Merrily Farms – Little Horse Creek
We bought an abandoned Ecuador 900 + acre hacienda and, during the winter, lived in a tin roof shack with no electricity or hot water.
Rosaspamba – Andes
We started our www.garyascott.com website.
This site passed a milestone in early 2o16, when our 5,000th free article appeared. This is the 5,037th. Every once in awhile I look back to see if the thoughts we have shared in the past were headed in the right direction and to find out if ideas that applied decades ago, still applies now.
Here is an excerpt from one of the first messages posted at this site almost 20 years ago. See if you feel that these ideas can still help make your life better.
Inspired Investing-More PIEC.
This year I have written often about the incredible financial power of having your own business in this era. This advice is based on the principles outlined by Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, on how innovation creates industrial revolutions that alter the way we live, work and earn and keep money. We reviewed five great economic eras that began in the late 1700s:
ERA #1: 1785-1845-fueled by water power-60 years. Textiles and iron works were the backbone of growth industries.
ERA #2: 1845-1900-fueled by steam-55 years. Railways and steel provided the main growth in this era.
ERA #3: 1900-1950-fueled by the internal engine-50 years. Electricity and chemicals provided the major growth.
ERA #4: 1950-1990-fueled by electronics-40 years. Petrochemicals and aviation were the innovations which became mainstream in this period.
ERA #5: 1990-current-fueled by digital networks- 30 years+ ? Software and new media create the growth elements in this era.
The innovation that has led us to this current era allows us to increase our wealth and fulfillment in life at the same time by developing a Primary Income Earning Capacity, (PIEC). PIECS allow us to make money and feel better by looking within to find ways of turning our passions into wealth.
All of this innovation means we are in a continual state of turmoil and change. We have to work harder and look deeper to keep up, but the world is open to anyone who wishes to have riches beyond belief. The wealthiest billionaires of today were unknown just a decade or two ago. They have made incredible wealth in industries that have only existed for a few years.
This innovation empowers the individual! Today we have faster and faster computers, the Internet, the information access. All this allows you, me, anyone to be incredibly efficient, anywhere in the world! All this allows us to identify and reach markets very easily.
Everything is about to change yet again. The billionaires of today are likely to be the has beens of tomorrow and this is happening sooner than anyone can imagine. Never before has an old boys’ network been overturned so fast. The railway and oil magnates of the first and second era dominated the world’s wealth for centuries. Electronics, car and airline multimillionaires lasted perhaps 50 years. The Internet and communications wealth will be overshadowed in as little as a decade.
Add this all up. Change. Access to markets and information. Ability to plan, organize and sell. Anyone can take advantage of these opportunities and use them in small or large ways.
The beautiful thing is we can take advantage of this era to make money and avoid great dangers at the same time!
Opportunity Equals Danger. Avoiding the danger is important because each era of change not only brings new benefits but brings new dangers as well.
Today, speed of light information technology creates a huge threat to our wealth.
Not keeping up today is a big risk. Innovation builds new ways of life and in the process is destructive to the old. T raditionally accepted ways of working, investing and saving are not working as well as they did if at all. The Internet is making many, many businesses obsolete.
For example, take my business of publishing. The old ways of just printing a monthly newsletter no longer makes sense. Too much data is too readily available over the Internet. The timing of a monthly publication becomes too slow. There is still a market for newsletters to be sure, but enough of the market has gone or is going electronic that the printed newsletter market is a diminishing one.
Remember whatever you do, try not to have a business that grabs an ever increasing share of an ever diminishing market. (Think about the remaining buggy-whip manufacturer, if you don’t understand what this means). Jack Welsh, the president of General Electric (a well managed organization that grew out of Era #3 summed this up when he explained the following: When the internal rate of change in a business is slower than the outside rate of change, the end of the business is in sight.
The answer of course is to embrace the change and let your business evolve. This is true whether your business is one that you personally manage or is one in which your participation is as an investor.
I continue to hammer away on the idea of following your passions because I have been so lucky doing so. Over the years I always seem to be in exactly the right place at the right time, again and again. Without ever recognizing what I was doing I was stumbling through the process of keeping up without giving it any thought. I have always accomplished this by following areas that interested me personally. This allowed me to take advantage of what I call the Golden Rule of Simplicity which is to do what we love by learning to market from the heart. This puts us in touch with millions of others just like us! If we get in touch with our hearts, we are looking into the hearts of an entire market who feel and desire as we do. This is so simple yet it allows us to have the most finely tuned market research in existence.
Dream Solution I recently discovered a line of thought that can help us better focus or define how to use the rule of simplicity. I was speaking at a conference with the head of a think tank in Denmark, who gave a speech entitled the “Dream Society-How to Spot Upcoming Trends”. This gentlemen gave seven points that will affect markets in the current era.
* Trend #1: The rate of change will increase. This is self evident.
* Trend #2: The rate of private consumption will grow. From 1884 to 1995 private consumption just about doubled, but increased 25% in the past ten years. This means that the amount of money spent per person will continue to grow. This also means that the amount of discretionary income per person is growing. This also means by the way that society will have to continue to embrace technology. The only way to increase private consumption is through the generation of more output with less input. In other words, productivity has to grow before private consumption can grow. Improved productivity is normally gained through the use of new technology.
There is a second part to this second trend. Though private consumption will grow, less material goods will be purchased.
The growing trend is for the purchase of immaterial goods, such as sports, entertainment, health, communication and spirituality .
He pointed out Maslow’s Need Hierarchy which is: Physical – Security – Social Needs – Acknowledgement – Self-Realization.
