September 9th, 2010 // 11:31 am @ Oliver DeMille
In The Coming Aristocracy I speak of “mini-factories,” which are individuals, teams, partnerships, or small organizations doing things that have traditionally been handled by large institutions. Successful mini-factories are operated by “producers.”
This article describes all types of producers and why they are vital to a free, healthy, and prosperous society.
*Special thanks to Les McGuire for this series.
Prosperity and abundance in a society depend on a certain type of person: the producer. Societies with few producers stagnate and decay, while nations with a large number of producers vibrantly grow — in wealth, freedom, power, influence and the pursuit of happiness.
Producers think in abundance rather than scarcity, take initiative instead of waiting for someone else to provide them with opportunity, and faithfully take wise risks instead of fearfully believing that they can’t make a difference.
In contrast, non-producers provide very little leadership in society and cause more than a majority of the problems. In history, as Jefferson put it, producers are the most valuable citizens.
Of course, he was speaking directly of farmers, but the principle applies to all those who add significant value to society. Non-producers consume the value that is added to society, but they create little value.
But who are the producers? Fortune 500 executives include themselves in this category, and so do small business owners in their first month of operation. Successful investors call themselves producers, as do unsuccessful day traders who claim that they just “haven’t had their lucky break yet.”
Clearly, just calling yourself a producer doesn’t make you one.
In fact, there are at least five types of producers, and each type is vital to a successful civilization. Each of the five creates incredible value, though the currency of the value is not always identical. Without any of the five types, no society succeeds and grows. When all five are creating sufficient value, no society has ever failed.
Producers are needed — all five kinds of them. These are the following:
- Prophets, Sages, Philosophers
Prophets, Sages, & Philosophers
The highest level of value creation comes from prophets, sages, and philosophers.
This category of producers is not limited to the Biblical-type prophets who spoke directly with God, but also includes anyone who teaches true principles. This makes these producers the most important type, because without clearly understood principles all the other types of producers fail.
Indeed, the other producers succeed to the exact extent that they understand and apply true principles.
Prophet-producers include Moses and Paul, who share God’s wisdom with us, and also sages like Socrates or Confucius or Bastiat, gurus like Edward Deming or Peter Drucker, philosophers like Buckminster Fuller or Stephen R. Covey, and those who inspire us to serve like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa.
Whether you agree or disagree with these people, their wisdom causes you to think, ponder, consider, and ultimately understand truth. By applying these truths, a person is able to produce.
Even if you just sit and ponder, letting the truths come to your mind through deep thought or hard experience, true principles are still passed to you through spiritual or creative means.
God is the greatest producer in the Universe, and He shares true principles with us so we can also produce. For value to be created, true principles must be applied.
Ironically, because God, prophets, and other wise people often share their wisdom without asking for monetary compensation, sometimes other types of producers discount the value of their contribution.
But make no mistake: revealing and teaching true principles is the highest level of creating value.
Whether we learn principles through inspiration or intuition, or from the lessons gained through hard work and experience, without principles we cannot produce.
Parents and grandparents are among the most important producers, because they teach principles most effectively — or not. When they don’t, the whole society suffers.
The next type of creating value comes from statesmen.
Do not confuse statesmen with politicians and bureaucrats, who are often worse than non-producers because they actually engage in anti-producing.
In contrast, statesmen create the value of freedom in society. The level of freedom in any nation is a direct result of the actions of statesmen — past and present.
If great statesmen like Cato, Washington, Jefferson, or Gandhi are present, a nation will throw off its enslaved past and adopt new forms and structures which ensure freedom of religion, freedom of choice and action, freedom of property and commerce, and other freedoms.
Together the value created can be called life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Take these freedoms away, and entrepreneurship and investment fade and disappear. There are no exceptions in history to this pattern.
Statesmen like Lincoln, Churchill, or Margaret Thatcher keep a nation from rejecting its freedoms and moving back into a cycle of tyranny and anarchy, where little production of any kind occurs.
In short, without principles there is little freedom, and without freedom all other kinds of production shut down, are regulated out of existence, and cease to be viable options.
No matter how entrepreneurial your spirit, you would not have created much value in the economy of Nero’s Rome, Russia under Stalin, or even Boston under the Stamp Act.
Without freedom, only prophets survive as producers — all other types of producers need both principles and freedom to flourish. The greater the understanding of principles and the freedom of the society, the greater the opportunities for producers.
Indeed, almost nothing creates more value than increasing freedom.
Only when freedom is widespread would the other types of producers have the peace to think that statesmen don’t add value. And frankly, when freedom is widespread is the very moment that it is in the most danger of being lost — it is at such times that statesmen are the most valuable producers.
Of course, the well-known statesmen like Lincoln or Jefferson only appear on the scene when there are a lot of lesser known individuals studying, writing about, talking about, and promoting statesmanship. Only generations with lots of statesmen produce true freedom that allows widespread educational and economic opportunity.
Most of the history of the world shows the absence of such statesmanship, so most of the population of the world were serfs, peasants, slaves, and other non-producers. Yet it is the true nature of all mankind to be producers, leaders, nobles.
Jefferson called this the “natural aristocracy,” and it happens only in those rare pockets of history where statesmen create and perpetuate freedom. Next to true principles taught by prophets, sages, and philosophers, freedom is the highest value that one can add to any society.
Investors & Entrepreneurs
The third type of producer is the investor, and the fourth type is the entrepreneur.
This needs little commentary among producers, who nearly all realize that entrepreneurship is necessary to create new economic value and that even the best entrepreneurial ideas and leaders can fail without adequate capitalization.
Robert Kiyosaki lists investors as the highest of his cash flow quadrants and business owners, or entrepreneurs, next. He is right on. Without investors, many, if not most, entrepreneurs would fail. Without both “I’s” and “B’s,” to use Kiyosaki’s language, no society can make significant or sustained progress.
Prophets, sages, philosophers, and statesmen are dependent on investors and entrepreneurs, and vice versa. As I said, no society is really successful unless all five types of producers effectively create value in their unique but interconnected ways.
Part of the value created by investors and entrepreneurs is obvious: They provide capital and establish institutions which build society. Every family and every individual benefits from their services.
