Sunday 13 January 2008

Stick 'em up

Why do people go into business? Every new month I ask this question to the group of people who continually join the company I represent. Every month for as long as I can remember anywhere from 15 to 25 people join us on our high-tech mission and they get stuck with me for a morning for some induction. I give everyone a pen and a piece of paper and I ask them this question. I tell everyone that their answer should go something like this "People go into business to …" and I ask them to fill in what comes after that. The reason I ask them to write down their answers as opposed to call it out is because we are talking about a group of people and I don’t want anyone to influence anyone else. I want answers that are simple and honest. I want answers that are unique. And I want people to think for themselves. One last thing, I ask them not to write more than a sentence. I have learnt that the truth in life (the truth about anything) is simple. Honest statements are short. Oops, I got carried away as usual.

Where were we? Oh yes, the one sentence description of life, the universe and everything else. I am sure this does not come as a big surprise but most answers I get go like this. "Money", "Big money", "Wealth", "Profits", and my favourite "Bucks", as in "People go into business to make money." and "People go into business to make big money." and "People go into business to make big bucks" … you get the idea. Now, this type of thinking is totally mainstream, and understandable. We could go on and on as to why we all think like this but I will save that for another VLOG. The short of it is this: just switch on the TV one evening and watch some of the programs on C-NBC or CNN or pick up a Fortune Magazine or whatever and you will be bombarded with stories and images of "get rich quick" and "double your wealth in 1 month on the stock market" and "IPO boom" and "ride the technology wave" and and and … I know you have seen this movie many times. Seriously if you heard a group of people talking about their business and you asked them "Why are you guys in business?" and they answered "To make profits." You would not look at them in weird way. But if they said "We are trying to make a difference in the world." You way say "Yeah, right". Try and tell your bank manager you want a loan so you can start a business that helps people. Yeah, right.

The many answers I seen written down on those little pieces of paper are typically all pretty similar. About 1 in every 10 has something unique like "People go into business to follow a dream and try and change the world for the better." It is these answers that make for great debate. And it is these answers that get people thinking. Stop now if you are a greedy cynic who thinks everything is about money. Stop. Ok, you have been warned. What follows may interrupt your breathing. And it may cause you to change a few things tomorrow. Now you really have been warned. And one last thing, the following is short and simple. Why? Because I believe it is the truth. And also because I need to finish this VLOG in time for the late Sunday night movie.

If business really is all about making money then does it really matter what you do? And in these greedy times it is not just about money. It is about big money; fast money; without any understanding of the "fundamentals"; it is about get-rich-quick. So, surely we should pick the fastest, easiest route then to achieving this end. If it really is all about money then you might as well become a gangster or a drug dealer. Why choose IT or whatever when they are so many easier ways to make money. I can think of so many effortless and quick ways to make big money. I could just go and rob someone and then take the rest of the decade off. But hang on, perhaps you are not so conformable with that job description? Perhaps that does not agree with you? Maybe there is more to it than just making money. Maybe what we do is important after all. Maybe what we like or love doing should be an aspect. Well, it is the most important aspect. We should strive to do work in the world that we have an affinity towards; things we are passionate about; things we believe in. Maybe there is more to it than just making as much money as possible. Maybe it is about trying to do the things that are in your heart - the things you love doing. History has taught us that the most successful ventures are always those that have been a labour of love.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker