Archive for » March, 2012 «

Money minded or business minded?

Someone we know is described, rather admiringly, as business minded. Another individual, no different in values and conduct from the first, is classed ‘money minded’. The same attribute attracts different labels depending on whether we like or dislike the person.

You may be considered hopeless at business – in which case you don’t attract either label. The trait of being ‘unlikely-to-succeed-in-business’ has bearing on your wellbeing. Your sister, on the other hand, may be the opposite. And this quality influences her wellbeing. You, your sister and the rest of us can improve in wellbeing by learning to modify adverse traits. In this instance we are considering characteristics connected to how we see and relate to the world of finance and business. We can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at how we deal with money and money making.

Whether we wish to be seen as not at all business minded or strongly business minded says a lot about us. It’s probably not a waste of time to consider how people do really see us. Our assumptions about how others regard us are unlikely to be objective but they can still offer useful insights. What do I need to recognize about myself if I am likely called hopeless at business? Could this indicate that there are some personal qualities I should think about addressing? Or is this what I want to be anyway? What are the advantages and disadvantages if I were, on the other hand, considered strongly business-minded?

Society as a whole is probably more powerfully swayed by those who strive for material success than those who are at the other extreme. Even if you are not very business minded your life is strongly influenced by the direction in which your more influential colleagues at the other extreme push your office, for example. Is your office a battleground in which individuals struggle ceaselessly to gain an extra inch of territory over their mates? How does that affect your life? If you aren’t in the business minded league you are less likely to be of influence in determining the nature of the office you occupy. Business minded people often pride themselves on being fighters. And fighters clearly have a bigger role in setting the tone within an establishment than their more compliant colleagues. The environment that they create is one of greater competition and struggle for (material) success.

I am not sure that I’d enjoy life on a battleground. Not being a party to the struggle would probably make things a little bearable. But it wouldn’t be much of a relief if constant skirmishing goes on around me. To opt out will class me a misfit too. So I’d have to buy into the aggressive struggle – and do my best to beat the rest. One indicator of superior business capability would of course be financial success. Should I fail to reach the required financial heights I’d have to hang in there through vigorous display of the accepted values and fashions. I must flaunt whatever I believe is approved by the business elite. This applies to the political party and politicians I admire or despise, the music I claim to enjoy or find boring or who I am connected with in the social media and other networks. I dare not let them think I am of a lesser breed.

Success in money making will not by itself put me in the ‘successful businessman’ grade. Absent the right set of beliefs, I will still be considered outside the true business league, however lavishly I serve them their preferred drinks. Dropping impressive names and providing lucrative deals aren’t enough – I must also demonstrate the approved political views, develop genuine contempt for the individuals that business people despise and denigrate all those who don’t buy into our shared dreams. Graduating from the purely moneyed class into the proper business club comes at the price of adopting enthusiastically the opinions of that club. That’s not a price I’d be prepared to pay.

Striving anxiously to remake oneself in the image of others is unlikely to be uplifting. (


Nation, Sunday 18th March 2012

The Business Mind(ed)

The business mind(ed)

Business people have inherited the earth. Examining what they can now do, to create the earthly paradise, is likely to be helpful all round.

Whether there exists a typical business outlook is doubtful. But we can argue that we see things differently depending on whether we are businesswoman or cabinet maker. If I were a carpenter wouldn’t I see and relate to the world differently from how the business lady does? Would she marry me, anyway? Would I aspire to have my son marry a top lady executive should my own effort fail? What’s special about a business lady, anyway?

Well, for a start, a business lady thinks business. She is business minded – in a way that a labourer or self employed small-scale farmer isn’t. The business minded person is enthusiastic about having the desired policies in place and the right politicians in power. She may want things within the nation aligned with the views of her favoured global powers. She worries about the economy and monitors shifts in the value of the dollar. The labourer tends simply to mind his business. He celebrates a reduction in the price of coconuts in the local market.

Which of these worlds would you prefer to inhabit, given the choice? Which is closer to our vision of the good life? Our circumstances, and our set ways of thinking, do not allow objective decision making. Notions about what each of these vocations is like and of course the status accorded to them probably play a large part in determining our preference. I may opt for the businessperson existence, guided by my impressions of the quality of the two lives.  My insider experience of the business world, after getting into it, may turn out to be quite the converse of my original image. But having made the choice to go into business, or whatever other profession, I’d find it tricky to move into a very different field. It would be so much simpler to appear thoroughly pleased with my choice of vocation and eventually to love it. Portray delight for long enough and it turns real.

The life of proper business people is probably quite good. We see great zest among them and strong commitment. The committed life is generally to be preferred over the lukewarm. Our business executive is generally convinced that the firm he has joined is clearly a world leader or about to become one – partly as a result of his personal effort. Each employee feels a proud and integral part of a noble enterprise, whatever rung they occupy. The lower down someone is in the pecking order the more noble the conviction that he is an invaluable and irreplaceable member of the team – an idea reinforced at periodic staff motivational events and retreats. Some may feel they’d gladly sacrifice their personal interest for the good of ‘The Company’, or even assail outsiders on its behalf.

It is possible to caricature easily the typical corporate person. The middle level executive in a large corporate establishment can be assumed to hold virtually the identical world view to that of a middle level executive in a very different company of similar size. The variation in opinion between her and a peer in another establishment is tiny in comparison with differences in views among, say, carpenters. She is as passionately loyal to her Company as her equal in another, the only difference being the name of the enterprise to which she has given heart and soul. This particular attribute is constantly on display and deeply embedded. And she is seemingly as happy and proud in her job as her peers in the rest in the corporate world are in theirs.

Spoilsports may challenge the depth of their positive sentiments. Doubters may question the wisdom of wholeheartedly adopting a given world view, simply to conform or gain favour. But it is likely that the individuals populating these enterprises are sincere in espousing a particular world view and truthful in claiming to have amazingly enjoyable jobs. We then reach the inescapable conclusion that business minded people have joyful lives. Less fortunate others are well advised to follow them.


Nation (4th March 2012)