Start-Up Memoires: You're wrong, Mr. Franklin

Start-Up Memoires: You're wrong, Mr. Franklin

I started a business. It made me want to drink copious quantities, smoke myself into oblivion and hit my head against a brick wall. Instead I wrote a blog.

'What do you want to be when you grow up?' asked my mother.

'A doctor'. I replied without hesitation. I was 4.

But I already knew it was the kind of profession would please my parents. Something that required sacrifice of time, money and probably my health. Something noble, something respected. My parents were older than most - an American father and an English protestant mother - who had both lived as children through the second world war. Why is this important? Because they had been brainwashed with the 'work ethic' which instilled the values that diligent labor was the way to win the war on the home front.

Long ago, the ethical writings of Benjamin Franklin re-coined the famous phrase -

Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings.

Work was not only good for the pocket, it was good for the character. Conversely, any work which did not take time and sacrifice was morally unfit - and well, wasn't really work. Because 'Work = Time = Sacrifice = Pain'.

The protestant work ethic took the analogy even further. More than work being good for the character, hard working was viewed as an indication of a soul which was predestined to be saved. If a person was hard working therefore, chances were, that person was elect and a worthy associate. This in contrast with the Catholic work ethic where good works were considered to be requirement but inevitably were open to interpretation.

I was brought up with these values. And out of the many values I have challenged as an adult, this one is fairly high up there. Because my business by definition allows greater choice, less but smarter working and automation of income. My entire business model is strikes at the very heart of the work ethic. Because not only do I believe that the work ethic is partially incorrect (hard work brings many lessons, but the best is the realization of its value limitations), I believe it is an ethos that is, in many ways, harmful. It has fed into capitalism and the prioritization of career over the family - both of which have contributed to that the huge amounts of stress we experience today and the neglect and in some cases abuse (like child labor) of several generations of children.

Not only does Investment Impact encourage playing at work, we encourage you to fit work in around your family not your family around your work - with the ultimate goal of being able to sit back and relax. Is it a crime? My parents certainly think so. But I do not.


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