Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Invent yourself and then re-invent yourself

"Invent, Invent, Invent," was the headline on a Tom Friedman column I pulled up from the Sunday New York Times that I hope you can pull up from here, too.

Friedman is the author of "The World Is Flat," a revised version of which I could never finish, because, as I told the friend who recommended the book to me, the prose is about as flat as the world described in the 600-page volume.

But Friedman gained a reputation from that book and others as well as from the op-ed column he has written for years for the Times. He has made himself into an expert on world development, and the position the United States holds in that competition.

The column Sunday was about just that: Friedman reported he had been in St. Petersburg, Russia, realizing that the again-increasing price of oil was reducing pressure on Russian bureaucrats to press their economy into innovations that will stimulate production in industry outside of the nation's wealth of oil and natural gas.

He made the point that the U.S. should not allow itself the same luxury by virtue of its production of stimulus money by the government in order to stabilize a foundering financial industry. Bailout is what he was talking about. "We might be able to stimulate our way back to stability," Friedman wrote, "but we can only invent our way back to prosperity."

Thus the headline, "Invent, Invent, Invent." It's an old saw for Friedman. He's been harping on that mantra from at least the publication of his first edition of "The World Is Flat" in 2005. Since it has been such a successful and timely chant, there is no reason to give up on it now.

Last night, Keith Dubay and I were discussing the necessity of journalists to re-invent themselves now that our industry has collapsed around us. I'm trying to do that on this blog, as well as on my poetry website, http://www.robertschwabpoet.com/, and through writing about literature for http://www.examiner.com/. Keith is trying to create a business he calls Blue Coast Media Group, which advises business clients on how to write and be published in new media.

Invent, invent, invent! is a mantra that rings true to both of us.

John Beldock is another friend who is trying to invent something new, and he's been at it for almost 10 years now. Beldock has created EcoBroker, a certification of real-estate agents as "green" experts, masters of buying, selling, retrofitting old homes and designing new homes to be sustainable in a world climate that is changing fast.

Beldock's organization is one that would make Friedman proud. Perhaps even more importantly, it is a growing group as is the business niche where it has pioneered. Change is what happens everyday, and Beldock is trying to turn around the unhealthy change that now seems to entrap our planet.

All small business must "invent, invent, invent." That's the nature of a true entrepreneur.

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