Understanding Wealth

Type the word “wealth” into a Google search and the first two suggestions are “The Wealth of Nations”, a book by Adam Smith and “wealth management”, a practice that in its broadest sense describes the combining of personal investment management, financial advisory, and planning disciplines directly for the benefit of high-net-worth clients.

If you think that wealth leads to happiness and health, you aren’t alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. The study shows that the people who fared the best, as related to happiness and health, were the people who leaned into relationships — with family, with friends, and with community.

What? Yes, you read that correctly.  Relationships not money.

Common Change has long believed that relationships matter in understanding issues of wealth and poverty. It’s not that people don’t care about one another, it’s that we don’t know one another. It’s not simply about making more friends, connections, or commitments. It’s more about the quality of your close relationships that matter. This is one of the main reasons why Common Change seeks to create a generative culture of belonging, where everyone is cared for and loved.

An increasing amount of us have not experienced a generative culture of belonging. Harvard sociologist Robert D. Putnam, author of ‘Our Kids‘ and ‘Bowling Alone‘ has described, since 1950, the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to establish, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives.

Relationships often make up our safety nets.  Unfortunately our safety nets are deteriorating. This reality begs the question about what mending these nets look like?

The possibilities are practically endless, says Robert Waldinger. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold grudges.  No matter what your next step might be, take it. Yes, it might be scary. It might feel like riding a bike for the first time but it is these kinds of risks that pay out huge dividends. It may mean reaching out to someone who can help untangle these relational knots.

Common Change is committed to creating a culture of belonging by enriching the fabric of our relational safety nets that result in an abundance of meaningful relationships. We are about cultivating a new understanding of wealth and wealth management — one that recognizes the importance of relationships with family, with friends, with community.

VIDEO: Knowing our most precious possession by Jose Mujica, president of Uruguay from 2010-15



I would like to inform you that Valerie Anderson is transitioning her focus from operations of Common Change to the country director of Common Change South Africa.

Valerie Anderson has strengthened and grown Common Change through her service, first out of Oakland and later from South Africa. Since her coming to work with us, many events have changed our entire globe, and she has always remained receptive to growth in the vision, responsibilities and interests of Common Change.

Her mark on our organization in evident in almost every area. Her unique ability to see solutions, think creatively, create something from nothing, and personally embody a vision that she worked to invite others to was not only invaluable, but inspiring.

Valerie is moving on, and April 15th, 2016 marked her last day in her formal roll with Common Change Ringmaster. Although she is formally leaving as Ringmaster, she is continuing to shape and share Common Change South Africa and I am sure you share my same enthusiasm about seeing the great things that come from that group of people caring for their country.

This next season is an exciting one as doors open for Valerie to tackle her next adventures with the same passion and dedication she gave to Common Change. Working alongside her has been an honor and a privilege. I can say without reservations that I have always been proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together.

I wish her the best both professionally and personally. While I will miss the day-to-day interaction with her – she has been an indispensable part of our team – I know she will continue be a change-maker wherever she is and whatever “team” she is on.

Darin Petersen
founder & ceo