A Review of ‘LeaderShift’ by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille

Orrin Woodward, New York Times best-selling author of ‘Launching a Leadership Revolution’ and Oliver DeMille, best known for his book ‘A Thomas Jefferson Education’ and the movement by the same name, have an uncanny ability to construct simple solutions to seemingly complex problems. In ‘LeaderShift,’ they focus that ability on problems plaguing the United States. The result is a simple set of solutions woven into a thought-provoking parable designed to be reach beyond the sphere of those that study history and politics out of their own ambition and into the lives of everyday Americans that are concerned about the future of our country.

LeadershiftI know most book reviews give a summary of the basic plot of the book, but I’m going to skip this part. While the story is both funny and compelling, my purpose in reading the book was to discover Woodward and DeMille’s proposed solutions to America’s problems. The reason I was/am so interested in hearing their opinion is that I know that they are both devoted students of history, economics, and human nature. Before reading Leadershift, I was hoping that it would be different than the majority of the books discussing America’s problems in that it would focus on the root of our problems, not the symptoms while, at the same time, being completely non-partisan. They delivered.

The solutions they offered, 28 in all, are refreshingly simple. I’m not going to list them all here. You’ll have to get the book and read it if you want them. However, most of them rest on a few simple premises. First, Woodward and DeMille argue that unless we have limited government, we will have limited freedom. Second, that no government is limited if its taxing powers or money printing ability are unlimited. Third, taxes are only effectively limited when a hard limit to taxation is set and checks and balances are created between the local, state, and federal level.

As a student of history and economics myself, albeit a relatively new student, I was pleasantly surprised at the boldness of the proposed solutions. A few of them, however, didn’t settle well with me at first.  I would be surprised if you immediately agree with all of them. Agreeing is not the point though. The point is to get you thinking and hopefully inspire you to dig further into the topic of freedom.

If you’re anything like me, by the end of LeaderShift, you’ll be chomping at the bit for more. Those of us that already like reading into politics, history, and economics will probably want more depth. Take heart though, LeaderShift is the first of three books. Think of it as the primer for a much larger discussion on freedom in America. In the mean time, go the LeaderShift website and get some of the free downloads, follow Orrin’s blog and sign up for newsletters from The Center for Social Leadership for more discussion around the topics introduced in LeaderShift.

Overall, if you are truly concerned about the future of freedom in the United States (or anywhere else), pick up a copy of LeaderShift. Read it, digest it, argue with it, discuss it, and share it. Don’t stop with LeaderShift though. It is not the end-all, be-all of books on freedom. However, it is a significant addition to the Great Conversation and one that I strongly recommend everyone read.

Here is a fantastic interview with Orrin and Oliver discussing LeaderShift.

Update 4/26: It looks like LeaderShift hit the New York Times Best Seller list at #12.

Update 4/30: It looks like LeaderShift hit #2 on the Wall Street Journal Non-Fiction Hardcover best-seller list.

Update 5/2: Leadershift not only hit the New York Time Best Sellers list, but has climbed to #9.

God Bless,

Clint Fix

A Review of ‘LeaderShift’ by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille

Are You Sure That You Want to Work for Someone Else?

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” We’ve all heard this question, or perhaps even asked it numerous times, but have you ever considered what the question is asking? Typically, the question is really asking, “What do you want to do for a job?” A large portion of our society automatically assumes that you should pick something you want to do, go to college to learn how to do what you’ve picked, then go get a job in your chosen field.

To question this wisdom is near heresy, but that’s what I’m doing to do. Why? Because the results from the “go to school, get good grades, get a safe, secure job” advice are in, and they don’t look good.

Before I dive into the meat of the post, here’s a quick disclaimer: I am not against employment. There are many important roles. My reason for posting this post is to (hopefully) put a crack in the conventional wisdom that, whether consciously or unconsciously, seeks to push our youth into college and employment. This post is aimed at those that DO NOT have a passion for their job, which seems to be the vast majority of people.

An Employee’s Lifestyle

Since most people don’t think that there is any alternative to working until retirement/death, they never even question how much of their life that they are spending to make a buck. The reality is that most people spend a tremendous amount of their life doing something that they really don’t have a passion for just to make some money.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, the average employed American spends just over nine hours a day working and commuting, followed by sleeping at just under eight hours. Check out the graphic below to see how the average employed American’s spends their time.

American Time Use Survey
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Credit: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

The normal retirement age in the U.S. is 67. To be conservative, let’s assume that the normal person starts working full-time at 22 years of age. That’s 45 years! Based on the above time study, that means that the average employee will, assuming a 5 day work week, spend 107,640 hours working, 125,651 hours sleeping, and 96,725 hours doing essential things like grooming, cleaning, eating, grocery shopping, etc, which leaves just 64,184 hours of leisure (or time with your kids/family) left. Here’s how it breaks down:

Average Employee Time Use

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to work the best hours of the best years of my life for a paycheck, especially when the paycheck is rather weak.

The BLS also publishes median incomes by age. What you’ll see here is that for all that work, the effort does not pay off at the end.

Income Over Age

Graphs like that make me wonder why retirement was ever called the golden years. It looks to me like they’re the tin-foil years at best.

