Today I caught the end of Maine Public Radio’s broadcast of John Hope Bryant’s speech at the Commonwealth Club. He called his speech Recession or Reset? The Way Forward. His ideas and concepts were so intriguing that I listened to it in its entirety tonight. There is so much depth to it, I could write a blog on most of his statements.  (I think I tried in the past and I’ll probably try again in the future.)

When asked what caused the financial crisis, he responded –  “We all did a Madoff!  We robbed Peter to pay Paul, we lived beyond our means, we bought two of everything we didn’t need. We paid for everything on credit, and, we had no idea of how it was going to end.” You could tell the audience was more than a little uncomfortable by the silence and the speed with which they moved on to the next question. After all, it’s a pretty big accusation and not anything we really want to admit to.  But, I think he may be right!

We unconsciously bought into a consumerized version of the American Dream and didn’t think anything would stop it. We made decisions based on an end, but didn’t have the means.  And, when our finances didn’t continue moving at the lightening speed we grew to expect, it all came crashing down and we were caught – just like Madoff.

But, what can we learn from this?  Hopefully, we’ll learn that the problem with money, is not about the money!  That it’s what we value and believe about money that gets us into trouble. That when we lose sight of money as the means to an end we only get an end we didn’t mean. And, finally that we all need to be financially conscious to prevent this from happening again.

You can hear this inspiring man at

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