Local Common Wealth
A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats
White Paper: The History and Future of Business Networking
Doug Casey, renowned investor, recently stated that “business networking” is his secret to success. It is no surprise that business networking is on the rise. But with no leader to take charge of the growing trend in business networking, the market is now ripe for a powerful vision that gets us back to a thriving culture. This paper will explain that vision. First, a little history on business networking is needed.
The best achievements in human history stem from business owners organizing to build something together. From the Charter of Liberties to the Magna Carta and from the Iroquois Confederacy to the Declaration of Independence, all resulted when professional leaders organized together not just to support each others’ needs, but for something bigger, something for the community. This is how influential business networking has played a roll in human history.
The first business networking organization in the United States was the Junto group. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the Junto group met every Friday night to discuss morals, politics, and natural philosophy (science). They also created the first library and helped to improve citizens by the use of their institutions. Business networking organizations have never matched this first original model. Like the Great Pyramid, the blueprints of its original design were lost to the rise of service organizations, chambers of commerce, and for-profit networking models, all of which no longer come together to talk about real ideas or build wealth in common.
For instance, in 1905 business owners in Chicago rotated from office to office to conduct networking meetings. This formed into Rotary. Within 20 years Rotary changed to a service organization and adopted the motto “service above self.” Rotary now has 1.2 million members in over 200 countries. In 1915 Kiwanis formed in Detroit as a business networking organization and many years later changed to a service organization with a motto, “serving children of the world.” It now has over 702,000 members. In 1917 Lions formed first as a business networking organization called The Business Circle and then latter changed into a pure service organization with a motto “we serve.” They now have 1.4 million members.
These organizations once attracted many but they are now struggling to retain their numbers. Why? They no longer network to build wealth or talk about ideas. They once focused on building wealth in their businesses, which naturally converted into wealth in the community. Now they give service only, and often to those in foreign countries. When it comes to real impact for the most good, we have lost site of the conservation of value in our local markets and the abundance of open discourse. Let’s explain this before we continue with the history of business networking.
The widespread shift to more local solutions and more local voice is not just a trend but now becoming a huge global movement. Just look at Brexit in the UK, the rise of nationalism in the United States, the growth of alternative health, decentralized technologies on blockchains, and even many countries are choosing to remain independent from globalist intrusion. In fact, with the recent disruption of Hashgraph, the first generation of distributed consensus algorithms are showing a proof of concept of what’s possible. The next generation of decentralized consensus algorithms will enable a new renaissance of applications, each with a constitution and managed by consensual democracies and not dictatorships.
These are the effects of people wanting to retain consensus within their own countries and inside their own cultures. We can call this new trend cultural libertarianism, people organizing under their united consent in headless and decentralized ways. The movement is a direct assault on elitism and central control. The service organizations above have become top-heavy administrative bodies and they suffer from a lack of local consent and wealth kept locally to grow into more wealth. They are not bad organizations; they are just not growing. They are being replaced, and not necessarily by something better. This has serious consequences because we are losing what defines a thriving culture.
Consider chambers of commerce. Just about every city or county has a chamber of commerce, and yet chambers are losing members, all because they put real business networking aside in favor of luncheons, lectures and costly administrative overhead. They are exclusiivity zones and not real networking organizations. They may organize for fun but nothing more. The chamber model is susceptible to a hierarchy of political power that does not maintain the conservation of wealth in individual businesses and in communities. They are more prone to exclusivity connections than building a thriving culture. If there is one reason why local culture is less connected and living under more scarcity, it’s because of how we organize locally. Today we organize into political bodies of central power without concern for including a wider involved consent. We will explain what is coming in the future, but first the history continues.
Today we now have BNI, which is a franchise business networking organization with over 200,000 members. In the St George area of Utah, there are seven BNI chapters sending over $145,000 to a franchisee who lives outside the state. We also have for-profit CEO/Leadership services that offer retreats and weekend networking at huge costs, namely the cost of a sustained and thriving culture. Both of these models rely on pusing scarcity and they pull vital wealth and autonomy from the community. They are either based on passing referrals or passing phone numbers, and that’s it.
