Capitalism means the greatest rewards go to owners.

If your concept of owner-capitalism is rooted in the image of the robber barons of the previous Gilded Age, it’s worth taking a look around at how ownership looks and is rewarded in the connection economy.

Internet giants own enormous (and enormously valuable) tangible and intangible assets ranging from search engines to our attention. The fact that we sometimes don’t have to pay for them might obscure the dynamic a little bit (you expect to see a robber baron actually making and handling money), but it hardly obviates the business model.

What’s perhaps even harder to see are the assets each of us own (or sometimes rent) and how they’re rewarded. Many of these are intangible, like college degrees. Others are only semi-tangible, like our emotional labor. (If you’re coaching someone, you yourself are the asset. The challenge, as most coaches learn sooner rather than later, is that you can only earn money from that asset when you “rent” yourself.) And some are rented (like this WordPress site.)

A few questions follow:

  • What do you own?
  • Do you own the right assets and use them well and generously?
  • Are you acting like an owner in capturing value from and caring for the assets you own?