The Occupy Movement is About Flaws in the “Progress” of Mankind


Prologue

Key to understanding the challenge I am about to relate is the opening phrase of the following blog post: “I am still reading”. That’s right, I had not completed my reading of the Occupy Bucharest Manifesto before I was moved to write a post about it. As a result, I offered an evaluation of this document based on an assumption that was incorrect. Instead of this being the compilation of a group’s thoughts, it turned out to be one person’s thoughts, someone who was quick to comment on this blog and reach out to me through Twitter, Luca Oprea.

While my premise—that this was a collective product—was premature, my respect for the quality of the ideas and delivery remain true and accurate. Luca is a remarkable thinker, and I look forward to learning more about his ideas and efforts.


I am still reading through this manifesto by the group at Occupy Bucharest, but this struck me as being a remarkable observation:

Occupy Wall Street can be seen as a basic, natural, global response to this fundamentally flawed state of things. The mindless segregation of life and energy flows from human consciousness is what led to the existence of the flowing crowds of Spain and Greece and Portugal and the rest of Europe. They have very little past and no apparent future, and as such cannot be understood through economic theory, although they are created by it. Fundamentally, human communities should cover the full spectrum of evolving life, from primary biological production, through innately collaborative social life, to consciousness and then mind.

Instead, the current state of things sees rural and urban areas feeding off of each other in production cycles that deplete the earth, social ties, and individual lives. The reason is simple – while they may appear to be separate and different communities, in fact they are only one community, its production and social flows stretching over very long distances. Capitalism speaks of competition, consumption, business and trade as essential factors which create value, but the reality is that these are low level processes which only make sense between partially developed communities.

The challenge of writing well is so large that most will never address it, much less accomplish it. But this manifesto immediately establishes itself as a record of deep

The National Architects Union Headquarters in Bucharest, Romania. Another well-designed manifesto.

thought. Cogent, succinct, and nothing short of visionary, that this document was developed by a collective is all the more extraordinary!

Have you ever wondered how it was the the United States Declaration of Independence was so well written? The language is refined, focused and accurate, so much more effective and compelling than the majority of all written work of that day, and ever since. I have often tried to imagine the mindset of Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the first draft, the level of concentration of John Adams and the others at they read it and suggested edits. What amazing clarity and understanding! We saw it once again in the US Constitution, but not as much in some of the amendments, and even less in the reams of legislation that have been generated by federal and state bureaucrats ever since.

I believe the key difference is in the thinking that comes before the word, perhaps that’s not obvious, given the vast quantities of words with no meaning that are published by the minute. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues were all focused on an urgent need for freedom from tyranny and how to make that happen, on this they thought long and hard.

No doubt, the people in Bucharest spent considerable time discussing what brought them together. The process of writing well—the distillation down to the fundamental issues and then to convey them in compelling words and phrases—is no mean feat. This evidence of those thoughtful conversations tells me that many of the Occupy sites are having similar conversations, and that alone could be enough to justify the movement, in my opinion. As a species, humans do not gather together often enough to tap into the astounding power within their minds.

Some points about the dark road where capitalism has taken us will be argued by those who feel it is a perfect system. Regardless, in my opinion the writers of the Occupy Bucharest manifesto have done what few writers, much less groups of writers, have done in recorded history. It is well worth your time to invest in reading this document for understanding. I would love to hear your thoughts on this (to include how long it took you to read it!).

A Portal Into The Future of Education

As many of you know, my 150-year goal is to reboot Public Education and build a new system of education that starts at conception and fosters lifelong learning as a societal imperative around the world. The key success factor is this idea is to come up with a way to transition to a new system.

Salman Khan has come up with a way to do it. What if everyone could revisit topics they were no longer proficient in? What if anyone anywhere could learn new things in their spare time and have coaches and mentors available to help them when they got stuck? What if everyone could easily help anyone needing help in those topics they were comfortable in, no matter where they lived?

Watch this TED Talk by Sal Khan as he tells the story of the Khan Academy with a faculty of one. And see what the education system of the future may well look like.

“The Power Broker” Still Resonates Today

In a high school English class I was assigned a book to read that was so daunting I can remember today the feeling of shock as it was placed in my hands. It was huge! Growing up along the Jersey shore, I knew for a fact that a book this size could function as a great drag anchor for a small skiff or rowboat. It didn’t matter that the teacher was telling us we would use this book the entire semester, it was over 1000 pages, for God’s sake!

