In fractional, community is everything.
Separate but connected.
A lesson on community from the mighty Aspen
Did you know that a stand of Aspen is considered the largest single organism on earth? Whether their leaves touch or they stand 100 yards apart, they are connected by their roots. Connected by their roots.
Here we are as a society, motoring well past the post-pandemic, new normal life, with only a slightly clearer picture of how our future work selves will come into shape. Will we return to the office? Will we stay remote? Is remote good for us? Is it bad? Will we work Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday, and work from home Monday and Friday? Is AI going to replace us all? Are mass layoffs coming? (Again) And what's this Fractional business everyone is talking about?
What did Bob Dylan say?
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.
Fair enough, Bob. Say, I don't suppose you can tell us which way the wind is blowing by any chance?
I have a sense of the direction the wind is blowing.
I think we hunger for community like never before.
Like the Aspen, we have been separate trees for quite some time now. But like the Aspen, we are also all connected. In her bestselling book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown makes the point of our natural inclination toward community in this way:
“Connection is why we're here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
She studies this stuff for a living and does Ted Talks. It seems wise to listen to her. But if we are hardwired for connection, why aren't we all running back to the office? Why did we Great Resignate? Why did we Quiet Quit? Why are we now Loud Quitting? What's the big hold-up? The office building should be full again, shouldn't they?
Something is amiss.
Mind the last word in her quote up there: "Suffering." I think at the root of things we have discovered that, yes, we need connection. But we have also discovered not all "connecting" is created equal. Much of the status quo of connection at work in the before times was chock full of suffering. We talk to a lot of Fractional leaders. We ask them a lot of questions. One question we asked recently was what was life like in the before times? Before you were Fractional? More often than not, this is how they described things:
- 6 hours per day of useless meetings.
- Toxic work cultures.
- Fear of layoffs.
- Constant interruptions.
- A very skinny corporate ladder.
- A cog-in-the-wheel existence.
- Long, rushed, and lonely commutes.
We suffered through all of that in the before times only to see the vast majority of the spoils go to shareholders. Read what Simon Sinek has to say about the troubles that the Shareholder Economy has caused our society in his fantastic book The Infinite Game.
Here's a snack from it...
The constant abuse since the late 1970s has left us with a form of capitalism that is now, in fact, broken. It is a kind of bastardized capitalism that is organized to advance the interests of a few people who abuse the system for capital gain, which has done little to advance the true benefits of capitalism as a philosophy (as evidenced by anticapitalist and protectionist movements around the globe). Indeed, the entire philosophy of shareholder primacy and Friedman's definition of the purpose of business was promoted by investors themselves as a way to incentivize executives to prioritize and protect their finite interests above all else.
The Economic Policy Institute reported that in 1978, the average CEO made approximately 30 times the average worker's salary. By 2016, the average has increased over 800 percent to 271 times the average worker's pay. Where the average CEO has seen a nearly 950 percent increase in their earnings, the American worker, meanwhile, has seen just over 11 percent in theirs.
My my my. It is a SHOCKER no one is rushing back to the old days. Even when the Wall Street executives are getting antsy and making demands, the buildings remain at 40%-ish full.
So that pretty much explains the resistance. Forward, though, looks much brighter. In fact it looks awesome.
If I were a betting man, and you asked me to place a bet on where our work culture is headed, and which way that wind is blowing, I would first put my money on Fractional. (Duh!) I would then put my money on community.
Not "Back to normal."
I would put the chips on community.
That is a hard thing to bet on though isn't it? It's so vague. What does community look like, feel like and taste like? For my friend Liz Otteson this is her life's work. Assembling and arranging communities in the new normal that are chock full of nutrition for their members is what Liz does. Still, as far as an investment, community is neither pork bellies, nor gold, nor frozen concentrated orange juice. Community is not quite as touchable as a standard investment commodity.
But the value is oh so rich.
As bettors on community, we've taken it upon ourselves to create an education community for the new normal, so that people can learn the ways of Fractional and take their careers forward from a foundation of healthy community. Our credo is a place to learn, help and be helped, in that order. We are at the precipice of a new age of freedom, opportunity and fulfillment with Fractional.
Lets get there together.