Archive for August, 2010

Unusual Reality Show

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

I happened across an unusual television program this evening, Tony Robbins’ Breakthrough, and was drawn in by the conflict immediately presented. Robbins, the famous motivational speaker, presented a family breakdown precipitated by financial strain. The husband had lost the job he had held with his employer of 23 years and then, unable to find comparable employment elsewhere, decided to start his own small business. I won’t spoil it for you, but at the start of the program, the family faced homelessness as the mortgage bank had initiated foreclosure proceedings. The husband’s business had not been able to sustain the family’s lifestyle. It appears that the loss of assets, more than the loss of income, caused the strain, as the couple emptied their 401k retirement savings to start the business.

I am of two minds on this matter: I believe we need to start teaching entrepreneurship in the schools. Our educational system produces graduates for the corporate sector who know how to tick the boxes, study for the tests and pass through the grades. That may have worked when a compliant workforce that was corporate-ready was called for. But if we are to have any hope of at least matching our parents’ standard of living, let alone earning our way out of debt, we need growth and entrepreneurship. But the skills one needs to be a practitioner in a large organization are not the same as the skills one needs to run a business. The television program Robbins presented was powerful for the raw emotions elicited by the financial strain of the married couple. The husband’s self-esteem had taken a beating for his business failure and the wife found herself unable to cope. Our policymakers need to look at strategies for economic growth, which is not the same thing as this piecemeal effort by the states to promote self-employment as an act of desperation. The pain of these poor choices made an otherwise difficult television program impossible to turn off.