I totally agree. Some of my favorite stories about this come (second hand) from the work of Amy Wrzesniewski http://som.yale.edu/amy-wrzesniewski, who focuses on how people get meaning in low wage work situations.

There is also a huge component of valuable but unpaid (or low paid) work in the caring economy. When you look at the economy as the sum of solutions to problems, as Nick Hanauer suggests we should, you see how much value could come out of more investment and innovation in how we raise and educate our kids, take care of the sick and elderly, and so on.

But as you say, there is also the need to consider leisure. Leisure is a huge part of the economy of the future. Obviously, that includes industries such as travel — which is being democratized by new platforms like AirBnb, letting more people participate in creating good experiences for travelers, making human connection, and so on.

That’s even true in the Uber/Lyft world. Lyft in particular focuses on increasing human contact between driver and passenger. My wife had a great experience with a driver in Indianapolis, who makes a good living as an engineer, but drives for Lyft in the morning on his way to work because he loves the human contact. He then donates the proceeds to charity.

In the creative economy, there is also a lot of “work” that doesn’t currently get treated as work. This includes, as you say, leisure type activities (why do we think of someone trying to break into Hollywood, or an aspiring musician, or someone trying to write a novel, as “working”, but not someone doing the same thing in social media. Why is Michelle Phan seen as “working” on YouTube, but not the people who aren’t as successful as she is? I think we need to recognize a lot of what we now think of as leisure as a kind of meaningful work.

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Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media. Watching the alpha geeks, sharing their stories, helping the future unfold.

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