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A Timeless Business Lesson About Nepotism and Meritocracy by@michael-brooks
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A Timeless Business Lesson About Nepotism and Meritocracy

by Michael BrooksDecember 30th, 2021
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My wife and I don’t raise little entrepreneurs as some kind of preplanned activity. We both know and understand that entrepreneurship is all about freedom of choice first and foremost. Whatever you do, whether you are an entrepreneur or not, you have to do your best and be a role model for your future family. That guidance can help them to succeed, make a difference, and be fulfilled. In its essence aren’t both life and entrepreneurship all about this ultimate goal?

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I have a son and a daughter.

Not because of the whole COVID thing, but because I have been running a fully remote business even before the pandemic, I’m in a position to spend so much time with my kids. I have to be honest about it, there’s no way of telling where work time ends, and family time begins. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the entrepreneurs’ families.

More than once my son noticed that I was a bit off while we watched our favorite TV show together, The Mandalorian. Daddy, what’s wrong? What are you worrying about? Aren’t you enjoying the Mandalorian?

The first thing I always do is smile at those kinds of questions. Everything is OK, but “this is the way.” Our way. The way I have to run things.

The moment I’m sure that I’ve got my son’s full attention, I use the opportunity to pass on an invaluable business lesson.

You know there are so many dads and moms who’re working with me (I never use the word “for” me). I need to make sure they have work to do and that they get paid for it, so they can buy the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda actions figures for their kids too.

I can see in his eyes that everything is forgiven about my absence when my thoughts drift away from time to time. But, more importantly, right there is the lesson I’m sure he’ll never forget. Daddy has to work, so I (my son) can get the toys I want, but he has to worry that other kids get their toys from their dads and moms who’re working together.

I have to admit that this realization and acceptance of a little boy that entrepreneurship is first about personal sacrifice makes me very proud. I want to make sure that this sense of responsibility and care for the well-being of his employees or team members sticks with him from an early age.

When it comes to my daughter, I have a different approach, but with the same goal eventually. I found a way to encourage and support her independent spirit while teaching her a lesson about the importance of the Internet in business. She enjoys making cookies with my wife. At one point, I showed her how she can use Instagram, among many other social media platforms, to offer her “products” to our closest family and friends. Understandably, the earnings are rather symbolic, but the lesson is priceless.

I want to teach her to be dependent only on the power of her own ideas and work. Needless to say, my wife is participating in our entrepreneurship lessons all the time. However, there’s something I need to make perfectly clear.

My wife and I don’t raise little entrepreneurs as some kind of preplanned activity. We both know and understand that entrepreneurship is all about freedom of choice first and foremost. Here's why.

Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. was the son of the co-founder of the Black & Decker Corporation.

At age 14, Decker began working odd jobs at his father’s company. After graduating from Baltimore’s Polytechnic Institute and earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, he returned to Black & Decker as a full-time employee in the export department.
When the Depression took its toll on the company, he was the first to be laid off—reportedly because his father did not want to give the appearance of nepotism. After a period of selling soap flakes to local grocery stores, the young man was eventually re-hired by Black & Decker as a floor sweeper.
In 1933, Decker began his career in earnest when the company promoted him to research and manufacturing engineer. In 1940, he was named vice president and elected to the Board of Directors. By 1964, he was chief executive officer, and four years later was named chairman of the board. He retired in 2000.

(Source: Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering Magazine)

More importantly, because Decker Senior didn't allow nepotism to stand in his way of business ethics, Decker Junior will be forever known as the “father” of the DIY industry and market, which wouldn’t be possible without his contribution to “developing power tools for use in the home, including the first cordless electric drill. (Source: Wiki)

In 1963, BLACK+DECKER developed a cordless, minimum-torque tool for astronauts to use under weightless conditions on Project Gemini. In 1971, with a BLACK+DECKER-built power head, the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill took core samples from the moon during NASA's Apollo 15 mission.

If our children decide entirely on their own to follow my entrepreneurship path, I’m going to be happy. If they choose to do something else in their lives, I’m not going to be disappointed at all. My duty is to lead self-dependent, empathic, and responsible young people to the point in life where they will have to make their own choice which door to open both personally and professionally. I don’t want to put a burden on my children that they have to carry on with their parents’ business. On the contrary, I’m impatient to be a part of their independent and spontaneous life’s journey.

There’s the final lesson to be passed on to my children. Whatever you do, whether you are an entrepreneur or not, you have to do your best and be a role model for your future family. That guidance can help them to succeed, make a difference, and be fulfilled. In its essence aren’t both life and entrepreneurship all about this ultimate goal?

If you liked this and my other stories don't forget to support my nomination for the Noonies2021 Awards in the BusinessEntrepreneur, and Entrepreneurship categories.