Feed Our Need for Control

Americans are shaken, some of us to the core. We thought we were rich, and now we’re poor. We thought the future was ours, and now we wonder, for the first time in decades. We thought our lives were capable and in control, the operational equivalent of a competent system, and now the foundation of our identity is under attack.

We are changed people in the marketplace for goods and services, and not just because we have less discretionary income and less “consumer confidence” to upgrade the washing machine. We define value differently now, and the companies that understand that difference will prevail in this environment.

We’re still getting over the shocks to our individual economics, but I believe we’re ready for the reaction to the action, ready to be coaxed out of the fetal position with news of our autonomy. We’re ready to be reminded that we are in charge of what happens now.

The shift is a clear opportunity for firms that are already in the business of control. Financial control is the natural starting place – financial services are well positioned to compete on consumer empowerment – but it doesn’t end there. Any product or service that helps us design our own destiny can have a new conversation with customers. That includes healthcare and fitness (control over body), education and training (control over mind), travel and entertainment (control over spirit). The more interesting opportunities will appear in the less obvious industries.

I spent a bit of time with Walt Whitman over the weekend. His defiance fed my own hunger to shed the anxiety – and reminded me of the genius and passion that built this country. I’m convinced that Americans are ready to be large again, to sing songs of ourselves for the next chapter of our experiment in self-determination. We will come together where we have always come together, in the marketplace, and we will disproportionately reward anyone who helps us compose that song together.

2 Responses to Feed Our Need for Control

  1. Hi Anne – “we define value differently now”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that expressed (in many different ways) over the past few weeks. I hear the word “trust” more often too. I too believe that those companies that successfully adjust to this new reality will not only survive, but thrive. That’s what my company is going to do – if I can help it. 🙂



  2. Anne Morriss says:

    Thanks for all of your great comments, Terry. I agree that trust is also a big part of this moment, particularly in an environment where so many people feel betrayed by institutions. Distrust has started to fray our social and economic bonds to each other, and any organization (or individual) that can strengthen and repair those bonds will thrive, yes, and help to build new kinds of communities along the way. As uncertain and angst-filled as it all feels, I really believe there’s incredible opportunity for impact right now.

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