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Snapshots from an Alternate Future

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

I would be remiss if I didn’t incorporate some element of recent events in my article. As the news and reality of the now President-elect Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. elections circulates worldwide, and as both the symbolic and substantive ramifications start to take hold, change brews.

Many people’s faltering faith in American democracy is being restored; others’ assumptions about and reliance on the status quo have been challenged; hope of the possibility of meaningful change has been sparked.

What new ways of perceiving, seeing, thinking and acting might this new era of hoped-for change bring about? What new goals can we set for our families, neighborhoods, businesses, nations and the earth society as a whole? Here are a few snapshots through global, national and local lenses.

Steady-state economics

We’ve seen and experienced what a culture of greed has done to capitalism. There’s nothing inherently evil about capitalism based on fair exchange, and as mentioned in an earlier article, the best way to serve your customers is to provide “exchange in abundance,” where you give more than what is expected.

Bank failures, layoffs, economic implosions and recessions are partly the result of a paradigm and a mentality that places "profit now and forever" above all else, regardless of the impact on Earth, natural resources, human rights and dignity, or the future requirements of the population. This, coupled with rampant consumerism and a fiat currency (currency that is created out of nothing and without any work; not based on a standard, like gold or silver), results in overconsumption, exploitation, and its own eventual demise.

Infinite growth based on finite resources is a futile and damaging pursuit. (You cannot build a house of numberless floors, when your bricks are numbered. At some point the bricks run out.)

A new paradigm gaining more traction these days is the "steady state" economic model. To paraphrase a guest on a recent talk show, “our goal as a planetary society should be economic development, not economic ‘growth.’ It should be about achieving a better quality of life, not simply more stuff.”

"The three concerns of advocates of a steady-state economy are sustainability, equity, and efficiency. …Neither economic growth nor economic recession are sustainable; therefore, the steady state economy remains the only sustainable prospect and the appropriate policy goal for the sake of sustainability."

Visit for more information.

The president’s got my email address!

There is no doubt that this remarkable presidential campaign has changed the game in many respects. It was said of the campaign that Hillary and McCain were running 2004-style campaigns, while Obama ran a 2008-style campaign.

According to a BusinessWeek article ("How Better Marketing Elected Barack Obama"), a writer offered eight reasons why, which included:

"Third, his fundraising prowess was aided by his appreciation and use of all communications media, notably the Internet, to engage voters. Obama picked up where Howard Dean left off. He leveraged his website, the blogosphere, and even user-generated content (remember Obama Girl) and video games to engage not just donors and volunteers but all citizens. From the imaginative campaign logo to the 30-minute infomercial, Obama’s communications were professional without being slick, attention-getting without being in-your-face.”

As a result of this better marketing, "Almost half of Obama’s unprecedented $639 million in funds raised from individuals came from small donors giving $300 or less." Just so we’re clear, folks, $639 million is more than halfway to 1,000 million dollars. That’s one billion dollars!

Yes, Barack raised the bar. But beyond the economics, you might ask yourself: What happens when a president can mobilize millions of citizens with the click of a mouse? What happens when he or she can communicate thoughts and ideas directly to the people without the filter of talk show pundits and their opinions, or newspaper editors and their agendas, free of editing distortions, doctored sound bytes, and out-of-context quotes? What happens when the leader of the free world has got your e-mail address? What kind of democracy can we have then? Hmmm?

And, what lessons can the hopeful entrepreneur learn from all this? One can only imagine what ideas our future strategists (both presidential and entrepreneurial) will devise to build their brands. To summarize the BusinessWeek analysis of the keys to Obama’s marketing success:

-First, Obama’s personal charisma;

-Second, he converted this empathy into tangible support;

-Third, used all media (most notably, the Internet) to communicate;

-Fourth, reached out to ALL citizens;

-Fifth, advertised upbeat themes of hope and "change you can believe in”;

-Sixth, anticipated and outsmarted the competition;

-Seventh, fought the ground war as brilliantly as the air war;

-Finally, chose an excellent marketing and campaign team, and managed them well.

[For full details, see "How Better Marketing Elected Barack Obama", and visit to be part of the ongoing revolution.]

Garment factory reuse

A just-published book titled Big Box Reuse by Julia Christensen details some of the creative conversions of abandoned "big box" buildings formerly used by K-Mart, WalMart and similar super-stores that have ceased operations in particular towns across the nation.

"In Austin, Minn., Christensen went to a big box that had been renovated into a museum devoted to Spam, the canned meat. In Fayetteville, N.C., she went to a flea market that had once been a KMart. And in Round Rock, Texas, a group of young entrepreneurs turned an abandoned Wal-Mart into an indoor racecar track. Christensen cites the racecar track for its imaginative use of such a large space — but they couldn’t keep up with the overhead costs and had to close down."

I was intrigued by the story and considered the applications of this strategy on a local level. Perhaps the economy wouldn’t support it right at this moment, but what sorts of creative re-uses might we envision for the abandoned garment factories here on Saipan? Have any ideas? OK, I’ll go first. I may have mentioned this one before, but I think it would be cool (without trivializing the experiences of the women and men who toiled countless hours there, and in similar factories the world over) to have a dance club/entertainment facility named “The Garment Factory” or better yet, “The Sweat Shop” decorated with as many of the actual fixtures from real factories. People could dance the night away, and voluntarily sweat to their heart’s content in a building of historical significance, and which represents a real part of Saipan’s past. What do you think?

[Search for "big box" at]


Note: Predictions for Fun and Profit Update:

And, while we’re on the topic of seeing the future, as you may recall, I made four predictions a few weeks ago. [See "What Happens Next?" published Wednesday, October 15, 2008]

Prediction #1 has come true: Barack Obama was elected president.

Prediction #2 (do you recall?) will be tested soon! If all goes well, I’ll have launched my new career as a fortune-teller. Stay tuned. J

Note: The African American Cultural Preservation Committee is calling for entries for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Essay and Elocution Contest. The topic this year is “What Would Martin Say?” All students in the CNMI are invited. See the website for details. Fliers are being distributed to the schools this week.

Note: For more tips on overcoming your fears, acting on your ideas, changing the game, and creating a passion-centered lifestyle, visit!


Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!

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