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Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

In-dependence Day

Jul 02 2015

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 

Even in those days, when I was twenty years old, I had told myself: better starve, go to jail, or be a bum
than spend ten hours a day behind a desk in an office.\
Isaac Babel

Not to get High & Mighty about it, BUT … even when there were jobs to be had, my guess is that the last thing on immigrants’ minds when they came here, much less those who fought for our independence from Great Britain, was to get a stinking job.  Did I say that?  Some people seem to love their job, BUT … my guess is they’d love it even more if they were autonomous, independent, and called the shots as to when, where, and how they worked, within the framework of doing what was called for well enough to be called upon for it again and again.  Whatever job they may have had in mind was just a springboard to becoming in-dependent as soon as they could. 
From the get-go, the game was weighted heavily in favor of those who already had a business, who by and large did everything in their power to prevent the people, whose plight they took advantage of, from wresting free of their bondage.  And yet, countless millions did manage to venture forth on their own, and continue to.  The Question, then, is why so few do?  Dare I ask further, for all the claptrap about Education Standards, is there so much as a single unit of study in twelve years of elementary and secondary education about entrepreneurship?  I don’t mean what it is and its place in the grand scheme of things; I mean what are the skills that foster it, and how they are acquired.  Business organizations sponsor programs for adolescents who are already so inclined, BUT … that begs the issue.  Why are so few involved in them?
Independence is In the American Grain, to borrow the title of William Carlos Williams’ collection of essays pretty much along that line—or exploration, which is not very different— unless someone has it sucked out of them the way vampires live on blood.  Again, that’s not to say that bosses can’t be swell folks; many could even be called generous; it just ain’t the same as being your own.  Nor that there aren’t inevitably times when business owners wish they just had a job, and all the headaches were someone else’s, or go out of business and take a job, BUT … they tend to carry that experience and mindset with them, just as athletes and practitioners of the arts do. 

So what is it that leads people down that Road Not Taken, however many other people have trodden down that path?  Franchise or no franchise, it’s always someone or some team taking on the world.  Whether the business is a sole proprietorship or has a thousand employees, a business owner or CEO has to have an overview of everything going on and at least be somewhat expert in the basic functions of strategic planning, finance, operations, and marketing, which includes sales, as operations includes design and production.  Sound familiar?  The narrator of a literary work, be it a poem, essay, or fiction has a similar overview of events, as does a playwrite, implicitly.  Everyone’s in a play—several, counting everyone around them, whose play they’re in.  Tricky business, when you try to take a crack at writing your life down as Any of the Above.
I’ve also mentioned that Having an objective, without Being objective, is what Cervantes described as chasing windmills, which of course go round in circles.  In Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act IV, scene i, before the famous Battle of Agincourt, Henry wanders about in disguise among his soldiers the evening before, to feel out their attitudes about the coming battle and himself.  In a June 8th, 2008 Businessweek article, “How Meetup Tore Up the Rule Book,” the CEO there, to the contrary, was completely in the dark about how employees there felt about both him and their work conditions, before being yanked, as the article puts it, into a conference room and shown a list of grievances.  The caption in the photo says he “has let the workers become their own bosses.”  Likewise, a tricky business.  Dare I ask, is there anyone who isn’t as skeptical of that as myself?  Then again, who hasn’t heard of a writer contending that a book wrote itself, and the people in it took on a life on their own?
Do yourselves a small one.  You’re in the library, I presume, from time to time, anyway, or at least pass by there.  Read a page of the heavies like Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Thomas Mann from the last century, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, Balzac or Flaubert from the previous one.  Then take a look at the surprisingly stupendous novel by Mario Puzo, from which the timid by comparison movie of The Godfather was made, and highly touted authors like William Gaddis and Don Delillo of our time, and see whether you can’t tell the categorical difference in the latter two’s command of narration and the rest, and are able to extrapolate from that how good a business owner or CEO they would make from it.

The overview of a CEO, which the head of every independent enterprise essentially is, not only lends itself to seeing everything going on as stories—and we’ve gone over one aspect or another of the significance of formulating information that way, in every post—but pulling a Henry V among the rank and file, if not undercover, a CEO hears all kinds of stories about their situation, each with its own Form, Style, and Tone to suit the Content.
When we acquire a new skill, everything we ever learned and experienced prior to acquiring it, which had the skill’s potentiality inherent in it, is born anew, as it were, and brought to bear on what we do and learn henceforth.  If only somewhere through all those years of studying literary works in elementary and secondary education, students were periodically informed that its properties are also part and parcel of those involved in entrepreneurship, just as we learn a bit about classifying animals and how sensory perception works around Fourth or Fifth Grade, again in junior high school, and still more intricately in high school Biology, a whole lot of people behind the 8-ball, losing one job after another in today’s quicksand economy, then their very home, might well have come to a far happier end, independent as the breeze.

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