The bad crazies have dominated America for the last several years; it is time for the good crazies to take the stage.
I expect 2022 will be similar to the entrepreneur-boom (E-Boom) years of 1983 and 1998. Those were years when business—not politics—catapulted the American spirit to new heights. They were years when the most asked question was simply, “Why not?”
George Gilder’s 1984 book, The Spirit of Enterprise captured the energy of the early 80s best as he celebrated the birth of widespread entrepreneurship when he described entrepreneurs as those who “In their own afflicted lives, they discover the hard predicament of all human life, threatened always by the encroachments of jungle and sand. From their knowledge of failure, they forge success. In accepting risk, they achieve security for all. In embracing change, they ensure social and economic stability.” These are the good crazies.
In the late 1990s, it was technology that drove businesses to transform our lives and renew the American spirit. Once again, entrepreneurs provided stewardship of the digitization of everything that drove productivity and economic development to levels unseen in American history. Don Tapscott’s, The Digital Economy (1994) foretold what we have now all experienced: a world in the palm of our hand. First there was fire, then the wheel, then the Gutenberg Press and next the combustion engine and, in the late 90s, a life reduced and (paradoxically) accelerated by 1s and 0s.
A more beautiful insurrection than the bad crazies provided on January 6, 2021is on our doorstep. I am not into numerology, but 2-0-2-2 with three deuces and a one-eyed Jack has to be a good omen. Pick your Jack—the heart or the spade—love or power. Combine it with three deuces and it looks like a good time to go all in. People will be considering decisions that would have never been on their radar a few years ago. No subtlety, no nuance. Big bold moves. A chance to live life on your own terms again, or maybe for the first time? Crises always provide the opportunity to make the world new again. While most sit back licking their wounds or remain imprisoned by their fear and loathing, a few—the entrepreneurs—dive headfirst into the void.
After years of fear and uncertainty, which began with the Trump presidency and ended with COVID-19, we are in transition from a wannabe fascist and a life-threatening pandemic to a rational White House and an endemic annoyance. Home tests, anti-viral drugs and the availability of monoclonal antibodies are game changers. The fundamental shift this allows is removing the threat of the unvaccinated from ending the lives of the vaccinated. Our healthcare system can recover and meet the needs of non-Covid emergencies again. Researchers can take what we’ve learned from the mRNA platform and apply it to other endemic diseases like the common cold and influenzas and, yes, maybe even the eradication of many types of cancer. There are entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry, too.
Our democracy remains under threat and our politicians, who remain trapped in their own shame games and petty grievances are unlikely to save the day by themselves. Addled by anger, which is simply the manifestation of fear, and stuck in a modality of condemnation, which is actually evidence of self-loathing, our well-intentioned politicians may spiral into irrelevance. Especially since most Americans have lost their appetite for listening to their many promises and proclamations. However, an expanding economy driven by non-institutional entrepreneurs has the natural and powerful effect of dispersing power across new centers of influence that are impossible to corral by authoritarianism. Why do you think Xi Jingping is cancelling entrepreneur-cum-tycoons in China like Jack Ma? A broad dispersed economy driven by entrepreneurs is inherently democratic and anti-authoritarian.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of cash in the hands of Americans providing seed capital for startups and funds to support high levels of demand for new products and services. Private and venture capital equity funds are flush. The cost of money will rise but, for now, remains at historic lows. Supply chain issues will be unwinding in the new year. Dispositionally, people are ready to go it alone, away from traditional employment in favor of lifestyle flexibility and abundant generational opportunities to make their own mark on the world. Business startups are already accelerating well above pre-pandemic levels. The IPO market is deal-horny providing a vehicle to realize the economic value created by entrepreneurs and support the long-term capital needs of growth companies.
Finally, breakthrough innovations only occur when entrepreneurship is in full bloom, which is our last hope of dealing with climate change. Our weak-willed politicians and our own selfish intransigence means we will have to rely on transformative innovation in the creation, storage, and distribution of energy. The only other thing that can reverse climate change is catastrophic economic collapse, and nobody wants that. The rebirth of entrepreneurship may prove a just-in-time solution to our greatest existential threat.
As the E-Boom of 2022 approaches, these are my words for my 20- to 40-year-old readers:
- Avoid complexity. It confuses, confines, and compounds risk.
- Blow away rules and boundaries.
- Hitch a ride on a comet—destination unknown.
- Lose the shackles and throw away the key.
- Suspend that long search for meaning; let it find you.
- Those who fail succeed the best.
- Ask, over and over again, why not?
For my readers 40 to 60 years old:
- The people at your dinner table should be your principal focus.
- Balance stability with dynamism; perfect the art of the pivot.
- Forget about being first, be the best.
- Segue from accumulation to thoughtful discernment; discard!
- Be assertive with your hard-won knowledge.
- Engage with completely new areas of learning.
- Craft a financial plan to serve you in later life.
For my 60+ readers:
- Extinguish the fire of anger; avoid the trap of judgement and condemnation.
- Focus on pace rather than distance; steady now.
- Seek inspiration in simplicity.
- Stand ready to lift up those younger than you.
- Focus on the light of transcendence—rise above the rabble.
- Allow Nature to define your path.
- Listen, learn, love; your relevance depends on it.
Sit up tall at the table, folks. Those deuces and that one-eyed Jack are ready to be played.