Agents of Change: Knowledge and Power

When I first began my research in the early 1980s, there were a number of exciting books that reflected the degree of the great paradigm shift underway. I’m talking about Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence, John Naisbitt’s Megatrends, and George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty (the best of the three, in my opinion).

Naisbitt didn’t last in the limelight long and Peters kept writing books for a decade before receding. But Gilder kept putting out blockbuster books, like Microcosm and Telecosm. He became the prophet of bubbling tech stocks in the 1990s, with one of the most successful investment newsletters ever. He also consulted to Bain and Company, one of the top three strategic business consulting firms in the world, and my first employer.

From the beginning I could tell this was a rare man of vision. A long-term thinker. And his greatest strength has been a historical perspective on technology and progress with practical applications in technology, business and economics. He is no armchair philosopher, despite his very high intelligence.

When I heard recently that he has a new book out, Knowledge and Power, I bought it immediately. I read it in just two days, was more impressed than ever, and then contacted him…

“Hey George. How about speaking at our Irrational Economics Conference in November?”

He accepted and I’m thrilled! You should be too.

In a time when people spend $1 million at auction to have lunch with Warren Buffet, I would way rather listen to George Gilder speak. (Again, so should you.)

My study of history has taught me two clear things about growth and progress: They are always exponential; they are always cyclical. Gilder is the expert in all things exponential. I’m the best on all things cyclical (and, of course, demographic).

George gets it. He clearly understands that progress only comes from entrepreneurs’ radical innovations and successive paradigm shifts. And he’s one of very few people who fully understand the paradigm shift that has emerged in recent decades and that will shape the future.

You see, many authors today say we’ve seen most of the progress we will see for a long time. That the Industrial Revolution was a fluke. What B.S.

Gilder sees how information technologies will bring continued exponential growth, but through a very different paradigm.

He, more clearly than anyone, shows how government needs to be the more simple, stable container of laws and rules for a more dynamic and complex capitalistic system to flourish. And he agrees that governments are “killing the golden goose” of innovation with excessively complex regulations and artificial stimulus.

He redefines economics in terms of information and network logic. He redefines profits as reinvestment or corporate giving. He redefines information as surprise, which simply means something new that changes things.

He and I totally agree that our progress largely stems from the 1% of true entrepreneurs who create something that didn’t exist before. “Agents of change,” as he calls them.

These are the people that most create information, when you define it as surprise.

The great management sage, Peter Drucker, called them “monomaniacs with a mission.” I call them crazy people that would have ended up in jail if they hadn’t become entrepreneurs (just kidding, sort of).

Gilder also agrees that failure and bankruptcy are a critical part of the entrepreneurial process and the progress it creates… and governments are squashing that with their refusal to take the addict off the crack. He points out that “… we don’t really produce anything. Everything was already here, so all we do is rearrange things… It’s like cooking.”

There’s much more I could say, but I urge you to read Gilder’s book, Knowledge and Power, and come to our conference in November to see this rare genius in person.

I will be in the front row and can’t wait.

See you there.


Harry

P.S. Get a copy of Gilder’s book here.

P.P.S. Our Irrational Economics Summit is in La Jolla, November 6-8. Here’s more information for you if you haven’t already reserved your seat.

 

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About Author

Harry studied economics in college in the ’70s, but found it vague and inconclusive. He became so disillusioned by the state of the profession that he turned his back on it. Instead, he threw himself into the burgeoning New Science of Finance, which married economic research and market research and encompassed identifying and studying demographic trends, business cycles, consumers’ purchasing power and many, many other trends that empowered him to forecast economic and market changes.