Fast Company

Innerpreneurship and the Bigger Idea Afoot

A cultural revoltuion is brewing. It's being started by the creative class, and the focus is innerpreneurship. Creative capitalism is on the rise, and here's a little insight on the core values of this movement.

Excitement Over the Creative Class

When I learned about innerpreneurship a few months back, I knew there was a bigger idea involved. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was exactly until I started paying closer attention. Everywhere I went, I heard rumblings of the ‘creative economy’, of this ‘creative class’ who’s importance was rising. I credit this to Richard Florida and his series of books on the topic. Bill Gates also spoke recently of the need for ‘creative capitalism’ as a solution to the world’s problems. It seemed to me, all of the sudden, the Western world was now in love with creative people. The ideas these men keep circling around are purely economic. They believe that being creative and inventive will be the key to business success in the twenty-first century. That a country’s economic success will be determined by its ability to mobilize, attract and retain human creative talent. No wonder us ‘creatives’ are suddenly the belles of the ball. People’s priorities always seem to shift when money is involved. What I noticed -- as I listened to the echoes of businessmen praising and stroking the ‘creative class’ and the ideas we would bring -- was that no one was addressing who we were as group and why we were so unique and valuable. I wondered why we were so damn important in shaping the twenty-first century world. A week or so ago, I found out why.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

I learned that there is a revolution stirring, only it isn’t being fought with guns and brawn. It’s a cultural revolution and it has been taking shape under our noses for the last 40 odd years. Think of 'culture' as the solutions to the problems and passions that people consider important in each time period.

You are a Cultural Creative

And I bet you’ve never heard of yourself. That’s because there have been only two voices protruding from our mainstream culture – the modern voice telling us to pursue money and the traditional voice telling us to resist change. But you don’t identify with either because you don’t see the world in black and white, do you? You see the world in an entirely different shade of gray. And you have always felt different because of it. Ask yourself this:
  • Do you detest the emphasis modern culture has on success and making it, on consuming and being rich?
  • Do you care deeply about the environment and are willing to pay higher taxes and prices to improve the situation?
  • Do you place a lot of emphasis on developing and maintaining your relationships?
  • Do you give a lot of importance to helping people and developing their unique talents?
  • Do you demand authenticity – at home and work, from businesses and politicians?

Read a complete list of the qualities of a Cultural Creative

We Could Fill Russia

Would you believe me if I told you there were at least 100 million people throughout North America and Europe who identify with the above statements too? Cultural Creatives are a real, identified and coherent subculture of the Western world. You can think of yourself, the innerpreneur, as simply a Cultural Creative who owns a business. Since the 60’s, more and more people’s worldviews (what they believe is real), values (what they hold important) and ways of life (how they live) have been shifting away from the two traditional ways of thinking. I was astonished to learn that millions of people live and think the way I do. It was especially surprising since I seemingly developed my ‘life truths’ all by myself and in the face of a culture that consistently insists that my thinking is wrong. But we, as a group, have a big problem -- we aren’t aware that we exist as a collective body -- at least not yet.

The Two 'Established' Schools of Thought and the Third 'Ignored' Alternative

I’m sure you recognize the below two points of view. Modern Values (or seeing the world in black)
  • Making and having a lot of money
  • Climbing the ladder of success
  • Being hip, stylish or trendy
  • Consuming
  • Having a lot of choices
  • Rejecting the values and concerns of the minority
  • Bigger is better; time is money
Modern culture is what many would call ‘normal culture'. It is comprised of the people who believe that the commercial urbanized world we live in is the obvious best way to live. It’s the culture you find in anything mainstream, from TV to newspapers to magazines. It is the standards and rules we live by daily. Traditional Values (or seeing the world in white)
  • Men should dominate in family and in business
  • Family, church and community are where you belong
  • Conservative religious traditions must be upheld
  • Familiar ways of doing things are embraced
  • Freedom to carry arms is essential
  • Foreigners are not welcome
Traditional culture is what many would call ‘cultural conservatism’. It is the people who, by the most part, are caught up with just getting by in life. They thrive on shared values and familiar customs. The culture is not primarily about politics but rather about beliefs, ways of life and personal identity.

