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REVOLUTIONARY WEALTH - A book review

Future Shock. The Third Wave. Power Shift. And now, Revolutionary Wealth. Having read the first three of Alvin Toffler's bestsellers on how life is changing and why, I searched for his fourth major work in 2000. His series clarified for laypeople the evolution from a "first wave" agrarian-based economy to a "second-wave" industrial to the knowledge-based "third-wave" economy, and his prognostications were very useful. I needed the one I was sure would be out in 2000, but it wasn't there.

Future Shock, published in 1970, prepared us for the information age; The Third Wave, published in 1980, further interpreted the movement toward electronic empowerment; Power Shift, published 1990, prophesied a change in the very nature of power. Then, the Tofflers, as Alvin included his wife Heidi, stated they would not publish a book in 2000. The turn of the millennium was not a good time --too many uncertainties. Finally, in 2006, Revolutionary Wealth joined the line up of hallmark achievements for these very special authors.

What's in their book for you? A mind-blowing discourse on what goes on in the first decade of the 21st Century and what to look for; an expansive digest of world trends and events that are churning up the "third wave." A reader might be lucky enough to amass revolutionary wealth by keying into one of the featured trends of the knowledge economy. For example: "The new wealth system demands a complete shake-up in the way increasingly temporary skill sets are organized for increasingly temporary purposes throughout the economy." This prediction may lead you to challenge your staff to find ways of meeting American customer desires by supporting their new and changing family configurations.

Or, you may be the powerful player who pushes legislative change to keep pace with societal need. The Tofflers note that while business and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are moving at speeds of 100 or 90 mph, labor unions, education and legal institutions are lagging at speeds of 30 to only 1 mph. This is an amazing dilemma if your law suit is never settled until your actual business need ceases to exist.

Knowledge Described
Taking a bird's eye-- or more like a satellite-view of production and human labor over history, one sees a bright future despite the glaring hardships besetting nations, economies and workers at the present. A glance at the facts of knowledge reveals why the knowledge-based economy holds immense potential for people relative to the agrarian and industrial epochs… Knowledge...

  • is inherently non-rival - the greater the number of people who use it, the more likely it is that someone will generate more knowledge from the same bit of it.
  • is intangible
  • is non-linear - tiny insights can yield huge outputs
  • is relational - a unique piece attains meaning only in context with other bits
  • mates with other knowledge - the more there is, the more possible combinations there are
  • is more portable than any other product - can be distributed instantaneously to the next cubicle or to ten million in Hong Kong at the same near-zero price
  • can be compressed into symbols or abstractions - unlike tangibles
  • can be stored in smaller and smaller spaces - coming soon is storage nano scale
  • can be explicit or implicit - shared or not
  • is hard to bottle up - it spreads.

(The above list is an edited version of the ten features on pp. 100-101 of RW.)

Can you now understand why more job creation is simply a matter of exercising our collective imaginations? Factories exported to Mexico? So what. China manufacturing more and more: Big deal. America, you are the giant of the knowledge economy! Realize your prowess!

Other messages are not so fun: Desynchronization between the deep fundamentals like time and space and our major institutions is a serious dilemma. MUCH more troubling: Our educational system is not preparing students to work in the new economy that is striving to get in sync with the deep fundamentals.

The Tofflers put stock in science. If the trends and realities of this accelerated day and time are shocking and unwieldy, apply scientific method and planning. This, in their view, is an effective salve for the human condition.

Prediction: In an age of NGOs becoming past-masters at negotiations and missions accomplished, we can expect human cloning and such other possibilities to occur. One NGO will fight against particular agendas; another will successfully advocate. The clout of NGOs will eclipse that of nations.

Insights for the US
RW is not blithely proglobal. It does not turn a blind eye to China's military budget "estimated to have shot up at least sixfold between 1991 and 2004" (p. 322) and its theft of intellectual property (p. 377).

RW sees that the great powers including America are less and less great. And in the current climate of anti-American sentiment worldwide, where is the appreciation for her contributions? Winston Churchill's statement about the U.S. Marshall Plan under which the WWII-torn nations were rebuilt as "the most unsordid act in history" is quoted.

As you can see, the book runs the gamut from reasons to regard your prospects with amazement to woeful potential turns of fate for the red-white-and-blue.

From the "24 hour street" in Curitiba, Brazil, to "obsoledge" in the internet, to the unpaid work of prosumers, to the rise of para-money, to sensor technology that is emerging as one of the most important industries of the future, you will like Revolutionary Wealth, if you enjoy roller coaster rides.

Revolutionary Wealth, by Alvin and Heidi Toffler. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006.

DO Be Ridiculous

doing a cartwheel

The publicity stunt is a way of gaining attention for your company that can offer a gigantic payoff--BUT it is always a gamble since there is no guarantee the media will cover it. If you have been trying to come up with a way to make the news, there is a book that can help you increase your chances for a win.

