The Secret to a Successful Business

Some thoughts on evaluating a successful business. There are three aspects to growing a successful business, and all three of these need to be great:

  1. Quality Products
  2. Quality Brand Marketing
  3. Quality Sales Force

I’ll elaborate on each of these aspects in the following paragraphs.

Continue reading “The Secret to a Successful Business”

The Great Dichotomy: Passionate Power

Random musings.

Money to get power, and power to guard the money.”
~Medici family motto

Dichotomies are interesting. Many are none other than existential paradoxes: mind and body, thought and matter, possibility and necessity, spiritual and physical,  and the list goes on. Kierkegaard, as well as Nietzsche and other agents of enlightenment, was a literary guru when it came to expounding upon how to live with these irreconcilable realities. Over the years I’ve learned to cope with the resulting blindness of these realities, the otiose character of life and the recondite disunion of body and soul. I’ve compromised with myself and learned to live with one eye pointed inward and the other pointed outward so as to balance introspection and aspiration.

In recent years I’ve faced a dilemma of deciding what to do with my life and career. It’s not like I didn’t see this crisis coming, but I guess I didn’t realize how many times I would be wrestling with my conclusions and convictions. Despite the temporary setbacks and failures mottling my youth, I’ve orchestrated my education beautifully over the years, exploiting a multitude of disciplines of thought and growing ever cognizant of how achievement is actualized. I’ve gone to great pains to realize the context of my condition and the contingencies of my aspirations.

Out of my experience grew two concentrations of study, economics and philosophy, each representing the broader dichotomies encompassing life. One satisfies my intuitions about what I perceive other people to value, the other regards what I value in my heart. I’ve tried to reconcile these over the years and explain why this dichotomy exists, whether a balance can be achieved, or what direction I should favor. For a long time I decided to refuse to sell out. But this clashed with the omnious system that I would face upon entering the workforce: success seemed tantamount to abiding to the myriad of expectations laid out by others.  As I have no trust fund to lean on for support, no assets to buy my way into fortune (compounding investment: you must have money if you wish to accumulate more money), I faced the reality that no upper echelon would endorse my musings, my art, my thoughts, unless I belonged to them, to their network or, by chance, satisfied their criterion of worth.

The citizen of the world in me refused to conform to the ‘system’, to the authority that dictates standardized achievement and propagates worldly values. The autonomy within me bucked as I studied philosophy and developed the tools and methods for critical inquiry, tools I used to ridicule the backward nature I learned to see in the world. The pragmatic element of my spirit recognized the utility of conformity and uptook various preoccupations that would fashion my mind according to them, such as the study of economics and finance.

But I ask myself: what does it take to be successful? I always like referring to the context in question. I’m American. I live in a ‘democratic’ country where the few rule the many. The few in this case are not the parasitic politicians (although in many cases, when it’s convenient, they are one in the same). The politicians are figureheads, merely the arm or scepter of power, not the head of governance. The true source of governance and power resides in the wealthy, the capitalists, the business owners, the stock holders. These are the greats that arbitrate the economic and political atmosphere. They embody the will to power. They pass the laws, set the wages, orchestrate the commerce, conduct the symphonious marketplace we’re lead to believe is free and open. The current sentiment is that if governance is left to the people, we’ll be in a real mess. The populous is simply a bewildered herd, uneducated and incapable of self-rule. (The Wagner Act of 1935 was the last real effort of the masses to mobilize. Since then these efforts have been squashed. Unions are ‘evil’ and communist.) This is why we live in a ‘democratic republic’ where we elect a small group of ‘leaders’ to instruct the masses on which policies they should live by.

To be successful you must be a sycophant. More specifically, you must possess utility for those in power. If you cannot help these people achieve more power, you are worthless and will amount to nothing more than a cog, expendable and interchangeable. But the wealthy will not extend a job or opportunity to just anyone with ample capacity and a strong will. No. They must be familiar with you. You must possess some wealth, influence, charisma, intelligence, talent or power that they can leverage for their own gain. Posterity is as empty as truth. Rationality is an instrument of the powerful: they dictate the rules of the game, the vernacular, the premises and logical structure of your success.

