Prosperity Requires Collaboration

By January 11, 2012General

What would you say to President Obama as he prepares his State of the Nation speech for January 24th?  I imagined what I’d like to contribute…

Dear President Obama,

Our communities are more connected than ever.  According to the New York Times, Facebook members have a 4.74 degree of separation.  The “Three Degrees of Influence Rule” (research published in the book, “Connections”) shows that you have influence over your friends’ friends’ friends.  No joke.  If your business is doing well, there’s a higher likelihood that businesses on the outer ring (three degrees away from you) are doing well too.  And so are their families, neighbors, and communities.

We pull each other up – or down.

As a United States resident, you currently contribute roughly one-third of everything you earn in your partnership with the United States government for the privilege of living here and enjoying our freedoms. Our freedoms are maintained through the collaboration of those who live here. We need to come together around three things:

  1. Expectations.  Whatever we expect to have happen, generally does.  People have lost faith in Washington.  We don’t expect clear answers any more.  We don’t expect progress any more.  We don’t expect EXCELLENCE because we no longer think it’s an option.

    Excellence is not an option, it’s a NECESSITY and something we all need to live up to.

  2. Engagement.  No man, woman or business can afford to wait and see what happens – to let someone in Washington figure out what’s best for our country without the context of your perspective.  We have a call to arms right now in this country to get involved.  We must share our needs, our priorities, our ideas, and our participation to make a difference.  Only by being a part of the conversation can you ensure that your voice is heard.

    Participation isn’t just a right.  Participation is mandatory for success.

  3. Emotions.  Human beings continually explore, discover, innovate, and refine in an attempt to improve the status quo.  Change is often uncomfortable and unavoidable – and it is always necessary for our survival.  We are masters of change and we recognize that emotions run high during times of extreme change.  We need to accept the emotional struggles that are very real and very painful and then move through them.

    Consider “The 10/80/10 Rule” mentioned in the book, “The Survivor’s Club,”:

    In any crisis, roughly 10% of people are leaders: they have a vision, create a plan and take action.  Leaders continually look for other leaders in order to discover the latest strategies, best practices, tools and resources.

    Approximately 80% of people are followers: they are looking for leaders to follow. (That means that 90% of people with a similar problem are looking to you for answers!  This is an unprecedented opportunity for leadership!)

    The remaining 10% of people are so overwhelmed and so caught up in their emotions that they are in a state of pure panic.  They will not survive because they literally cannot see the help that is available to them.

    We are very fortunate that the United States is a nation of leaders. In low moments, remind yourself that you are not alone.  That help is at hand.  That we care about each other.  That every person in our country is just 4.74 degrees away.  When any one person experiences progress, it pulls the rest of us a little higher too.

Currently, roughly one-third of what you earn is given to the government through Federal taxes and sales taxes (assuming 28% Federal; 7.5% sales tax).  That means that you are in partnership with Washington and you should expect a lot for your money, engage in the discussion and vote, and acknowledge and celebrate the wins of engagement.  The more people participate and promote whatever they believe in, the better off we all are because it encourages education and dialogue around complex issues that require collaboration.

Standing up, sharing your voice, contributing your ideas, and making an effort to serve always makes a difference and inspires others to do the same.

While I don’t always agree with your approach, I deeply appreciate your efforts to lead our country.  It’s not an easy job.

Thank you.


Elaine Starling

About Elaine Starling

Elaine Starling is the author of “Why 5% Succeed: The 5 Principles of Predictable Profit” and the host of the “Why 5% Succeed” show and podcast. Elaine is an acknowledged thought leader and marketing master, generating over $100 million for her clients by creating innovative programs that increase participation, process improvement, positioning and profit. Elaine serves on the Board of Directors for Women Impacting Public Policy, a bi-partisan organization representing 70 professional women’s organizations and over 8.3 million women business owners. Elaine also serves on the Advisory Board for Enterprising Women, an organization supporting women entrepreneurs around the world.


  • Margaret Maxfield says:

    Good thinking! I hope it will bear fruit. Reader

  • I find your broad approach to this issue interesting. Here are some of my thoughts.

    I agree that people have lost faith in the politicians in Washington. Politicians are being bought by special interest groups. Now that the courts have given corporations the same rights as people, we, the citizens, have even fewer rights than before. I don’t think we are being listened to and that holds for both political parties. Corporations have a great deal of money compared individuals and money is buying votes.

    Here are some examples of how people are getting more involved. -One of the worst things to happened during the Bush administration was the Hilliburton loop-hole. This exempted gas companies from federal regulations. No other industry is exempt. More people are getting involved now that it has been found that fracking is causing people to get sick, water is being used in great quantities as well as being contaminated and destroyed.
    -Look at how many people have been involved with the Occupy Wall Street marches and sit-ins.
    -There is a movement happening to amend the proposed 28th amendment to the constitution. The group is saying that corporations are NOT people and money is NOT speech. At least 100 cities are participating in an Occupy the Courts on January 20th.

    All of this engagement is great. New people are getting involved and others are reigniting their passion. When people get engaged, they feel like they have more power. People do not feel as helpless and there is more collaboration. I agree with you that collaboration is good and I’d like to see more of it.

    • Corporate influence over our lives is pervasive. If you had a gathering of every advocacy group or organization up to improving lives in the world, I’d wager nearly all of them exist to counter the impact of some corporation’s bad behavior.

    • Gayle, Your points are well made. Our country isn’t perfect – it’s a collaboration of multiple perspectives all striving to excel. It’s important to be involved in the discussion to ensure your perspective is considered and addressed. Thanks for sharing your comments!

  • I’m seeing evidence of those elements throughout my community. Neighborhoods are self organizing and collaborating with city officials. Educators are working with businesses. Our universities are working with our elementary schools. There are wonderful examples like this showing up in communities everywhere. We won’t know that unless we share those successes with each other.

    • Gurumantra, I know how deeply engaged you are in your community of Riverside, California. You’re making a HUGE difference through active participation and helping to bring your community together. When we realize that no one is deliberately “evil,” merely misguided, it’s much easier to offer a fresh perspective in a supportive manner. Thanks for contributing to a collaborative solution with community officials.

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