The New Capitalism

I hate to admit this but I bought another book. I think I am addicted to reading. I will be honest and say I have an addictive personality. Anyone that knew me in the 60’s would have seen evidence of this, mainly through negative addictions. Currently, my addictions are more positive. Reading, golf, and hopefully writing. One thing my reading habit is giving me is exposure to new and creative ways of doing business.

The book I purchased is entitled “Let My People Go Surfing.” First of all I was intrigued by the title having grown up in Southern California. And, after learning about Yvon Chouinard, I am interested in his managerial style and his motive for doing business. Let me give you a window into his personality.

“I’ve been a businessman for almost fifty years. It is difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being a alcoholic or a lawyer. I’ve never respected the profession.” Is he talking about business of being a lawyer? After this comment he gives us a window into his feelings about business in general.

“It’s business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the earth with the effluent from its factories.” This complaint is standard for most who do not understand that business involves people. If we were to stop here we would get a skewed picture of his foundational beliefs. Yvon is using hyperbola to make his point, or demonstrate his high calling, involving why he does business the way he does.

“Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul. That is what this book is about.” Now we know what Yvon Chouinard believes. Now we know why he does business the way he does.

One more quote then I will make my point. “No young kid growing up ever dreams of someday becoming a businessman. He wants to be a fireman, a sponsored athlete, or a forest ranger. The Lee Iacoccas, Donald Trumps, and Jack Welches of the business world are heroes to no one except other businessmen with similar values.” In this highly sexist language Yvon makes a very good point. As children we grow up wanting to make a difference in this world, and somewhere along the line we lose that dream and turn to making money. Usually because we have a family and need to put food on the table.

Why does making money need to be causeless and uncreative? It doesn’t! We often associate greed with business, usually for good cause, but it is not the process of business that is greedy but the people that do business. The process of exchange is a natural event that is required in all societies. It is not the event that is the problem but how the event occurs. Therefore, Yvon is an example of how the process of business can be done, making a profit and giving back to the community. Sounds good to me.

And that is my thought for the day!


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