Greed, Wall Street, Diversity and Risk

How many times have you noticed that your own finances have little to do with fast talking wily schemes and rhetoric pumped out by those who control Wall Street’s purse strings?

Yet, who would risk change to a financial system that serves so much greed to so-called winners and even to hordes of hopefuls? It’s not easy and it takes skill to make a difference on the other side of greed.

Even closer to home – you may vow to do something about the greed that controls a few near you. But somewhere between the need to pay demanding bills and other pressures that mount daily at work, your resolve dissipates and you accept silence as a way to cope with flawed financial systems.

Interestingly, the cognitive sciences are shedding light on the brain at work, to show how successful approaches are rejuvenated in those who take risks for change. Because of the brain’s amazing plasticity, which contains capability to develop risk tactics, people from all backgrounds, education and beliefs, can jumpstart change.

The first risk I see here? Mine for differences in your circles by engaging multiple intelligences to solve everyday problem. How so? Robyn McMaster lays out a few fascinating ways to risk sidestepping greed in a few – by engaging gifts from many. Daily I observe Robyn take risks to draw leadership skills from those who differ. Have you seen it happen?

The second risk comes from debunking myths about intelligence, diversity as a deficit model, and about placing finances at the center of community formation. Develop  keen skills across wider groups, races, gender and age, so that all lead, speak and feel heard on financial matters at every level. Create alliances that pull thoughtful people together from every population group. Yet expect greed to crop up from each group like weeds in a fine country garden, when it comes to financial power and control racing for greedy grabs.

Greed is a learned behavior and creates systems as flawed as our lack of inclusion across race, gender and backgrounds. Yet greed and diversity issues differ significantly. Recent research shows, for instance,  that bias and predjudice are hardwired into the human brain. Its opposite, inclusion, is also wired daily by those who practice it by learning and leading with people who differ. According to Science Daily, prejudice and bias problems wire into some brains more than in others, for instance. We know that the brain shapes and wires itself daily based on what we do, and speak, and think.

These are just a few thoughts, tossed together to answer  a question asked by a good friend, and highly respected leader, Jim Walton. Jim asked: Do you think if Wall Street had more diversity in their ranks, that greed would have been less?

Solutions with the brain in mind, seem to be far less related to blame, or even regret, and far more related to risk-takers – from all population groups.  Greed come from any who’ve wired their brain for more money at all costs. Research from the brain shows it to be as toxic in hopefuls who have little, as it is in bullies who stash billions.

Do you wire for the kind of  risk that includes all to add finances that benefit all?

16 Comments

  1. Hi Ellen, it seems with money, even scriptures say that you can’t serve both god and money, since one or the other becomes the driving force in your life. Some of the capitalists on wall street were captured by “insatiable greed,” and I’m not sure they want to change.

    While money should not drive us, we all need it… So you make a very reasonable suggestion for all cultures to join in and unravel this mess at Wall Street, not just a few at the top who have power.

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Don’t fear the pauses!

  2. eweber says:

    You said it far better than me, Robyn. It will take many, from diverse pools to risk change for all! We’ll encounter greed there and in ourselves, because we’ve wired for it. But in leaders like you and Jim, we also see exciting possibilities!! Count me in when the roundtable forms!

  3. JD says:

    Hi Ellen, very profound thoughts and thanks for providing compelling insights. I asked my question because often times many companies suffer from the school of same; same race, same color, same gender, same politics, some views and same ethics. Do you think, perhaps a born again Christian would have asked, “What would Jesus do?” Do you think a Hindo would have asked, Is this right? How about a Senior citizen? A Black American that was told as a child, you can’t get away with the things the white guys can.
    Your commitment toward stimulating debate on this( topic and this life lesson, learned during the times of 29, but since forgotten,) is noteworthy.

    JDs last blog post..How to react to a layoff.

  4. eweber says:

    Jim, I am compelled by the way you draw the angles together from so many sides. Like you – I see a rich model when we diversify, and dire poverty when we fail to. Brain based research supports your insights again and again.

    During the creation of MITA Brain Based model I lived among MANY different cultures — and in extended stays all over the world. Why so? Because it is the inclusion of many people groups that adds validity and integrity to the great issues of life and leadership.

    It seems to me to be tied up in words that you model so well Jim – again and again. These words? COME LET US REASON TOGETHER.