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” (Nietzsche)

Rationality is a function of motives, of intention. Pin-point desires and motivations and you can construct a cathedral of reason to leverage against those in power to mutually achieve independently contrived ends.

The questions that have wracked my mind most over the years: Do I follow my heart or my mind? Do I follow my passions or my prudence? What it’s come down to is that, given the current state of affairs, given my context as a young American, passions are prized only in youth, as is freedom. With the coming of age what is most prized is security, with the passions left to fantasy much like the irrealism of dreams are left to enamoring vagaries. We discard our passions and convictions, our fantastical visions of grandeur for a better world, in favor of a ‘realism’ scented with a dark cynicism that dispels illusion, that acquiesces under the ‘system’ that we obey out of sheer necessity grown from our will to survive. What has been trampled is our will to power, but it is never too late to revive this urge.

The artists, when they are not lining the capitalists pockets with profits, are simply muses in the most passive sense of the term. These artists are no longer concerned with inspiring as much as they are fixed on entertaining, or ‘amusing’, for their agenda is the same as the capitalists: money. They render the audience as docile and facile as possible, getting them in a blurred frenzy, caught up in emotion, totally distracted from the realities that oppress their sad existence. The poorest, the most impoverished left with only their intangible dreams, love these entertainers the most. Since they cannot live through possessions and materialism they escape through fantasy, artificial emotions induced through hollow emotives.

I’ve decided I want to sell out, for a time. I want to master the system so I can one day create the system. Considering my background, I’ve played my cards right up until now: the best university, the best internships, solid degrees, great grades. What is necessary now is to capitalize on these achievements instead of forfeiting them for the preponderances of my heart, the longings of my spirit, the existential conundrums I unravel in my reflections.

What I need to do is exploit the source of power for my ends: finance. I need to get into the industry where all the wealthy have a mutual stake. Wealth is the common denominator of power. Investment banking, wealth advising, asset management.

I need to toss these ephemeral thoughts about passion, about right and wrong, about selfless creation, to the garbage. They are fruitless. If I want to succeed, I must capitalize on my strengths: people skills, smooth talking, will-power, vision, charm, intelligence, good nature, pleasant appearance. I can be obedient. My rebellious nature was resistant to obey arbitrary authority, and my attitude throughout school and to my superiors proves this. But this needs to be corrected if I am to succeed and dominate. I must fawn these superiors in order to advance. There are many who wish to succeed, but only those who stroke the ego’s of those holding the keys to power will allow be to ascend to their true potential. I look around me and I see so much talent. Young automatons do everything right, except they haven’t a clue that doing everything right has a ceiling. You must not only serve the interest of your superiors, you must also create value for them, you must learn to hijack and supplant their vision with yours in order to aid them in their accumulation and concentration of capital. In this way achievement is guaranteed.

Morality does not exist. There are no facts, only interpretations. You cannot have a universal moral conscience as a businessman, as a ruler of wealth: only a fabricated justification that accepts the inequality of man as a rule. Nietzsche said, “The reasons for which ‘this’ world has been characterized as ‘apparent’ are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable.” Those in power dictate these reasons. Their are the moral clergymen.

It’s interesting to consider the influence of media control. The media is the mouthpiece of the powerful. As Chomsky said in his book Media Control, “Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

Who rules the world? The powerful, the elite. These are the American ruling class. We elect proffered politicians which have been paid for by these elite with the single agenda of taming the bewildered herd, of keeping the masses complacently compliant.

Slavery was replaced by share cropping, which has been replaced by credit and loans: all of these forms of debt rob the citizens of equality, life and liberty, and it’s legal. Bankruptcy laws. Capital gains taxes. Trickle down economics. Sub-prime mortgage lending. Failed education reforms: No child left behind. The war on drugs. The rise in pharmaceutical psycho-therapeutics. Currency manipulation: Coinage Act of 1972. Foreign wars and fear mongering, communism, creating enemies like Russian and terrorists as a means of keeping the populous paralyzed and fearful, of keeping their attention turned outward instead of inward. All creating fear. All manufactured to suit the ends of the elite. All propaganda.

