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Valuation of Evolution

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 7, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

Going through one of my “don’t throw this away quite yet” folders, I came across “Humans: Why They Triumphed,” a May 2010 article from The Wall Street Journal (Weekend Journal, May 22–23, 2010)—and thought, with both trade show season in full stride and with the Internet playing a major role in propelling the beauty industry in so many ways, that ideas I had highlighted in the article are perfect to share here. The author Matt Ridley states, “Human evolution presents a puzzle. Nothing seems to explain the sudden takeoff of the past 45,000 years—the conversion of just another rare predatory ape into a planet dominator with rapidly progressing technologies. Once ‘progress’ started to produce new tools, different ways of life and burgeoning populations, it accelerated all over the world, culminating in agriculture, cities, literacy and all the rest.”

Among the ideas and theories explored, Ridley offers these three: Exchange of knowledge by early humans stimulated innovation by bringing together different ideas; innovation is a collective enterprise that relies on exchange; and if progress is inexorable, cumulative and collective if human beings exchange and specialize, then globalization and the Internet are bound to ensure furious economic progress in the coming century.

I boil it down to this: Opportunities to meet face-to-face with as many people as possible (such as at trade shows) are opportunities toward innovation, and the Internet is clearly a tool for expanding conversations and introducing ideas that have clear economic impact. I know my meetings when out and about in the industry always add a boost to what we are doing at GCI, and I’m enjoying the confirmations and corrections to our navigation I receive online. These conversations make us better, and I hope we can return the favor. I’m attending HBA later this month, Cosmoprof North America in July, and Beyond Beauty in September, and I’m always around via e-mail and through the GCI Facebook page. So, let’s keep the conversations going.