This past Tuesday, after the Presidential debate I had the good fortune to turn to the History Channel and catch the premiere episode of their new mini series “Men Who Built America”.
Now, before you get the idea that I am going to start praising Romney for being a business man and bash Obama for claiming that business owners didn’t build their own success and can only succeed with government interference, I’m not.
This isn’t about the current election. Its about the change in business in the past 100+ years. I have a feeling that these men, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford and Morgan probably wouldn’t have been able to have the same success in today’s market as they were back then.
Why? Because we have grown soft as a people. We have grown complacent as entrepreneurs and we have grown so risk averse that we feel like we should be bailed out if we fail. So their single mindedness of purpose, their take no prisoners approach, their absolute refusal to accept defeat would be shunned in today’s world.
For instance, these Men Who Built America risked every thing they had when they were poor and risked fortunes when they were rich. If they failed, which they had at different points in their careers, they didn’t go looking for a government bailout to save their companies. No, they broke down and then built up something better than what had failed before.
They didn’t go looking for a handout anywhere. Sure, they were ruthless, cutthroat businessmen who would bleed each other dry in order to gain an advantage but so what? Because of these men the US moved from a country bleeding from a civil war with little imprint on a world to a National Power.
That wasn’t done with an army. That was done with resources, invention, oil, steel, innovations etc.
But yet today we have grown so soft in our complacency that places like China have gained an advantage. We run the risk of following the Roman Empire to ruin. A country that refuses to challenge itself, to grow and to continue to innovate will grow stagnate, will wither and then will die.
We can only rest on our laurels for so long, then it is time to get back to work and ply that American can-do attitude and resilience to create the next great thing.
That is what the Men Who Built America did. They didn’t try once and then quit. They didn’t fail and then look for a bailout. They were Captains of industry and Captains lead.
You only fail when you quit.
Of course, one needs to operate in an environment that is not absolutely hostile to business owners sooo…
Anyways, check the show out on the History Channel on Tuesdays at 9pm. It has great production value and is a fun and interesting way to learn a thing or two about how this country we live in actually got built outside of wars and Washington DC.