Trappings of Success

Zuckerberg's Hoodie

I’ve watched with interest the controversy in recent weeks regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s continued wearing of ‘hoodies’ during the lead up to the IPO of Facebook. The question was raised – is what he chose to wear disrespectful to financial institutions?

I choose to wear red in my capacity as Founding Director of RedBalloon – some would say that it has become my ‘trade mark’. (Quite frankly it makes it really easy to shop for work clothes – it is simply a uniform.) Is the offending hoodie merely a uniform, as was Steve Jobs – black polo necks and jeans?

I think a more interesting trend that this ‘simple dress sense’ by entrepreneurs may well be part of the ‘dematerialization’ and ‘demonetization’ trend as discussed in the book Abundance- Diamandis and Kotler’ s book, (I simply could not put this book down – and it is the sort of book I want to read with my teenagers. I can highly recommend it.)

The authors argue that the poorest people in the USA – have more services than were available to the richest person 100 years ago – and that we all have access instantly to more information than the US president did only a decade ago – hence we live in a time of abundance. What this means is there is a massive shift in what the ‘trappings of success’ look like. And many possessions are becoming increasingly less important. The most precious resource of all is time – and no matter how rich you are you get given the same 24 hours as everybody else.

Recently an article appeared in CBS news describing ‘The 10 behaviors of the hyper successful.’ To para phrase if you are ‘successful’ you:…..

  • Carry less things. Perhaps just a phone or two…
  • Return phone calls less often. Someone else does that for them.
  • They are difficult to reach. Someone else does that for them.
  • They spend little time at a computer. Someone else does that for them.
  • If they do write an email it is short. Or someone else does that for them.
  • Social media is not their thing (except for celebrities – which their publicists use).
  • They are not interested in pop culture or gossip (again, except for celebrities).
  • They watch less TV
  • The more non-leisure stuff they do that’s not directly related to their business (charities, boards, outside investments).
  • They read the papers or someone else does that for them – and they get the summary.

Much of these traits are all about ‘saving time’.

This further supports the notion of dematerialization. Zuckerberg has signed up to the Gates-Buffet plea to have all American billionaires give away at least half of their wealth for the greater good of the planet before they die. (Apparently 69 of the 1000 billionaires in the US have so far agreed to participate) – for the first time in history we have people with the resources to tackle solvable problems that governments (need to be re-elected) corporates (shareholder returns) or NGOs (fundraising) cannot achieve. (read more about this)

I see the ‘hoodie’ as a representation that there is a new way of looking at success… it is not about what we have – but what we give (our time being the most important of all) – and that material possessions will continue to become less important – as the ‘average’ person screams out ‘I’ve got too much stuff’.

Peter Diamandis co-author of Abundance speaks at TED.

This entry was posted in Lessons Learned and tagged ,

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I guess having a uniform like a hoodie or a red suit makes sense in terms of saving the precious commodity ‘time’, and is probably then a sign of being hyper successful. To me it says, “I do what I do so well that I don’t have to bow to the normal conventions of dress to be heard.”
    I look forward to seeing some of the effects of billionaires giving away half their wealth. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did that – not just the billionaires?

  2. stu
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I think the whole thing about the hoodie is silly. Who made the suits on wall street the keepers of the corporate gate [dress code]. Look what they did to the country and the world with it’s flow on effects. Yeah, those Armani suits really helped there guys!

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