What Obama Should Do To Get The Entrepreneurial Viewpoint

from the we're-about-to-find-out dept

Two contrasting articles crossed my desktop this weekend, both about how President-Elect Barack Obama is likely to govern. The first, by Mark Cuban, criticizes Obama for the list of economic advisers that Obama chose to consult concerning his plans to take on the economic downturn. Cuban, correctly, worries about who is missing from that list:
Notice anything missing?

Not a single entrepreneur. Yes Warren Buffett started a business, but he will be the first to tell you that he "doesn't do start ups". Which means there isn't a single person advising PE Obama that we know of that knows that its like to start and run a business in this or any economic climate. That's a huge problem.
I absolutely agree. It is the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed right now. But, at the same time, it makes you wonder just how Obama would have accomplished this. Any one or two entrepreneurs are unlikely to do a really good job representing all entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, for the most part, don't all view things the same way, and there's no real organization of entrepreneurs. The reason entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs is often that they see their own way of doing things and don't want to be locked up by convention. So, while it is worrisome that there aren't any entrepreneur-types on the list, I'm not sure I'd be that much more comfortable with a few entrepreneurs representing the interests of all entrepreneurs either.

That brings us to the second article. It's by David Carr in the NY Times, and looks at how Obama's campaign ran like an entrepreneurial startup itself, leveraging the internet and new technologies to do a complete end-run around much bigger and more well-known "corporate brands" in the political space. And it wonders if Obama will continue to use those tools to govern as well.

So, at the very least, one could argue that Obama, himself, is something of an entrepreneur, but more importantly, one would hope that Obama does, in fact, continue to leverage the internet to hear from folks -- and is actually willing to listen and take suggestions seriously. Why not create an economic roundtable of sorts online that lets more people weigh in? Let ideas in the mix bubble up to the top using ratings systems (and maybe some White House moderators) and contribute them to the mix. If someone has a particularly good suggestion, why not invite them to a meeting with those "big shot" economic advisers as well? It doesn't mean that every hare-brained scheme needs to be listened to, but if there's a good way to allow the best ideas to bubble up and get recognition, it could be quite a powerful new way to govern. To some extent, there's already some indication that this is where things are headed with the transition website Change.gov, but it remains to be seen if that's just a Presidential suggestion box... or something a lot more powerful.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Mogilny, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 10:40am


    How about Eric Schmidt? He was CTO of sun and CEO of novell and pre IPO google.

    Obama's advisers have their own companies. By holding onto their hands, isn't Obama tailing their companies as well?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Tard Nugent, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Mark Cuban? Why does anyone listen to that guy? What has he contributed to society? IIRC he's a good con artist, erm, salesman, erm, whatever. He made money by selling a useless company to Yahoo. I'd rather have Warren Buffet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Keep the Change Please, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 10:49am


    Obama may have run his campaign as an entrepreneurial startup, but unfortunately I ain't buying what he has to sell and neither I suspect are the people behind the money that funds entrepreneurs for fear of punishment should they somehow succeed and become profitable! Instead these people and myself are planning to leave the country one way or another as soon as we can try to work around the new exit tax....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    Re: Startups?

    Goodbye, quitter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Startups?

    Hello Lemming

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    hegemon13, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    Re: Startups?

    Yes, because we all know how conservative the rest of the world is. I agree that Obama has his head on backwards as far as how to encourage innovation, business, and success. However, the US is still the best option, and is likely to stay that way. Even Obama is conservative by the standards of most European countries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    some old guy, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 11:54am

    Re: Startups?

    Don't worry, we won't miss you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Reason, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Startups?

    Gee, are you still here? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Startups?

    Ah, looking in the mirror while typing? You should really try to be less close-minded . . . oh wait, never mind. You have to actually USE your mind first . . .

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Butch, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

    Obama's Economic Advisors

    " one could argue that Obama, himself, is something of an entrepreneur" - You're kidding. Right? PE Obama is a Chicago machine politician though and through. Use of the internet is just an evolutionary extension of the way that they get their message out to both the faithful and the uninitiated. First door to door and in through the pool of patronage employees. Now add in the internet. A good general uses all of the tools available. But an entrepreneur? No.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Startups?

