Friday, January 2, 2009

Why Is Democratic Business the Obvious Solution to Me?

Yesterday, I attempted to explain why democratic business is so important to me as a solution to the majority of the temporal problems in the world. The answer is that my life experiences have molded my perspective:

I grew up in an affluent section of a big city. The benefits of capitalism constantly surround me.

I have attended church all my life. I was blessed with a heavy conscience and a reverence for human potential.

I have started my own business. After I spent months proving that the business concept was equitable, my financer demanded 90% of the business. I shut down the operations because I could not survive on 10% of the profits.

My father is an entrepreneur. He started two successful businesses. He and I have engaged in hundreds of hours of discussions about his day-to-day business concerns.

I have lived among the people in Brazil. I know what it feels like to look at the U.S. from the outside in. I have survived on one meal a day for multiple months, experienced diseases and ailments foreign to Americans, feared for my safety at the hands of local police, drunk brown water to quench my thirst, and fought off thieves to protect what little I had.

I have lived in Hawaii and learned of its history. I have visited the Dole plantation and I have learned from the Locals how the U.S. reluctantly annexed Hawaii after corporations forcibly removed Queen Lili'uokalani--a queen loved by her people and dedicated to nonviolence--in order to protect their business interests. I have seen the resulted poverty that effects so many natives on the islands.

I have a degree in business management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I have studied the Nash equilibrium, laissez-faire capitalism, and other theories that help "businessmen" justify greedy business practices. At the same time, I have learned about the successes of Muhammad Yunus, Fabio Rosa, Albina Ruiz, and many other heroic entrepreneurs that add value to the world and not just to their pocket books.

I have a minor in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American studies. I have studied the literature of Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez, Gabriela Mistral, García Lorca, Octavio Paz, and the hundreds of other literary leaders that dedicated much of their lives and writings to fight corruption and inequality.

My collective experiences have offered me the motivation to search for a better alternative to the dominant and dominating institution of our time. I have come to realize that I would be selfish not to do all that I can to act upon those things I know to be true for the sake of those who don't know that there is a better alternative. For this reason, democratic business is so important to me.

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How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.