Brad Feld

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Take Responsibility For Your Actions

Nov 19, 2008
Category Random

I made a mistake this morning.  I allowed myself to get ramped up during my morning information routine.  As I read through my online news and feeds, I kept seeing various permutations of discussions around "the bailout."  Which bailout you ask?  So did I.  Before I knew it I was way down a rat hole of reading about all the various requests around "the bailout", tricks for getting "your share of the bailout", absurd requests from very large established companies regarding "the bailout", some surprising and particularly offensive (at least to me) requests from other companies around "the bailout", and lots of justification for action couched in terms like "economic disaster", "crisis", and "collapse."

You don’t have to go very far to see where I started getting ramped up – just read the front page of the New York Times business section online this morning.  Note to self – you are an idiot – you should have gone running instead.

I hate the word bailout.   None of the companies I invest in are getting a "bailout."  When they make bad decisions, don’t execute, or run out of capital, they fail – which sucks, but it’s part of the economic cycle. I tried calling 1-800-BAIL-OUT to see if I was missing something.  They wouldn’t help me, but they let me rant about what I think about bailouts (smart entrepreneurs!)

Everytime I hear the word "bailout" it makes me think of Atlas Shrugged.  There’s a good idea – before you are allowed to mention the word "bailout" you have to read Atlas Shrugged – that’ll slow people down a little and make them think.

I’m not against government involvement and financial support in the broad business ecosystem.  That’s not what got me ramped up.  What got me ramped up is the pervasive and omnipresent requests for a piece of "the bailout" along with endless hyperbole justifying the naked requests for money from the government without clear consequences.  This, combined with the endless language of fear and panic from our "leadership", rather than a rational discussion of cause, effect, and proposed solutions makes me nuts.

Fundamentally, I feel like the ethos of "lack of responsibility" is finding its way into every nook and cranny of the discussion.  The connotation of "bailout" is "it’s not my fault – please bail me out."  By definition, if you are asking for a bailout, you need to take responsibility for your actions and how you got there.

Before I end, I’ll leave you with two things to clean your palate.  The first is from my friend Shawn Broderick titled UAW Rip and cuts to the core of the notion of taking responsibility for your actions, understanding cause and effect, and coming up with solutions based on a real understanding of the underlying facts.  The second is from another friend – Karyn German (who is one of the execs at NewsGator) titled What I Have Learned About Leadership.  Just reading it made me feel better.