    Are you 12? I forgot most of Mike's readers are or have to be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Nov 10th, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    I surely doubt

    I doubt that Obama will continue to use teh internetz as a tool while president. Politicians will use any means necessary to get them into office. My bet is the use of innovative tech will die off for a few years and then blossom again when re-election pandering season comes around in three years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Startups?

    That would include you, then, wouldn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    TW Burger, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    Obama and Economic Policy to Increase Jobs

    What we need are jobs, now. Start-ups employ few at first. The White House (there's a joke in there for someone with more guts than me) needs to establish policies to get established businesses, large and small, hiring again.

    Hopefully, Obama's staff has a better idea than to start another war (probably with Iran) which is what the Republican White House seemed bent on doing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    NullBull, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 4:31pm

    Entrepreneurs Know THEIR Business, Not Everyone's

    Ultimately, Cuban makes a rather transparently self-aggrandizing point that falls flat on a policy level.

    There is a MASSIVE difference between knowing start-ups and small businesses and knowing the government POLICIES that allow for an ENVIRONMENT where these businesses thrive. Cuban makes the mistake of thinking these are the same thing. Patent reform, for instance, could be a HUGE boon to start ups. But I'll be damned if I'm going to trust Cuban to come up with the right legalese that allows for openings to innovation while offering appropriate, limited protections to innovators. That would demand someone well versed in patent law precedents and government reform measures, not somebody who successfully ran online media web sites.

    Also, don't equate success in start-ups with business acumen. Entrepreneurs can be successful for a variety of reasons, including ability to schmooze, lie, cheat, cajole, and/or over-promise their way into bigger and bigger business deals. There are brilliant people too. And smart financiers. If starting your own company and having it thrive is the measure of a true entrepreneur, you have to wonder why Cuban tosses aside Buffet as if the fact that he won't INVEST in start-ups erases the fact that Berkshire-Hathaway thrives as it does under Buffet's leadership.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    bob, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 5:24pm

    It goes down.

    Obama=big taxes and big government.
    Why do you think the market has gone down since the election.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Little, Chicken, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 6:34pm

    Whoa is me

    The sky is falling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Allblack, Nov 10th, 2008 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Startups?

    Leaving one of the biggest markets in the world. How ironically entrepreneurial of you. I wish you all the best mate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    FlyOverCountry, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 5:09am


    Obama will get all the information he needs from the writing of Marx and Engels (The OneBook).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    kevhead, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Obama an entrepreneur?

    I hardly think that just because BO ran a good campaign and was organized well makes him automatically an entrepreneur. For someone who was able to get as much money as he did and still only received just over half of the "market" when his competitor was basically portrayed by the media as stale and out of touch. Hardly a huge success story. That said, I'm sure he believes otherwise, and hopefully he realizes his success was done without government intervention or help and will remember that when he's formulating policy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    ProEntrepreneur, Nov 18th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    bottom Up

    President elect Obama would do well for the country if he utilized the same grass roots bottom up vision to revitalize the economy. Small start up's and small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Human nature is to focus on the top. Focus on the large to the neglect of the small. It is these small flexible innovators that will produce value for all of us. Entrepreneurs are both good and bad just like every other segment of society, but every segment of society depends upon them. From basic needs to our extravagant wants they have been provided by an entrepreneur willing to pay a price to bring them to you. Let's listen to the entrepreneurs. This is not about liking or not liking Obama. We are influenced by those we give our ear to. Obama should give his ear to entrepreneurs he respects. He should do this because he has not had experience building a company and is not currently working to build a business now. His attention will be focused in more areas then we could imagine. He must have advisors who are closer to the action to be that important voice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Joseph, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Warren Buffett

    Have you seen this new post about 7 Priceless Business Quotes from Warren Buffett: http://josephwesley.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/7-priceless-business-quotes-from-warren-buffet/? It has some great quotes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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