The entrepreneurial mind

Thought this had some bits of interest, though the English was atrocious:

The basic problem with our society is a disconnect between consensus reality and actual reality. We actually have no shortage of natural leaders. But they cannot actually lead us anywhere.

Another word which could be added is compliance, which is so far from what the writer is getting at that it’s two worlds. The sort of person referred to is an entrepreneur:

The hedonic treadmill! Never having sold a startup for $40 mil, there are many subtle, refined and delicious forms of hedonism of which I am as innocent as a cat of tennis.

Still fresh in the memory was a conversation I had with a Russian “businessman” who’d carved his way in a very rough world where people let you down all the time. That hedonism was in him, in that he decided when and where, how much, to whom, with whom and from whom. I think he saw his English lessons with me as some sort of oasis and as he said, it was the far-ranging discussions which improved his language most, whilst the coffee and sweetmeats filled a space and the calm was what he needed after the vicissitudes out there.

He had a heady mix of hedonistic pleasures [la dolce vita] at the club, at the eatery he knew tucked away down some side road, always with some woman at this one, with some partner at that one, he went to the gym all major wheelers and dealers had to attend but also he had huge worries – he stood or fell by his next decision and ability to find new niches in the chemicals business.

We met one day at one of the finer eateries high in the sky and compared lifestyles. Though each of my ventures was quite mundane – teaching English here, doing a few deals there, I half-controlled my life, that is I was committed to eight hours here, four there and the diary ruled. When I read Bill Bryson’s definition of pleasure – blank spaces in the diary, I knew what he meant.

My client/colleague/friend was earning about double what I was and I was earning more than maybe 70% of Russians, to the point I could take trips abroad or buy sufficient for comfort. He could obviously do those but he had these enormous worries and he lacked one vital ingredient for an entrepreneur – he did give a damn. People were letting him down the whole time and I heard some of his frazzled conversations and barked orders, even over lunch.

I opined that I’d prefer my little niche where I’d gathered various things together, even TV appearances, each contributing a little to the lifestyle and lacking the horrific pressure he was under. In his world, women and fine wines were disposable pleasures, whereas I preferred to dwell, shall we say, and explore possibilities. Subsequent events which turned all that on its head were always a possibility, were always going to come but for now they hadn’t and so there was no point worrying over them.

“Hedonic [?] treadmill” – that’s what he was on, just as he was physically on the treadmill at the club. And being your own master, you’re actually not. You’re as driven by market forces and niches as any salaried employee is enslaved in a different way. Once the safety net – which these days is no safety net – is cast aside and a man [or woman] starts taking risks, backing his own abilities, then there is the basis of a sustained lifestyle but once successful, the next problem arises – how far it controls you.

Agatha Christie wrote of a steel magnate, in The Seven Dials Mystery [1929]:

“He’s got on wonderfully in the world and naturally he wants something to show for it but many’s the time I wonder where it will all end. It’s like a runaway horse,” said Lady Coote. “Got the bit between its teeth and away it goes. He’s got on and he’s got on and he’s got on until he can’t stop getting on. He’s one of the richest men in England – but does that satisfy him? No, he still wants more. He wants to be – I don’t know what he wants to be! I can tell you, it frightens me sometimes!”

What he does have though, I have to a lesser extent and maybe you have, is the ability to think for oneself, to make decisions affecting oneself and one’s family and fear of failure does not stop one from trying something new. What many such men [and women] lack though is the ability to discern, to put into perspective, to apply a certain spirituality to what they do. And some can despair. Despair is the first step in the inevitable way down.

When I was invited to a weekend at a resort on the Volga, with private banya, croquet lawn, speedboat etc., I was meant to be impressed with the opulence – that was what it was all about – but I was more impressed with the setting and just enjoying it. I could have stayed days and enjoyed it whereas he had to be back in town and doing, doing. I had to be doing too but could plan time away. He couldn’t leave his working world alone.

Thus he is probably still doing that, still with sufficient means and I’m here blogging at you, with very little, having lost almost all and that was because, in the end, I was in thrall to people above who could still turn my world on its head. So whose way was better?

I’d argue both. His mindset and mine was that we are not beholden, we’re not sheep, we still control our own destinies against the best attempts of Them and the compliant, enslaving culture. I’ve no intention whatever of remaining like this although there are great pleasures along the way and I love where I live, it’s a beautiful spot. But we all need to be earning and as the working culture in Britain is so … er … f***** … er, what’s a polite word for it [?] – as it’s that, the govt has made entrepreneurialism almost an impossibility unless one pays one’s dues to the dark side and joins the inner coterie in each town.

Chuckles mentioned the main point of this linked article at the the top and that was what happens when you export your capital to create foreign industries to compete with and shut your domestic ones. I never quite got around to that.

The article defines hedonism a bit differently to the way it’s been used above:

the belief that the purpose of economic activity is the satisfaction of human desires. More spending means more production, and more production means more satisfaction. This perspective, of course, originates with 18th- and 19th-century liberals and utilitarians. You can see it all over Sam Altman’s hedonic treadmill.

For example: how much more fun of a computer is an iPad than an Apple II? Is it 37.6 times more fun? Or 198.2 times more fun? Or even 547.9? It would seem clear, to anyone not a blithering idiot, that any process which claims to be able to derive any such number is retarded at best and may well constitute felony math abuse.

… and different again to what Chuckles was looking at. This post is getting way too long now so I’ll need to return for a part 2 to make comment on exporting capital to make foreign industries.

Hope I’m qualified enough to make comment of value on that.

2 comments for “The entrepreneurial mind

  1. Single Acts of Tyranny
    March 16, 2013 at 6:51 am

    What inner coterie?

  2. March 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    unless one pays one’s dues to the dark side and joins the inner coterie in each town.

    Common Purpose in general and the dominant party’s group as well.

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