Digest: The Start-up Economy

This is Digest: A focused update on an undefined topic of my choosing. Published almost every Friday.


Ours is an economy in transition. From the work we do, to the place we work, to how we get our coffee, the music we listen to and the shows we watch, we’re redefining ownership and success to place an emphasis on freedom, choice, and well-being over monetary gain and lifestyles of excess.

So long sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Hello sex, yoga-or-something, and that-new-music-I-found-on-my-friend’s-Rdio-profile. (Something tells me the “sex” part will always be part of that equation, though apparently Japan thinks otherwise.)

So long home in the ‘burbs, with a white picket fence, a Sam’s Club membership, three kids and a golden retriever. Hello two-bedroom apartment, weekly trips to the farmer’s market, maybe a kid or two and a poodle-mix from a rescue.

Neither are quite as catchy, I know, but it’s who we are.

The Wolf of Wall Street may have been an incredible story, but nothing about that lifestyle actually appealed to me. The 80+ hour workweeks, popping quaaludes and binge-drinking just to get through the day, only to go home and have nothing of value to offer your family—all in the name of so-called “success.”

No.
No thank you.
My generation doesn’t want much to do with that.
Even if it means living with lesswe’re focused on the ripple effect of bad decisions.

So the question for me isn’t whether or not our economy is in transition, but what we’re ultimately in transition to. After all, capitalism means better decisions don’t always mean a more profitable business. There’s a reason CVS got backlash for deciding not to sell cigarettes, even though cigarettes are responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the US alone: it will hurt their bottom line.

And capitalism, up to this point,
is
all
about
the
bottom
line.

See, the industrial economy in America had an easily identifiable end game: factories, salaries, 401k’s.

Stability.

The start-up economy—whether by happy accident, or design—often has none of those things. Instead it’s every man for himself. Overlaps happen organically. Traditional organizational structures and systems work well, and people collaborate with one another… until they don’t.

Chaos.

That’s fine: Most of us have the imagination and the work ethic to handle it. And, now that an estimated 33-ish percent of the US considers themselves “freelance,” or “temp,” it’s obvious we’ve taken full responsibility of our situation.

But what’s the goal?
Is stability in the cards in the start-up economy?
Is stability even something we’re after?
Or are we just looking to constantly prove everybody wrong with the next big idea, hopping from idea to idea, job to job, start-up to start-up?

Are we going to turn 40 and wonder how we’re going to survive without a steady income, because the new young guns have come in and hijacked the economy we built on a foundation of quicksand? As brilliant as we are, not all of us can be Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, or Barack Obama; not all of us will be millionaires.

And while, as I mentioned, I know fame and fortune aren’t the end-goal, I think figuring out what the long game is in this economy we’re building is just as important as making sure you land your next gig to pay next month’s rent.

I know we’re making the world a better place.
I know we’re making better decisions when it comes to health, wellness and lifestyle.
I’m excited about the general direction we’re headed in.

But I can’t pretend I’m not concerned we might not have a goal.

Here are some articles for you to read this weekend. Enjoy:

Continue reading “Digest: The Start-up Economy”

LA is the Apocalypse

The absolute best essay I’ve ever read about Los Angeles: L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots. No one’s going to save you; no one’s looking out for you. It’s the only city I know where that’s the explicit premise of living there – that’s the deal you make when you … Continue reading LA is the Apocalypse

NSA v. Silicon Valley

The problem, of course, is not merely one of misunderstanding. It is largely a consequence of the inexorable rise of digital technology. In a sense, the tech companies are more like the NSA than they would like to think. Both have seized on the progress in computing, communications, and storage to advance their respective missions. (When you … Continue reading NSA v. Silicon Valley