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Friday, October 02, 2009

THIS MIGHT HURT... The Absolute Necessity of Entrepreneurship

by Douglas Castle, Featured Columnist for THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter.

The Absolute Necessity of Entrepreneurship

There is a saying amongst the late Johnny Cochran-styled personal physical trainers of the world; it is recited as mantra (and often given just as much original thought): "No pain, no gain."

Unquestionably, working the mind and working the body make them stronger, while ignoring them and taking them for granted leads to atrophy and an endless list (much of which is in Latin!) of potential psychological and physiological problems and vulnerabilities. When exercise is a requirement of our ordinary work or play, we do it without question, and it serves to keep us healthier. When our ordinary work or play makes no demands upon us to exercise, either by using our intellectual and analytical problem-solving skills, or by using the muscles of our bodies, we tend to view exercise as an option, or even as a chore. We lose our edge. Our survival skills decline. We become increasingly dependent upon mechanical transportation, large companies, generous bankers (with the exception of the late George Bailey of Bedford Falls, this has truly become a smirkworthy oxymoron), and big government.

The institutions upon which we had become pathetically, unimaginatively and unquestionably dependent upon have failed us. What is sadder still, is that we have allowed ourselves to let our skills atrophy to the point of incapacitating us. We, of the United States and many other industrialized nations were lulled off to a somnabulistic fantasyland by such prosaic propaganda as:

  • You work hard, and you'll move up the ladder;
  • You stay loyal to this company and you'll have a career for the rest of your life;
  • Your pension will grow and grow until it can accommodate your comfortable retirement -- invest wisely in Blue Chip company shares, bank stocks and we'll even let you purchase shares in this company at a discount, too;
  • Your home is like a savings bank, and your mortgage payments are just like a well-regimented savings plan;
  • If a bank gives you credit, it's because they know that you're a good risk, and that you can afford to pay it off. After all, bankers are shrewd, intelligent people;
  • Borrow and buy all the assets that you can, even if they won't service the debt...after all, they'll appreciate in value and you can always sell them at a nice profit -- perhaps on eBay, Craigslist, or in a yard sale. Besides, why postpone gratification when you can finance those things you haven't [technically] earned with borrowed funds? Don't worry, Bunky -- the boss is going to give you a raise;
  • Good academic credentials and the right university pedigree will get you a great first job at a high rate of pay;
  • Don't start a business (like your grandpa did with importing olive oil sixty years ago)... find a company that provides you with all of the benefits, play the right politics, make the right friends, and you'll get promoted to a directorship some day;
  • If you are a veteran, an orphan, a single parent or a senior citizen, the government has programs to help you. Heck -- look at Medicaid and Social Security!
  • Your health insurance will cover the cost of that chronic care treatment;
  • Your bank will renew your credit line. After all, you've never defaulted;
  • With all of those jobs at stake, the government will just have to bail that big company out;
  • A good prosecutor like Elliot S. (I will not use last names, such as 'Spitzer', because hypocrites are entitled to at least as much privacy as ordinary sinners) will get rid of all that corruption and clean up government;
  • Trust Bernie M. (I will not say 'Madoff' because I believe it's obvious) with your endowment fund -- everybody else raves about him. He's like an uncle to me!
  • The cost to buy it doesn't matter, as long as you can cover that monthly payment; The Sales Representative at the BMW dealership said, "Golly, you can buy a lotta car if you can just squeeze out $100.00 more per month;
  • Saddam has "evil weapons of mass destruction." (evil weapons are the worst kind, by the way). "We have proof that he's receiving shipments of yellow cake from Niger." [As it turned out, Saddam might not have been opening bakeries, but he wasn't actually importing fissionable 'nuke-u-lar' material either];
  • There's always a "Greater Fool" to buy you out of anything. [In a tragic way, this turned out to be rather like the Twilight Zone version of a children's game of musical chairs, where the music suddenly stopped and all of the seats had mysteriously vanished -- perhaps the legendary "Greater Fool" was only pretending to be an inbred maloccluded doofus still dripping from the primordial swamp and waiting to be taken advantage of...maybe he stole all of the chairs and sold them to the U.S. military for several thousand dollars each in a lucrative sole-source contract secretly negotiated with some former Vice President...
The New York Times had some frightening news for those of us who had placed our trust in stability, continued growth, credit expansion, employers "too big to fail" and limitless prosperity:

