Free The Animal
Richard Nikoley's Jungle of Self Direction
January 24, 2007 8 Comments
Rich, I would submit that by taking care of your customer's first, employees second you are maximizing your "long-term" profits. Disgruntled employees, lead directly to disgruntled customers which inevitably leads to lower revenue’s and less profit. Unless you’re in a business with virtually an unlimited customer pool, Wal-Mart, AT&T for example, you have to protect your customer base, through exceptional service and/or products. Keeping employees happy goes way beyond just maintaining a good relationship with customer, it’s very expensive to constantly train new employees, add to that the knowledge base that leaves with a former employee, knowledge that, usually, has to be figured out through trial an error by the new employee, frequently at your expense. Your business philosophy seems very much in line with protecting your profits, you’re just doing at a big-picture, and long-term approach verses obsessing over the monthly P&L
In the context of government, the right to crap on your own doorstep is alpha and omega. In *that* context, there is nothing else.
For a businessman, that is only part of the context in which he operates. The other, the more important context, is producing value. Maximizing profits is the measure of that, and Stacy is exactly right about the confluence of treating customers and employees right with maximizing profits. The moral is the practical.
The person who does the most for others, who must do more for others than he does for himself, is the capitalist. That says nothing about the morality of it. It just is. To maximize your profits, you must provide more value for others than you give up. To maximize your long term profits, you must produce more long term values for others than you recieve.
There's no conflict, Rich. It's a false dichotomy. Do what you're doing, provide value, in every interaction, whether it be with emplyees or customers, and make sure you get value in return. To think only of one side of the equation – your "maximized" profit – or to take political principles and apply them to your own ethics of running a company is to drop context. It's just as bad as those who see only the profit you make and drop the context of what you provide in their justifications for taking instead of trading. You'll never get a satisfactory answer that way, and it'll just tie you up in knots.
As to going "John Galt" and withdrawing, that is the only choice when it becomes impossible to gain value for the value you give. When providing value just means that you lose even more value, then there is no other choice. You can't make it up in volume. But doing so to prove a point, or to send a message, is just self-sacrifice. It's altruism in individualist clothing.
And remember, John Galt reveled in creation. That's a point easily lost in Atlas (and in The Fountainhead, re Roark). Creation was his life, and he shared (traded) that with those others he valued via his Gulch. Withdrawing doesn't have to mean not creating, it can just mean choosing who you will and will not trade value for value with.
One more thing…
What if we just went ahead and operated in a way that's so far above "reproach," that even our worst critics (enemies) would be red-faced to even engage their hatred of business, freedom, and humanity in general, by attacking his propensity to produce in abundance?
If you did so, you would make so much profit that they would hate you even more. They can't, they won't keep context. No matter what you do, black will be white, up will be down, right will be wrong to them.
But it's not about them. It can never be. As soon as it is, you've lost – you've granted them the moral authority to approve or disapprove of what you do, and by extension, to take whatever it is they claim will buy their approval. And that will be nothing short of everything, including your life.
And if you're not already doing so – acting above any possible reproach from decent men, and thus making as much profit as you possibly can – why not?
I'll get back to you, man. Got to fly down to LA in the morning, back tomorrow evening.
Say, aren't you the one who wrote this:
"Be good. Be right and just, and you’ll attract plenty of people with which to trade the values necessary for you to prosper and pursue your happiness."
Looks like it's working.
To maximize your profits, you must provide more value for others than you give up.
Should have proofread last nite, of course that should be "than you recieve".
No hurry, Rich. I'm still working on that other stuff, I had a computer glitch this weekend, and couldn't get to it.
I only read the beginning of this so far, but I just wanted to say, you really have highlighted how small companies are totally different beasts from large ones. In large, public corporations, it is far too common for the principles involved to not consider the company their own home, and hence, short-sighted or unethical behavior is not seeing as "crapping on their own doorstep".
This goes for the financial sector as a whole, really. A lot of playing with other people's money with little accountability (e.g., John Meriweather of Long Term Capital Management infamy won a "lifetime achievement" award last year from a hedge fund association).
All too often, it is government meddling that provides "success" of the scoundrels involved, thanks to endless liquidity, an monopolistic trust of a banking system, and "regulation" on top of this which is really just a thin vein of government complicity.
Thus in reality, the obscene behavior that is observed isn't "private" at all.
Kyle / Aaron:
Lots of stuff, but I think I'll leave it at that, for now. I have more entries coming which will serve to clarify.
Just a couple of quick points. I think that libertarians often fall into the trap of having to morally defend scoundrels. It's tantamount to defending drug dealers. We may defend their right to freely engage in voluntary trade, but when they exploit the addictive aspects of drugs to prey on people for profit…while I'd never advocate intervention by force, I certainly condemn them on grounds of impropriety, at least.
One large industry I happen to know a lot about is the credit card industry, and I've got to say that some of the stuff I see reminds me of the drug trade. Moreover, when banks lend money, they are creating it by government fiat, so what we really have is a government backed financial system that contributes to a whole lot of harm to people who have no idea about credit and how compounding interest at 33% works (yes, I regularly see clients with cards charging 33%).
Aaron's points are well taken. It's very difficult to make the libertarian case for public companies; for, without the force of the state, it's difficult to predict what sort of business landscape we'd see, or what "big business" would look like.
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