The following is from a brilliant opinion article on the Forbes website. If you want to read the full article, please find it
. I thought I
would copy the whole thing into the main post for ease of reference.
President Obama : Listen to the Entrepreneurs
America has elected Barack Obama this week to an eminently well-deserved presidency. His phenomenal grass-roots campaign, his crisp positioning as the
agent of change and his inspiring oratory has led us into the promise of a new era.
As he embarks on the journey of switching roles from a "revolutionary" to an "executive," I have a few things to say to him:
President Obama, on many accounts, you are my kind of guy. Your youthful energy, your flashing smile, your optimism, your poetry, your intellect, your
willingness to learn, your calm, the obvious success of your marriage and of course, your comfort with modern technology--it all feels reassuring. I
can relate to you.
But, I am not one of your fans. Not yet.
Why? I am one of those objective, open, rational intellectuals who are perfectly willing to be convinced about where you plan to take America and the
world. In turn, you have promised to listen to me.
So listen, President Obama. You have led a generation of youth in a historical upheaval. This generation listens to you. They look up to you. And what
are you telling them? Following your example, you are telling them to engage in politics and community service, and you are reassuring them that the
government will be taking care of them.
I have a problem with this philosophy. I have a problem with the entitlement epidemic that will be the unintended consequence of your charismatic and
intensely compelling rhetoric. Whatever comes out of your mouth today, and even more so, in the months and years to come, will be treated as Gospel by
an entire generation. And for this, you have a responsibility about what you say to them.
Yes, you can lead the followers. But can you lead the leaders? And can you make leaders out of your followers?
You want to create 5 million new green jobs--a great goal. To create 5 million jobs, you need at least 50,000 entrepreneurs--leaders--to step up to
What, President Obama, is your message to this group that you so desperately need help from to deliver your beloved country out of this economic mess?
That you will take the fruits of their toil and hand it out to those on welfare? At least that is what we are hearing in your rhetoric. Your messaging
is terribly off when you try to communicate with the entrepreneurs, and it terrifies us.
All we hear is Wall Street versus Main Street. Well, we're not the looters of Wall Street. We are the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley and
elsewhere--we build, we innovate, we create jobs. And to us, you have had nothing encouraging to say thus far.
You see, President Obama, leading leaders is an entirely different ballgame than leading followers. Poetry alone does not suffice. Incisive intellects
ask questions that need and deserve logical answers without contradictions. When you say you will fix health care and education, we all rejoice. But
then you cannot support your claims with a clear explanation of where the money to finance those plans will come from, and you lose credibility.
Leading leaders is also a discipline full of possibilities. We all have good ideas. If you are going to be our leader, we need you to listen to those
ideas and incorporate them into your policies. (See "Stimulus Package For Entrepreneurs.") I have yet to hear back from you or your team.
I understand that you have been very busy. And as a strategist, I also understand that you could not have won this election by focusing on the
relatively small number of entrepreneurs in America. You needed the numbers and, for that, you went to your base. You went to the masses, inspired and
engaged them, and they have delivered you this presidency.
But now, we do need to hear back from you on the issue of how you plan to stimulate entrepreneurship. And we hope that you will let us advise you
where we know more than you. Whether it is cleantech, education or health care, you need entrepreneurs to engage you and help you solve the
I see, in many ways, reflections of another great leader in you: Mahatma Gandhi. With amazing charisma and astute understanding of grass-roots
politics, Gandhi brought down the British Empire in India. But when it came time to rebuild a new India, Gandhi simply failed to rise to the occasion.
He was a great revolutionary but a terrible executive.
You, President Obama, will need to be a great executive. And executive leadership is different from grass-roots leadership. It requires leading the
leaders and those who will deliver you your greatest prize: job creation and prosperity.
In your victory, President Obama, you have left us unaddressed. And we cannot let you get away with that.