I had a bit of a disagreement with Fred Wilson, who is one of my virtual mentors through his blog avc.com. But I think Fred is wrong on this argument. I stand by what Fred wrote in his posts Tolerance and Prosperity and Immigration Reform. I strongly believe we have a number of monsters that run in our heads. We are all xenophobic and neophobic, but we need to rise above that if we are to build a better global community. Even Fred, who lives in New York which is suppose to be the melting pot of the world and a Venture Capitalist, took a stab at “Jobs being shipped to India” stance. It pains me to see this argument. Why do we as human beings always want easy solutions that are not resilient or sustainable? The easiest thing to do is close the borders of every country and make everything behind the closed walls, that way we can create jobs, wealth and what not within the Walled Garden… but is that the world we want to live in? I lived in that world and believe me it was not that much fun. India was a closed economy until about 1991 when the country was broke and had to open its economy to get life blood. We had 2 choices for cars, toothpaste, soaps and chocolates… everything.
I am not saying that having limited choice is bad but I am saying we can do better. Closed systems don’t work, they work for a time but they fail miserably on the long run. I think most Politicians like this closed system because it gives an illusion of control, jobs are created because we have limited demand of jobs and better than limited supply for jobs, so wages become high, we may more in tax et cetra et cetra. The problem with this notion is that it leads to sub-optimal or inefficient results. Closed systems maybe needed when there are huge structural challenges like a War or Technological gap (i.e some companies have superior technology or know how that would squash local business etc), but I believe we are passed that phase and it has been made possible by the Internet. However the old school thinking is actually putting cogs on the wheel of Freedom to Innovate. Brad Burnham, who is the partner of Fred Wilson wrote an excellent piece on his blog with the title “Freedom to Innovate“.
I think the leadership of the 21st century is going to be defined by countries and companies that are driven by leadership that subscribe to the age of Wisdom, as Late Dr.Steven Covey describes in his book The 8th Habit. I want to write against this foolish notion that we need to seek out for a Job, everyone of us is a Job Creator. Lets take the example of a startup, and the entrepreneur who started the venture has created something of value and in order to service those customers who want to utilize the value the startup has to create jobs and when you are in a closed system it leads to people fighting for the same resource and drive up the cost of the value creation thereby making the venture uneconomical and ultimately it fails. This is what I see today in Iceland, everyone that I talk to says that it is hard to find people with skills in Web Design or Programming or Software Development or whatever. I have never found that to be a problem, do you know why? because I take chances with people… I don’t have to have every skills checkbox filled to hire someone because I am totally ok with getting someone on board who has some basic skills and then train them on the job. It has worked very well for all the companies that I have worked for where I had the responsibility to build a team. I found the same attitude in GreenQloud, the company had hired students from Germany, Colombia and Argentina through a program called AIESEC and their Icelandic Chapter. I had a chance to meet Armina Ilea, VP Corporate Development of AIESEC, Iceland and I was surprised to hear that Icelandic startups or companies were not taking advantage of this wonderful program. I plan to use this program to get people from all over the world to come to Iceland as interns work with us and if we are able to make the experience mutually beneficial then they stay back in Iceland and become part of the team. I know a lot of people including Fred Wilson and Brad Feld have lobbied very hard to make it easy for Entrepreneurs and Skilled workers to get Visas to the US. I don’t know why every country does not embrace this philosophy? Yes, I am foolishly optimistic person but I never give up on people because when I don’t they surprise me and go above and beyond what is expected of them. Lets build more tolerance and inclusion and in my humble opinion it will lead to Prosperity not just for those creating the jobs but to everyone in the Ecosystem.
- China, India and All That (whynationsfail.com)
- Need to adopt national prosperity index: Kalam (news.in.msn.com)
- Irish government expresses new hope for U.S. immigration reform (irishcentral.com)
- Economic prosperity, a key to connect Indian youth (thehindu.com)
- Ageism Most Tolerated Social Discrimination, Report Finds (theepochtimes.com)