Posts Tagged ‘evolutionary strategy’

Mindfulness tied to higher personal resilience

A new research paper has added resilience to the qualities that are enhanced in those who practice mindfulness—that is, maintaining a non-judgemental awareness of the present moment.  The concept has roots in Buddhism and meditation, though simpler forms of “mindfulness training,” stripped of most of Buddhism’s conceptual framework, have spread widely in recent years, aiming to harness the benefits of in-the-moment awareness in the workplace and in daily life.

In the study, recently summarized in Pacific Standard, participants’ personal resilience was measured via ten self-descriptive statements, including “able to adapt to change,” “can stay focused under pressure,” and are “not easily discouraged by failure.” The researchers concluded:

Mindful people can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down.

Consider this yet another nudge in the direction we encouraged in the “Qualities of the Resilient Investor” section of our book: maintaining some sort of centering practice is, for many, a key foundation for cultivating personal resilience. From Chapter 6, Be Ready for Anything:

Over the course of a life, some combination of counseling, spiritual practice, participation in men’s or women’s groups, membership in a church community, professional development programs that include an emotional/reflective element, and extended immersions in the natural world with like-minded friends will serve to deepen your self-awareness and help clarify all the choices that present themselves to you.

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Unreasonable Group takes Diamandis to heart and goes for it

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a number of intriguing tweets and articles from the Unreasonable Group.  What’s this all about?  Obviously something about making positive change, not taking no for an answer. . . but how, and from what perspective?  Perhaps a radical offshoot of Occupy?  Nope, not quite.  Not even close.  It turns out that the Unreasonable Group is an umbrella for several related initiatives that aim to catalyze big money into a network of companies that are “dedicated to a new mode and new way of going about business. One that takes into account the value of all stakeholders involved, that is dedicated to transparency and vulnerability, that is pathologically collaborative, and one obsessed with leveraging profit to solve BFPs (Big F***ing Problems).”  And they’re definitely thinking big, with the Virgin Group as their long-term model:

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Don’t look away now—time for climate mobilization

The UK newspaper The Guardian has been a leading voice on climate change for some time now.  As part of its Keep it  in the Ground campaign, they ran a series of excerpts from Naomi Klein’s most recent book, This Changes Everything.  This one popped up again recently in one of our social feeds, and it’s a solid reminder of the stakes, and the potential, that stand before us.  Here’s the rallying cry:

Slavery wasn’t a crisis for British and American elites until abolitionism turned it into one. Racial discrimination wasn’t a crisis until the civil rights movement turned it into one. Sex discrimination wasn’t a crisis until feminism turned it into one. Apartheid wasn’t a crisis until the anti-apartheid movement turned it into one.

Klein goes on:

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O’Reilly sheds light on “WTF Economy” of Uber, AirBnB

Media and conference mogul Tim O’Reilly has been shedding some fascinating light on the future of work and our economy, via a series of essays dubbed The WTF Economy on Medium, in preparation for a November conference billed as Next:Economy (What’s The Future of Work?).  That parenthetical clues you into the tamer version of the WTF double-entendre he’s playing with—one very much in keeping with resilient investing’s core principle of keeping a close eye on the full range of plausible futures.

So far, the richest piece in the series is the second, Networks and the Nature of the Firm; this is a powerful rejoinder to the growing roar that’s pushing back on rise of the peer-to-peer economy, citing concerns about worker rights, fluctuating incomes, and other pitfalls of the new online marketplaces.  O’Reilly doesn’t quite gloss over these issues, but he puts the the old models into a broader context that was new to me.  In particular, he stresses the ways that the new economy is but a variation on the old franchising model, but one that replaces lots of middlemen with nimble technological platforms:

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Stories to show us the way: Cli-fi on the rise

As readers of The Resilient Investor will know, we are always on the lookout for stories and movies that can help us envision the many different possible futures that we need to be readying ourselves for.  So it was with some excitement that I followed a series of links on “cli-fi” after completing the post about how Margaret Atwood’s Everything Change essay can inform resilient investors’ life choices.  The term was familiar to me (“climate fiction,” a growing topic within sci-fi), and the first couple of books I’d happened upon in the genre had piqued my interest.  Now, after spending a half-hour of clicking through from Atwood’s original link, I’ve got a reading list, reviews, and even a syllabus if I want to really dive in.  This post will share enough to get you started, too.

Let’s start with a few words from Kim Stanley Robinson, one of the better-known authors in this field:

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Virtual reality as an “empathy machine” and force for good?

Virtual reality.  For those of us who still enjoy THIS world, the idea of opening the floodgates of truly immersive virtual reality can seem like the ultimate triumph of the screen-mediated life, an abandonment of the core virtues of human relationship.  If computers have sucked us further down the rabbit hole than TVs, then won’t these new systems—covering our eyes and ears, even stimulating our vestibular responses—create even more separation between us?  Not necessarily, say a slew of folks who are tracking this nearly-inevitable and soon-to-arrive evolution of computer technology.  Check out this collection of videos and articles from SingularityHUB, all of which explore the ways that more immersive virtual reality interfaces could actually increase our empathy and engagement, rather than leading to atrophy of these core aspects of being human.  The promise here starts with recent studies on “mirror neurons” and goes on to ways that empathy-sparking VR could deepen journalism and enliven civic engagement.  A real mind-bender for any of us with lingering Luddite tendencies.