Truth and lies are one in the same. They condemn or praise according to which subjective end you are most vested.

 

Thinking about the next big thing

To make significant headway towards a legitimate start-up idea, I need to think about the next big, up-and-coming demands of future industries.

To distill the gyst of this post, I want to consider business ideas that leverage and cater to:
1) the creation of social capital
2) the redesign of necessary goods that could use a great emotional appeal
3)  increasing the userability of products and technology that are currently too difficult to use, but would only improve the lives if it weren’t so complicated.

So,
I was giving some thought to the progression of past big-industry booms in an effort to project future industry needs and demands.

If we just look at the past twenty five years or so, and just off the top of my mind, a couple booms come to mind:
Late 70’s airline industry
Early 80’s the computer industry
Mid 80’s financial industry and investment banking
Mid-late 90’s internet and *.com boom
Mid 90’s early 00’s health and wellness industry
Early 00’s web 2.0 and social networking platforms
Early 00’s Genetic engineering and GMO’s
Early 00’s nano-technology
Early 00’s Green technology
Early 00’s- Current Microfinancing and Social entrepreneurship
Currently- Healthcare

And I’m sure we can find plenty of other booms within specific industries.
So,I was online digging around and doing some research and this article struck me, particularly because I did an independent research project last spring: Social Capital

It deals with this elusive term “social capital’ which was recently coined, and still being understood and defined, as a type of capital that forms as a result of trust between individuals. The definition I recall that most accurately describes social capital is: An instantiated informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals; or the good-will/ trust between individuals that fosters cooperative exchanges. Some examples of social entrepreneurs actively leveraging social capital include companies such as Tom’s shoes, socialvibe.com, and other businesses that emphasize the fostering of social relations within communities, be it local or oversees.

For his marketing class, a friend visited a social entrepreneurial startup called the Nashville Entrepreneur Center that provides a location for fledgling entrepreneurs to share and develop ideas for a small price. This business provides a location in the community where entrepreneurs can get their start-ups off the ground. They make money off a premium they charge for the use of their facilities and resources, and by taking a percentage of ownership in the company. This is a perfect example of businesses leveraging social capital as a means to generate profit because it is a win-win for everyone involved.

Another possible emerging market is the design and userability industry.
I’ve read a few books that discuss a trend towards connecting people emotionally to the vast quantities of information generated the past two dozen years as a result of the information age. Most notable, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future”  by Daniel Pink and “The 8th Habit” by Stephen Covey. They discuss the various technological ages and industry revolutions throughout the past two hundred years, mentioning the scientific revolution, the industrial, the green (Advances in agriculture which eliminated food shortages), the current information age. The trend points to connecting people with the most recent information age which has left people overwhelmed and detached from the enormous amount of technology and information it generated. They argue what we need more of is not necessarily more lawyers, accountants, engineers and the like, but people who create meaning from the mass of information they generate. What we need are Artists and designers: innovative people with vision.

They highlight a current trend that points to connecting people with this technology.  It means making sense of the new technology and information by making it easy to use and understand, and creating an emotional component that people can identify and relate to. Web 2.0 and social networking is an example of satisfying that demand. Apple has does this geniusly with its products that are designed to emotionally appeal to people and are easy to use, not just in their design (Apple’s product designs are hypnotically beautiful), but in their products. What appeals more to the emotions than music? IPod? Target has also recognized this demand by innovating even the simplest products with designs that appeal to people (just look at their toilet scrubbers. They scream sensuality).

Anyway. To recap on the gyst of all this:
Lets consider business ideas that leverage and cater to:
1) the creation of social capital
2) the redesign of necessary goods that could use a great emotional appeal
3)  increasing the userability of products and technology that are currently too difficult to use, but would only improve the lives if it weren’t so complicated.