Let’s Change the World and have fun doing it!

When I was younger I wanted to change the world, make it a better place and find some way to connect to it through an altruistic based form of artistic expression. As a musical composer and professional dancer I was fortunate enough to tour Europe, South America and the United States. Living and working, sometimes for extended periods of time, with other people and cultures became an essential ingredient to my life. Bridging between these cultures, my own and the country financing our endeavors (Pro Helvetia of Switzerland) was an integral part of everything I did and something I developed into a core strength and asset, which I leverage to this day.

At the time I was often struck by the odd sense of entitlement which was often present in artists, arts organizations and much of civil society. The sense that the work we did should be funded merely, because we believed it was important and an essential ingredient to society. As things would have it the money ceased to flow quite so readily. I was then in my thirties with a wife and three children in tow. Circumstances required that I approach things differently. Fortunately, over the years I had developed computer and electronics skills which had allowed me to supplement our material needs. This became my fulltime occupation. Initially I continued traveling, leveraging my technical abilities and love of the ocean. I supported oceanographic research on worldwide scientific expeditions. Here again, a world dependent on external funding. I found a happy place enabling the science and mediating between groups of international scientists, the American ship’s crew and the sponsoring institutions on shore.

My wife and adolescent children began needing me closer to home so we relocated to Seattle where I made the definitive transition from externally funded work to self-generated business and for 2 years I worked in a small scientific instrument manufacture’s sales department and then later for Microsoft where I have been for almost eleven years. Here again I gravitated to connecting divergent worlds; first as a lead for the company in the development of international standards and then for the past five years working with government policy makers in Africa and the Middle-East, assisting them to understand the social and economic impacts of technology on their societies as well as helping them understand Microsoft’s business practices and the value of the commercial software model. Working with civil society, international organizations as well as bridging efforts with the open source software community fills a large part of what I do today. I am also internally focused on trying to broaden and shift behaviors towards what I believe to be more inclusive approaches and the moderation of extremes in how we live and work.

Pure capitalistic behavior is no longer socially acceptable, nor the best (most successful) way of doing business. Living entirely from the charity of others without showing some form of return or means of self-sustenance is also not fully functional or sustainable. Public private partnerships are becoming more and more common place and the boundaries between government, civil society and private enterprises are fading. We are witnessing a positive trend in growth of hybrid organizations, for-profit non-profits and “social business” (M. Yunus).

I still want to change the world and make it a better place. My personal mission is to contribute to the sustainability of our planet and improve the quality of life for all of its inhabitants. This requires personal empowerment and satisfaction, the ability to work constructively within my immediate group and in turn for my group’s ability to interoperate and positively contribute to and with the global community.

The interconnectedness of today’s world makes acting without some form of socially global awareness virtually unthinkable. Building this social consciousness and working at the points of intersection between our differences, not eradicating them, could lead to unparalleled opportunities for a broad range of people as well as the world in which we live. I continue to focus upon that and my aim to make a positive difference in the world and have fun doing it!