Lifestyle and innovation are dramatically driving our regional economy.
Repeat: Our prosperity and productivity are determined by our collective lifestyle preferences as Angelenos and our ability to create new innovations, products, services, jobs and economic growth as a result.
With the advent of search engines, open source software, social media networking and a myriad of other paradigm-altering technologies, our outlook on life, work and society has changed profoundly from 20 years ago. (Of course, we have always been a rather original group, but even our attitudes are shifting with these new tools.) This is particularly, but not exclusively, true for professional Angelenos 40 and younger. Because of our new technologies and changing worldview, we have higher expectations, wanting everything newer and faster than ever before.
This is a good thing. We are advancing innovations at a breathtaking pace, responding to and creating new consumer demand and generating an enormous amount of wealth.
And we are doing so through our unique lifestyle as Angelenos.
Our sunny skies, beautiful beaches, dynamic social scene, active night life, informal attitudes and dress, increasing demands, standout niche markets, affection for (or tolerance of) cars and celebrities, and great cultural attractions like Olvera Street and the Music Center are the reason many of us choose to live, work and play in Los Angeles. (We love being in the middle of all of the action, living the iconic "dream" to which others aspire.) Our climate and attitudes, in turn, enable us to work in and support a diverse range of companies, institutions and industries. Think about it. Where else could you assemble a group of people that have driven a powerful economy that has consistently produced major innovations in all of its top industries television, motion pictures, interactive games, music, fashion, apparel, finance, health, law, aerospace, manufacturing, technology, tourism, petroleum, urban design, and telecommunications. The breadth of our reach is simply astonishing.
But so are our expectations.
Professional and personal
Whether we work in science or engineering, finance or fashion, health or entertainment, higher education or law (and 41 percent of us do), our expectations are very high and getting higher. We increasingly expect to build our professional lives around our preferences: personal development, reasonable and flexible work hours, and time off for volunteer service. We also increasingly prefer our corporate headquarters to be conveniently located near bike trails, coffee shops, book stores and recreational areas so we can think and unwind easily during all hours of the day. In order for us to generate new innovations, products, services and wealth, in other words, we want our jobs, corporate structures and landscapes to be shaped around our preferences, desires and wants our lifestyle.
And nowhere in America is this more true than in Los Angeles. Our weather, diversity, popular culture and breadth of industries embrace, support and promote this attitude and style of economic growth. This helps explain why we have produced (in nonrecession times) a burgeoning $700 billion regional economy, the 17th largest in the world. This is not an accident either. Our long-term financial success is based on factors exclusive to our region and our people that we have brilliantly leveraged to drive our prosperity.
And this reveals three important truths about us.
First, it means that our innovations and prosperity are based disproportionately on our lifestyle.
Second, it means that our economy is not simply consumer driven; it is producer-driven. Our original, L.A.-inspired ideas and innovations are creating new demands for products and services that are fueling economic growth here and throughout the world.
And third, it means our companies should now explicitly expect to design jobs and corporate structures around our lifestyles. Gone are the old industrial days when we were immobile and dependent on our companies even if we did advanced work in an advanced industry. We now live in the 21st century, are extremely talented and mobile, and expect our companies to treat us very well so that we can unleash all of our potential.
This is profound and should not be underestimated. The way we live and the innovations we create are impacting our job descriptions, organizational structures, the products and services we create, and our economic future. At an absolute minimum, we need to start clearly designing goals, strategies, policies, structures and systems to accommodate this striking reality. And we need to get serious about doing it now. Our corporate structures, public policies, transportation systems and urban designs need to be based around the lifestyle we all want and need to be most productive.
After all, if we put the right tools in place for maximum productivity, we will bring even more innovations to our market, create new and better jobs, and generate broadly shared prosperity.
And, in the process, we will create a lifestyle we should all want to live.
Rob Carpenter is a social entrepreneur and writer. He lives in Los Angeles.
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