic nature of business? Well, this: Every particle
of the universe—be it animal, vegetable, or mineral, or even manmade—
has a nature of its own and unique characteristics of behavior.
This morning, pre-coffee, Athan and I were talking about the potential
move to a new house. We joked about how the standalone screened
room would make an excellent chicken coop and we could make
our fortune breeding free-range chicks. I told Athan that we used to
have free-range chickens—Rhode Island Reds—the whole wheat of
chickens, if you will, on our farm when we first moved to King City.
The problem with free range is that weasels are also free range and it
is their nature to “ferret” out chickens and tear out their little throats.
Athan opined that clearly our dogs weren’t tough protectors. Not so
Golden Retrievers are bred to be soft-mouthed, obedient, and,
if not brilliant, uncompromisingly happy and silly! And our Siberian
Husky was just an adventuress always looking for the way across the
fence. On the other hand, breeds like Jack Russells and most of the
terriers are fearless. They chase anything moving despite its size—like
Mack Trucks; they’re barky to the extreme—so as to be found by the
farmer after they had tunneled down badger burrow; and, in many
cases, more cunning than humans give the cute little things credit for
as they shove them like toys into a pink Burberry puppy carrier!
It is when we try to homogenize everything or categorize according
to face values that we weave ourselves a life of discontent at best,
and disaster of global proportions at worst. The funnel of the mass
commercial market—which includes banks, retailers, insurance
companies, governments, media, manufacturers—mixes all things
bright and beautiful and makes beige—a color that doesn’t really exist
in nature. A shade—perhaps neutral but really synonymous with
boring or dull—that is stultifying, like concrete.
Years ago Muzak got a bad rap (no pun intended). Elevator music was
dull, dull, dull—ironically to the point of becoming annoying. Today’s
music is equally formulaic; a blend of rap, dance, techno and EMO
that slops all over us from most pop radio stations. A band gets a hit
and writes the same song over and over again. Why do they do that?
Because it is a known commodity and presents no risk in repetition.
The market wants what is familiar. Ricky Nelson sang about it in
I am a voracious reader of all things—business, spiritual, and fiction in
between. What I have watched is that the demand for known authors
to continue to produce known products has diluted quality work
readily available in the big box stores. What started out as well-crafted
novels by excellent writers has diminished by books hurried through
the creative process to feed the hungry maw of the ordinary. I feel for
the writers. Unless they are tired of eating, they get locked into the
Quality trained artists of distinction—if they are still alive—must
compete with those who may express themselves artistically but not
necessarily creatively. Not all children playing a two-finger version of
‘Heart and Soul’ on the piano are Mozart—no matter our parental
bias. Facebook, Flickr and camera phones have blurred the impact of
photographic art. Allegory and storytelling reduced to cartoon. “Here’s
me with Ted.” “Here’s me drunk.” “Here’s me when Ted opened the
bathroom door.” The intimate and sensational? Boring. Dull.
Is it our nature to be voyeurs? Exhibitionists? I don’t think so. I think it
is our nature to be individuals and express that in our choices. I think
that in our over stimulation, we can’t be stimulated at all. What’s a
marketer to do? What is the next rage (pun intended)? When our whole
commercial edifice is invested in beige—what next? The irony is that
we are being teased into thinking we are individuals by documenting
in blog and photo every nuance of our every day. “Navel gazing,” my
mother would have called it. It seems to me that culturally we are being
troweled over by a layer of beige as deadening as concrete.
If the suffocation of the creative spirit isn’t bad enough, let’s look at the
deadening of our waters, air, and soil. Our pseudo consciousness of
carbon credits and endless global agenda to plan to meet to discuss…
merely means that if I promise to plant a tree, I can still pollute your
water. Air? There’s lots of it. It’s everywhere. I see conscientious joggers
on city streets breaking a sweat and sucking in lungs full of toxins—
only to be outraged when products aren’t pure and natural.
One such woman insisted that she wanted a simple regimen with
pure products, for which she’d happily pay a premium. “I just want to
splash water on my face in the morning and put on a moisturizer I can
trust, because it only contains ‘thus and so’.” Little does she know that,
unless she’s running to her fridge every morning for her face cream, it
contains a whole lot more than ‘thus and so’—otherwise she would be
spreading her face with bacteria and mold (also natural, to be fair).
Years ago when we leased our farm out for crops, we chose to stay away
from high-yielding corn crops because between over-cultivation and the
use of Atrazine, the soil inevitably is depleted and must then lie fallow
sometimes for years before regaining its nutrients. Even worse, it affects
the cycle of “good” insects and creatures, which are interdependent. An
interdependence that is less about “them”, the creatures and insects, and
more about “us.” Yesterday, I signed a petition to preserve the wild and
domestic honeybee habitat. Our bees are dying, which means the natural
and holistic (pollen from many sources) reproduction is impeded.
Big Farm (as opposed to Big Pharma) is just as frightening is its monopoly
on crop production of our prairies—you know “the bread basket,” the
food belt? Genetically modified crops require genetically appropriate
chemicals to even get a seed to grow in otherwise dead land. The soil?
Completely dependent on chemical intervention to produce. If there
are not balanced and “wholesome” (meaning including the natural
spectrum) nutrients in the soil, what is the value of the food to our
bodies beyond being filler? And worse, what imbalance or dependence
is it creating within our bodies? We are, after all, what we eat.
This isn’t a rant about all that is going wrong, but a call to all who
wish to set things right. It is not the fault of business. Business and
commerce is the supply of all the products and services that support
life on Earth. Food, clothing, transportation, homes, healthcare.
The intrinsic nature of business is fair exchange. A producer offers a
product of quality and value for a fair price. A buyer supports that
continued production of quality products or services of value by paying
a fair price, and continuing to do so in his purchasing discernment
and expectation. Laissez-faire and competition assures that “natural”
selection and process.
Corporations pandering to governments to protect a monopoly,
financial institutions manipulating the very instruments of commerce,
and institutions breeding beige are completely nihilistic of the intrinsic
nature of business. So…what is the good news?
This: Human nature has prevailed and has found its path of flourishing
through the Internet. Through micro markets. The same Internet,
you might ask me, that contains pornography, racism, and recipes for
bombs? Yep! Because it also illumines the spirit, consciousness, and
individuality of men and women. It illustrates in its trillion pinpoints
of fiber optics that we are all one and interdependent yet at the same time,
sovereign and unique, and that our every choice is recorded and accountable.
Just ask Google. Ask Amazon. They will tell you what book you might like,
based on what you chose before. They will tell you where you are likely to
go in the future, based on past decisions. Don’t like the direction? Back to you.
Change it. Choose differently. The world of commerce will respond to
you. It must to stay relevant. To stay alive.
No longer do corporations define themselves. Consumers do; with reviews and
social media comments. Got a customer support problem? Getting the runaround?
DM the company on Twitter, I guarantee super quick results. For companies,
Twitter really is the canary in the coal mine. Twitter support reps are on guard to quickly get
problems solved by the right people in record time. Corporations, institutions and retailers
are in BIG trouble if they ignore this. People read these comments and critiques and base
their buying decisions on the experience of others. I mean, don’t you?
Money is exchange. Exchange of energy. Exchange of form. Every dollar you
spend is a vote for or against personal freedom, great experience, clean air, pure water,
nourishing food. When you demand the best, you will get it. At the same time, you will
make the world a better place.Through our conscientious purchases, we can bring the
monster of the mass market to its knees. We can break beige into a kaleidoscope,
one dollar at time.
YOU are the intrinsic nature of business.
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