In western society we now pretty much take the perfection of physical and security needs for granted. If we buy a new car. we expect it to run and to run pretty much perfectly. This is true of most consumer products, so we don’t choose one car over another for that material quality. We instead buy cars which fill social needs (for example, a mini van for our large family) or for acknowledgement such as an expensive sports car which has very little utility or a large sports utility vehicle with more utility than most of us need.
The key to understanding these facts is that the higher people move up the hierarchy, the more they will pay for the satisfaction of their needs. Pound for pound, a Chevy Caprice is a lot more car for the dollar than a top line Porsche (the owner of the Porsche has to risk life and driver’s license to even use the performance feature). It is the implied power, the acknowledgement that the Porsche owner is paying all the extra thousands for.
* Trend #3: There will be more automation. In the process of automation, mankind works through another type of hierarchy to supplement muscles first, brains second and feelings third. This fits Maslov’s Law of Needs explaining why tractors and forklifts were invented long before computers.
This knowledge can help us see why the future for mood altering equipment, machines and drugs will grow. As automation takes over all of the physical jobs we have to do, then we’ll start looking for ways to automate our emotions as well. This speaks well for the entertainment industry and explains why people get so caught up in sports for example.
Here humanity throws in another interesting twist because the more we perfect automation in an area, the more retro we become. Once we perfected central heating there was an explosion in demand for fireplaces. This explains why, in the United States which has perfected its road systems and has such large urban areas that almost no one needs to venture into the country, the fastest growing segment in the auto industry is the four wheel drive sports-utility vehicle.
* Trend #4: Age, sex and wealth are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Society is going through a great convergence which explains the end of segregation and the advancement of basic human rights. This is why U.S. armies (or NATO’s armies acting at America’s bequest) are now allowed to invade so many places. It has always been politically okay to invade the space of another nation if it is in the name of a “good cause”. The end of discrimination is causing the description of “good causes” to dramatically narrow. This also dramatically alters markets. Look at the ads for the vitamins called Centrum Silver which show a mature couple in some form of physical activity. The slogan of the manufacturer is “It’s a good time to be silver”. Look at how adults buy items that used to be for the kids, such as bicycles. The subject of bicycles leads us to the next trend:
* Trend #5: There will be a shift of attitude from our brain to heart. Once mankind has taken care of its basic physical needs, it will revolt against the tyranny of reason. Function (such as the well running car) is taken for granted. Now there is a m arket for stories not products. One example,used was that in Denmark the highest point of land in the country was not over a few hundred feet. Yet guess what the best selling bicycles in the country are? Mountain bikes, of course. Look at the strong markets: for belonging, love, togetherness, identity, adventure, anchored values, conviction and caring, not products. Housing was another example he used. More and more people demand having huge family style dining rooms while eating out grows enormously. This fact has very much to do with the next trend.
* Trend #6: Families will turn more and more of their responsibilities to the market place. Cooking and eating out were one of the first signs of this trend. Then came the giving up of entertainment (how often do you stay home and play games with the kids). Look at the growth in businesses for child upbringing and care of the elderly. See how our health and financial care are become given over, more and more, to the insurance companies, HMOs and other such businesses. Even the emotions of our kids, (including the huge growth in sales of prescription drugs) are being serviced by business now. Parents are more likely than ever before to call in a party entertainer for the birthday of the kids. Weddings are more and more organized by wedding planners than ever before. Where we live up here on the farm in the mountains when someone passes, their loved ones go out to the family cemetery, dig the grave and bury their own. This used to happen all over the country. When was the last time you attended such a funeral? Now all of these ceremonies are dealt with by business.
* Trend #7: The growth in markets will be for stories, not products. One example given was for selling eggs. He explained how the typical, not tuned in farmer can sell an egg for 10 cents in Denmark. The product has become commoditized. This is an important clue. You do not want to be in a market where the product becomes commoditized. The only way to compete in such markets is through lowering price. This usually requires a reduction of profits or a huge infusion of cash.
Then he went on to explain how some smart farmers had caught on and started offering free range eggs. Now they were not selling eggs. They were selling a story of health. This is still just an egg but now it can sell for twenty cents!
But the really smart farmers have taken it a step further. They allow families to come to the farm, enjoy the fresh outdoors and work as a family collecting the free range eggs. Still the same egg but the story is different, health, togetherness, anchored values. These eggs sell for thirty cents! The
Power of the Heart
The egg example was inspiring to me because I was wondering why we had just set up a flock of Cornish hens (for the eggs) high in the Andes mountains where Merri and I had purchased a plantation. This is the power behind the Golden Rule of Simplicity.
But how do we get in touch with ourselves to use this enormously powerful law?
Understanding and being able to follow our intuition can be enormously difficult, but an anonymous 14th century Samurai warrior gives us a clue how to do this. This Warrior’s Creed explains what to do better than I could, so I’d like to share it here with you.
A WARRIOR’S CREED I have no parents: I make the heavens and earth my parents.
I have no home: I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power: I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means: I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets: I make character my magic secret.
I have no body: I make endurance my body. I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightning my eyes. I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears. I have no limbs: I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy: I make unshadowed by thought my strategy.
I have no designs: I make seizing opportunity by the forelock my design.
I have no miracles: I make right action my miracles.
I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents: I make readiness my talent.
I have no friends: I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy: I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle: I make immovable mind my castle.
I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword.
Whether we are investors or business people, we are commercial warriors. Despite industrial eras, technology, innovation and all the miracles of our modern world, the true nature of life, commerce and business has not altered one bit. Run your business or invest with this wisdom and you will not be able to fail.