On The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship: Arrogance, Unkindness and Being a Total Jerk

I tell you, entrepreneurship not only brings money to you but also brings out the worst in you. You may think I’m ranting groundlessly but that holds true in a (relatively huge) number of cases.

Only this afternoon, I heard sickening news from my fellow worker. He offered this generous advertising offer to one of the best culinary franchises in the country. The 29-year-young owner himself answered the call. The company I work at is not a small emerging startup. It’s huge, but the Achilles heel of it is that it does not specializes in culinary businesses or advertising.  And he blew my coworker off just like that. The highly pragmatic CEO asked if he would get what from the ad. “What benefits can you deliver to us for certain? Can you guarantee?”  My hunch is the man was talking like a boss to my coworker. I can tell that from the way my coworker told the story. It was a tragic phone call to him.

I, along with probably millions of people in the country, know who this man is actually. We know him by the well-known franchise. I knew also they are now aiming to expand overseas, too. But in spite of all the success, does he has the right to dish a company, which happens to be a lot bigger than him? I don’t know. I don’t  wish to be judging. I’m a yogi and being judgmental is not taught in our class.

So I found myself reading this aspiring writeup nicely crafted by Vinod Khosla, a far more seasoned entrepreneur and investor in the mecca of entrepreneurship ‘universe’, Silicon Valley, than our cocky franchisor previously mentioned. He nicely put there, “What matters is that you don’t have to make the above tradeoffs.” The tradeoffs Khosla meant refers to the proposition which Ben Austen of WIRED.com wrote, that  “you can either be a jerk and successful or decent and mediocre.” A very tough choice uh?

Austen points out the two extreme poles of being an entrepreneur which embodies in the figures of two Steves: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. These two Steve are perfect models of the proposition above. Jobs was a jerk and damn successful as a world-calibre entrepreneur. His net worth was billions of dollars or more than that (couldn’t care less), which he couldn’t make use of to help cure the cause of the death (pancreas tumor, if I’m not mistaken) or regain his life which only spanned around 56 years. Jobs, unlike other generous entrepreneurs, was depicted as someone with outstanding level of kindness and generosity. Arik Hesseldahl of BusinessWeek magazine stated that “Jobs isn’t widely known for his association with philanthropic causes”, compared to Bill Gates‘s efforts, as stated by Wikipedia.

And in the other side of the spectrum is Wozniak. As a scientist and programmer, Woz does ace academically. Look at his list of honorary doctorates:

Steve Wozniak’s Honorary Doctor of Engineering degrees

  • University of Colorado at Boulder — 1989
  • Kettering University — 2005
  • North Carolina State University — 2005
  • Nova Southeastern University — 2005
  • ESPOL University in Ecuador — 2008
  • Michigan State University — 2011
  • Concordia University in Montreal Canada — June 22, 2011
  • State Engineering University of Armenia — November 11, 2011
  • Santa Clara University — June 16, 2012

Besides all the achievements, Woz still alocates his time for charity and the like:

Since leaving Apple, Wozniak has provided all the money, as well as a good amount of on-site technical support, for the technology program in his local school district.[1] Un.U.Son. (Unite Us In Song), an organization Wozniak formed to organize the two US Festivals, is now primarily tasked with supporting his educational and philanthropic projects.[1] In 1986, Wozniak lent his name to the Stephen G. Wozniak Achievement Awards(referred to as Wozzie Awards), which he presented to six Bay Area high school and college students for their innovative use of computers in the fields of business, art and music.(Wikipedia)

So if I happen to be asked, which one I would like to become, I think I am inclined to becoming Mr. Wozniak. How about you? Have your say in the comment box below.

One response to “On The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship: Arrogance, Unkindness and Being a Total Jerk”

  1. I found your article by entering the search ‘why are entrepreneurs unkind’. I echo your view that from personal experience many successful clients seem to lack social graces that the masses hold dear. I think I’d rather be liked than wealthy!

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