Historical cycles are the up and downs of history that repeat themselves. Similarly, a business cycle follows the expansion and contraction of economic activities. The writer and philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote the quote many of us have heard from our instructors through the years, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
I believe this is true in many respects but would like to put a little different twist on the documentation of historical cycles, putting them in ten-year chunks. Every decade has some feeling of hopelessness, but has always come through, with innovation and strength. That should give most of you hope—it definitely did for me! We will start with the 1930’s.
Historical Cycle in the 1930's
The 1930’s held the Great Depression. Between 1920 and 1932, the average American’s income dropped 40 percent. During this decade 86,000 businesses failed and 9,000 banks went out of business with one-third of the population unemployed. Many of our grandparents lived through the Great Depression and continued to live frugally throughout their entire life.
Innovation in the 1930’s: Through this time, people learned how to save and how to get scrappy. My grandparents raised dairy cows, working extremely hard to eek out a living. They bought land as they were able and what they didn’t know, they learned. This work ethic carried them throughout their whole life, my grandfather even giving back to their small Southern California community by serving as mayor.
Historical Cycle in the 1940's
The 1940’s held World War II for the U.S. when Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. base in Pearl Harbor. The war didn’t end until 1945 when dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. The Nazi extermination camps with the Holocaust killed hundreds of thousands of Jews. When Germany pummeled Britain with heavy bombing raids in a 1940-41 campaign termed the “Blitz,” men, women and children had to carry gas masks at all times fearing German planes would drop gas bombs. D-Day sees 150,000 Allied troops successfully storm the beaches of Normandy, liberating France.
Innovation of the 1940’s: During this time the U.S. Congress created several branches of the armed forces and the United Nations is created after fifty nations sign the charter. Communication progressed with the transistor. The Polaroid instant camera was invented and 45 RPM records are introduced.
Historical Cycle in the 1950's
The 1950’s brought the Korean War when North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950. The cold war became a grim reality because both the Soviet dominated East and the capitalist dominated West had the power and technology for a Nuclear holocaust. The Civil Rights movement began with the murder of Emmett Till and refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. The Vietnam War began in 1954.
Innovation of the 1950’s: The first independent credit card company is created with cardboard cards. The Diners Club credit card was the first multi-purpose charge card with over one million members by 1959. The first TV remote control was invented and eight million homes in the U.S. now owned televisions.
Historical Cycle in the 1960's
The 1960’s was dominated by the Vietnam War, sending 3,500 troops in 1960. Civil Rights protests were common and Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. The 60’s also brought the assassinations of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. The Cuban Missile Crisis had the world on the edge of another World War as the U.S. and USSR come close to launching nuclear attacks in 1962.
Innovation of the 1960’s: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and safely returned to earth in 1969. The computer mouse, heart pacemaker, tape cassette and portable calculator were all invented. Music became a huge influence on the younger generation to define the lifestyle of rockers and protesters.
Historical Cycle in the 1970's
The 1970’s brought Kent State Shootings and the Watergate scandal in 1972 with Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Iran took American hostages in Tehran in 1979. The Vietnam War ended in 1975 with 57,939 members of the U.S. armed forces dying or missing. The war brought a great deal of controversy with many of our young men dying. Elvis Presley is found dead in 1977.
Innovation of the 1970’s: The first jumbo jet, Boeing 747, makes its debut commercial flight from N.Y. to London. The first microprocessor is released by Intel. The UPC bar code is introduced. Bill Gates and Paul Allen invent Microsoft. The Walkman is introduced by Sony.
Historical Cycle in the 1980's
The 1980’s brought the shooting of John Lennon in 1980. The first cases of AIDS were reported in June of 1981 with more than 700,000 people in the U.S. dying from HIV-related illness. Today there are more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. Mad Cow Disease was identified in Britain in 1986. In 1986 the Spaceship Challenger exploded during liftoff in what would have been its 9th mission. All seven crew members died.
Innovation in the 1980’s: The 80’s signaled the start of the computer age. Post-It notes were created. Popular TV shows included Cheers, The Golden Girls, Miami Vice and The Simpsons. Many South American Countries returned to democracy after a period of dictatorships. Ronald Reagan’s presidency brought humor and star quality to the office.
Historical Cycle in the 1990's
The 1990’s Genocide and Civil War take place in Rwanda with an estimated 500,000 or more people killed. The Persian Gulf War began with a massive U.S. led air offensive known as Operation Desert Storm with 42 days of relentless attacks on Iraq. The Bosnian War in Yugoslavia happened between 1992-1995. Central American countries are devastated by Hurricane Mitch. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is created in 1995.
Innovation of the 1990’s: There was growth of the World Wide Web and the Personal Computer with an estimated 295 million users. Cloning and Stem Cell Research left moral and political questions for the future. Also, the development of Genetic engineering. Owning a mobile phone was now a part of everyday life.
Historical Cycle in the 2000's
The 2000’s brought fear for the end of mankind with Y2K at the beginning of 2000. 911 Terrorist Attacks happened to leave nearly 3,000 people dead, bringing down the Twin Towers in New York. The U.S. invaded Iraq. Michael Jackson died. The financial crisis of 2008-9 brought the great recession with property prices falling and collapse of banks.
Innovation of the 2000’s: There was no end of mankind with Y2K. I was playing a New Year’s Party at Knotts Berry Farm and people kept dancing through midnight! iTunes was released by Apple. Tiger Woods becomes the youngest player to win a Grand Slam in Golf. The Do Not Call List is started. Facebook is launched in 2004. YouTube becomes a part of Google.
Historical Cycle in the 2010's
Enter your text here...The 2010’s financial crisis and high unemployment continues. 1,000 people marched through N.Y. Financial District with an Occupy Wall Street banner. Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot with twelve others. There was an attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, among others. There was Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombings and the shutdown of the U.S. Government. Black Lives Matter started in 2013 with the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
Innovation in the 2010’s: Osama Bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. Navy Seals. Marvels the Avengers premieres in Hollywood. A businessman and TV personality Donald Trump won the presidency of the U.S. with the slogan and mantra Make America Great Again. The Chicago Cubs won the world series, first time in 108 years.
Historical Cycle in the 2020's
The 2020’s brought in a world-wide Pandemic. It brought isolation, fear and sequestration. It also ushered in political influence on health issues and freedoms. Social Media platforms became political platforms, instituting bans on any content unfavorable with the mainstream. The war of the 2020’s is a Psychological War.
Innovation of the 2020’s: Touchless everything including credit cards, facial recognition in airports and body temperature screening was implemented. The progression of artificial intelligence continues to happen with a shortage of low-wage workers. A vaccine for COVID-19 was produced in record time under the Trump Presidency.
The Causes of Innovation
Innovation happens when there is an immediate need to be filled. The most recent example is that of A.I. The U.S. labor crunch escalated the innovation of touchless technology because of the viral spread of COVID-19.
Also, the vaccine was produced in record time. Our world has never had a vaccine delivered as fast and efficiently as the vaccine for COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies had been researching a for several years and this provided the groundwork for producing a vaccine worldwide.
The book The Summit addresses the fear and hopelessness many are feeling in our world today. Every decade has had its challenges, but most have had great innovation come out of those challenges. The timing of a book focused on hope and purpose couldn’t have been better.
It takes persistence, dedication and willingness to not give up.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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