Perhaps less known, but just as important, investors add the vital value of experience. Kiyosaki and Buffet both affirm that without personal knowledge and significant experience in a business, almost everyone who tries their hand at investing fails.
A society without adequate investment and entrepreneurship will see little, if any, progress.
An American, a Frenchman, & a Russian
The old joke is told of an American, a Frenchman, and a Russian, lost in the wilderness, who find a lamp and rub it. Out comes a genie. He offers them each one wish, for a total of three.
The American pictures the large ranch owned by the richest people in the valley where he grew up, and wishes for a ranch ten times its size, with flowing streams and meadows full of horses and cattle. His wish is granted and he is transported home to his new life.
The Frenchman pictures the farm and cattle of the largest estate from his home province, and pictures one just like it. Again, his wish is granted.
Finally, the Russian pictures the land and herds of the rich family in the steppes where he grew up, and wishes that a drought kill the cattle, dry up the grass, and bankrupt the aristocratic family.
The joke isn’t really very funny, though it brings big laughs with audiences of producers. They get it.
The Frenchman, thinking like an entrepreneur, wants the good things that life provides, and is willing to go to work to produce them. The American, who thinks like an entrepreneur and an investor, is willing to go to work also, but wants to see his assets create more value. The Frenchman wants value, the American plans for value, increased market share and perpetual growth.
In contrast, the Russian in this parable can only think of one thing — getting even with those who seem to have more than him.
This is the same as Steve Farber’s lament about the sad state of our modern employee mentality — where “burn your boss” is a slogan of millions of workers who see their employer as the enemy.
The Employee v. Owner Mindsets
Initiative, vision, effective planning, the wise use of risk, quality execution — all are the contributions of entrepreneurs and investors. Without them, any society will decline and fall.
Yet the non-producer mentality is often deeply ingrained in most people. For example, a visiting speaker once told the student body of how challenging it was to get his employees out of their “serf” mentality.
As the founder of a growing manufacturing technology company, he pulled in all his two dozen employees and offered them liberal stock options. He explained that if the company met its projections, they would all be very wealthy — and he abundantly wanted to share the prosperity.
Yet only a few of them would take the options. They only wanted cash salary, and mistrusted the whole concept of stock ownership.
At first he just offered it, thinking they’d all jump on board. But when only a few did, he pulled them in one by one and tried to make the case for stock. Still, only a few more took the stock.
The company grew, expanded, and then its value soared. Suddenly, one month a half dozen of the company’s employees were independently wealthy. They met, made plans, some stayed with the company and others moved on.
But the real story happened with the eighteen who had refused the stock. They were still paycheck-to-paycheck employees. And they were very angry! Most of them met with the founder in his office, and many of the meetings ended with yelling, names called, and doors slammed.
The entrepreneur couldn’t believe it. NOW these employees wanted their millions. But it just doesn’t work that way. “I begged you to take the stock,” the owner told them. “Now, I can’t help you. Why didn’t you take it when I offered?” he asked.
They had no answer. Only that: “I worked as hard as Jim and Lori, so why can’t I get the same payment?”
Entrepreneurs and investors understand that work is very, very important, but that high levels of compensation come to those who create value. Like the Russian in the joke above, this man’s employees felt they had been “ill-used.”
Consider the impact of this scarcity mentality on any society that adopts it. Freedom is naturally lost, and prosperity slows down and eventually becomes poverty. Entrepreneurs and investors are essential to societal success.
The fifth type of producer is the intrapreneur.
In a free society, investment capital is plentiful — but only effective entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can turn capital into increased value. This takes initiative, wise risk and leadership, just like the other types of producing.
While entrepreneurs found or own businesses, intrapreneurs work for and lead established businesses — but unlike traditional employees, intrapreneurs lead with the Producer mindset. They run their department, team, or company with an abundance mentality, an attachment to true principles, and a fearless faith in people and quality.
Intrapreneurs don’t really have jobs even though they are usually W-2 employees. Like entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs consider themselves on a mission to help society, to give it what it needs and wants, to truly serve others.
Like all producers, they believe in a deep accountability, refuse to assign blame, don’t believe in failure, and give their heart and soul to serve the customer. They add huge value in financial terms, leadership, and relationships — sometimes with people they’ve never met.
They pour quality into everything they do, and thereby deeply serve all who benefit from their product or service.
Great entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have a deep faith in the market, as long as it doesn’t go against true principles or subvert freedom.
Without the initiative and risk of entrepreneurship, few intrapreneurs would have a place to work and serve; likewise, without intrapreneurs there would be few successful companies. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that there would be any.
The Synergy of Created Value
For any company to succeed, all five types of producers must fulfill their unique roles. This is even more true for any nation.
To see how vital all five types of producers are, consider the past. Major world powers in history have failed in the same way.
First, the people stop giving heed to the wisdom of the prophets.
Second, voters or those in power replace statesmen with politicians, whereupon freedom steadily decreases.
Third, the natural result is increased regulations and taxation, ridiculous lawsuits and judicial decrees, and governmental policies that discourage and then attack producers, initiative, and the abundance mentality in general.
Fourth, investment capital flees the nation to follow the Rule of Capital — it goes where it is treated well.
Finally, the people have a scarcity mentality, refuse to listen to the prophets or elect statesmen, and entrepreneurs go where investment gives them opportunity. The nation stagnates and declines.
Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, Spain, Italy, Bismark’s Germany, and Han China all followed this pattern. Each was a major center of world power, influence and prosperity, and each declined into a third world nation. France copied this pattern in the 1800s, Britain followed it in the 1900s, and the United States is on an identical track today.
Specifically, the U.S. is at the point where it is increasing its regulation, experiencing absurd lawsuits and court decisions, and increasingly adopting policies that discourage entrepreneurship. The next step is to openly attack investment and entrepreneurship.
And when investors find higher profits in other nations, while facing decreasing returns along with public hostility and rising taxes at home, U.S. investment will dry up. History is clear on this point. There are no exceptions.
The only hope is for a new generation of producers to effectively promote freedom. In fact, the U.S. has been at this point twice before — in 1860 and again in 1939. Both times enough statesmen arose, most of them unknown to all except avid readers of history, to push aside the politicians and save our freedoms. Britain saw the same thing happen in 1216, 1620, 1815 and 1937.
