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Key Idea: Do What Interests You

The founders of Diversified Chemicals are interested in chemistry. They love coming up with new products to solve hard problems. They make many types of coatings and adhesives and are working now to capture the rubber in old tires for new purposes.   Homepage   Go to Diversified Chemicals

Key Question:


Do the things that fascinate you and don't apologize for your activity.  

Michael Novak explains that self-interest is good but greed is bad. 

Q:  What are you interested in? What are you trying to accomplish in your business?

A:  If you are motivated to provide a high level of customer service, to produce a quality product, to establish a nurturing environment for your employees, then that's your self-interest. That's what is important to you.

That's not greed because greed is gluttony and avarice, the motivation to improve one's own lot without any consideration for others.

Self-interest, on the other hand, is our passion, what motivates us, why we start our own businesses and make successes out of them. 

Think about it

What's your self-interest?

Clip from: Capitalism: Path to Prosperity

Washington, DC:   What are the essential foundations of life, liberty, freedom, and human rights?   The USA as a working experiment is a good model to study.  Here we can study the earliest documents and concepts and see how these also became the foundations for American capitalism.  Within this structure, we can see how just about any family can get on a path to economic independence.

Meet Michael Novak, a man whose life study is of the foundations of government systems that work. And here he discovered small business has the heart and spirit that sustains and nurtures democratic capitalism.   Michael Novak strikes deep into the heart of public debate about what works and what doesn't work within economic systems, and he says that small business owners are demonstrators. They're on the front lines, risking and fighting the good fight every day. Small business owners take lofty principles and reduce them to nitty-gritty practice.

As a people, the debate about capitalism should no longer be the domain of economists. We all need to grapple with the first principles of ethics, economics, and government. Virtually overnight globalization is a reality and belief systems are butting against one another, often shredding civility and undermining any inherent ethics and morality.

Each of us needs to engage in the historic debate about economic models. What works? What is good for people? Is this singular focus on "Return to Shareholders" a truncation of capitalism? Do we need to be looking at a more balanced model that includes more than the growth of the bottom line?

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American Enterprise Institute

Michael Novak, Author

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Year Founded: 1947

Do What Interests You

HATTIE: Just talk about the difference in those terms, that self-interest is good, greed and selfishness is bad. What is the difference?

MICHAEL: I think the early economic thinkers made a bad mistake when they talked about the motivating intelligent business is self-interest, and I think they had a mischievous intention.

I think they chose it where that they knew would drive the theologians and the moralists crazy. Because for moralists and theologians self-interest is normally a negative term. It means selfish. What they meant -- what the economists were trying to be scientists and they meant to say the term self-interest in a neutral way. They meant to say whatever it is that you value most, that's your self-interest and that's how you define yourself.

HATTIE: Right.

MICHAEL: So, you know, business has inherent in it a drive in its own success. It may not be a generous motive, but just to succeed at it you've got to serve others well. Whether you like it or not. You've got to do that well. And so, even if you have a lousy personality, business forces you to be better than you are.

(Voiceover - an excerpt from a prior episode) Brian Jacobsen: Do you think that's something we should do? Glen Beily: I think so.

MICHAEL: (Voiceover) I mean the self is not developed until it's joined with at least one other and usually more than one other. And that's just the law of life. In a community, the other law of life is, a community which represses its selves, which represses its individuals is not a good community. So a community needs for its individuals to flourish, and for individuals to flourish they need the community.

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