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Have Your Principles Become Dogma?


“Never compromise your principles, unless of course your principles are Adolf Hitler, in which case you would be well advised to compromise them as much as you can.” – Justice Scalia

Could a lesson delivered by my millennial children be your greatest competitive edge recruiting talent? I just returned from a wonderful family vacation and am compelled to share. As there are many who can attest, having adult children has its own set of rewards, but the true test of embracing diversity is being isolated with your socialist democratic adult children for a week. Great conversations late into the night with the appropriate infusion of spirits opens the gates to impassioned discussions on politics and economics. I hope I am not unique in that the father, son/daughter nature of our relationship allows the gloves to come off rather quickly, with everyone compelled to share their impassioned views.

Topic: Capitalism and Free Enterprise vs. Socialism

In the opposing corner: My oldest son, Cody 28 yrs. old, website developer for a Minneapolis marketing company. Delta Airlines is one his accounts. If you have a problem with their website, it’s Cody’s role to fix it. My daughter-in-law, Jenny 28 yrs. old, Master’s Degree in Public Health. Logan, my 26-yr-old son electrical engineering student, and Maddie my 22-yr-old daughter pursuing her Master’s in Speech Pathology. Political stance: entrenched Socialist Democrats. Holding true to their peers, a Harvard study found 51% of millennials do not support capitalism.  

Myself, 50 yrs. old. Centrist Republican, business owner. I fought hard for Capitalism and Free Enterprise. Conjuring up my best Milton Friedman (’76 Nobel Award for Economics, 1980-88 key advisor to Reagan) impression, “The only cases in which the masses have escaped grinding poverty; the only cases in history are where they had capitalism and largely free trade. What other society allows individuals to pursue their self-interest? Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?”

But it was this interview on CNBC last month from Paul Tudor Jones that delivered the last blow in our debate.

Paul founded Tudor Investment Corp, which had a long record of double-digit annualized returns. A self-made hedge fund manager, with a $4.5B net worth, has started an investment fund called Just Capital – an investment portfolio that picks companies based on the surveys of the American public on how they value companies. The #1 factor is worker pay and overall treatment of their people.

Tudor goes on to explain the belief that companies can be a force for the greater good and play a crucial role in addressing the social challenges in our country is critical to capitalism’s survival. Paul makes it very clear to Andrew Ross Sorkin, co-anchor CNBC Squawk Box, over-focusing on earnings is a problem.

51% of millennials 18-29 yrs. of age are opposed to Capitalism

If we don’t change, Capitalism will not survive

20 yrs. from now you will be practicing in Havana unless we change the way Capitalism works

If companies are viewed as lifeless entities that do nothing but make profits, we will not have a sustainable social structure

Be wise, these changes have already happened. Consider the number of Dow Jones companies ranking high on Just Capital’s employees-first metrics: Microsoft, Intel, Proctor and Gamble, Apple, 3M, Nike, Caterpillar. These companies know their success is determined by their ability to attract and hire top talented millennials.

What happens when competition for talent becomes so intense as a business leader you no longer have the privilege to consider your own political self-interest? Simple – choose your economic self-interest above your political ideals. The smart leaders throw aside their 2009 values, including their compensation and benefit plans, and adapt to the new generation. When competing for top talent what you think is or is not nobler does not matter. The only thing that matters is what top talent wants and what the competition is offering.

With every breath keep growing! – Tony

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