We come into this world as children, bestowed with raw innocence and besotted with toys, confectionery and attention. But, before we grow into adults and face life’s major decisions, we develop an odd yearning to matter and to be noticed. And, as we slowly lose that raw innocence and develop this yearning, we develop our cunning and calculation (which we invariably use to satiate our yearning to matter). So how does this relate to private equity success?
Now, this concept of being noticed isn’t always an overtly moral concept; people engross themselves in rather obscure pursuits such as dancing, accounting, palm reading, etc. However, even with so many channels to become noticed, the reality is that many of us will never really matter outside of our circle of family and friends. We’ll never make a dent in global poverty and we’ll probably just add to the raft of existing global challenges and conundrums.
But, there’s another way. Why waste our efforts on making a difference (especially one that will help others), when we can just create the appearance that we matter? Why bother with impoverished people when we can spend hours a day at the gym to look like we mean business? Or why bother with environmental conservation when we can get a boob job to become more desirable? Or why even build robust businesses that create jobs and support innovation when we can simply spend thousands of dollars on our attire to create the allusion that we’ve made a difference?
Wow, this post sounds really righteous and holier than thou, but that’s not my intention. If anything, I’m just asking… am I trying to make a difference or trying to appear like I’m making a difference. Is making a difference even that noble? Who knows… but what I do know is that in private equity success, investment horizons are long enough to separate those that actually matter and those that just appear to matter. (And in life, well, I guess that’s up to you.)