Isn’t it interesting that it’s only the Koch brothers (in positions nine and ten) who inherited a sizable nest egg to start with. The rest, while – in most cases - coming from middle to upper income families, have created businesses (and whole new industries) that have become important players in their particular segments. (And you have to get to position # 11 on the list (Liliane Bettancourt, the L’Oreal heiress) before inheritance becomes the sole source of the wealth.)
A number of the rest of the top ten have made their wealth by being game-changers. What would our office environments look like without the “dumbing down” of computer interfaces that Microsoft pioneered (she says as she types this in a Word document). What would middle market fashion in most of the developed world look like without Zara? What would retail (both bricks and mortar) look like without Amazon.com? What would world communication look like without Facebook?
While it’s possible that Bill Gates and Paul Allen decided in 1975 that they were going to change the way that the world’s computers worked and in the process come to dominate global software sales, I suspect they just had a vision of how to make using a computer easier. They sensed that computers would become the ultimate leveller if any and everyone could use one without needing advanced programming skills. They saw a problem and tried to solve it. Through solving it they created a business empire that has made them very wealthy, but made life a bit easier for the rest of us.
The bottom line is that many (although not all) of these fortunes have been created in the particular company making a positive contribution to society and/ or the economy. Yes, perhaps you can characterize the Koch brothers as the caricature of capitalism in all its gore, but many of the others show its glory. Especially when you consider how much philanthropy has benefited from their work. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg have all publicly committed to give away billions of dollars – and some of that will be invested in research into combating disease or improving educational outcomes.
How do we change it?
Perhaps then, the key to reducing the gap between the 1% and the rest lies not in taking their wealth away, but in creating more. Easier said than done, but where do we start?
I read an interesting comment this week. It comes from a book titled “The 10x Rule: The only difference between Success and Failure” by Grant Cardone. He believes (as do I) that successful people have to be committed to continuous learning. He says, “The most successful CEOs are reported to read an average of 60 books and attend more than six conferences per year – whereas the average American worker reads an average of less than one book and makes 319 times less income”. If this is so, it seems that there is one place to start to help our children create more affluent lives for themselves: we must encourage them to read. It not only gives them a wider repertoire of facts, but it will open up new horizons, help with lateral and creative thinking and create a sense of possibility.
So encourage your children to read – anything really. But I am going to say that I think our range of personalized Zoowun books does help with the idea of creating a sense of possibility. It gives children stories that show them as the hero – both in the pictures and the text – in a number of different e-books. It lets them see themselves showing a range of positive attributes – bravery, kindness, lateral thinking are just a few. Perhaps these stories will help your children sense the possibilities that an ability to learn constantly will open up. Perhaps they will give your children a sense of how to literally become the hero in their own lives. The price tags are affordable and the e-book format makes it accessible anytime, anywhere. Please visit us at www.zoowun.com to see our range of colorful and fun books.