As it turned out, The Power Broker was a fantastic read, and served well as the basis for an equally wonderful course. I ended up reading farther each day and week than was assigned, and the emotional high and feeling of accomplishment as I read the last words were totally unexpected. First, I had tamed the beast. But more importantly, I had persevered to gain insight that even at the tender age of 16 I knew would be important to me for the rest of my life.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Vintage)The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my first introductions to the power of good research. A fascinating look into the mind and life of a man who shaped the built environment of the state of New York like no other.

View all my reviews

As the book description out on Goodreads tells us:

…winner of both the Pulitzer and the Francis Parkman prizes, The Power Broker tells the hidden story behind the shaping (and mis-shaping) of twentieth-century New York (city and state) and makes public what few have known: that Robert Moses was, for almost half a century, the single most powerful man of our time in New York, the shaper not only of the city’s politics but of its physical structure and the problems of urban decline that plague us today.

In revealing how Moses did it—how he developed his public authorities into a political machine that was virtually a fourth branch of government, one that could bring to their knees Governors and Mayors (from La Guardia to Lindsay) by mobilizing banks, contractors, labor unions, insurance firms, even the press and the Church, into an irresistible economic force—Robert Caro reveals how power works in all the cities of the United States. Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He personally conceived and completed public works costing 27 billion dollars—the greatest builder America (and probably the world) has ever known. Without ever having been elected to office, he dominated the men who were—even his most bitter enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could not control him—until he finally encountered, in Nelson Rockefeller, the only man whose power (and ruthlessness in wielding it) equalled his own.

Robert Moses was clearly a brilliant man on a mission to create beautiful recreational shorelines, parks, pools, playgrounds, parkways and pathways in the City of New York and the counties that surrounded it. The fact that he knowingly abused the laws to make these dreams happen could be argued as criminal intent or political genius. Certainly the millions of people who have enjoyed Jones Beach or the Triborough Bridge would never have suspected that the mastermind behind them and so much more had a racist agenda and a near-pathological belief that he was right and no one was going to stop him.

But the life story of Robert Moses was not entirely about manipulation and devious intent. Looking back, I suspect that the strongest impact upon this reader was the remarkable discipline he exhibited every day. He always worked later than his engineers, then woke earlier to have a stack of paperwork and plans ready for his secretary, who would stop by his house on her way into the office. Then he would work in the car as his driver took him to work (he never had a driver’s license, never had a job—instead writing himself into law … you need to read this book!). And while I have taken a much different perspective on life since, this was formative in my mental image of the hard-working world changer I wanted to be.

Certainly NOT what I was thinking as the drag anchor was handed to me in high school!

Do You Give Good Recommendations?

If you have asked for more than one or two recommendations on LinkedIn you have probably realized there is going to be a wide disparity in the product returned. This is not a post regretting the loss of English language skills, nor will there be an analysis of how to insure that people do right by you every time you ask. Instead, I want to offer a few examples of recommendations I have written for other people on LinkedIn, because I have been told I do it well. And seeing that most of what I read is nowhere close, I am going to step out in faith that these will be received in the spirit they are offered: to help others see the value of spending a little more time making sure their recommendation has impact.

To start, here are a few comparisons for someone else’s recommendation versus mine for the same person. You tell me which you’d rather receive and which one is more helpful if you were considering this person as a potential hire or partner:

A: “Michael is a true silicon valley entepreneur. He is very bright and well networked and has both a business and technical perspective.”

B: “As others have noted, Michael is a consummate networker. If you need to analyze a group of unknown people in a boardroom for potential investment partners, set him loose and he will come back having had deep, substantive discussions with each and an assessment of exactly who to focus on in less time than it would take to do the research online. He is remarkable in that skill!

But even more valuable, Michael is a non-lateral thinker. Sitting in a team meeting listening to the progress of the discussion on approaches to a business challenge, he will be engaged, yet thinking of many more possible solutions than those being discussed. When appropriate he will then suggest the top three he has come up with and the reasons they are improvements on everything else that has been discussed. You have to see this happen to believe it. Absolutely invaluable skill!