Breaking News Alert---

The New York Times
Fri, October 02, 2009 -- 8:37 AM ET
U.S. Economy Lost 263,000 Jobs in September; Jobless Rate Rises to 9.8%.
American employers cut 263,000 jobs last month, far more than
forecast, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent from
9.7 percent in August, the Labor Department said.

Here are the reasons why our economy is suffering:

1. We became completely addicted to credit, and forgot about the notions of earning, cash flow and saving;
2. We stopped innovating and fostering new enterprises and starting talking about career paths instead of blueprints;
3. We trusted every aspect of our lives to large, faceless institutions, and stopped being self-reliant, inventive, skeptical and inquisitive;
4. The banks stopped lending to consumers and businesses, and no credit facilities were renewed or rolled over (some just played "dead");
5. We wasted our time writing "winning resumes" to almost-defunct, frightened and fiscally-tenuous employers instead of optimizing our use of our own resources to either render services or produce products. We expected to have strangers pay us salaries based upon their confidence in our ability to produce results for them. Sadly, many inveterate corporate ladder-climbers who were papering the city walls with their curriculum vitae had never had to contend with issues of problem-solving, production, leadership and project management -- they had only dealt within the realm of office or organizational politics. The old, reliable employers were in so much trouble that they were actually looking for employees who could actually help. Most of us had little of substance, little of utility, to offer.

The solution to this meltdown will not come from a near-term infusion of printed scrip, little tax rebates, cash for clunkers, stimulus checks, incentives to home-buyers, government "jobs creation", a wartime economy, or endless revelations, proclamations and trial and error experiments with the fate of an entire civilization at stake. This puzzle box pile of solutions has already drawn a growing halo of flies.

The solution is individual and not institutional. It requires innovation and not imitation. It requires working while we wait. It requires the acceptance of personal responsibility for finding ways through which each of us can provide value, in the form of goods or services, to another. It requires soul-searching, deep thinking and incremental work. It requires some calculated risk-taking. It requires confronting fear, and overcoming paralysis and inertia. It requires having something special to offer, and having the willingness to present yourself, and your proposition to the world. Thankfully, we have super-efficient and inexpensive social media, public relations and broadcasting technologies and platforms at our disposal -- but the ultimate factor is non-technological -- it is uniquely and solely Human .

A person standing on any platform without a message will simply be perceived as mute. The same person standing on the same platform with a weak message containing nothing special or of substance to offer will be perceived as a psychotic, a loiterer or a beggar. The person on the platform must have a message, and that message must contain clear and compelling content about something that other persons want or need.

If we are to survive, we must re-discover and re-energize entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship must be encultured and cultivated like a perfect pearl through education, mentoring, inducements, incentives and through plentiful support and sponsorship.

Entrepreneurship is the foundation upon which all prosperity is built. Every significant economic boom in recorded history has been preceeded by a surge in entrepreneurial activity. Do not expect big business or big government to fix what has been broken.

When you listen to business leaders and politicians, you do not hear the word "Entrepreneur". Some years ago there were tax credits, low-interest loans and grants for capital investments, jobs creation, energy savings, research and development, building of plants and factories... Remember junior achievement business organizations? Remember prizes for selling the greatest number of tickets? Remember science fairs and competitions? Billion-dollar businesses have been started in garages and basements.

The Human mind is an immeasurably powerful tool. It is put to its greatest economic use when it is engaged in entrepreneurship.

Faithfully, and In the Spirit of Entrepreneurship,

Douglas Castle

Published by THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter. All rights reserved. Subscribe Free - Click HERE.
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