Change Is Changing

By the time I retired from business, the skills and business knowledge I had developed had fed, clothed and put a roof over the heads of me and my family for fifty years. (At eleven-years-old, I started my first business selling newspapers in the casinos of Elko, Nevada. By fifteen-years-old I had started in the machine shop trade.)  But now, my business had changed, and I did not know what to expect.  

As “patriarch” of the family, it was my prime job to provide leadership for the family. I could not lead if I did not know what to expect. So, I turned the machine shop over to my three sons, and began studying.


One of the first things I learned was that I was not alone in my confusion.

Consider Barnes and Noble. Suppose you were the CEO, or just a store manager, of the 150 year old Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Barnes and Noble had been the number one bookstore in America for nearly one hundred years. Then Amazon comes along. In less than a decade, Barnes and Noble is the number TWO bookstore in America.

Amazon doesn’t need to build stores. They don’t need clerks. They don’t need air conditioning. They don’t need building permits or liability insurance for their customers. They don’t need to have physical access to large urban populations. Amazon just needs people who read books and have a computer with internet access … anywhere in the nation … now anywhere in the world.
Nearly everything that Barnes and Noble knew about the book business had changed. What were they to do? How could they compete in a world they did not understand?

How could they have anticipated that the “book worms” would be the first group of people to shift their shopping allegiance from "brick and mortar" to "click and order"?

The more I studied, the more I realized that changes were impacting more than just books stores. The changes were effecting education, employment, business, and even retirement.

The changes highlighted here are not intended to derogate education, employment, any business, or any retirement program.

Education is good. Computer games changed education. Kids were bored with school. Games like
War of World, Mine Craft, Brave Frontier, etc., engaged young minds in a way that traditional “book learning” no longer could. Kids adapt to change quickly. Take smart phone texting as an example, one fifteen-year-old girl I knew had 10,000 texts racked up in one month. She could text while hiding her phone in her pocket, sneak a peek at her phone, put the phone back in her pocket, and type an answer without ever looking at the keyboard.

This reminds me of my typing class when typewriters did not have letters on the keys so I had to learn the non-keys without looking at the keyboard, and watch the paper to see if I had the correct key. I still look at the computer, not the keys.

Employment is good. The good ‘ole one job, retire, and then going fishing, is a dream. Jobs now are like contract workers, they leave when the contract is finished and begin hunting for another contract (job). Each hunted job runs its course between two and four years. How many in the current workforce have worked for a particular company for twenty years, or even ten years? That number is dwindling rapidly. Will you be working for the same company until retirement? Not likely.

Business is good. Business is like "employment is good." I thought my last business (2008) would last about five years before the Chinese would undercut 50% of my price for production. I was wrong. My business was gone in four years when the Chinese came in at 25% of my price (about the cost of the material to make the products). My products are good, when the Chinese stop playing roulette with government feeding, my products will make a strong return (or I am making an error in judgment about the stock - see the next paragraph).
I believed that I would be a "small millionaire," as the news says:

Retirement is good. I thought I was set to retire before 9-11 happened. My wife and I had earned 1.5 million in stocks, and another 3/4 million for our house in San Jose. Two weeks before 9-11,I had a big heart attack that left me "almost" alive. My business was gone by October of 2001, and my mind was crippled.

 My mind was impaired. I could not dial a telephone number with one hand. I had to input the first number on the keypad with my left hand, and then use my right hand to find the next number, one hand, one finger, one number at a time. I took me two minutes to dial a number on a telephone.
It was three years before I could key a ten telephone number, in ten seconds.
Because my mind was "limping," my stock value disappeared. My friends told me to sell the stock. I understood the words they had spoken. I could not understand, "How good businesses could die so quickly"? I believed that my stock value would bounce back, because the stock was supported by strong businesses: one business was one of the ten best most profitable in the nation (that is not 10% but best profitable within the ten businesses with a 55% profitability). In two years, my stock was gone.

The government calculates retirement. Forecasts show that 98% of American workers will retire at 50% of the income they earned before their retirement. In ten years, Americans will retire at seventy-years-old, and there will be more retirees. In twenty years, there will be one American on retirement, and one worker to each retiree.

I studied the stock market and the CPI. I gave a presentation to my business team. Here it is. http://www.symbiosis4u.us/StockOrProfit/Profit1.htm

The reason we do not ride everywhere in a horse and buggy is not because the horse and buggy did not work. The horse and buggy stopped working because of a paradigm shift about 1906.

Buggies were not replaced with cars so much as muscle was replaced by machine. In the Industrial Age, machine power eclipsed human muscle power and animal muscle power. A team of twenty mules (horses) was about the limit of how many mules could be controlled by one person, hence the “Twenty Mule Team Borax” logo on the hand cleaner.

Yet a modern railroad locomotive produces over 2,000 horsepower that can be controlled by one person.

We are in an economic shift again. As the future continues to unfold, people will be paid for their "human capital": knowledge, skills, experience, creativity, adaptability, and kindness.

See video about kindness, the best human capital: http://www.symbiosis4u.us/MP4/ChainOfKindness.mp4
Past education, resume, number of years in the organization, rank, and position will become secondary to “human capital.”

No matter what type of organization you work in, you must take responsibility for your own career security and advancement by constantly improving your "human capital." You must consider yourself a permanent student and lifelong learner.

In 1906 there were over 200 different automobile manufacturers in the United States. Remember
names like the 1909 Stanley Steamer, or Stutz Bearcat, Studebaker, and Nash?

Will you be a "human capital," or will you be a Stanley Steamer?

Be happy, healthy, wise, and abundance,
Tom Van Drielen
Symbiosis Enterprises
1175 Branham Lane #18907
San Jose, Ca. 95118
Home Office 408-723-4777
Linkedin www.linkedin.com/in/tvandrielen
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