29 Dec '11
First of all, I’d like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on the Christmas and New Year holiday season to all the readers of Marchmont.
This is a time that brings us together as family, as friends, and as colleagues sharing common values. This is a time for me to see my children smiling at special Christmas presentations with the trees and Father Christmas. This is a time to really reflect on the importance of family and values, and all of the things that create the binding glue of our society.
In light of this reflection many of my thoughts over the past couple of months have been on the future of this country, on what brought me here in the beginning, and why I’ve chosen to keep my family here.
I’m an American and was born in the United States, I lived there almost thirty years before coming to Russia; but I’ve now lived here for almost twenty years, so I feel myself to be a person in between multiple cultures.
I feel the future of this country lies in the hands of the young people: professionals, innovators, designers—the creative people who make things from their own brain. This is what society is all about. Market economies and democracies are simply cultural and legal structures that we have created for ourselves to help devise the system in which we can live and maximize the value of our contribution to society, and the value of what we get in return.
Russia’s young generation is waking up and beginning to think how they can contribute to society and what they want in exchange for that contribution. A person doesn’t give only for the sake of giving. There are saints in history, but most people give in order to improve their own lives and the life of their family. The question is: where does one choose to live to maximize return for his contribution?
If you give nothing, you get nothing back; if you give a little, you get a little back; but if you give a lot, you must get a lot back. People choose where they live based on what they can accomplish and what they can get back for that.
Russia today is at a crossroads. The value of wealth generation of this country comes down to the most important creative sources. Not the wealth lying in the ground; not timber. These are things that Russia has been blessed with by God, and there’s nothing wrong in that, but that’s not the way to maximize value creation. In the 21st century, what maximizes value creation is creativity.
People around us create something new, whether it’s technology, whether it’s design, whether it’s clothing, whether it’s art, whether it’s food—it doesn’t matter. Creative ingenuity is the most important commodity that we have.
I personally believe Russia has a huge wealth of creative talent, and this is what motivates me to stay here because I want to live inside this creative society and I want my children to grow up in this creative society. But the people who lead the creativity must also have the greatest level of freedom, which allows them to maximize the return for what they bring into society.
What type of society do we create? Do we create a top-down structure that maximizes value creation from the external sale of raw commodities, or do we create demand for society that maximizes the value return for people who contribute their intelligence to creating new things?
I can see that young people are going out; they are demanding their freedom, demanding their right to contribute and enjoy the fruits of that contribution. All of the upheaval that we’ve seen in the last few weeks is only going to result in one thing: that through modernization Russia will grow into a society where initiatives come from the bottom up. This is the only type of system that young creative people will ultimately accept.
All the thought now going on about our society, our family, our children, our friends, our future—it’s all about developing Russia’s place in the world. Russia has a fantastic opportunity in the 21st century to be a leader in this creative process, and this is why I’m here. Through all the turmoil of the last twenty years I’ve remained optimistic. It is enthusiasm that drives me forward every day and that’s what should drive all of us forward to change our society for the better.
I wish everyone the most happy holiday time, whatever your religion!