By Lisa Gansky
The opinions expressed are her own.
Does our economy make us happy?
The crash-and-burn of the financial system, a prolonged recession, and high unemployment obviously cause us enormous distress. We are forced to ask ourselves, “What can we afford now?”
The collapse has also made many of us rethink what we care about. We’re finally asking, “Are all these things we’ve been buying (and probably still making payments on) truly making us happy?”
I started asking myself related questions long ago. Where do we look to derive value? What’s the source? As I talked with people, did research, and listened more intrusively to my own internal voice, I realized that in the process of choosing and buying we are actually being engulfed (essentially consumed), by the stuff in our lives.
It seems clear that our metric of Gross National Stuff isn’t moving us toward a happy path. Stuff noise is drowning out the happiness signal. Stuff blinds us because we believe that having it makes our lives fulfilled and living convenient.
The way Ben Lyon sees it, the finance world is in the middle of a revolution, and the simple text message is at the heart of it.
Lyon created a system to bring formal financial services to microfinance institutions and poor entrepreneurs via a mobile phone. He believes the new software, to be launched by the organization he founded, FrontlineSMS:Credit, could change the world of microfinance by changing the way the poor interact with the institutions.
This week, PopTech, is hosting its annual conference in Camden, Maine from October 20-23. This year’s conference, centered around the theme of failure, is titled “Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures, and Improbable Breakthroughs.” As PopTech says, “In a complex and messy world, solutions to big challenges frequently follow unobvious paths to success.”
PopTech is bringing together “a network of visionary thinkers, leaders and doers in science, technology, design, the corporate and social sectors, entrepreneurship, education and the arts for a three-day, boundary-defying conversation about the nature of creative change.”