Everything Here Apparently Needs Us

Everything here apparently needs us

“In business, we forget that we are human. Many strong leaders think they should not be friends with their colleagues. I like to be friends with my colleagues,” says Nokia's CEO Risto Siilasmaa. “You get through a crisis because you care so much.”

“The way I used to think was: he who cares wins,” echoes Paul Matthews of Standard Life. At the time, the company was severely underfunded and needed to change its business model, doing away with the high commissions it was paying. What got them through?

“Longevity matters. I was inspired by the people around me. When people have worked with you for a long time, they know you and trust you—and when you're in a crisis, you've got that!” Says Matthews. The exact opposite of the gig economy. 

These are just two brief stories I've found in Margaret Heffernan's Uncharted. They both talk to the need to shift culture, along with the business model. Going into a crisis with a high level of trust makes a company incredibly resilient. You can draw energy from social capital. History sets standards, it can make people feel they belong. 

Contrast this to the gig economy, where super efficient systems have eliminated direct contact between people. Even as they exact a monetary, along with the emotional toll. The fact that some people benefit from the efficiencies, is not a license to kill human solidarity and trust. 

Italy’s anti-trust authority has fined Amazon 1.13 billion euros, saying the company is exploiting its dominant position against independent sellers on its website in violation of European Union competition rules. That alone won't do. It's also important for independent sellers to up their game and evolve their business.

A couple of weeks ago I tried sending a basket of Christmas goodies to my mother. I first tried the lovely box I sent her last year. Bonus points for buying local to her and products she uses. Plus, the box has part of her name on it. But, this year I did not have enough PayPal funds, and their site does not accept credit cards. Bummer.

So I picked an international company. A B-Corp. Fratelli Carli produces a delicious evo oil panettone. The company ships both in the US (see link above) and in Italy. Though their product selection is somewhat limited, they accept credit cards.

However, in the system I was unable to indicate I should get the receipt, while my mother should get the box at her address in Italy. After a few exchanges by email, I received confirmation she's get the order before Christmas. In fact, she received it 2 days before.

Even if I were to order from Amazon Italy, I would have to create a separate account. So while the company might have figured out the technology, the bureaucratic walls are still up because it's a different country. The person and company that figures out how to be on the side of people and families has a special place in my heart.

What if it's a country? Estonia is way ahead of the pack. When it comes to digital, they are truly modern. What about companies and people? The question requires a cultural shift.

Two recent examples: Airbnb and United. The first provides a case study in cryptic “offer” language that lacks clarity with their 'Home Alone' promotion. The second went from broken guitars and noses to working on treating customers right. Early in the pandemic, every single airline encouraged pilots to claim early retirement. Hence the pilot pipeline issue.

Companies rely heavily on forgetfulness. But this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the opportunity.

Because the opportunity at hand is
to help society move forward

I could say much more. But I believe the best way to learn and make progress is to do it together. This is why I created two membership options. It's an experiment, so it may not work. You always learn something when you step forward and propose a path. This is called lateral learning below. 

Rainer Maria Rilke has the perfect ending for this note. In the Ninth Duino Elegy* he says,

“Oh, not because happiness exists, that too-hasty profit snatched from approaching loss. […] But because truly being here is so much, because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.”


Note provided context to this.


[* I believe in reading poetry in original language. Most of my books have original language and translation opposite. Most have Italian, like my copy of Duineser Elegien above, but some I acquired more recently have English.]


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