What is more likely: That an American entrepreneur will look for an early exit strategy to live the good life in Europe or that a French impresario will consider giving up a dinner invitation to Pierre Gagnaire (one of the World’s best restaurants) for a meeting with potential investors?
As absurd as the question seems, that is the tone of the debate going on among the readers of celebrity-entrepreneurs Michael Arrington (Joie De Vivre: The Europeans Are Out To Lunch) and Loic Le Meur (Should Michael Arrington Be Invited At LeWeb Next Year). The word battle, taking place across blogs posts, comments, twitter messages continues to scale as people are quick to join sides and it seems there are only two ways of being an entrepreneur: you either kill yourself building a company and sacrifice all immediate personal satisfaction or give up trying to be successful in the business world but discover the joys of life.
What most people engaged in this debate are not recognizing (and I’ll admit I haven’t finished reading all comments/posts) is that everyone is really advocating the liberal ideology, where individual success is what matters the most. One could even judge from recent events, that individuals may feel entitled to succeed at the expense of others.
The American entrepreneurial spirit, driven by hyper-competition will not hesitate to take every opportunity to grow a business, which would be great if the ultimate objective of such business was to enhance the life of all the people that depend on it. But too many times we’ve seen greed triumph over the high ideals of the early capitalists, leading to an early sell without concern (more on this from Matthew Ingram) for long term prosperity. However, a life style without such ambition may lead to stagnation. Feeling entitled to long lunches, 35-hour weeks without producing the output that the world needs to overcome the current crisis, may be just as damaging, though.
In past posts I’ve explored the relationship between growing cities and their hunger for an accelerated rhythm. I’ve also quietly considered what is it that everyone wishes in the long term. Why are people attracted to quiet, relaxed retreats away from the fast-lived scene of the big cities?
It seems to me that putting the individual ahead of the collective is the cause of problems in any case. If the entrepreneur was every bit as considered when selling the business as he was while building the business, accounting not only for individual pay-out but overall society impact… and every citizen just as concerned for overall output, even at the expense of personal gratification we may have a new entrepreneurial spirit for our post-bonanza era.