Is it a coincidence that the two headlines today are about the death of Steve Jobs and the protestors of “Occupy Wall Street”? Truth is most often found in the paradox. To the protestors of “Occupy Wall Street,” I would love to dare you, to double dog dare you, to do exactly what you say you want to do– Occupy Wall Street! I am not talking about the Michael Moore, boogieman, Wall Street of your imagination, where you have set up a Hooverville. I am talking about occupying the Wall Street that Steve Job’s APPL resides on. The Wall Street that has provided the capital to invent your iPhone, your iPad, your iPod that you are playing games on, while camping in your fancy REI sleeping bags on the street. I dare you to occupy Wall Street while you drink your SBUX, read on your AMZN kindle and GOOG Steve Jobs Stanford Speech. So please, keep occupying Wall Street, but make it the real street, the one rift with risk and reward, highs and lows, gains and losses, victories and defeats.
This is the Wall Street where every entrepreneur secretly pictures himself or herself ringing the closing bell on the six o’clock news. This is the Wall Street in the back of the mind of every businessman as he “incorporates” his new idea at the division of commerce; an idea that will change the world or at least the community in which he lives. This is the Wall Street that innovators hope to arrive at when they sell their unknown, untested idea to venture capitalists. This Wall Street is the reward for years of sacrifice, long hours, happy customers and new products. This Wall Street is our country’s Main Street and ironically the home of our nation’s first capital.
Sure these are tough times, extremely tough times, everyone is feeling the pain and your future seems uncertain. But, the post-Watergate, Jimmy Carter, oil embargo, double-digit inflation years of the 1970’s were no picnic either. These were the same 1970’s however, that found Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building a computer in their garage. So quit playing in the street folks, go home and build something, create something, cook something, invent something, write something, invest in something, study something and for God’s sake—read something, Animal Farm might be a good start! Wealth is created not just earned. Problems can be solved, not just bitched about and optimism always trumps pessimism.
I realize that you young people “Occupying Wall Street” tonight were raised in the generation of arranged playdates and organized team sports, where adults did all your planning. However, you are grownups now, you don’t need unions, political thugs and washed up revolutionaries organizing your social events…. or your tea parties. You are perfectly capable of doing your own social networking, just ask Mark Zuckerberg. In their book, The Fourth Turning, William Strauss and Neil Howe call you the Millennial Generation-the Power Ranger generation. You are coming of age during a “crisis”, and like the “world’s greatest generation” before you, who died on the beaches of Normandy, you will rise to the challenge. You will usher in the next great awakening. It will require that you get off your asphalts, roll up your sleeves and like Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear, move to “infinity and beyond.” You are already covering the world with Tom’s Shoes, living locally and thinking globally at Whole Foods and taking the Red Bull by the horns (while jumping without parachutes from airplanes). The iphone has 500,000 apps and young entrepreneurs run YouTube and Mozilla. The world is going to be in good hands, but during this economic downturn leave the “running from the bulls” to the Spaniards, the tea parties to the junior league and the campouts to the Boy Scouts, because Steve Jobs has just passed the torch to the next generation and now you have to run with it!