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Zer Netmouse
July 25th, 2008
08:52 am


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being stubborn == good entrepreneur?
On Wednesday flinx and I went and saw Mongol, which they describe in the trailer as "the untold story of Genghis Khan's rise to power" and which could be subtitled "How to Choose a Good Wife." It was a good movie, full of amazing vistas, with a lead character who could have been the poster boy for entrepreneurialism.

That is to say, before he was Khan, he was the son of a dead Khan, and thus a threat. He ran away, and was caught. And ran away, and was caught. And ran away, came back to get his wife (first battle we see him winning), later got into a different battle, and was caught. And was sold as a slave, and was imprisoned. And got away (enter the importance of choosing a good wife), and eventually won battles and united his people under the rule of law. Throughout which, he was amazingly stubborn and stoic.

In Before you Quit Your Job, Robert Kiyosaki quotes someone as saying, "Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed."

Is it bad to choose the head of the Mongol Horde as a role model?

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:July 25th, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
He might be a better choice than Kiyosaki, but it's hard to tell because both of their backgrounds are highly fictionalized. ;-)
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Date:July 25th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
I really, really wanted to see that. It was playing at Royal Oak but I don't think it is anymore. I'm glad to hear it was good, I was worried.
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Date:July 25th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
Under these circumstances, I think not. You might want to avoid any smiting of your enemies that is not metaphorical, though: I'm told the paperwork is a nuissance.
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Date:July 25th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
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Date:July 25th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
It's funny that you mention someone who is so frowned upon, because much of my concern about entrepreneurship (or at least entrepreneurship books) concerns the consequences of failure on other people. Employees, clients. The stereotype of a bad entrepreneur is of a charismatic schmoozer who keeps bullshitting people into going along with bad schemes. The books say "if you don't have money, you just go out and get the money", but carefully gloss over the potential moral consequences of where to get it from. That's what bothers me about rah rah overconfidence preached by motivational speakers. I suppose that's where the phrase "confidence games" comes from.

For an enthusiastic evangelist like me, this is a pitfall to watch out for. But I'm not saying it's a show-stopper.
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Date:July 25th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
He can't be worse than mine... Conan... "crush your enemies... see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women, this is what is best in life." :)

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Date:July 26th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
What Genghis Khan did wasn't "entrepreneurialism". Business and war aren't the same thing. Entrepreneurialism involves identifying something people want, figuring out how to get it to them, and doing it. Economics is about voluntary exchanges between free individuals for their mutual benefit. Genghis Khan was a military leader; he relied on coercion, loyalty through fear, and literal destruction of not just his enemies but also civilian populations in enemy territory. Is it morally wrong to adopt the principles of violence, coercion, and revenge that were hallmarks of Genghis Khan's success? I would say yes. Do some business leaders use these tactics? Yes, but it's not admirable.
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Date:July 26th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
Well, that wasn't the story in the movie. In the movie he gave his warriors equal shares of plunder, attracted them with his generosity, defended his men's right to choose their own master, and later re-instated the law that mongols do not kill children. He wasn't afraid to ask for help, and he remembered his debts, but did not let them dominate him; he remained a free agent.

Plus, as I said, he was stubborn and dedicated, placing his goals above his personal life except where it really mattered.

So whether these traits that I've described belonged to Genghis Khan or not, the character in the movie may serve as a useful model.

(btw, what is your source for all this info about what the Kahn did and didn't do? sometimes it sounds like you know the subject matter and sometimes like you're generalizing.)

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Date:July 30th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Studied history, once upon a time. Did a few minutes research with Google. Summarized.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of historical record, but there are stories across Russia and southwest Asia about whole towns being destroyed with every man, woman, and child killed, and then land salted to prevent anyone from coming back and rebuilding. In one case it is said he redirected a river through his enemy's capital city so that it would not be found on maps. In modern-day Mongolia he is remembered positively, just as many Hungarians and Turks are given the name Attila.

The Green Berets and Apocalypse Now describe the same conflict in very different terms, and that's within living memory. I'm not inclined to trust a single, fictional, source, especially when it conflicts with other sources.
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