Economic Multipliers (23)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Mini events can be economic multipliers to you (if you pay attention to the ‘worthy’ events).


What were you doing on February 11, 1990? I had to look up the specific date but will always remember where I WAS.

On that date, I was in Amsterdam. And that was THE place to be if you were an ‘uncultured, rather ignorant’ American. I can’t remember why I was sitting in a lounge at a table later that day since I normally ate out of grocery stores but there I was, with news (that I couldn’t understand) on a television screen, looking out the window at what seemed to a be a party that had broken out in the street and a gentleman sitting alone at the table next to me who said in perfect English: ‘Do you know what’s going on?’ I had no clue.

Nelson Mandela had just been released from jail and the people in Holland were celebrating.

Now, the story might have ended there if this gentleman had not been SO knowledgeable about history, why the event was significant and why individuals in a country clearly not anywhere near South Africa would care. But there he was … and at a time in my life when I was fairly self-absorbed (different than being a bit of a loner which I identified I needed to be in order to have time to think): I realized just how little I knew about other cultures and the world, wondered why all these other people in other countries did and started paying a LOT more attention.

It’s not that I didn’t know ANYTHING … but ‘technical knowledge’ is different than understanding HOW knowledge fits into the world and people’s lives and what the probability is that, even if knowledge exists, it will get used (and used well).

I only went to Europe once (for ~one month) and these were some of my ‘mini events’ – ‘stuff’ that changed how I think:

  • A tourist excursion: I sat next to a couple on a boat in Paris and asked them if they knew how to speak English. They said no. They asked if I knew how to speak French. With my masterful command of approximately 20 words, I said ‘un peu’ and then proceeded to try to have a conversation with them. Without skipping a beat (or even laughing) they started speaking English fluently and indicated that they didn’t want to embarrass themselves if they got a word or two wrong! Today, I know a LOT more words but if someone would ask me if I spoke French, I would definitely say no (I’m doing a lot better reading it though: Ecrivez la, si’l vous plaît!: Write it down, please.).

  • A parliamentary debate: When in London, I listened to individuals in the British Parliament debate on and express concern over how the citizens of Hong Kong would be treated when the country became part of China. In my ‘small world’ view, it looks (over the years) like China recognized that you shouldn’t destroy economic value and wealth or the human potential that creates it. I hope the citizens in Hong Kong feel the same. I wondered at the time whether individuals in our U.S. Congress would have been expressing the same concerns and hoped they would have but really didn’t know.

  • A library: I walked into what probably was the equivalent of the U.S. Library of Congress when in Paris and thought … WOW … look at all those books I haven’t read … and can’t read … because most of them are in French.

  • A news stand: The Wall Street Journal has ‘foreign’ editions and they report on news differently in foreign countries than they do in the United States.

  • An art museum: I sat on a bench in a museum in Holland with a gentleman who was going to be seeing one of my relatives in the United States the following Tuesday (There with his daughter, he even took a note back … Is it possible for the world to get any smaller?).

  • A uniquely talented painter: I saw many of John Constable’s paintings at multiple museums and couldn’t believe how well he mastered the clouds (landscapes with tiny people, carts and houses never awed me but his clouds did). Years later, I was at a local museum and found out why he got it right … not only was he extraordinarily talented but he spent years perfecting his ‘clouds’ … the museum had a temporary exhibit just on his cloud studies, preparation, and work. (I don’t go to museums often and usually think there is something else I’m not getting done when I do – I admire people who SEEM like they have totally ‘balanced’ lives. I might get to 20 museums in one year and then not step into another one for five years. (Fortunately today, the Internet and ‘expanded’ (breadthwise) reading take me many places I’ll never personally get to)).

  • A grocery store: Europeans (in the early 1990’s) had a lot more product choices than Americans when they went into stores – particularly with groceries.

  • Products and toys: You should never go toy shopping for kids overseas if you haven’t gone toy shopping for them in the United States: I bought what I thought was the ‘coolest’ ‘fishing game’ for some kids (at the time) and lugged it back to the U.S. and then across states to deliver it and find that you could buy it at a local store.

  • Hats: I took a hat (that I liked so much that I decided to make sure it made it home). It didn’t have a chin strap and there were many windy days: It was a pain to carry around. The older version of me would now look for someone to give it to or serendipitously leave it somewhere so I didn’t have to bother with it: The younger version of me is glad that I kept it because I added a chin strap and now wear it 5-6 times per year.


Now, I’m always developing philosophies: For instance, I believe that people should always pick one memorable event (that’s positive) – and even plan on how to create memorable events – for each year of their life. Most of life is pretty ‘boring.’ Even people who travel a lot in their jobs or have seemingly infinite sums of money will tell you that motel/restaurant living does not constitute a life (but initially is exciting especially when you are young) and learning how to create and retain value and wealth in society takes time and work (I’ve never met anyone who can’t ‘spend down’ money and wealth but it’s not near as easy to figure out ways to create it).

But why would MY stories and philosophies matter to YOU?: Well, if you end up at any point in your life with a bunch of ‘mini stories’ about cool events (even if they were short and local) and people who have been and have come into your life and changed it in positive ways (even if they were only there for 5-10 minutes), you will have lived a life to be envied (because when the things worth seeing were right in front of you, you saw them and said: THIS is what I should remember).

I could never possibly convey to you the joy that I have derived from learning from all my ‘mini events’ and doings up to this date (many people would call much of this learning ‘work’).


Sometimes learning just how little you know can be the difference between saying that you’ve got a lifetime of learning to do or saying you pretty much know everything you need to know.

What you say determines who you become.


Especially if you live in a world where you believe ANY part of it needs to change, I hope that you are the one saying that you will always have a lifetime of learning to do. Because if you say this, you will probably be a part of the change – and THAT is a ‘mega’ event.