Other nations have followed a similar pattern. When the people listen to the prophets, statesmen promote freedom, and investors and entrepreneurs/intrepreneurs build the nation.
When the sages are ignored and statesmanship is seen as abstract and worthless, investors go elsewhere — capital flees to other nations, and the home country declines. With such decline comes moral decay, the loss of political and economic freedom, and the end of opportunity.
Abundance is a true principle, yet through history most governments have made it their major goal to crush abundance and prosperity in the masses and give it to the aristocracy or royalty.
Anyone who thinks this can’t happen in America hasn’t closely studied history.
Overcoming 3 Crucial Mistakes
Many producers make three predictable mistakes. Any producer who knows these mistakes and avoids them will be a better producer and create more lasting value in society.
Producer Mistake #1: The Generation Gap
First, producers seldom encourage their own children to follow the producer path. Many young producers will disavow this, arguing that they’ll do all within their power to teach the abundance mindset to their children.
And most of them do, until the children start to get close to adulthood. At this point, many producers realize just how hard the producer role is in life and seek to help their children avoid the pain and challenge of this path.
Many producers recommend that their children become professionals — doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers. It is ironic how many very successful college-drop-out producers make sure that all of their children attend the most prestigious colleges available and major in the normal career fields.
Even the producers who train their oldest child to follow in their path often send the younger children in other directions. And hardly any producers pass along the producer mindset to their grandchildren.
Of course, if children or grandchildren choose to take a different path in life, it is usually wise to support their decisions and love them unconditionally. But training them in social leadership, abundance, creating value, serving society, and the producer mindset is good for them no matter what path they take in life.
The historically effective solution for this is for producers to put real time, thought, planning and execution into their grandparenting role — long before they are grandparents. Quality grandparenting is a way for all producers to engage the prophet role for their family, to help pass on their wisdom and understanding of true principles to future generations.
Great parenting fulfills this same function, and is part of propheting — the highest level of production.
Producer Mistake #2: The Blinders
The second mistake many producers make is to think that their particular brand of producing is the only one that creates real value.
Like the old parable of the carpenter who believes that all of the world’s ills can be fixed with a hammer, sometimes producers get so focused on their type of producing that they narrowly discount the value of the others. Focus is good, but narrow thinking usually limits one’s effectiveness.
For example, a statesman who believes that changing government is the only real answer to society and that freedom will fix all problems, will likely reject the moral teachings of prophets and consider them mere “philosophy.” Such a person limits his statesmanship because he just doesn’t get it.
So does the statesman who thinks freedom is the only goal, and that entrepreneurs are just in love with money — he will likely try to use law against entrepreneurship, which is the opposite of statesmanship.
A true statesman sees that all five types of producers are vital to society. Similarly, when prophets undervalue statesmen, freedom of religion and independent thinking are often lost.
Likewise, an entrepreneur who discounts the teachings of prophets may feel successful because he’s made a fortune selling pornography. “After all, I just gave the market what it wanted,” he says.
No abundance-minded entrepreneur would think this, because value is only created when principles and freedom aren’t attacked. If economic value reduces moral or freedom values, total value is actually decreased.
Or, consider the entrepreneur who thinks building profitable businesses is the only way to create value and therefore does little to promote statesmanship — in his older and wiser years he will likely regret the regulated and declining world which he sees his grandchildren inheriting.
When entrepreneurs undervalue statesmen, politicians and bureaucrats win the day and capital is discouraged and eventually attacked. The wise entrepreneur or investor will see the great value added by prophets and statesmen, and he will create more value in his life because his broader view will help him make better decisions.
The examples could go on, but suffice it to say that significant problems occur when any of the five devalue any of the others. However, when all five types of producers understand, highly value, and actively support each other, all types of producers experience synergy — and the value created is exponentially increased.
Producer Mistake #3: Arrogance
Finally, the third common mistake made by producers is to look down on non-producers.
One of the true principles taught by prophets is that every person is inherently as valuable as any other. True abundance means that we respect people, whatever their chosen path — as long as it is good and honorable.
Producers, all five types, are truly vital to society, but that doesn’t make producers any better than anyone else. In fact, true abundance producers know that every person is a genius. Every single person. Some decide not to develop it much, but everyone is a genius. And producing is really just about getting people to develop that genius.
Producers who understand this point are the most effective, because they do it all for the right reasons — a true love of and desire to serve others. This is what abundance really means. Everything else falls short.
This is true abundance, so abundant that you spend your life voluntarily serving others (in contrast, true scarcity would be to spend your life on yourself). Real value means people value — and creating value really means helping people choose better lives.
This is what all five types of producing are all about.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 9th, 2010 // 11:24 am @ Oliver DeMille
A friend once suggested that we should remove the writings of Robert Kiyosaki from our curriculum. When I asked him why, he said that Kiyosaki’s books contain a number of errors.
“Do the writings of Marx contain errors?” I responded.
“Well, yes,” he admitted.
“What about the writings of Freud, or Dewey?”
He agreed that these contain errors also.
“Should we remove them from the curriculum, too?” I asked, “Or do you think the students actually get a better education by reading these authors and facing their errors head on?”
“That makes sense,” he said.
I asked, “Which books do you know that contain no errors — that are totally perfect?”
He said that the scriptures come to mind, but he couldn’t think of any other books with no errors.
Before I could continue, he broke in: “But when you’re reading these known classics, of course you point out the errors. In the case of Robert Kiyosaki, people just read it and accept it at face value.”
I replied, “But isn’t that all the more reason that a great education would include reading Kiyosaki and other influential books of our time and considering their truths as well as their errors?”
We had an excellent discussion, and he left agreeing that students were better off reading Kiyosaki and really thinking about it than not reading it at all.
Push Your Comfort Zone
But the question concerned me because I’ve heard it so many times before. Like the concerned parent who didn’t want her son to read or discuss Lord of the Flies.
After realizing that we would be discussing its flaws, she suddenly was very excited for her son to participate. Or the executive who objected to The Tipping Point because he felt that some of the conclusions weren’t adequately substantiated. When told he could share his views with the group, he was excited to attend.
Or we assume that if she has strong disagreements with something, she won’t recommend reading it — a sort of reverse censorship.
