Fridman: How I became a Russian oligarch
Very interesting for budding oligarchs, plutocrats, etc.
Rarely do you hear someone speaking so candidly. Then again he didn’t quite talk about the mass privatizations bit.
Introduction (Via Open Democracy)
What do you need to succeed in business?A mixture of luck and good judgement, according to Mikhail Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men and currently head of the Alfa Group.Gorbachev’s 1980s reforms made private enterprise possible – Fridman and others like him did the rest, as can be seen from this transcript of his lecture at the Publishers’ Forum in Lvov.
Interesting Excerpt (Via Open Demorcracy)
Entrepreneurial talent is a talent just like any other. It’s like scientific, creative or literary talent – we are here as part of a literary forum, after all. Historically, the attitude towards entrepreneurial talent has generally been rather controversial, I would even say discriminatory, especially on the territory of contemporary Ukraine and Russia and the states that existed here. Public perceptions of entrepreneurial talents were generally quite negative. There are undoubtedly many reasons for this. One of the most important is probably religious. As you know, greed – and essentially entrepreneurship is about earning material wealth – is one of the deadly sins, and traditionally all religions, especially the Orthodox church, had a very negative attitude towards it. As Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount, “rather a camel will pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. This idea has been uppermost in the public mind for centuries. To this day, the image of the entrepreneur in Russia, and I think Ukraine, is generally contradictory.
Now for a few words about the talents I believe a businessman needs, and what entrepreneurial talent consists of. It is widely thought, and has in fact been proved by science, that the two hemispheres of the human brain are responsible for different talents. In people with analytical tendencies, an inclination towards the natural sciences, logic and calculation, the right hemisphere is more developed. The left hemisphere controls creative tendencies, intuition and creative thinking. Each person is considered to have one or other side better developed. My analysis of the activities of people who are seriously successful in business leads me to conclude that entrepreneurs come into the category of people with equally well developed hemispheres. Perhaps they might not make such great scientists or outstanding artists, but evidently they have a little of both talents, to an equal degree, so to say.
I would say that the first specific quality is that the entrepreneur has to have a healthily opportunistic approach. Opportunism doesn’t always have a positive meaning, and very often in personal relationships or family life and friendship it may not be so good, but in business it is sometimes very useful.
Another quality which I think is interesting for entrepreneurs is a combination which in ordinary life might be regarded as not very positive: great flexibility on the one hand and an ability to stand up for your interests very firmly.
There is another aspect which I believe is interesting. In principle, entrepreneurship involves a great deal of conflict. Most people don’t like conflict, which is quite normal. People like to be friends, reach agreements, and talk in a polite tone with their friends and relatives. But business involves focusing on conflict, if necessary, and a readiness for it. In business you should be prepared to defend your interests very fiercely from time to time.