01 Sep Watts Up
MILWAUKEE – Watts Wacker, hippie extraordinaire and rock-star futurist, spoke at the Young Professionals of Milwaukee’s third birthday bash last week. I was floored by his insights and had to borrow a pen to take notes. Here’s what Watts offered, along with some R-squared commentary:
Watts: When Jesus Christ died, there were 200 Christians. When Paul—one of JC’s disciples—finally laid down, there were 200,000 Christians. Guess Paul was the marketing guy, huh?
R2: We all have our callings. What’s yours? Community leaders must identify their highest and best use. Is hanging on the cross your calling, or are you better as an evangelist?
Watts: Being a truth teller comes down to three things: (1) Discovering truth: learning more about what you don’t know; (2) Sharing truth: Note that many people say they want the truth UNTIL they hear it; (3) Realism: People who want the truth will clamor to it.
R2: This explains why we can’t solicit clients. Community leaders either understand that our seven indexes of Cool Communities are the truth and know they need to reposition themselves to attract talent, or they don’t. I’ll just keep telling the truth. Meanwhile I’ll learn more about things I’m completely ignorant about…how dry cleaning works, for example.
Watts: There are only four flavors of indigenous people from the beginning of time: Yellow, Red, Black, and White. All had two things in common: the mind-body-spirit connection and the desire to leave their worlds better.
R2: Next time I assume that someone is ill-intended with their demonizing rhetoric or 1980’s thinking, I’ll remember that deep down, they’re doing what they feel is right to leave the world a better place.
Watts: The single best measure of business success is making it. Long term. When Watts studied the oldest companies—who’d “made it” for the longest time, he learned four things: (1) All had access to capital; (2) All were sensitive to stakeholders; (3) All demonstrated tolerance for ambiguity of thought; (4) All reinvented their principle source of revenue. Did you know that Coca Cola started as a mouthwash?
R2: What if we reinvented our communities to be people-centered instead of car-centric? What if CEO’s refused to take multi-million dollar bonuses and invested it directly to improve the skill levels of entry level workers? What if the next generation of leaders were invited to “Take over” for a year, instead of waiting for the current leadership to die?
Watts: Today is like a period 500 years ago. Then, people went to bed believing the earth was flat. When they woke up they were told the earth was round. Whether they believed it or not, fortunes shifted to accommodate reality.
R2: US manufacturing jobs left for China in the 1980’s, and they’re never coming back. Whether community leaders believe that or not, fortunes are shifting to accommodate that reality. The US Stock Market rewards companies like Google who don’t manufacture anything, but instead create ever-slicker ways to share knowledge.
Rebecca Ryan is founder and partner of Next Generation Consulting. She drinks coffee from a mug that says, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Next Generation Consulting is a thinkubator committed to building Next Generation Companies and Communities. Her columns address the work and life trends of today’s young, tech-savvy talent as well as the tools, tricks and tips for those daring hot companies they work with. Please e-mail topics, suggestions and feedback to Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.