The result is the end of learning. If you don’t study new ideas that challenge the accepted wisdom, all that is left is brainwashing.
You end up with people who just accept whatever they read at face value; or you get people who believe they are deep thinkers because they know how to disagree with whatever they read.
Both of these extremes are lacking. The whole point of an education is to learn the ability to discern between good and bad, right and wrong, excellent and mediocre, true and false, useful and irrelevant, etc.
The best way to learn this is to experience great classics, and clarify their truths as well as their errors.
Once we gain this skill, we should apply it to current books, ideas, candidates, etc.
So why do we sometimes want to only read things we already agree with? At one level, it’s just more comfortable.
But at another level, education is about pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones — especially in our thinking.
Unfortunately, we may be living in a strange conveyor belt saturated world with two competing sides — the Censors and the Bashers*. The Censors only want to read things without errors or personality. In other words, textbooks.
Every teacher knows that the quickest way to get rid of controversy is just to “dumb something down” to professional or technical jargon.
Ironically, when a book doesn’t say anything important, when it is “boring,” nobody seems to disagree with it. C.S. Lewis worried about just this thing when he wrote that our textbooks are educating “men without chests.”
The new formula for selecting a curriculum seems to be: No Genius or Personality = Flat and Dumbed Down Reading = No Controversy = Good Curriculum.
Of course, this makes for terrible education, because it shuts down thinking. The Censors don’t mean to do this, but the result of only reading what you agree with is the end of real thinking.
As for the second group, the Bashers, they thrive on controversy. But they never build anything. They just attack, criticizing those who are trying to make a positive difference.
Bashers never risk anything to make the world better, but they think they’re helping if they attack those who do. They are the natural response to the Censors.
Censors try to make sure that no controversy occurs, and in the process they unwittingly stop thinking (and suggest that everyone else do the same).
Of course, it’s vital to shelter children from evil and confusion, but Censors take it to the level of trying to shelter adults from dangerous ideas. In history, this always has terrible results — from Caesar to Hitler.
Bashers criticize the Hitlers of the world, but attack good ideas with just as much gusto. In fact, Bashers have come to believe that thinking means criticizing. They seldom use the word “thinking” without the modifier “critical” thinking.
But real thinking, including actually applying new ideas to build and improve the world, requires much more.
Are these two extremes the result of two full generations of conveyor belt education? Censors read The Lord of the Flies, Marx, Kiyosaki, or anything else that challenges the currently accepted wisdom, and say: “Let’s take this off the list — it has errors.”
Bashers, on the other hand, read the same books and say: “Here are all the errors; let’s list them one by one and focus on them.
Better still, let’s just attack the authors.” They believe this is critical thinking, but most of the time it only amounts to criticizing.
Be a Builder
Educated people, in contrast, read with eye for errors and also an openness to truth and application—whatever the source.
In fact, that’s a good definition of what it means to be educated: the ability to recognize and apply truth, regardless of its source or delivery.
As a result, a truly educated people is a free people. What we need is to be thinking people, and that is the purpose of education.
Even if some of our schools fail to educate, we can still put thinking at the center of our reading. Consider this three step approach:
- Let’s read the challenging books of our time, and carefully think about what they say.
- Where they’re wrong, let’s discuss and learn from the errors.
- Where they’re right, let’s work hard and take risks to apply them and build a better world.
As my friend and I finished our conversation, he surprised me — and taught me something. He said, “Before I leave, can you suggest several books I should be reading that will help me think more deeply?”
The truth is, most people aren’t really Censors or Bashers at heart. We just get into bad habits. Most people are really Builders, if you give them a chance.
In a world where widespread Conveyor Belt thinking has conditioned many of us to automatically censor or bash new ideas, we all need to do more thinking.
This simple but profound change could make all the difference in our society’s future. It would certainly have a wonderfully positive impact on modern education — or even just the personal education of anyone who applies it.
I think my answer surprised him, too: “I suggest that you start by reading Kiyosaki again, and this time write out a list of everything you learn that is true.
Then put it next to your list of errors. Finally, as you study both lists, consider what you can use from the lists to make a positive difference in the world.”
To his credit, my friend was open and excited to think, learn, and build.
*Thanks to James E. Faust for the concept of “Bashing vs. Building.”
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 9th, 2010 // 11:01 am @ Oliver DeMille
In recent years we have seen a domino effect of compounding crises, one following another.
Behind each crisis is a history — a series of causal events and circumstances that made the crisis inevitable.
Our failure to recognize the common root cause makes it unlikely that effective solutions will ever be put in place to free us from this cycle.
While many correctly note that education is the key, this is usually only an introduction to an even more troubling crisis.
Violence, addiction, cultural decay, the degeneration of the family unit, deterioration of an aging infrastructure of buildings and resources, high rate of dropout of students as well as teachers, political manipulation of curriculum and personnel, and mediocre and falling test scores are all issues of extreme importance.
But after all of the other criticisms that can be made of our educational system, the final indictment is that too many of our children simply aren’t learning.
Because of this education disaster the twenty-first century has not fulfilled its promise as an Information Age, a Post-industrial Age, or an American Age.
It has instead been an Era of Crisis.
To break free from this long-term pattern of crisis we must first fix education, and to fix education we must address the real problem.
The deep reality of this failure is that education now too seldom involves the right kind of connection.
Consider the deeply moving and transformational experiences you had with teachers and educators in your life and I think you will agree that connection was a defining characteristic in virtually every example. Somehow that great teacher or mentor found a connection with you, and it helped you when you needed it.
Now add to your mental list the best characteristics of the greatest teachers in history, from Socrates to Mother Teresa. Now include those of the greatest mentors in literature and books, like Jo in Little Men, or the priest in Romeo and Juliet.
Add to the list the best from great teachers in contemporary movies, like Dead Poet’s Society and Freedom Writers.
Within this list we find a prescription for how to truly connect with, teach, and mentor young people.
This list is what great education is. This list is what Leadership Education is all about.
Our purpose is to put great mentors in the classroom with students and then watch as greatness emerges. And it does — because when teachers know that their entire purpose is to be the things on that list to the students in their care, miracles occur.
As I wrote in my book A Thomas Jefferson Education, academia today struggles because both teachers and students have lost the vision of their role in the educational process.
