July 16 2012
Responsibility for Building Businesses
On Friday, President Obama gave a speech in Roanoke, Virginia, which is getting a lot of attention because of his message to business owners. He said:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
Let’s repeat that. "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."
One aspect that I find most interesting about President Obama is how he defines what he takes ownership of and responsibility for and what he says is beyond his control. Remember his "blame Bush" strategy that still seems to pop up? His statement about building businesses strikes so many of us as odd because building businesses has traditionally been something that is seen as a personal achievement, not a government achievement. Yet, Obama must see things differently.
When it comes to the economy, he often characterizes it as beyond his control. In an interview released this weekend related to young people and the economy, he said “The economy is tough, especially for young people.” Part of the reason the economy is so “tough” for young people is because of his policies.
I'd like to see the President reevaluate where his dividing line is between results he will take responsibility for and those for which he will let others take the credit or blame.