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Think big, think wide, think wisely

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Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and humanist mind.

Richard Branson, an entrepreneur and humanist mind.

In a previous post, I was talking about the importance of education in the process of an enterprising mind development. Recently, I was reading an article in the Datanews magazine, about Sebastien de Halleux, a successful Belgian entrepreneur. In this article, few mentioned points are the evidence that education and entrepreneurial attitude are the key of a successful life. By success, we should not think only about financial success, but about personal success, when you give to yourself the possibility to move forward.

Sebastien de Halleux, is a 35 years old serial entrepreneur, who founded “Playfish”, an online game software company. In the interview, he mentioned that one regret he had is to have not move earlier to the United States to develop his business, and said that if you want to develop a business, you have to locate it in the country where it make more sense, and United States remain the best place for the online games or social media business. Despite the location, Sebastien mentions something I pay attention to. As Belgian like me, he mentions that you can’t find the international top people in Brussels, capital of Belgium, capital of Europe. We have to mention that Belgium is facing economical crisis like many other European countries, but some statistics show that the entrepreneurship rate is lower of 30% than the average level in Europe. Such statement does not appear positive about the mid-term economical development. Could Belgium not have a stronger economy, should not it be possible to become a country with successful companies like in the Silicon Valley? Is it because Belgium is a small country?

In his comment, Sebastien de Halleux talks about “international”, says that you have to think big. Today, the world is a village thanks to new technologies and the globalization of the economy. In order to be a successful player in this world, education is essential to build a successful life. This is the reason why the government has to ensure the development of an efficient education system. It has to be an ongoing process of investment. It requires important financial resources, but the mid and long-term returns are priceless for the society but also for each individual who will have the possibility to build his own way, his own life, with positive impact on his personal wellness. Each people have to be encouraged to make studies he likes, not only for economical purpose, but also to open his mind. We see these last years students who have to choose to make other studies, because some quotas in the field they choose were reached. This is in my mind totally senseless. If you ask around you, you will meet a lot of people doing a job without direct links to the studies they did. But it doesn’t mean that the studies they did are useless. Studies are useful first to develop the process and the wish to learn. We are learning everyday. For those who remember the Steve Jobs speech at the Standford University, they remember him saying that you never know in advance what you will do and if what you learn will be useful. Some students will probably do a job that does not yet exist, but the most important is to connect the “dots”, to use what you learn to create something. In Apple company, a lot of Steve Jobs collaborators were not IT guys, but biologists, physicians, but they were really passionated by the Apple story. By mentioning this, I mean that “international” means “to think high, to think wide, big, to think wisely”.

I mentioned previously the lack of entrepreneurs in Belgium and the statement that some Belgian entrepreneurs move to other countries to build projects. Even If some initiatives are done to promote entrepreneurship, people are not so enthusiastic to start as entrepreneur. The difficult economical environment make that people are not entitled to build their own activity, but there is also a negative image given to successful entrepreneurs who are guilty to become rich, which is not well accepted when other people are losing their job and when they are facing difficulties to have a decent life. In my mind, such debate is totally senseless and to put entrepreneurs in guilty is not a solution. In our society, work has to be considered as a value, a value that has to be respected. It is senseless to criticize entrepreneurs who succeed and who earns money. The development of the economy contributes to create wealth and jobs, with consequences to increase the level of tax and social contributions. These taxes and social contributions are necessary to finance schools and universities, contributing to the education and to the fundamental research. To criticize entrepreneurship has a negative impact on the economy and the society and make us dependent of multinational groups that can relocate their activity in other countries. It is important to develop a network of local businesses, working with other international companies. But it means that each of us has a responsibility. Entrepreneurs need to have a long-term vision and to play a social role. By developing a business, you create jobs and by creating jobs, you develop a market. You can only develop a sustainable business if people have the possibility to buy your product and services. Such statement is not “rocket” science. To develop a business, you need competences, know-how, and here is the key role of education. Entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that the taxes they will pay will contribute to maintain and develop a high quality education system, contributing to educate people and to create know-how and intelligence, needed to run our society, in large domains like business, education, culture, etc. But it means also that the politic has also a high responsibility, the responsibility to use received taxes to develop an efficient education and social system.

Some entrepreneurs have and show social responsibilities and it is the case of Sebastien de Halleux who is investing money in NGO, acting in education for students of the emergent countries, and work based on computer for people living in countries where workless level is high. Social responsibility means a education to what is money. You can not block somebody who wants to create a business, and who is generating cash because he had a good idea. World is moving because people had ideas, developed them, and built business with these ideas. Entrepreneurs are not only motivated by money but by creating something new, by the wish to change the world. But they have not to forget that you can only wear a tie on a time, and that if they earn a lot of money, their can make work people in decent conditions, but also contribute to finance social projects, like Richard Branson did with his foundation, Virgine Unite. This is a positive way to change the world. Albert Einstein said “Don’t be a man of success, be a man of value”. So, think big, think high, think wisely.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 3, 2012 at 20:49

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