Every conceivable “fix” has been tried or proposed, while neglecting the obvious: It is the student’s job to supply the desire and effort to get an education for himself.
To this end, it is the teacher’s role to inspire — to do all those things on our mental list that lead to connection.
When teachers do those things, students study and learn and work hard; they actually get a great education and prepare for a great life.
Imagine a world where classrooms are filled with teachers who believe their students have genius within them and that it is their job to help each student find it and develop it.
I hope that in the decade ahead millions will read the book A Thomas Jefferson Education and help make this vision a reality in their homes and schools.
We must all spread the message that we can’t accept mediocre education anymore without dooming our nation’s freedom and prosperity, and that great education comes only when students choose to do the hard work of studying.
Students do this when they are exposed to transformational teaching and personalized mentoring.
So, what can you do? Be a mentor. Get fifty copies of A Thomas Jefferson Education and give them to people you know; tell them of your conviction that the future of America depends on great education as outlined in this book.
Start telling the story of the teacher or mentor who most changed your life, and ask others how teachers changed theirs.
We need to start talking about our great teachers, to make this discussion an American pastime. Great education means the difference, literally, between a future America of free enterprise and opportunity or something much less desirable.
In the next decade, we are choosing what kind of future we will pass on to our children and grandchildren.
And the choice will happen in our classrooms.
*This post was adapted from prepared remarks that were delivered as a speech by Shanon Brooks on behalf of Oliver DeMille at the George Wythe University 2009 Philanthropic Gala at the Utah State Capitol.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 9th, 2010 // 10:52 am @ Oliver DeMille
On the morning of September 11, 2001, biology stopped being a science. For that matter, so did physics and mathematics, but our focus here is on biology.
Historically, the great philosophers and thinkers divided knowledge into four major branches:
First, the sciences, or the things which can be proven empirically — based on evidence and fact.
Second, the arts, areas of knowledge that are best understood through experiencing beauty.
Third, the spiritual, which Aristotle called metaphysics and which many moderns narrowly refer to as ethics.
Fourth, the humane, meaning the realm of organizing and leading human beings, the highest level of which is statesmanship, with social leadership being a close second.
Before 9/11, biology clearly belonged to the branch of knowledge called science. But as the world watched the planes fly into the buildings that day, over and over on our screens, the field of biology moved firmly and irreversibly into the realm of statesmanship.
As early as the 1920s, economist John Maynard Keynes suggested that the 21st Century would be the Democratic Century, as democracy and capitalism would finally spread around the world.
By the early 1990s, futurists Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt separately predicted that the 21st Century would be the Asian or the Pacific Century, due to the rising might of China and the other Asian economies.
By the end of the nineties, the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs types suggested that the true explosion of the next hundred years would be technological rather than national — that the 21st would be the Digital Century.
But as big as these trends may or may not turn out to be, one thing will almost certainly eclipse them all: The 21st Century will be the Century of Biology.
And statesmen and social leaders of the future had better prepare accordingly.
But how should we prepare? What exactly does “The Century of Biology” mean?
Simply put, the events of 9/11 and the commencement of the Fourth Turning catapulted biological thinking from the first branch (pure science in pursuit of knowledge) immediately into the fourth branch (thought processes used to organize human endeavors) .
Biology is no longer about the sterile exercise of our intellects to answer questions about living organisms. Now biology has morphed into a means by which societal vitality may be investigated and sustained.
In biology, certain well-trained experts work to maintain health and banish disease from individuals and communities. We call these people healers, physicians, veterinarians, and the like.
In the twenty-first century, certain people, well-educated in the thinking of modern biology, will seek to sustain the vitality and vanquish the ills of society. To my way of thinking, these individuals have only one best, all-encompassing name: statesmen.
There are at least eight sub-trends of the overarching shift from the Information Age to the Biology Age . Each is significant, each is currently increasing its power, and each must be understood by the statesmen and social leaders of our day.
The first four trends are:
1. Business is coming to life.
2. Technology is coming to life.
3. Information is coming to life.
4. Culture is coming to life.
Together, these four trends are causing and will cause four other macro-trends, including:
5. The end of stability in national domestic life.
6. The end of security in all aspects of life — business, economic, governmental, etc.
7. The rising philosophy of General Evolution (not to be confused with micro- or macro-evolution).
8. Biology as a branch of leadership and a central tenet of all statesmanship.
The impact on our lives can hardly be overstated.
All our central models and worldviews will change — or at least the language we use to support our views.
For example, in the 20th Century our vocabulary and ideas were infused with the teachings of physics: time, distance, size and mechanical interactions were the rule. We understood things by asking who? what? where? why? when? and how?
In contrast, in the Biology Century our central metaphors will be creativity, initiative, adaptability, and the organic interconnections of things.
Instead of seeing a world made up of atoms, we will see a universe that can only be understood by comprehending relationships — not just knowing that relationships exist, mind you, but truly understanding them.
(As a side note, some authors including Tom Peters have suggested that therefore the 21st Century will be totally dominated by women).
In short, as Daniel Pink put it, the Right Brain will lead the 21st Century .
Relationships in business will dominate the bottom line; relationships in government will determine success in security, trade, economics, and even freedom; relationships in families will create a new class system, just as family arrangements created all historical class systems.
Relationships, not atoms, are the building blocks of our universe.
Let’s consider some specific examples of this shift into the Century of Biology, starting with the future of business. Twentieth century business emphasized the mechanical approach, including planning, strategizing, predicting, engineering the company, and controlling change.
A whole mechanical-based leadership industry grew around dozens of books which outlined the seven keys to success or the three choices of leaders. All of this is now turning to biology . Just consider the following business phrases now in use in the general corporate world:
- Adaptive Organizations
- Metabolic Companies
- Evolutionary Corporations
- Permanent Volatility
- Non-Linear Systems
- Organic Leadership
- Cell Management
- Organism Organization
- People Power
- Mutation Marketing
- Going Viral
- Responsive Customized Manufacturing
The list could go on. But consider another huge trend which is not only re-seeding the way leaders and managers work, but is actually re-focusing the products and services businesses offer.
Technology is literally coming alive.