When compared to the first Junto Group, we don’t build anything together anymore. We don’t build history, wealth or more voice in common anymore. And we do not really support each other. Any new vision that surfaces becomes a marginalized concept. Networking for referrals is a little better in building wealth in businesses, but networking just for referrals is not building anything together, and buidling something together has proven to create far deeper and lasting relationships. Networking today thrives on the scarcity of member seat value (exclusivity) and disregards the conservation of value in the organization at large, which is true abundance (a thriving culture). In other words, we are not building wealth in common or anything in common. Like the first Junto group that built libraries and post offices and more wealth as a community, the true potential of a business network as a rising tide that lifts all ships has been lost.
Every time we organize into scarcity organizations fueled by insecurity of power, we lose site of the real community potential. For example, the purpose of business networking is to build wealth first in individual member businesses, and second to build wealth in the organization itself. Wealth allows us to accomplish greater things, like solving for real health care issues locally, real affordable housing, real in-house training and improved education and the countless benefits and discounts on services throughout the community. The problem is we never conserve real value in a closed system because we have given up our voice. Instead, our wealth is syphoned off to an outside franchisee or it is partitioned into administrative costs. The long forgotten idea of a “common wealth” has been lost, a kind of wealth managed by the consent of all involved, and at not cost. Many may be asking, “what is a closed system?”
Imagine a balloon within a balloon. This is an example of a closed system. A larger balloon protects the helium within the smaller balloon. A community that protects value within its own system is a vibrant culture. It is the most powerful form of decentralization there is, autonomous unity. The effect is more abundance and less scarcity. If a community is not abundant, businesses suffer and devolve into a survival of the fittest attitude. Culture suffers. However, when small businesses begin to see how abundant their combined effort is, they will organize to stop the leaks from happening. In Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) saves a town from collapse by making a huge sacrifice to keep the Bailey Savings and Loan open. He essentially stops a leak from happening, a leak that would have sold off the wealth in the community to Mr. Potter, the local banker and slumlord.
The above example is not sentimentalism; it is real principle that should be at the base of business networking, the good we do for each other and the culture of support we offer each other, they both should be conserved in the community. This is what we once called a thriving culture.
After 100 years, the organizations above have no community wealth to show for all their effort because they have forgotten the higher principle, which is to conserve wealth for the benefit of all in their community. This is why Rotary, Kiwanis, and chambers are losing members in some areas and becoming overly disengaged from their real potential. They are not building a thriving culture, a community that bonds people to each other in powerful and lasting ways.
Local Common Wealth is different. Each chapter is comprised of up to six networking groups and up to 350 members in total. It is decentralized and runs by common consent (like a micro republic). Common Wealth chapters have no political hierarchy to centralize wealth or power to itself, which leads to administrative corruption and bloated costs. Essentially, Local Common Wealth chapters are headless and they opperate by common consent. Their motto is simple. “A rising tide lifts all ships.”
Local Common Wealth groups meet every week to discuss relevant issues in business and community. They pass referrals and they pitch each other’s businesses. They do not allow members to sell or pitch/hawk their own businesses. They do that for each other.
The first Local Common Wealth chapter, The Dixie Business Network, started meeting twice monthly. This chapter is an independent 501c3 organization. Other chapters can organize as a cooperative or a regular for-profit enterprise. It is entirely up to each chapter. The only difference is they conduct business in the spirit of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table—there is no head. In 2016 their first networking group passed over $160,000 in referrals with just a few members. In 2017 they passed just under $1,000,000 in business referrals. They have electricians, plumbers, contractors, insurance agents, nutritionists and more. The majority of their member fees stay local. They have no administrative costs and a small fee that leaves the community is strictly for building and maintaining a shared technology, and this is where it gets really exciting. Please read our white paper on Decentralized Consensus Algorithms to see what is coming.
Essentially, the more we conserve voice and wealth within the networking community, like in the first Junto group, the more wealth in common we create in local cultures, and this is a good thing. It is not healthy to operate at zero year after year. It does not sponsor hope and it certainly can never become something more. It is like having a business that runs at a loss every year with no profit, it’s not sustainable. And when an organization is not financially sustainable, it can never be a thriving culture.
Now, imagine having a successful Local Common Wealth chapter growing in your community?
History is not what has happened. History is what we make together. The history of business networking has only just begun. We just need to admit that doing something to build community and wealth in common is the best approach for the future. A renaissance is coming and we are the rising tide that will lift all boats.
For additional information on building a thriving culture, please see our partner site, www.visionimpactleadership.com.