In addition to being aware of himself, Reich is clearly aware of trends in the outside world, including business. He is, surprisingly, unwilling to bash businesses for the pressures they have undoubtedly created for many of us. For instance, he makes the paradoxical case that better consumer marketing information and tools may lead to reduction in the choices available to consumers. As companies know more about who they’re selling to, he argues, they’ll sell exactly that and nothing else. So products — and ideas — with small markets are likely to go unproduced and unstated. Still, says Reich, “We can’t blame the advertisers. They’re working in a more competitive environment, too.”

Reich even goes so far as to provide tips for entrepreneurs. For instance, he advises small firms to link up with giants, in the way that tiny online retailers affiliate with Amazon.com. “People simply can’t remember more than three to five brands in any field,” he says. “But these big brands are going to be contracting with hundreds of thousands of small businesses that actually produce the products and services.” Want some ideas for fields to start a new business in? In his new book, Reich provides seven he calls the insatiables: industries from entertainment to financial planning that provide products and services people simply can’t get enough of.

Reich has to go. His attention has been expended and he’s off to his next stop on the track to his own particular definition of success. His last remarks before setting out are more uplifting than much of his book, but they are fitting for an ex-Labor secretary and current professor of social and economic policy. “This is a very new economy,” he says, “but we can make it work.”