In the excellent book It’s Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, & Business by Christopher Meyer and Stan Davis, the authors outline several major fields of bio-technology in the coming decades, including, but not limited to, nano-tech and materials science.
Nano-tech, which literally means the technology of the very, very small, has virtually exploded in the past decade — and it is growing exponentially.
To summarize this exciting new field, suffice it to say that with current optical technology and the latest generation of super microscopes, almost anything can be done smaller.
For example, researchers can now manipulate atoms, see genes in action, watch proteins as they interact and DNA strands as they fold. Scientists have “slowed” light down enough to capture a photon particle, and they can routinely manipulate the gene.
Medical researchers can “see” directly into the cell and even laser inject a medication directly into a cell without a needle. Nano-technology is being pursued by numerous national militaries and a host of private companies.
Also consider the breakthroughs of materials science. Research is currently underway to create the matter compiler, which would deconstruct a substance and then re-pattern the molecules to form a different pre-programmed substance.
What does this mean?
Imagine if ancient alchemy and Star Trek replicators meet in the middle sometime around the year 2052.
Or consider the concept currently under design of the Universal Mentor — a wrist watch or a pair of glasses with a world wide web link and audio capability which listens to your conversations and pipes answers, facts, quotes and sources directly into your watch or earpiece.
Experience Entertainment may be the closest to manufacturing these coming gadgets — where the interactive movie or CD connects directly to the central nervous system or visual cortex so that you are Arnold Shwarzenegger or Angelina Jolie.
And already in operation is the Social Science Simulator, which scholars are using to predict the results of a certain policy or law.
As fantastic as these ideas may be, they are still all based on mechanical technology, right? For now, yes. But significant funding and research are being put into “smart” technologies — machines which think, learn, evolve and possibly even “feel”.
Of course, the movie industry has shown the dangers of this in a barrage of movies in the last twenty years. But two facts remain: bio-tech research is in its embryonic stage, and embryos grow and develop.
The ideas and developments I highlighted in the last article may all seem impossible, or at least impractical. But listen to Dr. Rodney Brooks, MIT Professor and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. He says:
Fifty years ago, just after the Second World War, there was a transformation of engineering. Before that, engineering had been a craft-based exercise, but starting around 1950 it was transformed into a physics-based discipline. Now we are seeing the beginnings of a transformation of engineering again, this time into a largely biologically-based discipline…At MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where I am director, I see signs of this transformation every day. We have torn out clean rooms where we used to make silicon chips and installed wet labs in their place, where we compile programs into DNA sequences that we splice into genomes in order to breed bacterial robots. Our thirty-year goal is to have such exquisite control over the genetics of living systems that instead of growing a tree, cutting it down, and building a table out of it, we will ultimately be able to grow the table. . . Similar transformations are happening throughout engineering departments, not just at MIT but all over the world.” 
Professor Brooks continues:
“Some of the early biological augmentations of ourselves may entail increasing the number of neurons in our cortex. Already these sorts of experiments are being carried out on rats. When extra layers of neurons are placed in the brain of a rat at a critical time in its development, its intelligence is enhanced relative to rats without this augmentation. As we better understand the hormonal balances that control the growth of our brain in childhood, we will perhaps be able to add sheets of neurons to our adult brains, adding a few points to our IQ and restoring our memory abilities to those we had when younger. There will likely be some errors and horror stories about augmentation gone haywire, but make no mistake — the technology, in fits and starts, will proceed.
“By the midpoint of the twenty-first century, we will have many, many new biological capabilities. Some of them seem fanciful today, just as projections about the speed, memory, and price of today’s computers would have seemed fanciful to the engineers working on the first digital computers in 1950.” 
Psychology and mathematics are also turning biological. As Marc Hauser, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Program in Neurosciences at Harvard University, wrote:
“A chicken with a piece of quail brain bows its head like a quail but crows like a chicken. A seventy-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease, confined to his wheelchair, receives a piece of brain from a pig and in no time at all is out golfing, without a hint of his porcine accessory. This is not science fiction, a la Douglas Adams. This is scientific fact. Today we can swap brain tissue not just among individuals of the same species but between species. In the next fifty years such exquisite neurobiology will have revolutionized our understanding of the brain—of how it is wired up during development and how it has evolved over time.”
And consider these thoughts from Ian Stewart, the 1995 recipient of the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday medal:
“Far more influential, and far more radical, will be the mathematics inspired by the biosciences: biomathematics. As the triumphal announcements about the human genome give way to a new realism about the results, it has become clear that merely sequencing DNA does not get us very far in understanding organisms, or even in curing diseases. There are huge gaps in our understanding of the link between genes and organisms. . . .
“Genes are part of a dynamic control process that not only makes proteins but modifies them and gets them to the right place in a developing organism at the right moment in its life history. The understanding of this process will require much more than a mere list of DNA codes, and most of what’s missing has to be mathematical. But it will be a new kind of mathematics, one that blends the dynamics of organism growth with the molecular information processing of DNA. . . . The new biomathematics will be a strange new mixture of . . . analysis, geometry, and informatics. Plus lots of biology, of course.” 
Stewart also says:
“Today, complex systems are being studied in two main areas—biology and finance. A stock market, for instance, has many agents who interact by buying and selling stocks and shares. Out of this interaction emerges the financial world. The mathematics of finance and commerce will be revolutionized by throwing away the current “linear” models and introducing ones whose mathematical structure more accurately reflects the real world.
“Even more dramatically, mathematics will invade new areas of human activity altogether—social science, the arts, even politics. However, mathematics will not be used in the same way as it is currently used in the physical sciences.” 
And National Medal of Technology recipient Ray Kurzweil writes:
“. . .‘narrow’ AI [includes] machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human intelligence for specific tasks. Every time you send an e-mail or make a cell phone call, intelligent algorithms route the information. AI programs diagnose heart disease, fly and land airplanes, guide autonomous weapons, make automated investment decisions for a trillion dollars’ worth of funds and guide industrial processes. These were all research projects a couple of decades ago.
“So what are the prospects for ‘strong’ AI . . . with the full range of human intelligence? We can meet the hardware requirements . . . . [W]e need about 10 quadrillion calculations a second to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. IBM’s Blue Gene/L computer is already at 100 trillion. If we plug in the semiconductor industry’s projections, we can see that 10 quadrillion calculations a second will be available for $1,000 by around 2020.” 
