In his February 24th State of the Union Address, Barack Obama publicly declared that “The future of our economy relies on the imagination of our Entrepreneurs.”
That twelve-word sentence in President Obama’s speech isn’t about politics as much as it is about business. Your business. My business. And the dawn of a brighter new future of the ”Entrepreneurial Interdependence” era that’s now upon us.
Quick History Lesson: In the 20th century, Americans traded their Entrepreneurial Independence (which they enjoyed for the previous 200 years), and began a 50-year stint of dependence on the modern-day Corporation.
Think back to that famous scene that happened on September 17th, 1787 during the Signing of the U.S. Constitution.
The central figures who were present included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and America’s first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin. These Founding Fathers were opposed by the “entrepreneurially dependent” Loyalists who supported the British Monarchy.
What’s most interesting is the iconic events that catalyzed the the American Revolution (such as the Boston Tea Party in 1773) were influenced by business-centered values as much as politically-centered values.
I believe the golden era of Entrepreneurial Independence lasted about ninety years and happened from 1855 to 1945 as millions of immigrants landed on American shores of Ellis Island at the mouth of the Hudson River.
I’m talking about Entrepreneurs like Max Factor, Charles Atlas and Chef Boyardee, as well as Hollywood icons such as Pola Negri, Bela Lugosi, and even Bob Hope!
But then something terrible happened right after World War II. Most American entrepreneurs decided to trade their independence by selling their souls to the “Corporation.” For the next 50 years, the myth of job security prevailed.
These past 50 years represent the Dark Ages of Entrepreneurship. Specifically, this is the age I refer to as the era of “Entrepreneurial Dependence” which is marred by corporate scandals and corruption.
This avalanche of corporate scandals have rocked the stock markets, skyrocketed national debt and diminished the net worth of millions of Americans.
Yet despite the current economic downswing, I firmly believe that Entrepreneurs (with a big “E”) are at the dawn of a brighter future and brand new era of freedom which I’ll call “Entrepreneurial Interdependence.”
It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
For over 200 years, starting with the Founding Fathers (18th century) to golden age of immigant entrepreneurs (20th century), the U.S. economy was driven by Entrepreneurial Independence.
Then for the next 50 years – beginning at the end of World War II until today – we’ve found ourselves in the Dark Ages of Entrepreneurial Dependence.
With the Internet coming of age at the beginning of the 21st century, and the most recent social media onslaught of YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter, we are about to enter the third and brightest business era in economic history!
It is the modern era of what Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine, calls Radical Transparency. It is the bold new economic era of “Entrepreneurial Interdependence” … and I predict it’ll be a wild and fruitful ride!
Here’s a summary of the way I see the 3 epochs of Entrepreneurship:
First Epoch (1755 – 1945): Entrepreneurial Independence
Second Epoch (1945 – 2010): Entrepreneurial Dependence
Third Epoch (2010 – Future): Entrepreneurial Interdependence
I believe that next year (2010), and possibly this even year, the global economy is going to be driven by the cheerful expectency of the Entrepreneurial Interdependence mindset.
Interdependence is dramatically different than “dependence” and even “independence.” Interdependence is the state or a dynamic of being mutually responsible to and sharing a common set of principles with others.
Ironically, Karl Marx was the first to use the term in his Communist Manifesto (1848) to desribe self-sufficiency.
Renowned historian, Will Durant wrote about it in his Declaration of Interdependence (1944). Other thought leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Roosevelt and Stephen Covey have written and spoken at length about it.
My favorite quote about Interdependence is by William James who wrote:
“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.”
In my view, the business community stagnates without the impulse of the Interdependent Entrepreneur and because you’ve read this far, my sense is that you probably agree with me. Right?
What To Do Now: I encourage you to start smiling at the future and begin celebrating your own Entrepreneurial Interdependence. Focus on building stronger and more trusted strategic alliances. That’s where the profits are.
The bottom line is that the the quality of your professional life is based on the quality of the company you keep – your strategic alliances. As best-selling author Jim Collins says, “First who, then what.”
Although I don’t agree with all of President Obama’s economic philosophies, I do agree with his recent declaration, “The future of our economy relies on the imagination of our Entrepreneurs.” Whether you agree or disagree, please share your thoughts with me and the rest of the world.
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