Updated: Apr 15
I’ve been thinking a lot about diversification. Diversification is a fundamental tenet of investing, akin to eating your veggies or getting enough sleep. Having a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and some instruments uncorrelated to the market ensures that investors are not crushed when the market slides down as quickly as it did this March.
I’ve been thinking about diversification not as a portfolio, but its absence--how we have shaped our realities so single minded and singularly focused. The lack of diverse economic pathways from the largest to the smallest--from Bangladesh built on expendable clothing no longer bought, to farmers dumping the milk meant for Starbucks--to our own households’ suffering. If all of us could have been more diversified in how we were living, it would have taken more than a span of two weeks to go from viable to broke.
We understand the motto “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” yet socioeconomic structures exert force in the opposite direction. We are taught to specialize, brand, create niche markets in order to become successful. Most of us pour energy into one path and it’s very hard to shift once we have achieved success in one arena. We have been encouraged, even glorified to do one thing well at the expense of everything else. We are witnessing the effects and impact of this way of being. Not diversifying what we consider valuable is what’s happened to the planet as we extract one element after another at the expense, finally of even our own health. Now that the smog has literally cleared, we can see and feel how valuable clean air is.
What if diversification could be baked into how we engaged and planned from the outset and at every level- how we thought, how we educated, how we designed our businesses, our income streams? What if diversification was the axis we needed to make sure we were safe under any situation? Creativity, balance, and ability to shift based on new information in all endeavors from the beginning.
Some of the people who have always known the importance of diversifying are those who live at the fringes--artists-- who don’t count on what they love or have been educated to do will ever make them a living, so they plan multiple revenue streams and ways to engage. Artists can adapt quickly when one enterprise doesn’t pan out. Even this adaptability may not be enough in what we now face, but there are some lessons in this way of living that we could all take into account.
As the world swings round to crush what is single-minded, single focused, let’s all seek the fringes, get creative—diversify our thinking and our ability to imagine economic structures where everyone is taken care of. We now know how important it is to plan for the unexpected, no matter what level of success we have achieved. Creative path breakers are a different, but equally important version of the frontline workers, they could be the ones who are creating a frontline to a new reality –not counting on current structures, playing at the edges, coming up with a new vision and a new way to quantify what is valuable. When our current reality calms down, I hope to play with these visionaries and help them find stability, this to me, is the way forward.