Monday, June 4, 2012

The Altruistic Entrepreneur

"While profit remains the final goal, entrepreneurs spend the better part of each day figuring out how better to serve the needs of their actual and potential customers.  They are operationally, if not intentionally, altruistic."

Dinesh D'Souza

Interesting that D'Souza would combine economics with zoology.

Altruism is basically a zoological term!

According to my Oxford dictionary, altruism means "behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense."

How is that possible?  I thought entrepreneurs were about their OWN BENEFIT!?  They reap all the profits, right?

But according to D'Souza the final profit is the end goal!  Where is the damage before that happens?

By definition, entrepreneurs are risk takers.  They are self driven and self confident.  Go ahead, try to talk them out of what they are doing.  They are risking their reputations, for sure, but also suffer in terms of family, finances and livelihood. 

When they are putting together their crank idea, let's say an image-dissecting camera tube that can transmit an image (television), an entrepreneur's true source of strength is an inner source.  These are driven people.  In terms of the television, only about three people thought it could be done, and they competed!  They did have interaction with each other, but finally Philo T. Farnsworth had his patent accepted and his company put out the Philco television.

You should know that in a nearly secret, basement lab (which he called "the cave") Farnsworth also invented a defense early-warning system, submarine detection devices, radar calibration equipment, and an infrared telescope.  One of his most significant developments was a circular-sweep radar display used in controlling air traffic.  He was essentially the father of today's air-traffic control systems.

Unable to get financing for his ideas, he cashed in all his family's personal wealth to keep things afloat.  Not succeeding the end of his life was a tailspin of personal disaster and in his emotionally and physically-weak state contracted and died of pneumonia.  He was only 64.

In this case, profit was not the end result, but the benefits to other animals were great.  This story is one of an altruist.  And a true entrepreneur.

Now that I think of it, Jobs was only 56 when he died.  While he did reap profits, his personal suffering, in many ways, was a big part of that story.

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