I have been to New Zealand three times in my life, all this year. Perhaps delayed gratification is at work, but I simply love the country and the people who live there. It is a beautiful nation of 4 million people. Per square mile, it is perhaps the most beautiful country in the world.
New Zealanders refer to themselves and to their fellow citizens as Kiwis with a good bit more affection than, say, Americans refer to themselves as Yanks.
New Zealanders also are fierce rugby fans, and as a nation, root for their national team, the All Blacks. There is no comparison I have seen elsewhere, due in part to the small size of the country and the singular interest in rugby. [Full disclosure: I wear an All Blacks jacket, hat and shirt that I love, though the nuances of the game itself completely escape me].
The quadrennial Rugby World Cup was held in September and October of this year, and New Zealand spruced itself up for the event. However, there was tension among Kiwis, because the All Blacks – easily the most successful team in the world, with a .750 win percentage in international competition over the years – have historically underachieved in World Cups. New Zealand’s last victory was the first year of the Rugby World Cup, in 1987, when the All Blacks defeated France.
Well, my third trip to New Zealand began when I landed at dawn on October 24, the day after the All Blacks defeated France, 8-7, to once again become world champions. Kiwis – whether those in New Zealand or the 1 million who live abroad – were caught up in the game. I was flying over the Pacific at the time, and the Air New Zealand crew was keeping us informed with verbal and texted updates. So, I arrived in Auckland with the knowledge that the All Blacks were world champions once again and that all was well for Kiwis. There was still the tail end of celebration parties going on as I walked around downtown as the sun came up.
The singular phrase of the day of the championship match, and the day after, being shouted in the streets, was “It’s a great day to be a Kiwi!!!!”
On this third trip to Auckland, I was to again deliver a keynote speech. This one was at the Innovest Conference, a major new conference of successful entrepreneurs and investors. The general sense of the conference was that it might finally be time for Kiwi entrepreneurship and innovation to successfully compete in the global economy. This futurist’s point of view was and fervently is that New Zealand is perfectly positioned for innovative success in the global economy.
New Zealand has created great wealth through agriculture. Agricultural exports drive the overall economy. I have often heard the phrase that “a country of 4 million feeds 40 million people.” While this is of course a very good thing in an increasingly hungry world, it has had the effect of instilling a kind of economic complacency in the country. The small size of the country and the thinness of the capital markets have conditioned Kiwis to think they have to leave the country if they want to create a large commercial enterprise. The time is ripe to change this perception.
The Shift Age is the global stage of human evolution. The key issue for every country now is how to adapt to and benefit from the global economy and the ongoing globalization of human society. New Zealand is perfectly aligned to do so as a country. Here are a few reasons why:
- As a country, it has 79% of its electricity coming from alternative and renewable sources – mostly hydro. This is probably the highest percentage in the world and puts NZ in the leadership position in the race to define and implement a key phrase for this century: sustainable growth.
- It is a wonderful place to live. The quality of life is ever more important to creative individuals and entrepreneurs who want the choice to live in such places in a connected world.
- The country has recently ranked as one of the most livable countries and one of the easiest countries in which to do business.
- Though it lags behind many developed countries in availability of low-cost, high-speed internet connectivity, companies such as Pacific Fibre and Crown Fibre are fast moving to alter that temporary though significant liability.
- It has a history of innovation, as Kiwis always had to figure it out as a small island country. The key will be to attract capital from the U.S. and elsewhere to invest in innovative entrepreneurial businesses. This is already starting to happen.
- The small size of the country is no longer a liability but an asset, as it allows coordinated cross pollination of entrepreneurs and investors. Such incubators as the Icehouse are hubs of buzzing activity. NZ successes such as Sir Stephen Tindall and Rod Drury, entrepreneurs who have remained in the country, can now be modeled.
- There are 1 million Kiwis working outside the country, and there is a growing effort to connect them to the new entrepreneurial spirit. There will be a critical need for management talent to come to NZ, and this is an in-place network to help with that effort.
