Increasingly, it seems, we are surrounded by and immersed in hate. It is inherent in our political system. Electoral democracy results in parties, those parties are invested in polarization, in winning versus losing, in domination, and in humiliation of the other side. Those who rise to the top in parties are those who can articulate hate most persuasively and most effectively. Angelo Codevilla called the 2-party system a “logic of mutual hate”.
It’s going to get worse, not better. Political parties don’t become more polite, more accommodating, more friendly, less rabid, more rational. They prefer to drive their supporters further apart from those of the other side, rather than bring people together. Now that both the corporate media outlets and the vast majority of the independent media are nakedly partisan, they can’t play any role of amelioration. They cheer on the hatred and throw gasoline on fires.
Happily, there is a different world, with different players, different attitudes, and different motivations. It’s the world of entrepreneurship – a unifying, elevating energy that’s the opposite of the mutual degradation of politics.
Entrepreneurship is ethical and open.
There’s an ethic of entrepreneurship. It’s not just the hard work and dedication and long-term focused effort – important though those undoubtedly are. It’s the service ethic. The entrepreneurial task and commitment is to serve others. To understand their needs and wants and desires and preferences and dreams, and to respond to them by delivering goods and services that deliver them.
Empathy is the skill that makes this possible. To quote Adam Smith, entrepreneurs want to be loved – that’s what triggers sales and revenue – and to be lovely, i.e. clearly and obviously being deserving of the customer’s love. Empathy is the emotional interchange for this beautiful reciprocity. Empathy enables the entrepreneur to feel what the customer feels, share their dreams and aspirations, and imagine what’s in their imagination for the future.
To enable empathy, communication must be clear and open. There can be no lies or deception or dissembling, otherwise the entrepreneurial ethic could not operate. Misinterpretation is in neither party’s interest – quite the opposite, as understanding exactly what customers want and communicating exactly what the entrepreneur is offering are the essence of free-market exchange. Political communication is too often the opposite: deliberately dissembling and obfuscating.
Entrepreneurship is promises made and promised kept.
Entrepreneurs make promises. Having discovered and carefully and precisely defined the nature of the customer’s need and their preferences about the way it should be fulfilled, the entrepreneurial business designs the right solution and, when the fit is perfect, seeks out the customer to let them know their need can be met. The way of communicating is to make a promise – a promise that the customer’s life will be better through the experience the entrepreneur can deliver. This is a weighty promise, and it must be kept, otherwise there’ be no second chance, and no repeat business. The entrepreneur goes to great trouble to monitor the understanding of the promise, and whether the customer experience matches the expectation that was created by the promise. A failure to keep a promise is a major business setback. If expectations aren’t met – if a delivery or a service call is late, or an item is mis-shipped or a repair is imperfect or software does not run as it should – the business leans over backwards and deploys extra resources to make things better. not only is a reputation with the customer at risk, but also with others that the customer might talk to or with whom they share experiences. Word-of-mouth is a powerful force the entrepreneur wants to keep positive, and keeping promises is the best way to do that.
Politicians make promises too. However, they’re usually meaningless or, worse, deliberately deceptive. Politicians don’t make promises in order to keep them. They make promises in order to get elected. Once they are, they feel released. They could never keep the promise in any case, because they don’t have that much power. They’re just one cog in the party machine. Promises made at the party level are similarly ditched – they can blame changed circumstances, or the opposition or conjure up a thousand other reasons why the promise can’t be kept. Or they just forget their promise, or claim they never made one.
The culture of entrepreneurship is collaborative, helpful, and civilizing.
Entrepreneurs have a heart – a lot of heart. Not only are they devoted to helping people as customers, but they are also collaborative with suppliers, fellow entrepreneurs, and everyone who works with them directly or indirectly. Entrepreneurs realize the value of interconnectivity and sharing. They sense that all entrepreneurs and customers and suppliers are in the system together – the technosphere, the economy, the industry, the local community. They participate in nested networks and systems within systems. It’s collaboration, exchange, and sharing that make systems work.
Competition has been turned into an ugly word by the dog-eat-dog crowd. It’s part of the hate. Competition is made to seem win-lose, destruction rather than creation. But that’s absolutely the wrong interpretation. Entrepreneurs’ goals are for there to be no competition: to be so unique that the customer will consider no alternative for the very specialized, very personalized service the entrepreneur delivers. Maybe it’s the best quality, maybe it’s the lowest price, maybe it’s the best integration with the customer’s processes – maybe it’s some combination of these that adds up to uniqueness. Maybe it’s exhibiting the deepest understanding of the customer’s business or daily life. In all cases, becoming uniquely qualified in the eyes of the customer is the objective entrepreneurs pursue. Whatever rivalry occurs all accrues to the benefit of the customer – better experiences and better outcomes as a result of the entrepreneurial system.
This entrepreneurial effort and entrepreneurial striving create and build market institutions. The internet is open so that all entrepreneurs can use it. Would political parties have built it that way? Amazon builds a third-party seller platform that any digital retailer can use. Apple builds an app store that any software developer can qualify to join. Google builds a search bar that we all use and we all make more useful the more we use it. True there’s some hate creeping in around the edges of some of these institutions, but it’s not entrepreneurs who are causing it.
The institutions of entrepreneurship are the bedrock of civilization. In Gallup polls of national confidence, small business (a proxy for entrepreneurs) is rated at 70% (i.e. people say they have a great deal or a lot of confidence in small business as an institution), compared to Congress at 12%. The average US institution stands at 33%. Entrepreneurs must earn people’s trust every day, and they clearly do a better job of it than politicians.
Entrepreneurship is positive and inspiring. It’s problem-solving. It’s generous and giving. It’s also busy and industrious with no time for politics and the hatred that comes with politics. Let’s promote a culture of entrepreneurship. Let’s teach our kids in school from the earliest age. Let’s teach them creativity and empathy and risk acceptance. Let’s teach them to be entrepreneurs. Let’s encourage everyone to be entrepreneurial. We’ll enjoy a better world.