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This Could Be Our Future

A Manifesto for a More Generous World

By Yancey Strickler
15-minute read
Audio available
This Could Be Our Future by Yancey Strickler

This Could Be Our Future (2019) is a manifesto for a better tomorrow – a future world that isn’t ruled solely by money, but by all forms of value that humanity produces. Former Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler explains how our modern obsession with “financial maximization” has led society astray – bankrupting institutions, stifling innovation, and starving creativity – and what we can do to adjust our course. 

  • Critical capitalists and suspicious socialists 
  • Entrepreneurs and business owners ready to make a difference
  • Anyone who suspects that there is more to life than money

Yancey Strickler is a writer, entrepreneur, and public speaker. He is the cofounder and former CEO of Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. Strickler has given talks at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City; at the Sundance Film Festival; and at MIT. In 2015, he was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. 

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This Could Be Our Future

A Manifesto for a More Generous World

By Yancey Strickler
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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This Could Be Our Future by Yancey Strickler
Synopsis

This Could Be Our Future (2019) is a manifesto for a better tomorrow – a future world that isn’t ruled solely by money, but by all forms of value that humanity produces. Former Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler explains how our modern obsession with “financial maximization” has led society astray – bankrupting institutions, stifling innovation, and starving creativity – and what we can do to adjust our course. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Our lives are governed by invisible ideas, and financial maximization is the biggest one of them.

When Perry Chen, Charles Adler, and the author, Yancey Strickler, first started telling people about their idea, Kickstarter, in 2005, most of the people they told assumed they were crazy. A platform where people give other people money to make art? “That’s not how the world works!” people would say.

And they were sort of right. Back then, the term “crowdfunding” didn’t even exist. But, in 2009, Kickstarter launched anyway. And now, some ten years later, the platform is responsible for bringing to life more than 100,000 new creative ideas – among them Oscar-winning documentaries like Jehane Noujaim’s The Square, and the wildly popular card game Cards Against Humanity.

The key message here is: Our lives are governed by invisible ideas, and financial maximization is the biggest one of them.

Kickstarter proved something about human thought: most of our ideas about how the world works don’t reflect some immutable truth – they are just concepts we’ve invented. But many of these ideas are so deeply embedded in daily life that we cease to recognize them as the made-up concepts they truly are.

The notion that money is the be-all and end-all of human existence is one of these invisible ideas. The author calls this notion “financial maximization.” It’s the idea that, as a business, but also as an individual, nothing but money-making should guide your actions. 

In the 1970s, star economist Milton Friedman became the first public figure to argue that businesses have no responsibility to society other than turning a profit. And companies truly took this to heart. 

Today, the only standard most businesses hold themselves to is how much profit they can make for their shareholders. From mass firings to tax evasion to diminishing service quality, no strategy is off limits – if it’ll generate profit. 

Indeed, for those at the top, all areas of human activity – our movies, our health care, our education, our communities – are nothing but different kinds of investment opportunities. And if it will make them more money, they will buy, sell, and trade those investments with no concern for the people affected. 

Worst of all, we have come to expect this behavior. We emulate it in our private lives without questioning its wider utility. Of course people should do what makes them the most money. That’s just how things work. Or at least so the thinking goes. But that begs the question of whether things really are working.

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