From Trump pushing to change NAFTA, to the British electorate and their hobbling Brexit, to the tide of Islamophobia across the West, there’s one underlying commonality. The thread linking these diverse phenomena is a fear of losing one’s way of life to globalization. We are the most globalized generation in history, and every day we are becoming more interlinked.
While we all appreciate the year-long imported fruit, cheap Chinese electronics and ability to see the world, globalization brings as many risks as benefits. We enjoy globalization when getting cheap electronics at Wal-Mart, yet decry it when our manufacturers seek cheaper facilities abroad. We love globalization when we explore Asia, but hate it when accepting migrants from the same.
Today we live on a planet where the world’s largest adult beverage company is a merger of Brazilian, American, South African and Belgian interests, a world where the UK government is begging Indian steel companies to preserve jobs for the British. We live in: an era of Kenyan/white American presidents; a time of female CEOs; and an age when Wall Street courts capital from the Middle East and other former European colonies. The point is that times are changing fast, largely driven by globalization of both business and society.
Globalization becomes scary when it disrupts deeply entrenched paradigms.
Western primacy, white supremacy, gender inequality and even core notions about adulthood and self-determination are being challenged. Pure capitalism is innately meritocratic in seeking profit maximization—but meritocracy is scary for the most privileged, as well as for the least qualified. None of us, least of all the privileged 16 percent in the world’s richest countries, wants to enter a race to the bottom in a global labor market. Nor do we want to be exposed to terrorism, security risks and other disruptions to our quality of life.
Yet we cannot escape gravity. And, short of time travel, we cannot re-cork globalization.
If we pick the side of Trump, Le Pen, and Boris, and try to fight globalization, we lose pace with the innovation, cost advantages and growth potential of the rest of the world. The other option is to embrace globalization, as individuals, just as corporations have done. This means more than traveling—it means globalcreating. It means diving into markets which offer us the best opportunity – whether for work, study, business or life. Globalcreating means immersion and creation across borders; it means taking the lemons of globalization and making lemonade.
If US tuitions have become outrageous, it means doing a Master’s for free in Europe. It means migrating for short-term and long-term professional development as industries shift. It means building relationships, learning languages and, when the time comes, tapping suppliers and partners from across borders. It means replicating established businesses in new markets, cross-pollinating ideas and resources to create something better, linking emerging industries across countries to create the future.
The reality is that globalcreating is the best possible tool to prepare us as individuals and organizations to thrive and compete in a global economy, regarding:
– Skills development, including language and technical skills (especially in ascendant and niche industries)
– Access to untapped resources and opportunities
– Global relationships
– Cultural competency and market know-how
In a world where over 30 percent of jobs could be automated and replaced by robots in the next 15 years, isn’t global entrepreneurialism the most important advantage in any economy? However, beyond all these commercial and financial benefits, globalcreating is our best bet to overcome decaying mental models expressed in the xenophobic rhetoric of Trump, Le Pen, and others. It is easy to look out from our TV screens, newspapers, hotel rooms and cruise ships to see fellow humans as “others”. However, living side-by-side, working towards a common goal strips away the old lenses of in-group and out-group. Removing these lenses enables us to learn from each other, find ideas and innovation in each other’s traditions, to collaborate and synergize. It may seem like a Kumbaya ideal, but what is the alternative?
More walls, more divisions, more bombs and more global hostilities will not get us where we want to go. We want to go where our potential can be maximized, where we find the freshest ideas, the most critical resources, the biggest opportunities, and the most synergistic partnerships. Many of these opportunities will be found beyond our borders. Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Elon Musk have all shown us the tremendous advancement that can come from newcomers, visitors, and migrants who bring their genius to our lands.
As the African proverb states, we can go faster alone but we can go farthest together.
Written by Tara Sabre Collier for Progress Daily