The ramifications are mind boggling, and the science is clearly here to stay.
But how is this all shifting to the realm of statesmanship and social leadership? The answer is profound. Genetic engineering, cloning, bio-mathematics and direct genetic healing cross the boundaries between science and leadership on many levels.
Jefferson spoke for all the great freedom philosophers of history when he wrote, “all men are created equal.” Indeed, this is the most basic tenet of free government, free markets and just laws.
But what if a new generation of children aren’t created equal?
What if only the very rich, or citizens in certain leading nations, can afford the gene scripting that gives their children the brains of Aristotle, the strength and speed of a professional football player, the height of a pro basketball center, and the looks of Apollo?
What if some men and women really are created “more equal than others?”
Politicians may try to stop the use of this technology for a time, just like they met in diplomatic summits and signed treaties to stop the technologies of the machine gun, chemical weapons, mind-enhancing drugs for entertainment, or nuclear weapons.
But where the technology exists, human beings will find a way to use it. The statesmen of the 21st Century will have to do better than just passing laws or signing treaties.
Indeed, the statesmen and social leaders of our generation will face a host of challenges unimagined by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill, or Mother Teresa. Which is why we must be better prepared than any generation before us — in virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage.
We must be the best educated of any generation — ever.
Just consider the emerging concept of General Evolution, as taught by Meyer and Davis.
Whereas micro-evolution means that external pressures, adaptation and mutation lead to evolution within a species, and macro-evolution refers to one species evolving into another, the evolution debate is now infused with a whole new issue.
General Evolution argues that all things, not just biological organisms, evolve along the same lines as Darwin’s micro-evolution.
In short, agents act to create, the creations face selective pressures and either perish or overcome, they overcome by connecting with other agents and then adapting, such adaptation causes them to evolve to a whole new level, where they self-organize, replicate or reproduce, and start over.
In biology the agent is the cell, made up of smaller agents such as proteins. In society the agent is the family, in an economy it is a business, in physics it is an atom, and so on. In the Information Age the agent is software, and if it actually does evolve, then it will naturally meet the criteria of being alive.
This may seem far-fetched, but who is to say that the biology code of G,T,A,C is inherently superior to the binary code of 1 and 0? Both were created or inspired by the same God. Indeed, numerous researchers are currently combining the two.
Interestingly, many of the strongest proponents of both sides of the 20th Century debate over macro evolution versus creationism are natural believers in General Evolution.
The atheistic skeptic already believes that man is god, so why can’t we create other beings in our own image that hopefully are like us in all the good ways but don’t inherit our flaws?
And the religious person believes that God created man, and that He also gave us the gift to create.
Why then can’t we create smart machines that learn and improve themselves as well as those that just do what the programmer says?
They will never take the place of human beings, just like cats and dogs never take the place of our children — but for people who don’t have children in the home, pets and smart machines might be excellent company.
In any case, in more practical terms, many (if not a majority) of the entrepreneurs of the 21st Century will only succeed if they infuse biology into their companies — in terms of products and especially relationships.
The mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, social leaders, social entrepreneurs, community leaders and national and world statesmen of the 21st Century need to think biologically. They need to realize that families, schools, nations, and societies are organic, not mechanical.
For example, mothers are much more like arms than bumpers — you can’t just pull one off and replace it, without creating excruciating and lasting pain. Schools that treat teachers like factory workers instead of best friends will be full of students with glazed over eyes who can’t wait to get out of school. Why should they study if they hate the place?
Nations which pass laws mechanically, just assuming that whatever is legal will be followed by everyone regardless of their deepest beliefs, will not succeed.
People are disposed to “suffer a long chain of abuses,” but at some point the soul comes out and slaves rise against masters — not because they want to, but because deep within them they have to. It’s who they are. It’s their biology, and their spirit.
In less extreme nations, where slavery is outlawed, but the laws slowly promote immorality and become less and less just, the same pattern emerges. Eventually the people stand up, speak out, and do whatever it takes to win back their freedoms and re-institute virtue and goodness.
When positive change occurs, it does so biologically, organically, not mechanically. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Civil Rights movement, few can predict it and then suddenly, in a few short years it is over and the world is changed. In retrospect, it seems inevitable.
That is what statesmanship and social leadership are about: preparing yourself to recognize unforeseen opportunity and lead change when the time is finally right.
20th Century experts may continue to suggest a mechanical strategy and a well-formed plan for the change, but a deep reading of history shows that the most important changes don’t happen that way.
Missions Worth Pursuing
The great changes of the 21st Century will happen biologically, naturally, as you submit to your Higher Power, focus your life on the mission given to you, and do what our generation was born to do.
In the 21st Century, there is nothing stopping us from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, educating the ignorant, and freeing the captive. These are each biological imperatives. They are why our generation was born.
These are the missions worth pursuing. If you are giving your life to something else, please reconsider. You were born for a purpose. Find out what it is, and dedicate your whole biology to it — your body, heart, mind, and even your soul. Such grand purposes are the core of the human being. It is who we are. It is why we were born.
7 Areas of Focus for 21st Century Leaders
Specifically, the leaders of the 21st Century will lead biology in the following seven arenas. Each of us needs to become a student of all of them, and others that will naturally emerge in the decades ahead. Indeed, by 2020 I predict that to “be educated” will mean that you are literate in all seven, and a master of at least a few.
The 7 divisions of the new biology are:
- A vision of the future that is simultaneously accurate, good, and transformational.
- Adaptability and flexibility in the face of frequent change.
- Robustness and strength in overcoming all the challenges of this generation.
- The spirit of innovation, of destabilizing things that seem to be okay but are actually mediocre.
- Exploration and experimentation of good ideas and “impossible” dreams.
- Depth relationships — meaning a life focus on the most important relationships, with spouse, children, family and a few intimate others.
- Breadth relationships — including ministering to the people of the world by building friendships in every nation and people.
These are the great imperatives of statesmen, social leaders, mothers, and fathers in the 21st Century. And each of these is a biological process.
Where & How to Get This Education
Our vision is to train world-class statesmen who are true experts in these organic processes.
