Years ago, when I was an analyst with Booz Allen, I recall being in a meeting with an impassioned client engaging in a heated discussion with our enervated team. The senior partner sat back and listened for a bit and then just stood up, put his hand firmly on the table inducing a perplexed silence. He simply asked, “Why are we all here?…We are here to make money!” This poignant epiphany brought everyone out of the minutia and back into a productive discussion about the opportunity being considered.
Now I know that capitalism has become grossly misunderstood and considered a nasty notion due to the many nefarious acts of greed over the past few decades done in the name of ‘capitalism.’ The character of Gordon Gecko didn’t do free enterprise any favors proclaiming, “greed is good.” Greed isn’t necessarily good, and it certainly is NOT aligned with capitalism. In fact, I argue that greed and capitalism are antitheses of one another.
The traditional notion of capitalism is all about the pursuit of long-term value and greed is about a short-term cash grab. Capitalism is all about prioritizing the needs of the greater venture whereas greed is about indulging an individual’s wants. Any good leader and capitalist will always prioritize the needs of the greater good over the wants of any one individual. The truth is that greed is easier. It is easy to take a shortsighted and myopic view over circumstances that likely demand larger, multi-variant thinking. Capitalism is hard as it requires thoughtful understanding of a larger picture, and it takes discipline, patience, and diligence to make decisions that support the capitalist path.
I am a capitalist. I believe in the consummate pursuit of opportunities that have a chance at achieving significant, long-term value, and I do not apologize for embracing this philosophy. I have learned to brace myself for the vitriol that often follows my unabashed pursuit of capitalism. So all of you self-righteous, altruists out there who have already decided to burn my name and thoughts in effigy in a visceral rant you can micro blog over the internet ethos, indulge me a few thoughts on the merits of what having a long term fiduciary goal does in support of a venture:
• Aligns company incentives – fosters employee loyalty & productivity
• Allows management to provide benefits & healthcare to employees
• Leads to long-term business growth & creation of more jobs
For those that begrudge the billionaires out there and the choices some of them may make, my commentary is to quit your bitching and build a venture that generates copious amounts of dollars so that you can personally decide to funnel millions to whatever philanthropic pursuit you believe is meaningful. That would be your choice. Try as we might, we cannot ever hope to control the behavior, intention or actions of others. And last I checked, it wasn’t the road to heaven that was paved by good intentions. The best we can do is become good stewards of capitalism and cultivate a generation of meaningful leaders. It is the greedy and insecure that use their power to imprison. It is the insecure leaders that need to surround themselves with people who simply validate their greedy pursuits. It is the excellent ones that use their power to afford freedoms and create jobs and stoke innovation. That is the essence of capitalism. So those of you who are willing to put aside the egregious bastardization of capitalism and open your minds to a discussion on achieving significant long-term value, I welcome you to engage in The Unapologetic Capitalist.