“If I could cha-a-a-a-nge the world…” chants Eric Clapton. Sometimes I wonder if he or another singer of his stature recognizes how much they may actually havechanged the world. Then again, I believe we all have it in us to impact the world if we set our sights on big visions and work to see them come true. The outcomes never look the same in the end as the dreams did in the beginning, but sometimes it’s amazing to see how the change we set out to make can actually become reality – if we just plan, work and stay faithful.
This year, I’ve taken five areas I am passionate about and decided to share and to concentrate on their success – with my time, energy and by sharing the vision with others. Here’s a thumbnail of what this looks like from my vantage point:
1. Not Too Small to Succeed
Whatever the hopes and challenges were for small business before 2008, the world is a different place today. Younger professionals have little or no guarantees of employment, no matter how good their credentials, and it has become more attractive to employers to hire someone who has experience with multiple companies in a shorter period of time than with one employer over a longer period of time.
Parallel to the employment environment stand regulatory and financial considerations for small businesses, and perhaps more importantly, people’s motivations around work and business have shifted dramatically over the past ten to twenty years.
Funding option from private lending to crowdfunding and seller financing of existing companies have become common. These serve as an inducement to the independent business owner to persevere in pursuing their own business dreams. In 2015, I’m working to help fund 12 startups in Indiana, chosen for a combination of the potential for success, the accretive value of their services and products, and the intangible passion of their founders.
2. Not Too Big to be Accountable
At the other end of the spectrum lies the multinational behemoth, roaming about to devour the unsuspecting consumer or small business owner. For the most part to me, this means the mega banks that dominate credit markets, home and business lending.
As long as the upper tiers of management in these conglomerates can appease the federal and international regulators, they have been basically free to do as they please. But these entities are no more fail safe than the oil markets.
Andrew Sorkin’s theme of “Not to Big to Fail” was directed at how our federal government would do anything to keep them from going under – in fear of economic collapse. Today, not only is economic collapse a highly remote possibility, with the rise of the small, self-sufficient entrepreneur, but the misdeeds of the largest players in the marketplace have made them both more unpopular and less necessary.
But there needs to be some real accounting for the harm that has been caused. If an enterprise is so large that it makes all the rules, and yet feels no compulsion to follow their own rules, the scales of justice need to be balanced in a way that the people who do business with them can actually carry out the business they intended in the first place. Many borrowers have been effectively denied this opportunity.
In 2015, my law firm intends to challenge four of the biggest offenders on their own turf at their own game. Whether this effort matures into a burgeoning class action effort remains to be seen, but we will be pro-active in the cause regardless of where it ultimately leads.
3. Family Matters
This theme is built on the obvious. But the goals and the work behind it engage the not so obvious. For at least twenty years now, as if we didn’t already know, we have had political and popular leaders telling us how important fathers are to families. Nonetheless, during that same twenty years, illegitimacy, fatherhood alienation, and childhood poverty have continued to increase, and in the case of illegitimacy – increasing at staggering rates.
Like every other problem we face, however, whatever the present outlook, there is cause to hope, and there are means to help make things better. While there is much more illegitimacy, there are also many more young people choose to remain childless for longer periods of their lives. I’m not suggesting this is an ultimate solution. But the thoughtfulness of the young person who would prioritize her work life over family until she is ready to raise in a family in a marriage environment will ultimately help improve the situation tremendously.
Even where the problems already exist, there is hope for a brighter future. Efforts in the judicial system and among the family law bar to advance corroborative solutions and automate shared custody are just now beginning to yield results we can see – lowering dropout rates, higher compliance with child support orders, etc.
My firm will continue and extend our work in the area of reducing conflict in custody matters in 2015, and we have plans to host a first conference on Family Law Reform some time this year.
4. Place Matters
Alongside the movement to “fight for small”, comes the influence of groups who are pushing to support all things local. It is truly a wonderful movement that has reason to be embraced by people on all ends of the political spectrum.
Our firm’s home in Indianapolis is the core of place for me. We can have an impact right from where we are. But just because we live or work in one place, by no means does this mean we cannot have an impact around the entire world. Internet technology is such that it is just as possible for the next reader of this post to live in New Zealand as it is to live next door.
That said, continuing to make the precise place we call home a better place is a vital priority. In 2015, we are committed to helping the community surrounding us. Local artists, restaurants, other businesses, neighbors, the homeless population, they are all part of the place where we live.
5. Practicing Hospitality
This is somewhat an extension of #4, but I want it to be an extension of 1,2, and 3 as well. Hosting a conference, networking opportunities and other events, including home concerts, events for artists, etc., are all part of the plan.
Another year is on its way in, whether or not we are ready! Big plans beget big opportunities and greater success. The joy and fun in doing it is often in doing those things you deeply believe in. That is our focus for 2015.
We wish you the best in yours and would love to partner with you in any way we can add to what you are doing!