Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble
Thanks for putting all of the New Economy into perspective ("What We Learned in the New Economy," March). It was such a rush for those of us in it that it's kind of hard to remember what exactly happened and in what order. I especially appreciate the timeline and "Where Are They Now?"
It's easy to get so caught up in our drive to reach places that we forget to stop and reflect on where we've been and what we did, and then learn from it. As my father's father's father used to say, "Those that don't make mistakes don't make anything."
President and founder
I thoroughly enjoyed your cover story. The interviews and articles were refreshing in their remarkable candor. However, the title of the feature perpetuates the greatest myth of all: that of a new economy. As other prominent contributors have pointed out, the foundation is the same, although the economy has changed in a revolutionary fashion. It amuses me to see the phrase always appearing capitalized, as if it is a deity or perhaps a proper name, such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny—neither of which exist, either.
Bruce W. Didier
As a senior manager in organizational development and change at Arthur Andersen, I learned so much in the New Economy. I relearned the reality that organizations are not natural orders as we find in physical or biological science. Organizations are cultural artifacts that are created, discovered, and invented by humans. They succeed or fail based on our actions, not history. The New Economy was an exciting time of movement (we thought it was "forward movement"), action, change, challenge, and opportunity. In an organization thought to be as traditional, conservative, established, and filled with history as Arthur Andersen, we thought that this was a time of reinventing our organization. I learned, once more, that we cannot take the future for granted. I relearned, in the most difficult way, the importance of helping leaders operate from an ethical base. I also relearned the importance of Ralph Waldo Emerson's statement that "What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
Bonnie B. Hudson
A bunch of MBAs thought that people could get rich by some new magical method that did not involve hard work, creativity, and dedication. A group of people had a mind-set that they were smarter and better than the rest of the world because they could create PowerPoints and drone on and on about the plainly obvious. All for a high fee, of course.
When history looks back on this era, most of these players will not be regarded highly, no matter how much money they made for themselves or how many stock options they got. In the short term, those types all feel they are important and special. But 100 years from now—if we all survive the mess these greedy, selfish people created—they will be considered a low point in the evolution of mankind: intelligent beings who wasted a chance to make a positive contribution to society.
Women's Purse Strings
As a 45-year-old woman, I jumped up and down reading Linda Tischler's article ("Where the Bucks Are," March). I knew this in my gut—it was great to have it validated. I'm a relative newlywed, am child-free, have one dog, work freelance, wear purple glasses, and have many nieces and nephews—and I have to say that when I am marketed to, I often feel offended or bored. And when I am not marketed to, I feel invisible. I want to tell all these ad agencies, I am not that hard to understand. I like Pink's music and comfortable shoes. I am taking my extra calcium and planning kayak lessons this year. Our culture is so age-crazy, it has actually blinded the supposedly rapacious capitalist system to some very juicy markets. I could be wrong. But I don't think I am, and your article made me feel even better.
Martha Garvey Jr.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Bravo to you and your publication for showcasing an issue very near and dear to my heart. I'm a single, 52-year-old advertising/ public relations professional making a very nice salary (six figures), thank you very much.ÊConfident and self-assured? You bet. Clear about who I am and my self-worth? Couldn't be clearer. Washed up as a consumer with calcified brand preferences? I don't think so.
Ageism is alive and well in the corporate world—in particular for females. I hope this article acts as a wake-up call for manufacturers and marketers. Female boomers in their early- and mid-fifties are just the beginning of the "wave." The tsunami is yet to come. If they choose to ignore us, they deserve to lose.
Public relations manager
West Chester, Pennsylvania
I enjoyed reading "Where the Bucks Are." You illustrated an excellent example of how marketers and advertisers continue to try to build their demographic boxes around assumptions and generalizations created by marketers many years ago. By doing so, they continue to miss out on marketing opportunities. As many conversations among women will reveal, we are not really rejecting the reality of getting older. We are discovering the irony of having finally gained a sense of personal confidence and inner peace only to start becoming invisible, suffering the loss of power and social currency (if I can borrow your excellent phrase) that each year brings once age really starts to mark our bodies. We are reaching middle age with stamina and perhaps better health than prior generations, and we simply do not want to be limited and disregarded.
Stay-at-home mom/former human
resources compliance specialist at
Dresser Worldwide Headquarters
Made in the People's Republic
Regarding "China's Next Great Thing" (March), thank goodness someone is finally talking about this issue. My company helps Western companies transfer their manufacturing to China, ultimately running it for them. During our initial talks with companies, I often hear some very disturbing assumptions. American managers think that the Chinese companies are producing such inferior products that China is far from being a threat. The bottom line is that the Chinese are getting better at production every day. If set up properly, their manufacturing plants are capable of producing things that only a handful of companies can make worldwide. The Chinese have access to everything that we do, and they are investing in Western machinery to ensure high-quality products. I've seen it firsthand.
The real issue is whether Chinese companies can crack the United States. Any Chinese or other foreign company wishing to develop its own brand in America will need the same structure for sales and marketing as any other company. Because they won't have a cost advantage in sales and marketing and no production advantage over other companies manufacturing in China, it will be very difficult for Chinese businesses to succeed in the U.S. market.
And We Thought Martha Was Creative
Gee, thanks for the lighthearted article on AOL's barrage of CDs ("A Gazillion More Free Hours From AOL? Gee, Thanks," March). Like every other resident in the country, I was miffed at the daily delivery of the "New Look! New Features! 2 Free Months!" ads in my mailbox. Then I got creative. I now use them for coasters under candles and beverages, hanging decorations and mobiles for the kids' parties, and I am seriously thinking of hot-gluing them on the wall behind my rec room bar as people used to do with vinyl records. I've even picked up a few extra at the post office to complete my wall project!
Robin L. Johnson
Stitch Wizard Inc.
In March's "Fast 50" feature, the identities of Ken Block and Damon Way of DC Shoes were reversed. Also, we reported that Jeff Mendelsohn of New Leaf Paper believes people will someday pay more for paper made from waste as opposed to trees. Mendelsohn asserts that recycled paper will someday be the cheaper choice.
In "Surprise Package," our February story on UPS, we said the dollar value of the global supply-chain market is $3 billion. The figure should have been $3 trillion.
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A version of this article appeared in the Table of Contents - May 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.