There is a popular view in literature and public commentary that New Zealanders are not particularly ambitious.
Instead, New Zealanders are said to be “satisficers”. We value humility, don’t like social distance or people who are “up themselves”, and we suffer from “tall poppy syndrome”: the desire to bring down those who claim superiority. Sport is the main exception: we celebrate ambition and success, provided our stars remain humble.
Ambition is linked to outcomes. Ambition is also something that responds to your circumstances. Some people want to make changes on a global scale. For others dreams focused much closer to home might require no less stretch.
Our book explores what is known and reckoned about ambition in New Zealand. We look at what underpins ambition and how people can become more ambitious. We discuss business ambition and the debate about how to boost exports and high wage jobs. We discuss questions of national identity and how that is changing as the population changes. And we discuss challenges such as poverty and other things that get in the way of people setting and chasing goals for themselves and their families.
We aim to increase awareness of the diversity of meanings of the word ambition and to help New Zealanders feel safe and inspired in setting bigger goals for themselves. We think identifying and communicating stories can help open up greater possibilities.
We anticipate releasing the book in physical and digital formats by the end of 2018.
About the Project
The idea of this work is to make an enduring contribution to how New Zealanders understand themselves. Describing ambition more inclusively might make it less of a dirty word. By shining a light on our attitudes and behaviors, we can come to understand them, building a foundation for changing them over time.
Our goal is to support a national conversation about ambition that encourages more New Zealanders to be more ambitious about more things: not just sport, or business, but family and community life, music and the arts, the environment and our wider wellbeing.
This work is a private apolitical effort unaffiliated with any organisation. We are pursuing it because we think it is important and interesting. If you are interested in helping out, please get in touch.
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Who is Involved
Julie Fry is a consulting economist and World Class New Zealander who divides her time between New York and a family farm near Motueka. She has worked for the New Zealand Treasury, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and HM Treasury in London on a range of policy issues including family policy, the labour market and immigration, and child poverty. Julie has Master’s degrees in economics from both the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, and she received a Nuffield Fellowship to research discrimination issues at the University of Warwick in Coventry. Together with Hayden and another friend, she co-owns the Open Book, a delightful secondhand bookstore in Ponsonby, Auckland.
Hayden Glass is a consultant with the Sapere Research Group and the former COO of Figure.NZ, a social enterprise focused on making New Zealand’s public data easier to find and easier to use. He has worked for the New Zealand Treasury, for Vodafone New Zealand, and on consulting assignments for a range of clients in the public and private sector including on the economic impacts of technology, on immigration and on employment issues. Hayden has a Masters in Law and a BA from Canterbury University. He has also studied mathematics and economics. He and Julie met while writing a book, Going Places, on the economics of immigration released by BWB in 2016.
Copyright 2018, AmbitionNZ