Lessons Learned from a Flat World

Given that we have the opportunity to collaborate with students all over the world, World Campus students are aware that we are increasingly part of a global community. As business majors, however, we are expected to be even more aware of our increasing interconnectedness, and, as such, we are required to read Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat.

Within the book, he explains how the “flattening process” came together, the aftermath of it all, and its continued evolution. In my opinion, students of all majors, and people of all backgrounds for that matter, can benefit personally from at least a few of the lessons that Friedman shares.

  1. He provides, for instance, a simple formula for a skillset he deems invaluable in the flat world: CQ + PQ > IQ (curiosity quotient & passion quotient, in other terms, are greater than intellectual quotient). This is one of four major skillsets—which, to describe in detail would be beyond the scope of this blog—he refers to as “the right stuff” that educators and employers will be looking for in the new, flat world.
  2. With great power comes great responsibility. As only he can, Friedman details the juxtaposition of good vs. evil and how the imagination of each has been impacted by the flattening of our world, using examples such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the former and 9/11 as an example of the latter.
  3. Resources are available to everyone; use them. In conducting the research for his book, Friedman notes that he was most fascinated by the processes that unfold at UPS. Among other things, he shared with readers the fact that UPS not only handles the logistics for Toshiba, but there are technicians (employed by UPS) that handle small repairs so that the customer can ship their computer and have it back to them in working condition within a matter of just a few days. This is just an example of how UPS will go above and beyond for their clients, no matter how large or small. UPS, as Friedman puts it, helps small businesses act BIG.

So, what is it that I am getting at, you might ask? Well, I believe these concepts are pivotal to the success of our future. We should all certainly strive to learn more about the world, as it helps us find more about ourselves.

Further, as a humanitarian and optimist, I get frustrated by those who constantly complain yet do nothing. Action is greater than inaction and, although we obviously do not all have the resources that Bill & Melinda Gates have, we can share in their conviction for our own respective causes and accept the responsibility to be a positive change agent.

Finally, in one of my previous posts, a commentator pointed out the importance of being resourceful in our careers. It is true that most of us have the ability to succeed in life, but it is ultimately about utilizing the resources around us to achieve our goals.

Large companies like the aforementioned UPS, as well as Amazon, take on processes that are not part of a company’s core competency so that they can compete in a global marketplace. Although it is much more difficult to overcome obstacles when we can easily claim that “we tried” once they seem impossible, there are always resources to allow us to overcome adversity.

Persistence eliminates resistance.