Give Yourself A Success Advantage

If you ever vote for a winning candidate with the expectation that your candidate would ignore particular groups of people, you may want to change your Us versus Them expectations. You’ll be disappointed if you don’t. Two examples. President Bush ignored a wide variety of people in making his decision to invade Iraq. We all know how that turned out. President Obama ignored homeowners having trouble paying their mortgages and gave money to banks. We all know how that turned out.

The problem with ignoring Them is that the success of any resident in a country is connected to the success of every other resident, or Us with Them. Another two examples.

In Brazil, the government makes small monthly payments (under $100 to a little over $100) to low income families who keep their children in school and get them vaccinated. Pregnant women must get prenatal care. Although the program has been more effective in rural areas (poverty from lack of food and basic services) than in urban areas (poverty from drug addiction, violence, family breakdown and environmental degradation), it has had a recognized effect in reducing poverty. Known as Bolsa Familia*, the program is credited by Funda’ao Getulio Vargas, a university, with one sixth of Brazil’s reduction in poverty. As the poverty level fell, Brazil’s domestic economy improved.

During the 1960s in this country, Newark, New Jersey refused to recognize its connection to its black residents, holding onto a strong Us versus Them attitude. The 1967 race riots led to poverty and a 2009 estimated per capita income of $17,396. Wanting to avoid race riots, Charlotte, North Carolina decided to recognize its Us with Them connection to its black residents. Charlotte became home to several Fortune 500 companies with a 2009 estimated per capita income of $31,270.

I made a documentary about the most successful and longest running renewable energy fair in the world because I wanted to understand its spectacular success. I discovered twenty-six situational, organizational, financial, emotional, and relationship ingredients for spectacular success. Every spectacular success in the world uses most if not all of these ingredients. One ingredient focuses on self. Two ingredients focus on task. Nine ingredients focus on working with others. Fourteen ingredients focus on satisfying others. Spectacular success comes from working with others and satisfying others because We are connected to Them. My definition of spectacular success is:

The unforeseen success other people intentionally create for you
because you intentionally create success for them.

Even wealthy people need to recognize Us with Them and their connection to every other U.S resident. When a human body has broken bones or a disease, the broken bones and the disease affect the ability of the healthy parts of the body to function effectively. Imagine you have a broken little toe or little finger. That small broken bone would limit your ability to function effectively throughout your daily life. Wealthy people may be financially healthy, but the broken and diseased finances around the U.S. affect their ability to function effectively. Income inequality hurts economic growth for all U.S. citizens.

Our success is connected to Their success because They live where We live. An Economist magazine article points this out. Israel is currently considered an economic miracle because it has become a high tech superpower. But all the new high tech miracles are coming from start up companies that employ only 10% of the population. Long term economic success depends on Israel’s ability to take Us with Them strategies to include Arab Israelis and ultra orthodox Jews by hiring them. Those two groups live where the miracle start ups live, and they will increase to one third of the population by 2025.

Towns, cities, counties, states, and countries that use Us with Them strategies will give themselves a success advantage, just like Charlotte, North Carolina did in the 1960s. Towns, cities, counties, states, and countries that use Us versus Them strategies will give themselves a failure disadvantage, just like Newark, New Jersey did in the 1960s.

Use Us versus Them strategies and you will give yourself a failure disadvantage. Use Us with Them strategies and you will give yourself a success advantage.  That much is your choice.

* The first anti-poverty program using conditional cash transfers was Progresa-Oportunidades, created mainly by Santiago Levy, former deputy minister of finance in Mexico. As of this posting, Brazil’s program is the largest program of its kind.



“How to get children out of jobs and into school: The limits of Brazils much admired and emulated anti-poverty programme”
The Economist
July 29, 2010

60 Minutes

December 12, 2010


“Beyond the start-up nation”
Schumpeter blog
The Economist 
January 1st-7th, 2011

Newark, New Jersey and Charlotte, North Carolina

Yeoman, Barry
“A Taste for Tolerance”
AARP Magazine
May/June 2004

Midwest Renewable Energy Fair


Paula M. Kramer
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All rights reserved.

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