The power of cooperation

With cooperation, we can do more with less.


Our brain grows every time we make a mistake. Really, it's science. In that case, the world should be filled with geniuses at every turn. 

So why does it feel like we're surrounded by a confederacy of dunces? 

We're not talking about the comic novel by John Kennedy Toole, which went unpublished until 1980 and then won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. 

His failure to publish the book is why he killed himself at the age of 31 in 1969.

Fifty-five years later, "A Confederacy of Dunces" is one of the most loved books in America.

That just goes to show don't judge a book by its start.

As my old college friend Jeff Salzenstein at Stanford University says today:

Your past doesn't dictate your future. You have the power to create a new story.

It's about turning every "no" into a "not yet."

And every failure into fuel.

Salzenstein was a two-time tennis All-American, national champion, and team captain at Stanford. He went on to become a former top 100 world-ranked pro tennis player. Now, he is a performance coach and trains others how to find their "Zone of Excellence." 

But even he suffered setbacks along the way and had to learn resilience.

Let this be a reminder:

No matter where you are,

Your story isn't over.



And reclaim your future.

It's not too late for us, as human beings (and a few bots), or Minneapolis, or any community, to learn from our mistakes. 

If we can't learn from our mistakes, at least we can learn from Monty Python and the "committe meeting" mentality in "Life of Brian."

REG: Right. Now, uh, item four: attainment of world supremacy within the next five years. Uh, Francis, you've been doing some work on this.

FRANCIS: Yeah. Thank you, Reg. Well, quite frankly, siblings, I think five years is optimistic, unless we can smash the Roman empire within the next twelve months.

REG: Twelve months?

FRANCIS: Yeah, twelve months. And, let's face it. As empires go, this is the big one, so we've got to get up off our arses and stop just talking about it!

COMMANDOS: Hear! Hear!

LORETTA: I agree. It's action that counts, not words, and we need action now.

COMMANDOS: Hear! Hear!

REG: You're right. We could sit around here all day talking, passing resolutions, making clever speeches. It's not going to shift one Roman soldier!

FRANCIS: So, let's just stop gabbing on about it. It's completely pointless and it's getting us nowhere!


LORETTA: I agree. This is a complete waste of time.


JUDITH: They've arrested Brian!

REG: What?


JUDITH: They've dragged him off! They're going to crucify him!

REG: Right! This calls for immediate discussion!

COMMANDO #1: Yeah.

JUDITH: What?!

COMMANDO #2: Immediate.

COMMANDO #1: Right.

LORETTA: New motion?

REG: Completely new motion, eh, that, ah-- that there be, ah, immediate action–

FRANCIS: Ah, once the vote has been taken.

REG: Well, obviously once the vote's been taken. You can't act another resolution till you've voted on it…

JUDITH: Reg, for God's sake, let's go now!

REG: Yeah. Yeah.

JUDITH: Please!

REG: Right. Right.


REG: In the-- in the light of fresh information from, ahh, sibling Judith–

LORETTA: Ah, not so fast, Reg.

JUDITH: Reg, for God's sake, it's perfectly simple. All you've got to do is to go out of that door now, and try to stop the Romans' nailing him up! It's happening, Reg! Something's actually happening, Reg! Can't you understand?! Ohhh!


REG: Hm. Hm.

FRANCIS: Oh, dear.

REG: Hello. Another little ego trip for the feminists.


FRANCIS: whistling

REG: Oh, sorry, Loretta. Ahh, oh, read that back, would you?

Enough frantic discourse. Enough stagnation. The current state of affairs is not sustainable.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, labor productivity decreased in 37 states and the District of Columbia in 2022. In 2023, labor productivity also decreased in 60 of the 86 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) four-digit manufacturing industries and in three of the five mining industries.

We need action. We need innovation. We need growth. 

We can snap out of this productivity crisis if we get rid of our "committee meeting" mentality and work together to get positive things done.

"You know, clarity, accountability, measurement were OK when the world was simpler. But business has become much more complex," said Yves Morieux, a consultant at BCG, in his famous 2015 Ted Talk about cooperation. 

It is difficult to create value with ineffective structures and systems. We need to simplify. We need to cooperate.

"This is math. … With cooperation, we can do more with less."

Are you ready? Let's grow.

Eric Ortiz lives in the Wedge with his family. When he’s not bonding, he is community building with the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation and writing bilingual children’s books with his kids. Their first book, “How the Zookalex Saved the Village,” is available in English and Spanish.


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