This past week marks the first week of my new job at a great company called Total Financial Solutions, and the reason I think this is noteworthy enough to blog about is the up-close experience of the business world this philosopher now has.
The integration of philosophy and business in itself is an interesting topic. Mere-O frontman, Matt Anderson, made a present to me of Tom Morris’ If Aristotle Ran General Motors. This book takes four key principles from Aristotle – Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity – and applies them to business and the business environment. Business and economies, after all, are built upon philosophy.
The philosophical presuppositions of those in an economy give shape to that economy. Morris argues for Aristotle’s philosophical presupposition that human beings are made to be creative. This has vast consequences for how business is done.
My employer, though not an Aristotle scholar like Morris, recognizes the function creativity plays in human beings. Because of this, he tries very hard to cultivate creativity in his employees and his clients. The whole idea of giving bonuses and providing incentives to production is geared to boost the creativity of an employee. Though a commission based system can be abused by an employer, it crafts an environment in which everyone wins. First, the employee wins because he or she gets rewarded for producing more business and more importantly he or she takes a stride towards forming a habit of creativity. Second, the employer wins because he or she gets more out of an employee and generates more business for his or her company. Third, the customer benefits because they are, one, working with a creative person whose creativity is focussed on helping the client and, two, the customer gets a superior product as competition in whatever sector it is increases. For instance, Total Financial Solutions offers the rare product of a complete, fee-free, financial service company that takes into account the whole financial picture of the client to decide which life insurance or retirement, or college savings plan is right for that client. This helpful innovation was created by my boss in order to compete in a crowded market.
A final point: it is relatively easy to take – i.e. go get a secure government job pushing papers, follow protocol, and collect a bloated pension at the end – but it is much more difficult to make. Though creativity may be what human beings are designed to do, few are those who actually do it. Most want to be told exactly what to do and then put their head down and do it for eight hours, five days a week. It is astonishing at how much our culture has adopted a victim mentality and demands so much of employers for such a little service in return. Fortunately, capitalism still rules the day in our great nation and enough incentive exists for entrepreneurship that those who make something out of nothing are rewarded for their efforts.