Publicity Stunt! was written by Candice Fuhrman who headed her own PR agency in the San Francisco area for 10 years. Her clients often asked for news-making ideas, so she began to explore what makes an idea so irresistible that it becomes page-one news.

She acknowledges that today, most PR agents disavow any connection with stunts, pointing to their role in creating a client's total image. However, her research led her to an appreciation for the special genius behind the publicity stunt.

Following are examples of stunts that were successful.

Story creation... In the 19th century, fledgling newspapers would create stories to build circulation. The New York Herald sent journalist Henry Morton Stanley to Africa in 1871 to search for the missionary-explorer Dr. David Livingston. He sent back stories all along the way.

Outrageous acts... The publicist for The Return of Tarzan caught the public attention by checking into the Hotel Belleclair in NY City with a large box said to contain a piano. The next day he asked room service to send up 15 lbs. of raw red meat, prompting the management to inspect the room and discover a full grown lion in residence. This brought the police and reporters, and rescued the Tarzan sequel from oblivion by linking the stunt with the movie.

Attracting a crowd... may be as easy as putting a sandwich board on a man and as expensive as dropping $10,000 in small bills from the top of a skyscraper to celebrate a particular accomplishment.

Photo opportunity... Alerting the media to a situation to be created for an interesting photo can lure reporters. The famous photo of Marilyn Monroe on a street grate with her skirt blowing straight up did not just happen --It was a staged event to publicize The Seven Year Itch, accomplished with the help of special wind blowers installed in the grate.

Daring acts, contests, fake letters to the editor, and other staged events are explored in Publicity Stunt!, and Ms. Fuhrman invites readers to share their own stunts which she promises to publish in a sequel.

Publicity Stunt! by Candice Jacobson Fuhrman. Candice Fuhrman Publisher, 1989.

Succeed in YOUR TV Role

pretty woman

The late Andy Warhol predicted that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. With the proliferation of media and the desirability of having your product or service televised, you could find your place in the sun as a company spokesperson. Are you ready for that?

YOUR PUBLIC BEST by Lillian Brown is "The complete guide to making successful public appearances in the meeting room, on the platform and on TV" (its subtitle). Ms. Brown knows her subject well; her list of credits includes being a radio producer, voice coach, chief TV makeup artist for CBS News Washington Bureau, and personal makeup artist for five presidents, among many other distinctions.

Her advice covers personal appearance, voice improvement, public speaking, handling the media, and TV appearances.

If getting your point across convincingly is important to you, Ms. Brown's tips will be, too. Her list of most frequently asked questions includes: "What colors are best to wear in public?" "At my age, can I change my voice?" "What can I do to avoid stagefright?" Following are some of her insights on these matters, to help you on your way to becoming your public best...

Don't trust your color analysis.
What colors are best to wear in public? Never wear black, red or white, advises the maven. The two extremes of the color spectrum are black and white, and both the eye and the camera have difficulty bridging the distance between the two. White faces in black suits, for example, are not photogenic. Red is domineering and harsh. Wear blues, grays and jewel tones on the platform or on TV. No matter what colors are flattering to you according to your color analysis, they could be publicly insulting. Ladies, keep jewelry to a minimum; men, avoid the red "power" tie- it will reflect red on the white of your eyes. Look on your tie selection as an enhancement of your eye color.

The public will also judge you by your voice. You know you have a problem when you pop the "p" on a microphone, or when your listeners eyes wander or glaze over after you've been speaking for a while, or when you look mature, but your voice sounds too young! Fortunately, none of these symptoms is irremediable.

Exercise to shape up
Ms. Brown gives lots of exercises for voice improvement such as how to breathe so radio or TV listeners won't hear the audible gasp for air through the sensitive mike you must address. Also, imitating your favorite singer can teach you to pronounce your final consonants which is essential to clear diction.

Perhaps you'll never be faced with a media stakeout or press conference, but you may be called upon to accept an award, or to participate in a panel discussion. Stage fright may urge you to run, but hold on. Through preparation, logic and on-the-spot reasoning with your fear, you can conquer this instinct. Rehearsing your talk and visualizing the setting beforehand can prepare you for a great performance.

Here's_a tip for a dry mouth: "Drop your jaw and rub the underside of the tongue against the inside of the lower and upper front teeth. This activates the lubricating saliva glands, relaxing the back of the throat and giving you the moisture you need in your mouth." (p. 122)

We recommend YOUR PUBLIC BEST as an excellent consultation on this subject. Ms. Brown's 30 years of experience will help you be your public best.

YOUR PUBLIC BEST, by Lillian Brown. Copyright 1989. Newmarket Press, New York, NY.

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