- NZ is developing active leadership in the area of healthcare, one of the keys issues in this new age. Companies like Zeus Management work with companies that not only are creating new models at home, but are now licensing technology to the rest of the world.
- NZ is at a critical juncture as it faces the future. It has had to become introspective and thoughtful about the future, due to the large destruction of its second-largest city, Christchurch. It has just showcased itself to the world with the Rugby World Cup. So it has a ready sense of “What’s Next?”
The list could go on. The point is that the business community sees the need to develop an innovative parallel economy to its existing agricultural power. The government must now provide leadership in this direction. The National Party and the Prime Minister, John Key, have just won reelection, with a larger percentage than when they came to power in 2008. Having started to right the financial ship over the last three years, the government can now face forward to create a vision for New Zealand for the year 2020.
This futurist thinks that this vision could be very bright. It will be a great decade to be a Kiwi!
A year ago, I suggested that the “Greek Debt Crisis” might really be the “death rattle of the Euro.” Almost two years ago, I suggested that the Euro zone might be best served by jettisoning Greece and shoring up the rest of the zone.
The reasons for this were fairly obvious: a faulty initial underlying premise that a currency could be created by several countries without a central bank; laws of governance that were violated from the outset; governments that cooked the books; but mostly, a belief in the Euro that blinded Euro countries from relatively obvious math.
As of this writing, the survival of the Euro as currency for 17 countries is in doubt. The amount of debt owed, the slowing of economic growth from weak to contraction, and the cross-lending liabilities of major European banks all point to currency collapse. Add to these realities the fact that the French president – Nicolas Sarkozy – is up for re-election, and we see a situation where holding onto legacy thinking – wishing and hoping – is actually exacerbating the crisis.
This is such a clear example of how the legacy thinking of the last century becomes blinders for those invested in the perpetuation of an idea whose time has passed.
Please read my recent blog column to the right on the death rattle of the Euro.
As promised in Newsletter #13, which was written four months ago, around the start of 2012, I will check back on the macro-economic forecasts I made at that time.
The Occupy Wall Street movement must be looked at from both a historical and future-facing perspective. If you have received your information on the phenomenon just through mainstream media, you do not have a clear picture of its significance.
Occupy is an unprecedented movement. In one month, it went from 75 people in one small park in lower Manhattan to tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of people demonstrating in hundreds of cities across 80 countries. Never in human history has a protest movement been disseminated and grown so quickly. Ever!
One of the three fundamental forces of the Shift Age is at play here: the accelerating electronic connectedness of the planet.
The second reason Occupy has spread so fast is its ethos – no vertical structures, only horizontal structures – is perfectly aligned with this connected global electronic reality that is web-like and flat.
The third factor that makes Occupy a decidedly contemporary phenomenon worth watching is the broad nature of the demands being made. We are in an era of almost unprecedented creative destruction across the board. There are so many things out of kilter, so many social and demographic groups that are hurting and developing a sense of lack of fairness or wrong direction, that it has become a Rorschach movement, where any group that feels disenfranchised can join in.
The fourth reason it is so powerful is that it quickly created a slogan that embraces so many: “We are the 99%!”
The fifth reason – at least in the U.S. – is that there is so much intense dissatisfaction with the two political parties. Simply put, they are a co-dependent duopoly. The Occupy movement has very quickly triangulated the larger political and social conversation away from this duopoly. Both parties are clueless or petrified as to how they respond.
The power of this movement is clear in the sense that just by saying one word – “Occupy” – people know exactly what you are referring to.
In 2008 and 2009, I predicted tremendous upheavals in Islamic countries due to the Accelerating Electronic Connectedness of the planet. That prediction became the Arab Spring. Along with the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement represents a 21st-century phenomenon – one that’s of the Shift Age. Memes become movements with breathtaking speed. Connectedness moves us toward a new realm of consciousness in ways never before seen.
The name of my first book was The Shift Age. Now in its sixth year, my blog is named Evolutionshift. Why? It is becoming more evident every day.