Seeing information like this really just confirms the feeling of hopelessness that most of the working populous feels; the feeling of not being able to get ahead.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be your reality. There are many ways out. The principles to follow that will get you onto the correct path are as simple as asking the question I started this post with in a different manner. Instead of picking our ‘Do’ first, we need to define the lifestyle that we want to have. How much of that leisure/family time do you want? How would you like your income to be at 35? 55? 75? Ask yourself, “What do I want my lifestyle to be like?” The next part is to find someone that has the lifestyle that you’d like. This step is perhaps the hardest, but is worth the effort. The last step is simply to ‘do’ what the person from the previous step coaches you to do. The best thing I’ve found to help people through all three steps is LIFE.

You will most likely find that to get results that are far different than the picture painted above, the coaching you’ll receive will have a foundation in three very important principles of wealth creation:

  1. Delayed Gratification
  2. Long Term Vision
  3. Utilization of the power of compounding

If you follow those principles, find the right mentors and do the work required, you will live a life that most will never experience. You DO NOT have to work for someone else the rest of your life. You DO NOT have to work until you die to make ends meet. Freedom is yours for the taking.

You have the power to define your lifestyle, so start today!

God Bless,

Clint Fix

Are You Sure That You Want to Work for Someone Else?

Trickle Up Economics

Throughout the 2012 election cycle we’re going to see numerous arguments regarding jobs and the economy. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream media falls into a demand-side or Keynesian view of the economy, which history has thoroughly disproven (even before Keynes wrote the General Theory).  Below is a quick article from Peter Schiff, who famously predicted the housing bubble years before it happened, summing up the mainstream beliefs on how the economy works and why those beliefs are wrong. He goes into detail much more in his books, which I recommend.

The political left wing has long tried to cast doubt on the fairness, and even the efficacy, of free market capitalism by branding it as a “trickle down” system.  This epithet is meant to show how the middle and lower classes are dependent on scraps of wealth that happen to fall from the buffet table of the rich. This characterization of an unfair and inefficient system has helped them demonize policies that lower taxes (if they also extend to the wealthy) and reduce regulation on business.

Continue reading “Trickle Up Economics”

Trickle Up Economics

Politicians: Masters of Shifting the Burden

As the 2012 election cycle caries on, the more I’m convinced that no matter who is elected, no fundamental change will take place. The system in which our politicians work will not allow for real change. Ultimately, our elected politicians are a reflection of the society that elected them. Unfortunately, our society is addicted to instant gratification. We are transfixed with real-time statistics, quarterly reports, last month’s unemployment figures, and yesterday’s public opinion polls.

Our society cannot hope to get better from top down policy change because politicians will nearly always seek symptomatic “solutions” instead of fixing the underlying systematic problem. Our politicians are experts at what Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline would call ‘Shifting the Burden.’ Senge captures the current political climate perfectly:

An underlying problem generates symptoms that demand attention. But the underlying problem is difficult for people to address, either because it is obscure or costly to confront. So people “shift the burden” of their problem to other solutions — well-intentioned, easy fixes which seem extremely efficient. Unfortunately, the easier “solutions” only ameliorate the symptoms; they leave the underlying problem unaltered. The underlying problems grows worse, unnoticed because the symptoms apparently clear up, and the system loses whatever abilities it had to solve the underlying problem.

Even worse, many of the symptomatic solutions have a whole host of their own side-effects, or unintended consequences that can be worse than the original problem. We’re seeing this play out very clearly in the economy right now. The public’s almost religious focus on short-term metrics creates a hostile atmosphere for any politician that is calling for any real fundamental changes. Why? Because, fixing the underlying problem is usually very painful in the short-term and would almost certainly cause the politician to lose their re-election to someone that promises an easy, painless ‘fix’. The longer that the underlying causes of the problems goes un-fixed, the harder it will be to fix them. Senge explains with the following example:

If a problem was caused originally by an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, drinking, poor eating habits, lack of exercise), then the only fundamental solution lies in a change in lifestyle. The drugs (the symptomatic solution) make the symptom better, and remove pressure to make difficult personal changes. But they also have side effects that lead to still more health problems, making it even more difficult to develop a healthy lifestyle.

As long as our society is focused on what the government can do for them and because the public has no sense of delayed gratification, our government and politicians will never take the necessary steps to correct the health of our country.  Rather than fixing overspending (the unhealthy lifestyle) by making difficult and painful cuts to entitlements programs like medicare and social security along with  defense nation building (exercise and no more smoking) they would rather just have the Fed print money and inflate its way out of the mess (take drugs); kicking the can down the road for future generations to deal with. As a result, the nation both publicly and privately takes on more and more debt. Eventually, the debt and the interest on the debt will become unmanageable.  The longer we wait to fix the chronic overspending, the harder it will be to fix. This very well done video does a great job highlighting short-term vs long term solutions:

The answer to the problem isn’t some politician. The answer lies in the general public. The solution is a public educated in history, economics, finances, and the ultimate source of our freedom. We need a people who understand personal responsibility; who don’t expect any sort of handout from the government. A people who are devoted to personal mastery. A people who refuse to get drunk and leave the tab for the next generation. It’s time to sober up as a country and deal with our problems head on!

God Bless,

Clint Fix

Politicians: Masters of Shifting the Burden