I think we need a name change - for our country.
Brands that emerge from bankruptcy change their names to reflect the new, new, brand. The new brand name is as much to disguise its connections with its past as to point to a new future, a renewed connection with its stakeholders (customers, employees, partners, vendors, community and yes, investors).
Brands that merge together have often taken one of three paths:
1. They try to change their name entirely to hide their collective past, think Bernie Ebbers and LDDS to MFS to MFS-IDB to IDB-Worldcom to MCI to over-reach into Sprint, pine forest harvests and a current stint in prison. (Re-branding can go too far.)
2. They consume the name of one of the partners immediately or slowly so no one notices...think Hewlett-Packard and Compaq
3. They hyphenate it with the same commitment as hyphenated marriages, each partner trying to hedge their bets against commitment. Think AOL/Time-Warner or Time-Warner/AOL. House dividends never stand.
Our country has had the same name now for 200-225 years. And given the recent abuses and tumult in our financial systems, the excesses in our banking and credit and our mortgage industry, and their devastation on our economy and jobs, not to mention the world’s economy...I think a name change is due.
Let’s change our country’s name to the United States of...Entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are the drivers for our economy. Drivers go places. People volunteer to go with them, to share their vision. Hijackers...of any sort, even entire industries...don’t.
Entrepreneurs move forward. They don’t stand still. They take action. Forward movement in this economy is good and needed.
Entrepreneurs have vision. Communicating and executing a vision requires leadership. And Lord, we need both in our country today. Both, from all constituents, from all philosophies, all demographics. Our country was built and continues to live on vision and leadership...from everybody offering ideas to change and improve our country. Just like companies need participation from every employee in order to maximize its potential. And just saying no to every new idea isn’t participation. Nor is it helping.
Entrepreneurs create companies around their vision. These companies then create jobs to fulfill that vision, bring those products and services to market. Our country needs a lot more entrepreneurs with a lot more vision to create a lot more companies that need a lot more jobs filled.
A common characteristic in the recent collapse of those above-mentioned industries was their failure to listen to their employees. A small group in major companies in each industry...hijacked their brand’s purpose. Peter Drucker stated that a company’s sole purpose is to create an audience, create customers, for its products. They do that by marketing and innovation. That near-universal purpose was hijacked by...the sin of greed and the conscious ignoring of a company’s most important asset: their employees.
Entrepreneur’s are all about innovation and marketing, creating an audience for their new solution: 1.) first from employees, 2.) second from prospects 3.) and third from loyal customers. Somewhere in this progression are investors and partners, vendors. But, no employees, no business. No customers, no revenues. I think the priorities are correct, here.
Given the competition from a global marketplace, the pace of change to compete in that industry, the rising pace of commoditization of products and manufacturing...it’s imperative that companies make their employees into entrepreneurs. My good friend Michael E. Rubin facebooked a phrase I really liked: ‘employee entrepreneur.’ It’s the business equivalent of citizen democracy in government.
Where companies have employee entrepreneur’s, everyone participates. It’s imperative. Everyone is personally engaged with the outcome. Rewards are connected to desirable outcomes. Desirable outcomes are communicated, shared, discussed, celebrated.
Perhaps, this is how we truly deliver the promise of ownership in our nation. We create multiple owners in each company by making all employees entrepreneurs. We all get a small taste of that dessert and how to bake it for ourselves and our colleagues. Then we’ll be able to do that for our communities, states, nation.
It’s not as fanciful as it seems. We have an existing entrepreneur class, now. No, it’s not the millennials or Gen-y’ers. It’s the Boomers. That’s right. Jack Schultz from the BoomTown Institute shared this in a recent newsletter: “Over the past decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity (a measurement of new business creation) belongs to the 55-64 age group.”
By funny coincidence, this is the same age group that has experienced the greatest difficulty in being rehired in this economy. And this is the same group whose advice, integrity, commitment and dedication were ignored by the above-mentioned industry groups.
The seeds of their demise were planted when they ignored this talented group of dedicated individuals. Now...this group is motivated further by internal and external forces to be...entrepreneurs. And we all know us Boomers were known for being self-centered, the Me-generation, Woodstock, the excesses of the 90’s...
And, who better to lead a rebranding of our country than this group? And, who better to lead this rebranding effort becoming entrepreneurs. And by doing so, revitalize our country, our economy...the global economy? What better purpose for the Me generation than to give back and create a nation of entrepreneurs?
United States of America...emerges as the United States of Entrepreneurs...and we carry our torch of freedom for another 200 years.
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About the Author: Zane Safrit's passion is small business and the operations' excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit.