Open Letter to the Next US President

Peter Jones Wu Wei

From Bernard-Henri Levy, in Huffington Post: In just fifty days you will be, in theory, the most powerful man in the world. I say “in theory” because your first challenge will in fact be your country’s decline in power. It’s been so long that we have been hearing about this decline – and now it has finally happened. He is speaking of global American influence and soft power. American cultural evolution – the kind of cultural innovations that led to jazz, the art in MOMA, and creative breakthroughs in science – has been battered by the conservative culture wars for nearly two decades now.  The cultural creatives Richard Florida suggests will save us? They actually keep a pretty low profile in the age of government-manufactured fear. We create our own culture, locally. The larger landscape of ideas in the US? Well, I guess people can read the damn blogs. I remember when the (almost O’Reilly conservative) Time magazine reported on US cultural innovation as if the creative culture was something to celebrate. After 20 years of institutionalized, deceitful pontifical moralizing …

Flash: Money buys happiness!

Peter Jones Human Values

Who says? According to a Harvard/UBC study published in Science, so that’s about as authoritative as possible. How so? The title Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness, tells you something about it. In an HBS interview, co-author Michael Norton explains: “Intentional activities—practices in which people actively and effortfully choose to engage—may represent a promising route to lasting happiness. Supporting this premise, our work demonstrates that how people choose to spend their money is at least as important as how much money they make.” The crisp abstract does not read like a new-age nostrum Although much research has examined the effect of income on happiness, we suggest that how people spend their money may be at least as important as how much money they earn. Specifically, we hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself. Providing converging evidence for this hypothesis, we found that spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness both cross-sectionally (in a nationally representative survey study) and longitudinally (in a field study of …

Who’s Your City? (Toronto!) Who’s your Company?

Peter Jones Transformation Design

Richard Florida’s latest dive off the springboard of the Creative Class shows up in geography – where you choose to live determines your destiny. In the Globe and Mail, Florida himself reviews the premises and thesis of the book Who’s your City? Where we choose to live, argues the director of the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute , is crucial not only to how we live and who we share our lives with, but also to what kind of career we end up having. In this passage, he describes how this “geographic clustering” is dictated by five basic personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The choice to live in a certain city – essentially a situated culture with its unique set of circumstances – generates an enormous new set of options for the individual. It has taken us three years of continual learning and exploration to become Torontonians-in-training. However, even on the very part-time basis of one week a month, we have created a huge network of new friends by choice (all of them brilliant, …