the connection economy.

In the beginning, there were dots.

No just kidding. there was a whole bunch of stuff. But that’s not important right now. The important thing is that our economy has progressed over the years. Starting from the first tribes of hunters/gatherers through today, our economy has adapted to our culture, our technology, and even our values.


Hunter/gathering economy:  Hungry? Got spear a saber-toothed tiger? Thirsty? Pop on down to the river and reach in for a sip.


Agrarian economy:  Sick of walking around waiting for that next herd of antelope? No worries. now,  just carve out a little plot of land, drop in some corn…and bingo! meals on a cob!


Industrial economy:  Other people might be interested in that “corn on a stick” food you have. How about creating a place that houses a bunch of machines, run by a bunch of fellow tribe members that helps pick, sort, clean, cut, cook, package and deliver that yummy corn to you and your “customers” (wherever they are).


Information economy:  Build a website ( which feature all 157 flavors of corn and FREE DELIVERY! some other guy creates the stuff, and another guy has the plant that makes them, i just sell it from here.


…but now, we believe we are in the connection economy.


Why, do you ask? Good question!


We believe our economy has transformed.  The rise of the internet, the global markets, and our recent economic collapse in 2007-08 has again shuffled the deck. Coupling with these events is the amazing rise of social entrepreneurship and the value of connecting everyday commerce with philanthropy (think of this as the “Tom’s Shoes-afication”of our economy). The last ingredient is the development of the millennial generation – the largest generation since the baby boomers, and a segment of our community that has been raised on service, rejects the ideas of old models of philanthropy, and demands technology to be a mainstay and not just an extra in life.


This is the beginning of the connection economy.


polka_dots_wall_paintOur values have been challenged by this notion.  People are looking for (and truthfully we are inherently built for) building more lastly relationships, not just for the social outlet (“liking” a friend on Facebook does not make one a friend, in fact) but also for the strong business positioning. It’s good biz to collaborate. It’s smart for an ice cream shop to have an effectively operating art gallery run down the block. It’s important for a quality school system that its neighborhood has wonderful corner market nearby.  A baseball stadium benefits incredibly by a bunch of restaurants open down the street. good biz connects with good biz… but great communities connect with all facets of its community. Want to know how to make your city council stronger? Help build some parks with a local nonprofit and encourage a small business to open above an art gallery? ….trust us, we can show you how.


Organizations, and systems they operate in, need relationships for collaboration and connection. But this isn’t the typical “wine & cheese networking event” or “collect business cards, and enter them into your database” kind of connections. No. We mean human connections. relationships that bring innovation, ideas, and inspiration to your organization. Take conventional wisdom and kick it out the door. The connection economy will have trust & relationships as its new currency.


Donors and investors need to challenge their comfort levels of what is “giving” and what is “philanthropy.” Grant funds need to connect dollars to infrastructure and administrative costs – no more is it feasible to only fund programs and not people.  Risk is an innovation worth funding when it is attached to passion, people, and places.


Beyond that, our communities themselves need this greater sense of connection. Second and third class cities especially must look to new, innovate ways to collaborate with their assets and resources – with their people, places and spaces.  We know, instinctively, that our success is improved when we can band together, unify in support systems, and encourage fostering newer, dynamic tribesmen to join the cause. It is built into our DNA… but often not as built into our communities. Segments might connect, but the larger system often misses these importantly collaborations.


We believe these are not only essential, but must be creatively designed for our communities to thrive.


It’s time to make this happen in your community… let’s get a-connectin’ together!