“What is the gravest crisis facing the American people in the year ahead?”
CBS news asked its panel of “distinguished commentators” that question at the end of 1961.
Most of the answers were predictable, given the era. Most said the Cold War. One said East Berlin would provoke a new military conflict.
Then came Eric Sevareid.
Sevareid was a protege of Edward R. Murrow. He had seen untold global conflict, as the first journalist to cover Paris’s fall to the Nazis.
But Sevareid wasn’t worried about war. He was worried about laziness.
According to CBS:
The idea that leisure was our biggest threat seems absurd fifty years later, when survey after survey shows we feel busier than ever.
About half of Americans say they don’t have the time to do what they want to do, according to Gallup. Three-quarters experience frequent stress. More than half say they are overworked.
But Sevareid was onto something. I think he spotted a problem decades before most people.
Higher productivity has freed up time from the average American’s day. But rather than using that extra time for leisure, or to become even more productive, we’ve used it to become busy.
Busy isn’t the same thing as working hard. Busy is the waste that occurs when you don’t know what to do with the free time that’s fallen into your lap, so you squander it on something unproductive and disappointing.
That’s what Sevareid warned about fifty years ago when he said “those that have the most leisure are the least equipped to make use of it.”
And it’s pretty much what’s happened since.
No matter how busy and overwhelmed people feel today, they have (on average) more leisure time than at any other point in history.
- We work fewer hours at the office. Average hours worked per year declined from more than 2,000 in 1950 to 1,764 by 2014.
The first idea – simple but easy to overlook – is that building wealth has little to do with your income or investment returns, and lots to do with your savings rate. Fortunes can be blown as fast as they’re earned – and often are – while others with modest incomes can build up a fortune over time. Wealth is just the accumulated leftovers after you spend what you take in. And since you can build wealth without a high income but have no chance without a high savings rate, it’s clear which one matters more.
“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a good reminder of what’s been accomplished – and what hasn’t – in the 106 years since the first IWD event.
Ed Thorp was the first person to systematically beat casinos at blackjack. He made piles of money, and wrote a book laying out a formula showing how you could do it too.
We all have different jobs in different companies in different industries. But there’s a common thread among most people’s jobs. They’re in the business of trying to figure out what people want and where the world is heading next.
When I hired Kanyi back in 2011, he was an optimistic, smart, fun-loving, thoughtful person. We immediately hit it off. We both cared deeply about making the world a better place, and that bond proved to be a foundation for an incredible business partnership and friendship.
Abraham Germansky was a multimillionaire real estate developer in 1920s. He also loved stocks, betting heavily as the market boomed. As the crash of 1929 unfolded, he was wiped out.
An amazing thing about life before 1850 is that most people never experienced a world more than a few dozen miles outside of their birthplace.