    To do this we must learn the skills of interaction and of drawing brilliance from many! Nuff said — Jim – let’s keep thinking about how this idea (of drawing deeply from many to ensure diversity at the helm) rolls out to inspire more leaders, ok?

    You inspire us all!

  5. JD says:

    Ellen, you are too kind in your comments but I do agree we can learn much from our differences, even though this is a nation of Christians, if someone is too outspoken about their love os Jesus,they would be outcasted, Thanks again for adressing the issue

  6. I think the main problem with Wall Street is people are rewarded for short-term gains even if that means the company will suffer in the long term. If part of the compensation were awarded after 5 or 10 years, based on the average gains over that time, then things would change drastically.

    I married my husband partly because he enjoyed working, had a good sense of humor and wasn’t interested in status or earning big bucks. My main concern is to spend my time doing what I loved, so I’ve always been a bit of a saver so I could keep my options open.

    Also, I learned a great lesson about myself when I was a kid. My sister and I took tap dancing lessons, and from time to time we would have to participate in recitals. Once after a recital in December we could all go through a line and pick out a toy from the great assortment they had out for us. My sister and I chose very carefully and each decided to get a ball. After we were through the line we saw kids carrying their hordes of stuff. It turns out we could have had anything we wanted… we hadn’t been restricted to one thing. We felt a bit foolish but decided we didn’t really want to be able to go back and get more stuff, we just wished the rules had been the way we thought they were. Clearly one ball was more meaningful than a pile of stuff.
    My grandmother was upset because she had already bought us a ball for Christmas. We didn’t want her to be upset, so we promised to enjoy that one too. Now which of all those kids were the richest?

    Jean Browman–Cheerful Monks last blog post..Is This Really The Best Use of My Time?

  7. eweber says:

    Jean, thanks for stopping by! What an interesting look at the short term – long-term syndrome. I’d not thought of it that way – but it sure makes sense.

    What an amazing story – it makes this site rich as well as you and your sister.

    We live in the one third of a world that will enrich the other two thirds when we learn the fine truths you painted so well here. Thanks for showing such vibrant colors on the other side, Jean!

  8. rummuser says:

    I have come here, thanks to Jean’s post and your comment on it. I find your blog quite fascinating and intend bookmarking and visiting regularly.

    Apart from the short term long term equation, Wall Street honchos misunderstood one major factor in their appointments. As long as the going was good, the Boards of Directors, did not object. This is where the greed aspect came in to play. The honchos decided that they were paid to TAKE risks rather than MANAGE risks. This is a critical difference.

    The BODs must lay bare thier own earnings while the going was good and we will then know as to who should really be paying for the bail out, they or the average tax payer.

    There is a fascinating book on Narcissistic Leaders by Michael Maccoby, of the same title which describes some of the characteristics of all types of leaders and it gives a great insight into the minds of these honchos.

    Your response to Jean’s comments here are also fascinating to me. I would just point out two emerging realities. Leave aside the one third/two third equation, and you get a very rapidly rising population of the world consisting of almost fifty percent of the total – all being of what we can call the Middle Classes. The increase in this class will essentially come from China, India and the other emerging economies. Sadly, some of the most desperate, in Africa and Arabia sans the oil rich states, will miss out on this shift. Quite what sociological problems this will create in the next two decades, is what we must address from here onwards. The people likely to miss out are likely to create very different conditions than what we have experienced hitherto.

    rummusers last blog post..RSS Feed for my blog

  9. eweber says:

    Ramana, you build a good case for differences between managing and taking risks. Many thanks for sharing these insights.

    In light of the emerging shifts in prosperity, I cannot think of a better time for each of us to take risks to prosper others who are less fortunate.

    In my work, I see again and again, that brain based insights really do empower people to begin to solve problems they may have thought insurmountable. When we support others for life-changing development and growth — we support an entire community if you consider the ripple effect our genuine support has.

    If humanity is the real currency, and I think it is — then greed is the counterfeit currency, as I see it. What do you think?

  10. rummuser says:

    Frankly, this is the first time that I am learning about brain based insight. It has always been something that I believed to be spontaneous, arising out of accumulated experience and knowledge. That it can empower people to great endeavors is indisputable. I have observed many such instances and also have personal experience.

    About your last paragraph, I could not have put it better. I intend using your last paragraph as a quote on many occasions.

  11. eweber says:

    Ramana, what a joy it is to consider issues with people who think deeply and who see the value in humanity. It makes us all richer!!

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