Peter Sheahan is founder and CEO of ChangeLabs™, a global consultancy delivering large-scale behavioral change projects for clients such as Apple and IBM, Peter Sheahan has worked with some of the world’s leading brands in the area of innovation and change.
He joined us to talk about his latest, maybe greatest, book: Making It Happen: Turning Good Ideas into Great Results.
You can listen at this link.
You can read the transcripts here.
Peter knows how to make it happen. So...it made sense for me to ask him how to make it, full employment, happen. I asked him:
We have reached the imagination moment in our show. Your book is about turning ideas into great results. So this next question should be easy for you to answer. Let's imagine President Obama is calling Jessica Krakowski right now as he listens to the show. He wants to set up a meet with you in the Oval Office. The VP will be there. He leaves Jessica with this message:
Peter. Loved your book. Loved hearing your ideas. Would you come to the White House and talk about how to make it happen with our economy? In particular, what are three things we can do right now to make it, that's full employment, happen?
What would you tell him?
And Peter answered as you would expect: clearly, concisely, constructively.
Thanks. That’s a really simple question. There are nobel laureates trying to answer that question successfully, much less me.
Look. I’d have a couple of pieces of advice.
Number one: Pick your battles. What are the areas where you’re going to have the longest impact.
I’m Australian; I don’t get to vote. I’m on neither side of the political spectrum.
But if you look at the history of the US, it’s when they invested in infrastructure for the next 20 years that they had the greatest success. Now. Infrastructure is different depending on your era. When Eisenhower talked about it he was talking about freeways. When it was 20 years ago you were talking about building technology infrastructure and the web.
The big question I would ask is where will the world be in the next 20 years. And let’s make our investments there. It might not get us to full employment by the next election cycle; but that’s the nature of the beast. But it may well leave this country with the foundation we need to be successful.
I travel the world. I work in 25 different countries, a lot them in Asia, a lot of them in Europe. It’s funny to hear the anti-China rhetoric, at the moment. The way to beat China is not to protect us, not to build walls or shut down trade. The way to make sure we dominate the world’s economy is to:
‘Be what’s next.’
Just do the next big thing better than anybody else. We should stop freaking out about the trade issues and things like that and instead just start innovating.
So, that would be my first piece of advice. What’s the infrastructure that’s needed in the next 20 years and let’s invest in that because that will create the innovations that will let us be successful.
Number two: You’ve got to allow the big companies who now have most of their money and most of their training overseas, the big companies don’t make most of their money in America, they make it overseas. End of story.
Let’s stop thinking that the world stops at the Pacific and the Atlantic on either side of the US. And let’s see if we can allow some of these companies to repatriot some of those profits from around the world. Many of these companies are in very heated debates with the government, it’s the IRS really, to bring back large sums of money.
Right now, there’s a trillion dollars in international retained profits right now. Could you imagine if those companies could bring that money back at a much more appropriate tax rate when compared to the rest of the world.
I think they could create jobs, make bigger investments locally in the American economy. All this talk about middle-class tax rates and rich tax rates, the big money is in the big end of town.
That would be my two bits of advice. I don’t know what my third one is.
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Some may say this is inappropriate.
This is politics! And you never discuss politics at Thanksgiving Dinners, backyard barbecues and on a business radio show.
I disagree. As long as only politicians can discuss solutions for our country then those solutions and their interested audiences will remain off-limits, political, for those who make this brand, our country, run. And only politicians, these days that's only career politicians, can discuss those ideas and spoon-feed solutions to the public.
I see our times as an all hands-on-deck opportunity and not a crisis. That opportunity is for each of us to lend our hands, our conversations, our ideas to find and share solutions. In our absence those challenges are left to ideologues, vested interests and politicians of all stripes and partisan persuasion.
We...are the only ones with vested interests. And now we have, with social media and the urgency of today, the opportunity to reclaim our place at this table and discuss our ideas to solve our challenges. At the very least, we can listen to a discussion until we are ready to speak up.