Last week I went to the beautiful city of Lyon to see my old mate Frederic, or Napoleon as I like to call him. Somewhat topical as 2015 is the 200th anniversary of our victory at Waterloo.
On the way to the airport there was a piece on Radio 4 about French enterprise culture and how in French society “merchants” are not exactly seen as the highest of professions, coming in last behind artist and engineers. Frankly who cares as Fred seems to have done extremely well since I last saw him in 2013.
He has built a very strong business supplying the top retailers like Auchan, Carrefour and Intermarché with a range of kid’s character surprise products including sweets and toys. In effect he calls himself a “seller of surprise!” I’m sure Radio 4 wouldn’t even know how to classify that one.
Status and success shouldn’t be sneered or envied it should be celebrated. The French are apparently even worse than we are with jealousy, snobbery and envy. If both cultures embraced enterprise fully, cut more slack and allowed entrenepeurs to thrive and survive both countries would be far better for it.
I’m pleased to say that things are changing as leading commercial figures like the late Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg are now seen a great examples of success and interesting to note both Americans. Spawned from a society where it’s a well-known fact that success is applauded.
Richard Branson and Lord Sugar are part of our home team, but both inject a bit of “tom foolery” to ensure they are seen as men of the people. Still well done to them both!
Our Universities, Colleges and to a certain extent schools are starting to finally get enterprise culture which is great to see. It’s not a new thing for some, there’s always be ground breakers, however, it’s much more noticeable as time has moved on the culture for business and enterprise is changing as are measures of success.
It now costs an awful lot of money to go to university, people quite rightly want VFM (Value for Money) and students into work and business are important measures when choosing the place to study.
Bright sparks in certain Universities (that’s where a lot of these people live) have cottoned on to this and encourage enterprise by offering post grad workshops/tuition on starting your own business. This is great! It’s also something with respect many Universities don’t have the practical skills, knowledge or experience in to deliver effectively. That’s in part why companies like ours exist as we do.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!