Just minutes before Barack Obama speaks at Bits & Pretzels about responsible, sustainable entrepreneurship, but also about the need for state regulation, prominent LinkedIn founder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffmann sits there.
Reid Hoffmann was for me so far rather positively occupied, and if it is because I remember the very exciting interview, that I with his Co-founder Konstantin Guericke a few years ago about hiking meetings and trust. Reid Hoffmann meanwhile has another topic today: blitscaling. Companies have to grow quickly because only if they reach market dominance can they be successful. Or to put it bluntly: economic growth at any price.
Greta Thunberg and the rapid growth in the tech scene
That employees complain about bad management or customers about the bad service, the company must be in this phase of growth care until you have defeated the competition. But then, as a company, you also have to take care of these issues - as we see on Facebook, which grew up on exactly the same pattern. And Hoffmann said: "Entrepreneurs always want more time. But speed is always part of the competition. "
Now you can criticize these in the StartUp and Techszene widespread attitude especially in relation to climate change - which Barack Obama did shortly thereafter and praised Greta Thunberg, which in his opinion, incredible things.
The case of Thelano and the question: "How healthy is our economy?"
But after all: As ruthless as it sounds, the sympathetic-looking Hoffmann then does not see the matter: When asked about the fraud scandal of the blood investigation company Thelanos Hoffmann noted that deliberate deception then go a little too far - and spoke of Blitzfailing.
How healthy this attitude is, I was allowed a few days later, given a lecture by Dr. Ask Bärbel Wardetzki at a conference on "Economy and Spirituality" in Kirchzarten near Freiburg.
Abuse of power in the economy and narcissism
Her topic was power abuse in the economy and narcissism. For the graduate psychologist from Munich, our entire economic system is based on narcissistic structures. This affects both the system itself and those working there.
One must distinguish between a healthy narcissism, which gives energy, drives us to actions and strengthens our assertiveness and the morbid, deficient narcissism that arises from a low self-esteem. In between, there is a wide range of different forms, which is very divergent from person to person.
The desire to be seen: Healthy vs. Deficient narcissism
In fact, the desire to be seen is essentially important to humans. Our self-esteem needs the gaze of others, and so the human psyche develops only in exchange with the outside world and in response to what reflects us. While in the past only rulers and powerful people could live out their narcissism without restraint, today this is possible for all people and is even promoted by the social media. Therefore, the problem is more in our consciousness.
According to Wardetzki, deficient narcissism arises when one's own self-esteem, especially in childhood, is excessively offended: those who are constantly given the feeling that they are not supposed to be accepted, but who also - in some cases overstated ideals - belong to their own parents In response, a narcissistic facade must be developed, which later also makes proximity in social relationships more difficult, fearing that someone might look behind it and consider it inferior.
Dehumanized economy favors narcissism
While people with a healthy self-esteem can accept other opinions because they have nothing to do with their own values, deficient narcissists at this point become rabid, lust for power to invalidate criticism, surround themselves with yes-sayers.
It is therefore, according to the psychologist, no wonder if our current economic system narcissists offers the ideal habitat. Because the decoupling of the economic from the human is an essential narcissistic factor.
The problem of the self-isolated banking system
As an example, Wardetzki calls the former investment banker Rainer Voss, who reports of the self-contained banking world, in which one does not concern the outside world anymore. And only then could bankers do their job at all.
The problem is that if everything is reduced to utility, interest, profit, and added value, then we are decoupling the economy from the common good, and therefore from man. The narcissistic excesses lead to greed, immorality and personal enrichment at the expense of others.
DM founder Götz Werner: "You only earn money when others work for you"
How deep this way of thinking is rooted in our society, shows for me a statement of the philanthropist known DM founder Götz Werner a few years ago on the re: publica. One sentence, voiced during a lecture, which has burned me like no other in the memory: "You can only earn money, if others work for you," said Werner and circumnavigated for me the core problem of our capitalist economic system.
How can a solution to this dilemma look like? How can we, as a society with such a system, still solve the upcoming problems that I consider climate change to be the biggest and most important ones?
Problem solving through motivational incentives
Setting the right incentives for motivation could be an important factor: moving away from the boni mentality prevalent in many companies towards socially more meaningful motivators. Studies from New York University and the London Business School, for example, show that intrinsic factors are often more important for motivation than external stimuli.
This is especially so in the non-profit sector, where there is relatively little money. Here, then, the big, connecting social-ecological idea or the construction of a joint enterprise acts like the carrot in front of the nose. The bigger and more important the idea, the more effort is required and the less money is paid.
Acting like Greta Thunberg
For graduate psychologist Wardetzki, internal and external change must always go hand in hand. "Go into the world and act," she also said in reference to Greta Thunberg, because "everything we do is a model for others." And: one can certainly use his narcissistic energy to make a difference. The only question is whether they will be used for the good of society and role model or destructiveness.
Therefore, one must always question whether one does not exaggerate. In addition, one must accept that systems do not change so fast, but often need a few decades. Therefore, we should also be careful that we are not blinded by narcissists who promise short-term solutions, but only have their own advantage in mind.
Suggested solutions by Reid Hoffmann and Barack Obama
Actively acting is the motto of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffmann and ex-president Barack Obama. For both, the solutions are, for example, in suitable environmental technology. While Obama prophesies about a great future for water filtration companies, Hoffmann sees the problem rather in an anti-technology attitude:
"Especially the science fiction films since the 70 years have caused many people great fear of technology. Here Hollywood is in demand with new storys that show how to solve problems with technology. "
Responsible leadership: hope of the startup scene?
And also in the start-up scene, hope for our economic system seems to flourish: Immediately before Obama's appearance, various founders had presented their sustainable projects, e.g. the team from Open Bionics, which wants to use Hero Arms to make handicaps superpower. Or Elsa Bernadotte with her Karma Surplus Food app, to which you can pass on excess food. Or Zarah Bruhn, who offers a kind of temporary work for refugees with Social Bee.
The motto here: New ways to do good business. Founder Bruhn stated: “Social entrepreneurs are not naive. We may not make a profit, but we change lives. Dr. Frank Niedersländer, board member of the BMW Foundation, stated: “All founders should become responsible leaders. Sense can also be misleading, for example artificial intelligence can manipulate elections. But a sense of responsibility is an attitude. "
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