The Secret Sauce of the US

When I talk to friends and read all the op-eds in the NYT and WSJ about the US, one could get the feeling that the US is on the decline, and its best days are behind it. I don’t think so. The US may face more challenges at this point of time than they have had in a generation. But the people there have a couple of qualities that will help them not just pull through but also create something more and better. Resilience and Reinvention.

There may be anger at government being manifested through the Tea Party. There may be disappointment at Obama. But under the hood, there are hubs that are full of life. The entrepreneurial energy in the US is still alive and kicking. That is what creates companies like Google, Apple, Cisco and Facebook. With each big success, there are dozens of companies that fail. And that is where the same resilience and reinvention kicks in. There is that inherent belief that the world needs a better mousetrap – and they are the ones to do it.

That is the type of attitude that we need to bring in our thinking in India. Put aside the fear of failure, think big, and aim to change the world. Only a few of us will succeed. But that’s a few more than what’s happening today. And those few will inspire those to come.

9 thoughts on “The Secret Sauce of the US

  1. I agree with the sentiment expressed in this post. We need to encourage entrepreneurship and risk taking more in India.

    For most Indian families, the pre-liberalization years (1947-1991) were hard and it conditioned them to value ‘stable job’ as the ultimate thing. Can’t really fault anyone for that, as everyone would at least like to have basic necessities of life for themselves and their loved ones.

    I just hope now we can change this mindset, and encourage people around us to be more liberal, adventurous and follow their hearts. All of us have a role to play in it, be it in our own families, or our social circles.

    I like your blog posts. Please keep them coming!

  2. Here is another side of the “secret” sauce:

    There are currently 14.9 million unemployed who want a job but do not have a job because businesses are not hiring.

    There are 2.4 million “marginally attached” persons who do not have a job yet want a job, but are not considered unemployed because they stopped looking.

    There are 8.9 million part-time workers who want a full time job but cannot get one because businesses are not hiring.

    There are countless millions of college graduates who are underemployed, working at WalMart, delivering pizzas, or attempting to sell trinkets on eBay, because businesses are not hiring.

    There a still millions more in college hoping for a job upon graduation who will not get one because businesses are not hiring.

  3. Innovation has been America’s great differentiator, true, however most of it is innovation for innovation’s sake, rather than for business.

    In fact many of the key modifiers the world has seen has come from the US but not from their businesses, but rather from their academia.

    Include Google among this. And Facebook.

    Unlike what Rajesh claims, it is not entrepreneurship which generated these giants.

    Entreprenuership is more like the acacia that supports and uses these aphids. And it only starts after the initial suceess is seen. This includes venture capitalists too.

    In fact US and European academia is the breeding ground for seemingly endless innovation.

    This is where India is weak. The brightest among us and at their brightest ages seek to tie themselves to the salary treadmill, and this is more a reflection of economic constraints than otherwise.

    Not that I am claiming that the Indian can be innovative, I am prone to think they arent.

    For five hundred years or more, in the middle ages, India was the richest nation on earth and have nothing to show for by way of technological innovation.

    In our times, we have had six decades of IIT’s and have little to show for it, in India or abroad.

    Historically we have been headnodders, can we change this? How do we go about fostering innovation and the courage to fail?

    I doubt it can be done, but then we can be optimistic and hope for the better.

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