The week before I moved to Barcelona a friend of mine recommended a book she thought I’d find very interesting. Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and aside from my superficial judgement regarding the author feeling the need to add his middle initial to the cover, I found the concept interesting indeed.
The book is essentially the detailing of how through technology, and certain economic drivers, industrial globalization is not only changing the way we work; but how we live, how we interact, and how we evolve as a planet.
Download the free E-book here. See, reading this blog DOES have its perks.
I purchased The World is Flat in early September, and finally managed to dive into it as of this morning… while in a Starbucks. I’ve unfortunately had little time to do any pleasure reading, mainly because I tend to work late calling all around the globe drumming up new business for this new job. So basically, I’ve postponed reading a book on globalization because I’m too tired from living it contents. The irony is deafening.
The concept of the flattening of our world comes from the author’s perspective of the global levelling of economic playing fields, particularly throughout India and China. According to Friedman, Indian call centers like 24/7 are receiving upwards of 700 resumes a day (with only 6 percent of applicants being hired), and that’s from a 2004 study. Some associates are working for $200- $500/month for companies like Microsoft, Delta Airlines, and America Online to name a small few. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of more companies filling the buildings and bank accounts of Indians riding on the waves of the global outsourcing trend.
With Indian business schools churning out “89,000 MBA grads a year”, their talent pool is more than impressive. Not to mention that since it appears the Indian’s haven’t yet adopted the Western Gen-X’s motto of “What’s in it for me?” These MBA grads are willing to work just as hard for a fraction of what our North American yuppies are holding out for.
I’m consciously aware that the concept of globalization may resonate more within me due to my current circumstances. Let me detail a typical day to illustrate my point. I awake in a 3 bedroom apartment with a Mexican man who speaks 4 languages and a British ex-pat who was born in Venezuela and currently is in Cleveland opening new offices for his company, which is based in Slovakia.
Then I go to work…
My daily tasks are done via a computer and VoIP phone network based in Bratislava, while my clients are anywhere from California to Germany to Mumbai. For a short while last month, across from me sat the Sales Director from our Dubai office. He discussed new strategies with us regarding the Middle East and still continued to run his home office from his laptop and 3 phone lines. The talent in our office speaks enough languages combined to successfully run a small portion of the United Nations. Each interaction can turn into a lesson in international relations at any moment.
My evenings are either spent struggling desperately in Spanish class, at home downloading American TV shows or chatting online with friends and family around the world on Skype (an online program which allows users to chat across the globe through the internet for free). Globalization has me wrapped around its little finger.
The world is surely changing, and this can be unsettling unless you’re willing to learn to accept and adapt. We’re all afraid of change -myself certainly included-because it’s different, it’s unknown. It’s the boogieman, the black flog of the future, where you never know what minor aspect could hiccup a blue sky life into chaos. Yet on the flipside, it’s important to seek out new opportunities to where you may fit into this new world. We only live one life, so I think it’s important to experience the changes within the lifetime we have.
In past generations only a small amount of people had the opportunity to participate in their own revolutions. Others were completely disenfranchised from the process and left to feel the effects of the few visionaries with the power and ability to affect change.
I’m not suggesting you need to go out and start your own Brokerage house in Bangalore, or start a phone sex from China, but the fact is that we’re in the midst of one of the most innovative times in the history of our planet. And personally, I think that’s pretty cool. Its always better to try and ride the wave of change opposed to looking up too late and have it bowl you over. In my first read of The World is Flat I’m reminded of something that was said to me by a friend of mine’s 91 year old aunt while I was in Sicily a few years ago.
“Tutto il mondo e soltanto una piccola citta” The whole world is just a small city”
If an old lady living in a city that even McDonald’s wouldn’t touch can figure this out, I think the rest of us also have a pretty good chance.