Entrepreneurs often find inspiration in political leaders — as many of you did last week with our Churchill quotation. The effective ones have the ability to motivate us beyond any single set of circumstances, and over time.
When I read the latest excerpt from Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in South Carolina, where he won the Democratic primary on Saturday, I found myself replacing certain words in his text such as: ‘country’ or ‘South Carolina’ with ‘company’ or ‘project’; and ‘American people’ with ‘entrepreneur.’
It was a very natural — almost automatic — thing to do, a measure of how resonant Obama’s message can be — universal enough to be as applicable in a business framework, as it was when he spoke about race relations and health care reform to the throngs in attendance the other night.
Obama is talking about the very same ambition you pursue every day as a founder: to create something greater that what was there before you started — against the odds.
…in the end, we’re not up just against the ingrained and destructive habits… We’re also struggling with our own doubts, our own fears, our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of [enterprise] we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.
So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. Change will take time. There will be setbacks and false starts, and sometimes we’ll make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope, because there are people [who] are counting on us…
There are those who will continue to tell us that we can’t do this, that we can’t have what we’re looking for, that we can’t have what we want, that we’re peddling false hopes. But here’s what I know…Yes, we can seize our future … and as we take this journey … the same message we had when we were up and when we were down, that out of many we are one, that while we breathe we will hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the [entrepreneur!] in three simple words: Yes, we can.
Here is the audio of Obama’s speech. It’s even better if you listen to it. And listen to the end. (It is 17 minutes.) If his last stanza doesn’t give you chills, you’ve been coding too long and need to take a break.