The above two ways of thinking are represented daily in our culture while the third alternative, the Cultural Creative way, has been ignored almost entirely.

Cultural Creative Values (or seeing the world in shades of gray)
  • Authenticity (your actions are consistent with what you believe and what you say)
  • Social activism
  • Idealism
  • Globalism and ecology (the big picture effects of our actions)
  • Consciousness (feeling empathy and sympathy for others, understanding different viewpoints, valuing personal experience)
  • Personal growth
We are simply a group of people who have discovered our own truth our own way. Each of us, independently, has made a shift away from established culture. We are not represented as a group because we do not realize we are thinking as a unit. We do not know that we are a million voices strong.

The Rise of the Cultural Creative

Visionaries and futurists have been predicting our emergence for over two decades. And in 2000, in the text, The Cultural Creative, our way of life was finally identified and labeled by a husband and wife psychology-sociology team. They studied us for thirteen years, coined the term ‘Cultural Creative’ and deemed us the leaders of the long-anticipated cultural movement. So you see, this is why we are so important to the future of the world. We are the future because we look towards it and shape it. We don’t look behind like the traditionals or straight ahead like the moderns. And now we find that our time has come. The modern model of thinking doesn’t seem to be working out quite as well as everyone expected.

What We Need Now

We need one thing – an awareness that we exist as a collective group, that ‘we’ are a part of an ‘us’. We need to stop feeling so alone. There are millions of us sharing a common goal and dream. Once we realize this, we will begin to understand how truly powerful our collective voices are. We will change the world. Just ask Bill Gates.

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3 Comments

  • Sami Paju

    A friend of mine emailed a link to this post, and I have to say I am amazed. I can easily identify myself by the characteristics you place on a cultural creative, but it hasn't been a conscious journey to develop my personality to this point. It has just sort of happened.

    There have been realizations, though, along the way such as starting to understand that money or property is not the source of happiness and discovering that it's possible to change oneself both physically and mentally.

    Great article! :)

  • Laura Wynn

    At the risk of putting myself in the line of virtual fire by tagging myself, I say to you, "I'm a Cultural Creative". And so the mission begins. Where do we begin as a group to make a loud voice that will be heard?

  • Ayala Rahav

    You conclude your post by pointing at a need for an awareness that we exist as a collective group.

    Categorization, titling or segmentation alone will not lead us anywhere. Part of being a cultural creative is actively seeking to be involved in creating a new and better way of life. Being an innerpreneur is taking a committed action by materializing the cultural creative ideas into a business.

    By combining individual needs and aspirations with a social framework – cultural creativity will turn into innerpreneurialship that will increasingly become a viable more mainstream lifestyle.

    I believe that the answer lies in combining all 3 and finding ways to harness the collective to collaboratively work bottom up and shape our environments so that they best suit the values we believe in.

    Basically it’s about creating a new Maslow ladder of needs. Innerpreneurship places high the values of personal growth and self fulfillment. It gradually infiltrates mainstream and influence the order of the day, through bottom up, growndswelling collectively with an increasing impact.

    I definitely fall into both categories of a cultural creative and an innerpreneur although I did not know this is how I am called. My prism is that of a better life on the web. As an increasing part of our life becomes web based, we should strive for a web experience that puts me, the individual at the center. Creating a mind shift that will enable it means a new Icentered paradigm that reflects my needs and way of doing things as an Icentered individual, who is at the center with the reins in her hands.

    This calls for a new pact of relations with our digital surroundings and a collaborative effort in defining the blueprint for such a paradigm www.icentered.org and an effort to turn the web into My-Web-of-life by empowering a web experience that is personal adaptive, private and safe. (More in our I Time blog at www.I4c-corp.com)