Leadership Education provides an in-depth study of what constitutes our society — the basic political, governmental, legal, economic, social, cultural, business and family forms which make up a society. It is, in the broad sense, the new biology.
Whereas rocket science studies inanimate objects, students study these seven biological challenges. They also master an eighth challenge, which is the highest struggle biology has ever known: how to build the ideal society.
If you were born to be one of the statesmen or stateswomen of the 21st Century, let nothing stop you from getting a true statesman’s education.
What Will You Invest In?
Whatever your focus is during the next decade, in the Century of Biology it is finally time to dedicate ourselves to solving the world’s problems.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the captive and teaching the ignorant are not just good ideas; they are our biological purpose in the decades ahead. They are why we are here.
We are biological beings. Biological entities don’t just exist, they live. Such beings learn, adapt, and at the highest levels, serve. They meet challenges and change the world. This is your heritage. It is the reason you are here. Live up to it.
Finally, the highest level of biology is investment. Whatever living organisms invest in tends to create their legacy and their future. Most living things invest primarily in survival. Man-made organizations tend to focus their investment on growing.
The Caucasian cultures that arose in Europe and spread throughout Western Civilization invest mainly in assets. In contrast, the Hebrews traditionally saw education as the highest investment. Many cultures around the world invest in relationships or family as the highest goal. And a number of Asian cultures emphasize investing in beauty or meaning.
You are what you invest in– you’ll put your best time, best effort and deepest desires into your primary investment in life. So choose your investment well. Because whatever you choose, it will define you, as well as your failure and your success.
For statesmen and social leaders, there is only one choice: a special type of biological relationship called Service. If your life is lost in serving the good of the world, you will find yourself.
And maybe, if I can be so bold, you will become something much, much more than a biological being.
September 9th, 2010 // 10:42 am @ Oliver DeMille
One of the participants asked poignantly, “So what do we DO about all this?”
Others expressed similar concerns: Theory is okay, but what can really be done to impact society the way the American Founders did? Or the way other great statesmen and stateswomen in history did?
So much needs to be done in society; what can we do to make a difference?
This concern is not an isolated one. For at least the past fifty years, the classroom experience has been widely separated from “the real world.”
Reading, studying, discussing and writing are things done by students and academics — in a place not quite part of the real world of business, family, law, politics and current events.
So it is natural to ask what we can do — as if studying itself is not doing something.
Yet this was not the case for the great statesmen and stateswomen of history. Virtually all of them spent a significant portion of their lives reading, studying, writing and discussing — particularly in the classics.
Yes, they did other things; but it is doubtful that they could have done them without the scholarly preparation in character and competence.
I am not alone in my understanding that there are storms ahead — certainly the cycles of history suggest there are, for our nation and for other nations.
I do not know what they will be, nor do I believe that the future is ominous or doomed. I am an optimist. I believe that the best America and humanity have to offer are still ahead.
So mark these words well: Every generation faces its challenges, and ours will be no different. Our children and grandchildren will face their challenges. This is what I mean when I say that storms are ahead.
Despite a hectic and challenging world, made more complex by 9/11, we are today in a relative era of calm.
It is a calm before the storms that will inevitably come to our generation, just like they have come to all past generations and will come to those in the future — until God and mankind create a better world.
Arguably, the most important things we can and must DO in the calm before the storm is to prepare. Secondly, no type of preparation is more important than character and knowledge preparation — both of which are impacted by reading, writing, discussing and studying.
In 1764 George Washington didn’t do anything “big” to make a difference in society — except read and study and write and discuss great ideas. In other words, he prepared.
He had been at it for over five years by then, and would spend five more years just reading, studying and discussing great ideas before he would (perhaps before he could) do the big things. But when the storms came, he was prepared.
Nor did James Madison, Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams do the big things to make a difference in 1764. All three spent most of the year reading, studying and discussing the great ideas — in addition to the basics of making a living, going to school, raising families or living life.
But in addition to regular life, while most of their peers just made a living or went to school, they choose to do more: they read, studied, wrote, and discussed great ideas from the classics.
When the storms came their peers wondered what to do. But they already knew.
It was still hard, it still took everything their generation had to give, it still tested them to the depths of their bodies and souls — but they knew what to do because of what they had done in the calm: they had read, studied and discussed classics and history, in addition to living their normal lives.
Find a crisis or time of challenge in history, and you will find one of two things: either a nation with at least a few people who read, studied and discussed the classics in the calm before the storm, or a nation that failed to pass its tests, trials and storms.
I have found no exceptions in history.
Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln are examples. They prepared by reading, studying and discussing the great classics during the calm periods; when storms came they knew how to handle them.
Can you imagine the outcome of the American Revolution if the Founders hadn’t read and discussed classics? Or of the Civil War if Lincoln had just done business and politics but never spent hours and hours reading the great works? Or of World War II if Churchill hadn’t read the classics but just been a successful businessman or politician?
And the same applies to lesser known leaders and statesmen at the community and local levels. Application is essential; preparation is vital. And in the calm before the storm, preparation is even more critical than application.
Churchill even titles his history of 1919-1939 The Gathering Storm. And arguably the greatest folly of this period was that the leaders of the time were ignorant of or ignored the lessons of history and the classics.
Churchill himself spent much of this time trying to convince the leaders that the lessons of history needed to be heeded — lessons he had learned in the calm before the storm, lessons he learned in over a decade of reading, studying, writing, and discussing.
Reading, studying, writing and discussing is doing something. At certain times in history, it is the most important thing.
The real question is, are we doing it as well as the Founders? As well as Lincoln, Washington, Churchill or Gandhi? Or more to the point: are we doing it as well as we must? If not, we must improve. We must do better.
If we are doing as well as Lincoln or Churchill or Madison in our “calm” period of reading and learning, then we are DOING something indeed! And it will have consequences.
This is what Leadership Education is all about. Liberty, Prosperity and good government worldwide are a natural result of a world where people read, write, study, discuss and apply history and the classics.
If we do not do these things well, then our “calm before the storm,” our preparation time of the early 21st century, will likely be the same as other periods of history where reading, writing, studying and discussing classics was ignored — the beginning of failure in the storms ahead.
But I do not think so. I believe that in our generation, as in times past, just a small group of committed individuals can make all the difference.
Image Credit: salaud.