As a young man, I decided that if I were to make a difference in the world, and I don’t mean a small difference, but put a real dent in the world in some positive way, then I’d need leverage. The world is too big and its momentum too strong for one person to create much lasting change without leverage.
I also realized that six kinds of leverage offer much more power and influence than any other in today’s world:
I don’t have the stomach for politics, so I decided to master the other forms of leverage and ultimately find ways to combine them and put them to use.
I began acquiring the leverage of communication by learning to write and speak effectively. The mastery of both is a lifelong endeavor. This blog is part of that process. Teaching is another kind of leverage that I categorize within the leverage of communication. I teach courses in entrepreneurship, and I also coach, mentor, and consult for many small business clients. I’m not a master teacher yet, but I strive to improve every time I do.
I also set about learning the leverage of entrepreneurship. I failed, studied, listened, and reflected enough to have progressed no small distance down the path of entrepreneurial mastery, though I certainly have plenty left to learn. Marketing is a secondary form of leverage that lives at the intersection of entrepreneurship, communication, and technology. Getting the message out is a powerful form of leverage in its own right.
I learned about the leverage of capital by learning finance. Several of my entrepreneurial endeavors were finance companies. Lacking substantial capital myself thus far, I at least learned what I could about how the leverage of capital works.
I learned about the leverage of community by competing on sports teams, volunteering at non-profits, and hosting myriad events. Social media, at its best anyway, is a medium for building and galvanizing communities for positive change.
I’m now in my 40s, and I’ve finally begun to learn the leverage of technology beyond my history of flirting with it but never fully diving in. By growing my technical expertise, I no longer need to wait for others to turn my ideas into reality. I’m no longer constrained by the cost of paying others to build things for me. I no longer need others to amplify my voice or put my other leverages into action.
What technologies am I learning first? Computer programming, virtual/augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Why these?
- Learning programming is like learning to read. It’s one of the most important skills of the 21st century.
- VR/AR is fun and will soon transform nearly every aspect of human life. Plus, it’s really cool.
- Ditto all that for AI. AI is quickly changing the world and is super cool.
I’m still a tech noob. I’m working on a lot of different projects, perhaps too many, but I’m having fun. I’m growing my technical expertise every month. Even if I never become an expert in any specific technological niche–though I’m not saying I won’t–at very least I’ll learn enough to speak the language and understand the general lay of the land. With that foundation, I’ll be able to work more closely with the true experts on any future projects. I don’t have to be the lever, I just need to be able to wield it effectively.
Interestingly, my various skills, experiences, and interests now talk to each other, multiplying the power of the various leverages. For example, I write a column (communication) about emerging technologies and education (technology). I founded (entrepreneurship) a medical equipment leasing company (technology, capital). I worked as interim-CEO (entrepreneurship) to turn around a small tech company (technology) that researches and analyzes healthcare legislation and policy (politics). Now I do a lot of consulting (entrepreneurship, communication) in the software sector (technology). I volunteer at and attend many events hosted by Acton School of Business where I received my MBA (community, entrepreneurship) and where I met investors for several of my businesses (capital). I could go on and on.
I’m not entirely sure in what ways I’ll use all this leverage in the future, though I do have a few ideas. That’s not important though. What’s important is to know that as we continue to master these various forms of leverage, we become more powerful, more capable of impacting the world in positive ways.
This kind of power isn’t power over others, but rather power with others. That is, not only can one person wield this leverage, everyone can. And when everyone does wield it, and when we all decide to do so to create positive change, we can and will create a better world for everyone. That is the mechanism for how we will evolve as a species and as a planet.