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What Atwood’s “Everything Change” can mean for you

There’s been a fair amount of online buzz this week about a longform essay from Margaret Atwood, “It’s Not Climate Change—It’s Everything Change.” It begins with a short think piece she wrote in 2009, offering some semi-plausible visions of a post-oil world, but the real meat of the piece is what follows.  For the bulk of the essay, Atwood explores how much our society’s engagement with climate, and with change itself, has shifted since 2009.  Especially interesting are a couple of other writers that she summarizes, both of whom also posted companion pieces on Medium, where Atwood’s piece appeared. Taken as a whole, the essay and responses make for a rich reflection on our times, one that combines stark realism about the entrenched nature of the current system with a good dash of hope founded on the ways that human societies have evolved in the past.  Here’s our distillation of what they have to say, and some thoughts on how these rich perspectives can inform your own approach to the life planning practice that we call resilient investing.

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Gilding: The End (of fossil fuels) is Nigh

The stubborn inertia of our political and energy systems in the face of stark climate change realities has been the great frustration of the past decade (or three), and is at the root of the discouragement and despair that’s growing in many of us.  Our society seems intent on waiting too long to act.  But Paul Gilding has become a leading voice for an alternate view, one that sees the past decade as prelude to a tipping point we can embrace rather than dread.  His book, The Great Disruption, laid out his view that when push came to shove with climate change, the market and the big-monied economic elites would spur a WWII-scale refocus of the economy toward carbon-neutral energy.  For the past couple of years, he’s updated the book’s themes with fresh analysis every few months, based on the latest global developments.  He’s now convinced that 2015 is the year that the “Dam of Denial” breaks, and his latest missive offers further encouragement that the long-sought disruptions are at hand:

For over a hundred years, energy markets have been defined by physical resources, supplied in large volumes by large, slow moving companies developing long life assets in the context of slow moving shifts in markets. The new emerging energy system of renewables and storage is a “technology” business, more akin to information and communications technology, where prices keep falling, quality keeps rising, change is rapid and market disruption is normal and constant.

If you haven’t tuned into Gilding before, this is a great place to start.  The new piece includes links to several of his key articles over the past two years, and will likely leave you feeling a tad—or a lot—more optimistic about our prospects.  Read on here for a few more nuggets from this most recent article:

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Scanning the innovation horizon

Resilient investors always keep their eyes on the horizon, so they’ll be ready to respond to whatever’s coming their way.  A few things out there in the haze have caught our attention in recent weeks, and we thought we’d pass them along.  One deals with a longtime holy grail, fusion energy, another is an out-of-the-blue development in brain science (wiring brains together seems to actually increase performance!?!), and the last highlights a much-hyped company that just pivoted on a dime in a new direction, exemplifying the power of a nimble resiliency when Plan A comes up short.  All three represent potential game-changing breakthroughs, fascinating in their own right and worth having on your long-term resilient investment radar.

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Social entrepreneurs making real change where it’s most needed

While big-picture trends continue to paint a worrying picture of our future, those of us with a more optimistic worldview find solace and inspiration in the countless smaller—but socially and environmentally transformative—initiatives taking place around the world.  Yes, the race between environmental calamity and evolutionary transformations is neck-and-neck, but the Dreamers, Drivers, and Doers among us see a real potential for rapid, exponential advances in the tech realm, alongside a wave of on-the-ground entrepreneurial visionaries driving rapid progress in health, education, and clean energy in communities around the world.  We received a fresh dose of inspiration from a compendium of “22 of the Most Fascinating Social Good Startups Changing the World.”  The common thread here is empowering individuals to create small companies that create new jobs and incomes while tackling local issues including poor sanitation, recycling, access to electricity, and supporting small farms.  Click through for a look at five of our favorites.

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Scrappy sharing champion Uber playing power politics

We evolutionary types love to tout the disruptive and democratizing virtues of the “sharing economy.”  From tool-sharing libraries to the “live like the locals” charm of AirBnB and the high tech click-and-ride dazzle of Uber, sharing taps into our practical, connective, and reinvent-the-economic-system desires.  But wait, what’s this?

Over the past year, Uber built one of the largest and most successful lobbying forces in the country, with a presence in almost every statehouse. It has 250 lobbyists and 29 lobbying firms registered in capitols around the nation, at least a third more than Wal-Mart Stores. That doesn’t count municipal lobbyists. In Portland, the 28th-largest city in the U.S., 10 people would ultimately register to lobby on Uber’s behalf. They’d become a constant force in City Hall. City officials say they’d never seen anything on this scale.

Yikes! This is one of several stories over the past year that have cast a bit of light into the shadowy aspects of the sharing economy; it’s not all rainbows and unicorns after all.

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States take the lead on crowdfunding local investing

Three years ago, excitement ran high after congress authorized new rules to greatly expand the ability of small companies to raise investment capital via crowdfunding.  While the SEC drags its feet on issuing the federal framework, state governments have seized the initiative; half the states have completed crowdfunding laws, and 11 more are working on it.  “It’s exploded this year,” said crowdfunding advocate Anthony Zeoli in a recent NYT story. “People are clamoring for it, and those who see the power of it are pushing these agendas forward. I mean, who can say no to legislation designed to help open up capital for small and growing businesses?”

Success stories are coming in, though it’s also clear that businesses looking for capital are embracing the new funding platforms more rapidly than are investors. Click through for more details, and then consider looking for opportunities to support local businesses in your state.

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