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The Love Economy: Fixing the Economic Jenga That Greed Built
April 6, 2017
I recently had the honor of speaking on the TEDx stage. In my talk, I asked: “Can we build an economy that isn’t built on greed? Is it possible to build an economy that is additive, not depletive?”
I believe we can, and I believe the Sustainable Brands community has a leading role in re-constructing our current economy and building one with a much stronger, more durable and more evenly distributed foundation.
This blog summarizes the message I gave in my TEDx talk.
The Jenga Analogy
I want to inspire all of us to show up to our business communities practicing leadership with love. Yes … love. That awkward, uncomfortable word and emotion! A word we don’t hear discussed openly in our businesses communities. I also want to inspire us all to show up in the market and use our dollars consciously to support businesses who are creating an economy based on a shared, durable prosperity for all.
When I was a kid I loved playing the game of Jenga. When you start a Jenga game, the tower is a certain height and is structurally sound with a criss-cross block structure. The point of the game is to make the tower as tall as you can, but you can only use the blocks from the bottom and the middle of current tower to make it taller. It’s not like there are other blocks available to you. You could say that the Jenga blocks are scarce and finite resources. Sure, you can make that tower really tall, but the taller it gets, the weaker the structure. I always enjoyed the thrill (and the risk) of building that tower as tall as I could before the whole thing toppled.
Jenga is a fun game, but that’s all it is … a game. Unfortunately, we have been “playing” a dangerous Jenga game with our real-life economy. We are stubbornly building our economy as tall as we can by using the same limited resources from the bottom that maintain the structural integrity of the whole tower. This is not sustainable. To add to the risk, many of us have been building our economy with blocks of greed in order to accelerate the growth without any regards to other stakeholders who are suffering as a result.
I am fearful that we only have a few blocks left that we can ‘borrow’ from the bottom and the middle before our economy is going to topple.
The Love Economy
I believe, however, that It’s not too late to rebuild the economy with blocks of love. This new economy does not grow based on extracting scarce resources, but rather by redistributing resources, spreading them widely by taking blocks from the top and filling in the holes that the old Greed Economy has created. After shoring up the tower, we can even change the dimensions of it so it’s lower, wider and stronger, creating a shared and durable prosperity for all.
This is what I call the ‘Love Economy.’
The great news is that the foundation of the love economy has already been built. It has been diligently built block by block by champions of the triple bottom line for decades, and now it’s time to take it from the fringes of capitalism into the center.
The love economy is additive and regenerative. The love economy benefits all stakeholders. If we worked to replace the greed economy with the love economy, could we see a future free of war, poverty, preventable diseases and emotional suffering?
This movement to ‘do good’ in business by ‘doing good’ has been quietly gaining momentum on the fringes of capitalism for decades. Entrepreneurs, conscious capitalists and corporate activists have been using the function of business to create positive impacts and work against the dark side of capitalism through networks such as the Social Venture Network and Hatch Experience Network, and the B Corp and Sustainable Brands communities. These front-line change-making communities have laid the foundation for all of us to finally transform our system from one of greed to one of shared prosperity; these and others like them play an important part in taking the love economy form the hands of only the early adopters into the early majority and then soon into the majority, making it the status quo.
What am I doing?
As the owner of a film production company, I’m in the business of telling stories. Many of our clients are love-based business builders, and we want to help them be successful. The more love-economy businesses that thrive, the better chance we have in building a sustainable future. As storytellers, we have the chance to accelerate positive social change by telling stories that inspire, empower and educate change-makers that are on the front lines of the love economy.
The pop-culture news and media machine has historically served us stories of destruction, fear and turmoil. The bandwidth is dominated by fear-based and mind-numbing content. What about the stories of awesome successes in the world? The stories of poverty alleviation? Of best practices in solving challenging social issues? The world is full of brilliant, innovative, creative people who are using their gifts, their resources, their careers to bring a brighter future for everyone. But we don’t often hear these stories.
Part of my contribution to the love economy is to help find these people and share their stories to inspire and empower others around the world. And that’s what my team at Hemmings House has been doing. We have been finding inspirational people and companies of all sizes who are taking ‘love blocks’ and replacing the rotting blocks of the greed economy one by one, transforming it from the inside out! It’s my job to amplify these stories of positive impact.
Call to Action
Our call to action is simple: Make love-based decisions in everything you do as a consumer and as a business builder. But you should also be loud, be bold and share stories of your work in the love economy that put positive pressure on your friends, families and competitors. And do not except the status quo. Talk openly about love being a pillar of strength in your organization.
- Consumers: Be thoughtful with your purchases, vote with your dollar. Vote for sustainability and social justice by buying products from companies who are already committed to the love economy. And consume media that is going to inspire and empower yourself to be a better you and make a significant impact in the world with your gifts. And be loud!!! Tell your stories boldly about your purchases as a conscious consumer
- Business leaders, entrepreneurs and employees: Use your authority, skills, resources and profits to address the challenges happening in your own backyard. Create solutions that you can sell at an equal value price-point to help your customers become change-makers. And be loud! Put pressure on other companies in your market.
Our status quo state is not sustainable. We must change the way we consume, the way we create value and the way we measure what is important.
We have control, and the resources to make the changes we want to see in the world.
We just need to transition ourselves to thinking differently about where we spend our time, our money and our resources, and exercise our creativity.
As individuals and as a community of change makers, we can create a new economy based on love. It’s not going to be easy or comfortable – but what revolution ever has been?