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)
I believe that what differentiate great companies from the normal ones is the ability to sense opportunities and the courage to take them because after all “if you don`t risk anything, you risk even more”. And sometimes all it takes is an open mind and an understanding on the difference between Management and Leadership.
As an AIESECer i look up to companies like Greenqloud for their innovative spirit, their focus on people and long-range perspective.
Needless to say, this is a great article and we are proud to have Greenqloud as our partner.
I am Marian, Alumni of AIESEC from Romania and fresh startuper in IT field.
I totally agree with you that closed systems don’t work on long term but in the same time i’m just thinking why Chinese model is still working with great results. There are many examples where closed systems are working on long term without innovating or without any kind of leadership. The key (from my point of view) is how is adapted a business (or a person) to the local environment.
Also related to AIESEC experience on the Icelandish market i think there are some issues with local people. We have (as startup) some small clients from the Northen Europe and i have to admit that doing business with them is total different then doing business in South Eastern Europe. I’ve been for almost 2 years in Czech Republic and also there were differences between the way how business is there (in Prague) even if i have to add that also Czech Republic is an ex-communist country as Romania is too.
So, I love that sometimes we need to go to “the opposite side of the world” to realize assumptions we didn’t even know we had, and realize that the opposite of them may also be true.
See more here.
Yes there are cultural differences but the basic human need to be open and accepting is a prerequisite in a startup culture. The reason I moved to the US was because of its open culture, it does not matter who you are as long as you had some value to create you were accepted… maybe that is changing in the US as well but it is a basic human right.
I’m Diego, President of AIESEC in Iceland. First, I’m really happy and excited to see that our organisation is reaching new levels of corporate relevance and that it’s tackling one of the main issues that the Icelandic market is facing at this moment. I think that’s the main reason why the organization was created to begin with.
We aim for peace, yet the definition of this word changes quite a bit than the one we usually think of. For me, peace has to do a lot more with understanding one another and accepting (and even including) other people’s cultures into one’s own. To learn how to lead, live, thrive and rejoyce oneself in diversity, and things that are unknown to us, without fear or judgment; which I think happens a little every time you meet someone that isn’t native from the place that you are originally from, as you are sharing tradition, language and culture, in general, just by interacting.
Like the people have replied before, I also very much agree that closing the economies of countries is just an unefficient solution to a problem that will still exist later on, although, it creates the illusion of control of the economy. But then again, this also creates more closed-minded people and I don’t think that in today’s day and age that’s a good alternative. We’re advancing to a global society, wherein today’s labor market, you’re not competing for a position with your fellow nationals, but also with everyone in the world. I, myself, experienced this last year, when I decided to come to Iceland as part of the National Board of AIESEC in Iceland last year, where I was competing against a Jordanian, a Kenyan, an Omani and a Mexican person for only 2 positions.
A more connected world means more opportunities, but it also means more competition, and as a company and as a person that’s also good, because you can take your pick in choosing 🙂
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