His training as an architect fostered in him an innate sense of structure from foundation to capstone for every business strategy and product marketing plan he has created. As a result, there are rarely surprises when his ideas are implemented.

Michael is on my “dream team” of people I’d like to build a company with. Until I am ready, I would take advantage of the opportunity and put him on yours right now.”

It’s your call, would you lean toward A or B? Which offers actionable insights? Here is another example:

A: “I would hightly recomend Jim.He is a very detailed and very organized person.”

B: “Jim was, and continues to be, a remarkable asset to me and to the businesses I have created. His tax accounting expertise has been invaluable, his business sense broad and deep, and his counsel calm and reasoned. I would be quite at a loss if he was suddenly not available to me. And he is always available, even though he serves many, many clients. That in itself is a testament to his management skills and commitment to providing excellent service. I highly recommend him!”

Let me be clear here: I am not making any of these up. Trite superlatives are rarely used and only if they can be backed up by examples. The substantive material I look for in my memory as I write, and for some I have not worked with them for years—even decades for a few, are the memorable differentiators. Why were they so good? What was behind their confidence, their prowess, their success? Moments, scenes, and exchanges come to mind; I have a visual memory. I then think about what those moments meant to me, and why I am able to recall them so clearly.

This mental recreation of recalling the experience of working with this individual produces the detail of the recommendations. Then it’s the influence of one man many years ago that helps me embroider these memories into a compelling tale. The US Army taught me how to write performance reviews—a lot of them! But a man I worked for taught me the importance of writing them well. When it comes to reviews, résumés, and recommendations, I owe much of my writing skill to Major José Pereles, wherever he may be.

A few quick examples in hopes they give you some ideas:

“Experiencing Chuck Goetschel speak as a member of his audience is a process of alignment, affirmation, and confirmation that culminates in excitement and deep learning. For those who have heard some (or many) speakers, you know that consistent results in a speaker is hard to find, almost unreasonable to expect, unless you want to hear the same thing over and over. I have had the pleasure of hearing Chuck at least a half-dozen times, speaking to crowds from one thousand to 20 thousand, always on differing topics or delivering completely unique perspectives on a similar topic. I looked forward to each with great anticipation and was never disappointed.

Another rarity in public speakers, Chuck conveys proven methods, first introduced as concepts or theories, so that his audience leaves with actionable ideas and steps they can employ for their own lives or business. Taking a break in my own copious note taking, I have often observed fellow audience members expressing their surprise at how much they are hearing that is worth writing down.

If you are searching for a speaker to inspire, motivate, and direct your audience, you need look no farther than Chuck Goetschel. Booking him repeatedly will only increase your attendance and the respect of your audience for your ability to serve them.”

“Bill is a man of focus. Never having done something before never seemed to slow him down. Enthusiasm for meeting new people, strength under pressure, determined to win – these are the qualities that I remember about Bill Tobin. It stemmed from a deep-seated belief in his product and service and his own ability to help people with those as his tools. Bill has a creative side that allows him to have fun and keeps him thinking. He has confidence in himself that allows him to share his ideas with those around him.

Bill is a great team player, but he readily took the lead when that was needed of him. I relied on Bill and he never let me down. I am sure he has only improved with age and experience.”

One last point, specific to LinkedIn. How many recommendations have you written? And how many recommendations have you received? LinkedIn has it wrong to ask you to recommend someone after they recommend you. The concept of “Givers Gain” says you need to go out and provide recommendations to those you know. It’s a high form of gratitude, and it will reap you rewards, some in the form of recommendations on LinkedIn (and good ones when you lead with a great recommendation), as well as heightened respect and esteem from the people you initiate a recommendation exchange with.

What’s Happening in America?

I have been wondering why so much disrespect, even hatred, appears to be rising in America, the land of the free, the country that embraced “Send us your poor” for so long, the nation that was founded on religious tolerance and understanding.

What is causing so many people to curse their neighbors, their leaders, even their President? Peace starts within, by first loving our selves. Is all this due to lack of self respect? Do Americans as a whole not feel confident in their own self worth?

To the media: we need to see role models of people who do love themselves and do respect others because they do not need to be defensive. Please, put the light on the right way to live, not the worst-case scenario you are focused on now.