So apparently insomnia is working its way around the shop, first Paul, then Jen, now me. James has a tendency to stay in bed on rainy mornings, but unrelated. I'm not sure if this is self-induced, but that is my conclusion for now as I have to force my mind to shut down. Last night I started reading a new book, "Eat People" and that got me thinking about economies, innovation, debates over collective bargaining and all that jazz. My views are usually not popular so I won't share too much here, but I have never seen Andrew Carnegie as anything but a hero. Starting life as an impoverished immigrant, he built an industry (some could argue several), created tens of thousands of jobs (if not ten times that), boosted the American economy and literally laid the rails of commerce for the following 50 years. But what do people remember about him? He started the united nations and created the public library system for very personal reasons pertaining to giving everyone a fair chance. Yet most people think of the lockout that resulted in casualties (he was out of the country and had no part in this stupidity) and he was anti-union. This was for good reason, forcing a company to double expenses can easily and quickly end the company altogether. Oops, I said I wouldn't give my view and there it is...Carnegie has been one of my heroes since childhood. A guy who was destined to fail took on the world and changed it creating and sustaining enough jobs to have the "collective bargaining" argument the first time around. Give the entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, risk takers and rich dudes a break. They almost never started out rich, the vast majority of major breakthrough markets and products were created by low income people who maybe chose to keep some wealth, but in the end gave more to society than 99.9% of us.
Now I understand my insomnia. So many people insist business, industry and innovators are evil, yet they drive around in their overpriced electric cars or wish they could afford them in the name of saving the planet. Hey, I'm all for doing what is responsible and prudent, and half of my friends are like this, but can't we all see that the electric car and even its perceived need was created by people changing the world through free enterprise innovation? The industrialists they hate built the cars that save the planet they (consumers) are partially responsible for endangering. It's one big cycle...the vast majority of people buying products to save the world or please themselves while a very small percentage of the population creates wealth for everyone (by way of higher standards of living and some for themselves) by creating new inventions that drive solutions to current problems, thus creating new jobs, new markets, new related products, springing new ideas into motion. The entrepreneurial spirit is humanity. It is the art of creating solutions to problems that in the end help everyone in society one way or another. Where would we be without automobiles, microchips, antibiotics, hospitals, glass, steel, roads, pencils, heaters, electricity, plumbing, housing and of course jobs? All of these things (and just about everything) was invented, grown into a business model that supplied jobs and opportunity, then mass produced to bring the price down low enough for everyone by way of risk-taking business people who could have (and often did, myself included) lose everything along the way. Imagine starting a pencil business in 1846, seeing opportunity, creating jobs for your friends, family and community, building a mill/factory, selling for forgoing every personal pleasure for half of your life only to see your life's work fail? This has happened a million times and entrepreneurs never receive a thank you from anyone. Instead, they get the blame.
This is the cause of my insomnia. I have given everything to my trumpet company. In reality, there is no Harrelson Trumpets without me, it is my life. I make $6 an hour, which is a personal victory as I started this company making nothing. And yet I am part of something bigger, business, industry, innovation. It is no secret that my goal is to change the trumpet world and possibly other industries as well, but I have to admit it gets old hearing that I am somehow evil for moving past 100-year-old production techniques and insisting on entering the 21st century. I know you love your Conn New Wonder and your Bach Mt Vernon, I do too. And I know it is easy to blame people who seem to be in charge, those with money or power. But in reality, each individual has the opportunity every day to create something better in this world rather than point fingers while sitting in front of an electronic device.
What is life when you focus on solutions through innovation rather than policy?
Proactive, respectful, fulfilling, demanding, humbling, comical, addictive, philanthropic?