Cup O' Kindness

Happy New Year! This time of year is a good time to reflect on things.

Everyone wants to be appreciated – it's one of the few universals. Whether this comes from our family, friends or strangers, we want our lives to matter. As such, it's important that we think about what to prioritise in praising, as that's what we'll get more of.

If we think that having a six pack is the pinnacle of human achievement then resources will be diverted from other things to meeting this end. Personal vanity is not inherently bad and can lead to wider positive consequences beyond self-satisfaction, but all things being equal we should glorify things that obviously do more good for more people.

Making commerce a respected thing to do was a catalyst for the British Industrial Revolution and the modern world of higher living standards. And more progress is being made as a fashion favouring tech and start-up culture takes hold.

Anything we can do to reinforce this should be welcomed, which is why we should be encouraged to see so many great entrepreneurs on this year’s New Year’s Honours list, including OBEs for Tom Blomfield, the founder and CEO of Monzo, Paul Lindley, Founder of Ella’s kitchen and an MBE for Amali De Alwis, CEO of Code First Girls. 

The more entrepreneurs are celebrated, the more they become an inspiration for the next generation. It's a virtuous circle. If you know an entrepreneur deserving of an honour: nominate them.

Get the Gates?
Successful entrepreneurs often support society beyond their business activities. Bill Gates has gone further than most with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To wrap up the year he has written about what he learned, including his changing priorities as a 63-year-old: "Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful. Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, 'Do the people you care about love you back?' I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.”

Gates also has updates on his work and thoughts on Alzheimer’s, polio, energy, gene editing, and the potential next epidemic. It’s not all positive, but a valuable lesson in what's on the mind of one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, as well as a useful template for entrepreneurs looking to take stock of their own work and personal life.

Marshall the Facts
Now back to policy. More companies than ever before are finding it hard to recruit staff. As Adam Marshall, British Chamber of Commerce Director General, says: “Business concerns about the government's recent blueprint for future immigration rules must be taken seriously – and companies must be able to access skills at all levels without heavy costs or bureaucracy.” As I wrote at the end of last year, access to talent is the number one issue for entrepreneurs and the immigration white paper is a case study in self sabotage. We will be responding to the consultation and asking for your input.

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