There’s a spectrum of how we can make money.
At one end is the hard and uncertain work of making something from scratch. The work of creativity and uncertainty, treading ground where no-one has been before and leaving faint footprints for others to find you and follow you. The dowside is that it might not work, and if it does, the monetary rewards are uncertain. The upside is that the sense of achievement is profound. It is the work of artists and artisans. Icononoclasts who, if they don’t break the mould, at least crack it a little.
At the other end is standing in the stream of where the money already is. Being a part, small or large, of an income stream established by somebody else. The bigger your role in the organisation, the wetter you get. If you do the work to get entry – the formal qualifications, finding the networks, and reshaping yourself to fit in you can make a good living. The upside is you can make steady income for a while, and perhaps make a lot of it. You might get to be one of the ten percent who does, or maybe even the one percent for whom the monetary rewards are extreme. The downside is that fitting in is increasingly uncomfortable, as is the realisation you haven’t created any of it, just captured it as it passed by. Hitching a ride.
Most of us of course sit somehere in the middle. It is the industrial model, and how we have been told the world works. It has defined our education, and the expectations of our parents and peers. Points win prizes. If we’re fortunate, we find work where we can exercise a modicum of autonomy and creativity, and life is materially comfortable if nor spiritually satisfying.
The industrial model however is dissolving. The flow of money is being channeled by intelligent processes made from silicon rather than people, and it’s happening very quickly. In addition, the “perpetual growth” model is no longer viable, so the effort is being directed to capture the flow of money that already exists (or is being created artificially by central banks).
The future that seems likely to be shaped by this decade will be determined in part by those few who create the systems on the one hand, and by those whose work is the creation of original value on the other.
The spectrum will remain, but the shape of the curve will change. Whatever we do, we will be more prepared if we know how to create something, rather than just service it.