2012: extraordinary so far.
Calendars are full, airplane mileage accounts are growing, and I see more beauty and amazing-ness around us every day. I’m learning to redefine “balance” as more of a blend, rhythm and flow. There always seems to be some kind of imbalance, but in the big-picture it equals out.
I’ve been spending the vast majority of my time doing two things so far this year: sharing and traveling. A brief update on each:
Sharing: I continue to do a deep dive into the “Sharing Economy” which refers to new sharing-based business models and companies that are redefining how goods and services are exchanged, valued and created. These models facilitate a shift away from the traditional “one person, one unit, one purchase” consumer mindset and towards a world in which access to a product, service or asset is more important — and more useful — than ownership. They’re fundamentally enabled by new technology platforms to transact and build trust among peer communities.
If you’ve heard of Collaborative Consumption or Mesh-based enterprise, we’re talking about very similar trends. My two favorite books in this space are The Mesh by Lisa Gansky and What’s Mine Is Yours by Rachel Botsman. I plan to start writing more about this too!
From my perspective there are three key levels of analysis (and benefits to be had in) a sharing-based world):
(1) Economic: what does it cost to make a given per-person-per-unit purchase, versus a shared resource? Answer: sharing costs less.
(2) Environmental: what’s the environmental impact of a given per-person-per-unit purchase, versus something that’s purchased and shared? Answer: sharing results in lower environmental footprints. (Note: price of the item might go up, if it’s higher-quality and made to last; net-net this is more environmentally astute, and the lifetime price is reduced.)
(3) Community: possibly most important, what is the community that you’ve created by a sharing-based platform? Answer: sharing creates and nurtures deeper relationships. Compare and contrast individual-purchase “experiences” to those in a shared economy: who do you come in contact with, and who do you care about as a result? In my experience, not much…
The sharing economy attracts me for more reasons than I can count, though the two (related) areas that interest me most are policy and business development. I see many parallel themes with my work in microfinance, catalyzing cross-sector collaboration and building social capital — and a future world in which sharing is a dominant economic force.
So, you can expect many more posts focused on the sharing economy here. I may have to rebrand the site from “Borrowing Great Ideas” “Sharing Great Ideas & More!”
Traveling: As usual, I’ve also been traveling a lot. A bit too much, actually, but thankfully things slow down the latter half of the year. Here is a recap of places visited, favorite experiences and things learned so far this year:
- Ano Nuevo State Park: in January, watched the incredible nursing elephant seals along the Pacific Coast
- Cambodia: spent most of February in this gem-of-a-country, assessing potential WaterCredit expansion opportunities. Fell in love with the capital Phnom Penh (think Saigon, only smaller and more relaxed), traveled a lot of the country by road, and did handstands at Angkor Wat.
- Atlanta: I returned to Emory to give a keynote speech on Women, Water and Microfinance. A nice article in the Emory Magazine came out shortly thereafter.
- Harvard Kennedy School: in March and early April, I returned to Cambridge for a 2-week YGL course on Global Leadership and Public Policy. Hands-down this was the best professional experience of the year; I am still implementing the benefits.
- Mexico and Bolivia: the latter half of April, I headed first to the World Economic Forum / YGL annual summit. In a word: amazing. From there to Bolivia for more WaterCredit due diligence. Returned home happy, having recouped some of my Spanish, and starting to get a little tired.
- Jerry’s Retreat: Jerry hosted his 16th Retreat for 4 days near Tomales Bay, Point Reyes. As usual, a wonderful gathering with “good people, good ideas and good intent.”
- Seattle and Colorado: the day after the Retreat ended, I headed to the YGL Seattle Summit hosted by the Gates Foundation (Bill and Melinda themselves!). Learned about the future of development, Microsoft’s home of the future, and sustainability at Starbucks. From there hopped over to Colorado to run the Bolder Boulder 10K race (per tradition) with my nieces.
- Austria: in June, I attended a 4-day workshop in the Austrian Alps, hosted by the Austrian government and business leaders. Titled Create32, and the questions we tackled focused on what business and innovation in Austria (and beyond) would look like 20 years from now in 2032. Fantastic experience!
- Indonesia: also in June and early July, I headed to Indonesia with colleagues from Water.org for the last (for now!) reconnaissance trip focused on WaterCredit expansion. It was a(nother) great trip; Indonesia is changing so quickly, and I barely recognized Jakarta from several years ago.
Interspersed within all that was also a delightful visit to San Francisco by my “Italian sister,” a family wedding in the Utah mountains, and a quick trip back to Colorado where Indonesian jetlag hit in full force. Okay, now I am really tired…
Happily, I’m grounded for a month-plus as I get a new passport. This gives plenty of time to water my local roots — best of all — and take some fun domestic trips: camping at Yosemite, Cape Cod and New York City coming up in the near future. Later this year, I’ll complete my circuit of visiting all 50 U.S. states when I finally make it to number 50: Hawai’i.
Eager to share more soon…