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  • Upstart CEO: Win The Future Or Settle For Second

    America now seems like a tiger that is no longer a tiger, and everyone knows it – except for the tiger.

    I have been on this performance kick: execute this, repurpose that: leverage this into a new opportunity – blah, blah. But to be honest, I mean it. I look at America, American infrastructure, American schools and even American families, as a tiger that’s forgotten it’s a tiger: a tiger walking around wounded – a tiger that when it roars, its voice cracks – a tiger that, when it appears on the world stage, has lost the respect of some, and the fear of others – a tiger that is no longer a tiger, and everyone knows it – except for the tiger.

    One of the reasons for that is success: success brings amenities and attributes that reinforce a certain amount of exaltation, yet, success is also a

    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Olds/Calvin Wilson

    distraction – it creates distortion and deviation from the principles and execution, which availed the success in the first place.

    At times, success is the ultimate undoing of oneself, because not only do you start to believe what people are saying about you, you start to believe what you’re telling yourself, and that’s the deathblow. It’s that very same success, which often leads to our downfall: more speeches, less performance – more arrogance, less truth – more convenience: less innovation – less exploration – less discovery – the deathblow. Success is a killer.

    So how does America get the fire back in its belly? How do we stop accepting pedestrian performance, and begin roaring again. I think America, its companies and its people, must understand that it is staggering around the global landscape: a war here, a missed opportunity there, yet what’s most breathtaking about this phenomenon, is that the global community is watching our conspicuous descent, yet most Americans don’t realize, we haven’t got stuck in a ditch, we’ve fell into a crater with our pants down around our knees, and America’s rear-end is pointed up for the world to see.

    What will it take to be great again? Now, if I am honest, America is still the best game in town, will be so for a long time, whether it wants to be or not. But does that mean America can be great again: does it even want to be great again? Does it have the urgency, energy, vision and talent to reconstitute the twenty-first century in its own image? Win the Future – with whom, with what: what would equate “Winning the Future,” and how do we know that – who say’s?

    The problems is them, and the problem is us– I’ll explain.

    America has two major problems: the policymakers and the people – one, who you should never trust, and the other which is too trusting.

    The policymakers intentionally thwart innovative ideas and solid solutions, because it’s not in their interests to fix things – it’s in their interests to have things to fix. It’s not in their interests to win the game, because once the game ends, so does their power – so does their ability to personally profit from their positions. It is a politician’s ultimate benefit to keep the game going, to have no clock – inning after inning, because that’s how they remain necessary to constituents: that’s how they coerce their districts into sending them to Washington year-after-year, even though they’ve delivered on very little.

    In my upcoming book, The Means to the Means, Developing Wealth, Power and Influence in Black America, I state “The fault lies with the American people, particularly black people, for trusting so blindly — so vehemently in politicians and in a political culture that has only considered their needs when they are forced to. The political structure is slanted towards already wealthy and powerful individuals and groups pursuing self-serving, and often racially biased and class-based platforms that increase their wealth and power….Black people give their politicians too much influence over their lives without making them accountable and demanding that their representatives put their constituents and communities before their personal agendas, especially when it comes to many politicians inexplicable motivations for seeking higher office, after having failed miserably in lesser representation.”

    The other part of the problem is the American people: it’s like they keep playing the old “Three Card Monty” game, where you pick a card or pick a cup where you think the little red ball is under, you put your money down – you make your pick – and whoosh – you’ve lost – wrong card – wrong cup. ”Almost –my man” the guy running the game says – “maybe next time.” Damn that shellacking was fast.

    The American people think that they’ve lost the game, never realizing that they’ve been hustled – never realizing that the guy, who kept winning when we first walked over, was teamed  with the guy running the game: it’s a scam. They made you a “mark” for two reasons: because they knew you didn’t understand that is was a hustle, and second because they knew by the time you found out – they would be gone!

    Same relationship American people have with policy makers – let them make extraordinary promises – create plans with no budgets or create budgets with no way to pay for them – and the American worker, the American family reaches into its pocket, and says, “I’ll play just one last time,” and whoosh – it’s gone – scammed again. And just like the hustler on the street, the politician smiles at the American people, and says, “You should’ve known better.”

    I have one simple plan for the American people: stop waiting for a plan – stop waiting on your destiny and create it yourself. There is no one that knows what you need most, more than you: the people who continually go without what they need, which makes life hard, so why not create the framework to get those things yourself and fire your intermediary.

    If you want to reduce the debt, lower the deficit – what are you willing to give up – who will track the progress – and what will you implement to improve economic conditions, so that not only are you creating savings, but simultaneously developing new industries and new economies during your new found austerity – that you are now exporting far more than you import.

    If you want to change education – why are the parents and teachers genuflecting to politicians about their children’s needs: I thought parents and all the other tax payers voted for politicians, and paid both teacher’s and politician’s salaries – so why do parents have the smallest voice in this discussion? Why haven’t parents and communities rallied around a twenty-first century teaching, learning and leadership mandate – one that they – the parents and communities own – one that they measure independently – one where they make decisions based outcomes, and not tradition.

    If you want more jobs, why are you not researching and clarifying future trends and immediate  gaps that should be filled, so you don’t have to wait for your boss to downsize you or keep you around for much less? Why not create the opportunity for greater possibility, by being in the right labor conversation – one based on skill-sets, bottom-lines and global interconnectivity. Why are you waiting to be fired – why are you not compartmentalizing what you already know and what you just learned, and leverage that expertise into a new enterprise?

    If you want lower consumer prices and improve infrastructure – what action are you ready to take to address America’s dependency on oil? How far would you go, and for how long – I mean – you need your car right? Whether you know it or not, oil is in every package and process that America depends on. When should America make a real commitment to replace oil – and with what – would you be for that?

    And when are we getting our kids out of  Afghanistan? When are we going to force policy makers to stop playing politics with the lives of our young, so they can come home and build the future: come home and Win the Future? Many of America’s best and brightest are heroically engaged in an endless and unwinnable war – bring them home – right?  Who are we patriotic to: present politicians or future innovators, and by the way – how many politicians’ children are over there fighting their hearts out, while middle class and poor families disproportionately absorb the burdens of having to adjust to “never-will-be-the-same” sons and daughters returning home – some families adjusting to a permanent empty-seat at the dinner table?

    There you have it – if you want what you want – make it happen yourself. Stop going to people whose interests are antithetical than your own – and do something big and important. Coalesce around a movement and make it happen – raise the money yourself: strategize yourself: operate yourself: grow it yourself – you are already doing this for whomever you work for – why not do it for yourself?

    The purest form of power is developed by those people with relatively little power or no power at all, who take ownership of their “now.” Those people, who move through and beyond it’s too big – it’s too powerful – it’s always been that way: they force something corrupt into being fair, force it into its best self for the people, and in doing so, they’ve created a whole new power structure. They don’t argue with something that isn’t working: they stop politicking with it, they stop financing it – they stop being a part of it: they make a commitment to the promise of the future, while relinquishing the past.

    Why don’t you scare the hell out of everyone by being serious and having a plan that is ready and paid for? Scare the hell out everyone by meaning what you say, and really scare them by starting whatever you’re going to do without them.

    You want learn how to fix America – follow the money – track what comes in and where it’s going – who gets tax cuts – who gets stuck with the bills. Do your own due-diligence and lead the way, and if you refuse to do your own bidding, don’t complain when you get what you get, as opposed to what you are supposed to have – as opposed to what you’ve already paid for. If you want to Win the Future, you need to get mad and get moving. The more you wait for the future, the more your past will close in on you.

    Good luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Gamechangers


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