Saturday, July 14, 2012
The Rise of a New Change Wave
I post new blogs about once every 3–4 weeks now…
…But, I saw an editorial earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal and just had to carve out time this weekend and post what is the real story of what’s going on.
Just over two years ago as we were technically coming out of the Great Recession according to the Washington politicos, I cited five broad trends that I call “Change Waves” — very significant macro-trends that will challenge businesses and their brand dynamics over the course of the next 5–10 years.
One of the Change Waves is titled “High Tech And High Touch.”
I cannot take full credit for the name. John Naisbitt coined that phrase in his book Megatrends back in 1982.
However with mobile media today, that change wave has taken on new meaning as technology truly goes mobile and the Cloud unites all of us together.
I facilitated part of an off-site strategy planning session for a financial service client this past week and I highlighted the fact that technology advancement for the sake of technology advancement in and of itself, will not work.
Some of that group smiled… especially the VP of HR.
BUT… back to why I am posting this in less than two weeks of the last posting…
There is a new “Change Wave” in the making that is surfacing quickly.
It is something that is impacting the marketplace on a Global front… and certainly something that is influencing the Washington politicos in this election year.
The “Change Wave” is what I will title, “The Rise of the Working Class.”
Quickly, I have to qualify that this has NOTHING to do with UNIONS and ORGANIZED LABOR.
In many ways, it also has NOTHING to do with SOCIO-ECONOMICS.
But it has A LOT to do with INDIVIDUALISM and SELF INITIATIVE.
In basic terms, the “Change Wave” is the rise of identity, mission, lifestyles and values of individuals who get up every day and go to work to earn a living… individuals taking charge and finding work… individuals placing values on earning versus taking… being active and not passive.
Yes… it shares some aspects of one of the “Change Waves” titled “Acquisition of Self”… but it moves the focus beyond “me” to “us” vs. “them”… note, not “we.”
Now to the editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
On Friday, July 13th, an editorial ran titled, “The Middle Class Needs A Lifeline.”
The co-authors go by the names of Mr. Carville and Mr. Greenberg.
Most of you reading this that are not part of the Millennial Generation, should know who these guys are… both were advisors to Clinton and they now have a “non-profit” group called, “Democracy Corps.”
At this point in time, I really could care less if you vote Blue or if you vote Red.
These two members of the Washington Politico simply don’t get what is rising up right in their midst.
As believers sitting high from their educational platforms, they look down upon the world beyond Manhattan and the world beyond DC and quickly conclude that those who have… not just wealth, but “educational perspective” and power… need to throw “a lifeline” of aid to keep the middle-class from drowning.
As “The Rise of the Working Class” takes shape, expertise and valued perspective will rapidly move from the halls of Harvard, Manhattan and Washington to “Joe the Plumber” and “Jean the Nurse.”
Trade organizations will evolve into a new format and what some might not even think is the same genre, but those organizations will command more power than the Senate Ways & Means Committee, the EPA and MBAs.
The Working Class will re-define “success,” “intellect” and “knowledge” with values centered around “initiative,” “dedication,” “just reward” and the simple phrase “I earned it.”
Icons of “success” are quickly moving away from import cars, private jets and hired help.
And brands like Target, Starbucks, WalMart, KIA, Apple, Expedia and Facebook are unifying those that work to spend money wisely.
What I post in this blog is not just what I wake up in the morning expressing as opinion.
What I post in this blog is what I observe when I get onto the elevator of my 9th floor office in the chic shopping district of Buckhead-Atlanta and put away the keys to my Infiniti and pile in my Jeep Patriot to go out into Main Street USA and talk with people.
The “Aha” moment for me that indicated that what I describe is moving forward fast took place in a coffee house chat group I facilitated in Florence, South Carolina.
Florence, South Carolina is not only entrenched by what Carville and Greenberg term as the Middle Class, it is also populated by a true group of folks who have been tightly tied to the textile, distribution and manufacturing labor base.
In the coffee house chat group, we had a set of folks attend who currently use a credit union.
Most of the participants were African-American and a share of the participants was not only made up of older Baby Boomers, but some were close to 70 years old.
Many of the individuals spoke about how they and their families were hit hard by the Great Recession.
But they quickly spoke about how much they valued the people working at the credit union because they took the time to sit down and put together plans with them so that they “could pull themselves out of the downturn and get back to saving money for better times.”
I was so intrigued; I probed their responses even more asking them to share more about what the credit union did for them.
One of the participants was just over 70 years old. He was a veteran of the armed services and proudly wore a U.S. Veteran’s baseball cap.
He shared with the group that he did not graduate from high school.
Instead he enlisted into the army and served more than 20 years.
When he got out, he went to work in a manufacturing plant and he saved a significant share of his pay.
He literally said that he “pulled himself up by the boot straps” and worked to earn where he was today.
The rising Working Class is not comprised of just those working the 9-to-5 jobs.
It includes fast food workers, entrepreneurs, police and ER teams… it includes bank branch managers, quality control managers, accountants, attorneys, physicians and preachers.
It includes people that are standing up and saying “enough is enough” and if the government and corporate offices cannot do it, we will do it ourselves.
They not only run from any lifeline offered… and God forbid if it comes from the academic and political “elite”… they resent it.
Brands that embrace them, recognize them, admire them, respect them, thank them and reward them will see their brand sales rise.
Here it is on a late Saturday afternoon and after saying I would NOT work this weekend, I did.
So once this posts, I will pour my Jack and Coke Zero and make a toast to my brothers, sisters and peers who strive hard, sweat a lot and stand proud… here is a toast to the Working Class…
Something tells me that Washington and academic elite are in for a wide awakening experience.