Tim Carney’s Awesomeness Theory of Capitalism

I saw this when it came out and, as an aspiring entrepreneur, it really resonated with me on how entrepreneurs see the world.

For the people who really drive technology and push the world forward, it isn’t about the money (or, at least, it isn’t only about the money). The drive to “be awesome” is a powerful one… one that inspires a great deal of innovation.

I personally think that one of the great things about the internet isn’t simply access to data or information. It allows groups of people to show off their stuff to other people who care, to people who will think they are awesome. This force drives a huge amount of cool things like space tourism and genetics businesses like 23andMe . It’s also the driving force behind the DIY revolution that Johnny Chung Lee wrote about. For me, getting accolades from people I respect is bigger than a big payday. (In fact, if I somehow got a big payday in the millions of dollars, I’d probably change the trajectory of my career to a higher quotient of awesome-to-profit.)

Anyway, I keep wanting to refer to this clip, so I figured I should put it on my blog.


  1. Mark says:

    I’ve heard socialists claim this drive to “be awesome” will sustain an economy by itself. I don’t buy that, though.

  2. Ray says:

    Socialism will never work. You can’t teach people to dig up potatoes for someone else to eat. You can’t teach an entrepreneur to give up his “awesomeness” to someone else who hasn’t worked as hard as he has for it.

  3. […] that some entrepreneurs are motivated not just by money but also by the drive to be awesome. Via ← Cancer […]

  4. dawn says:

    Of course it is not all about the money. What a strange view to impose on entrepreneurs and capitalists. What it is all about is choice. Thomas Jefferson phrased it as the pursuit of happiness. And you cannot forget the significant component of freedom that property plays. All men have a finite amount of time on earth. This time is spent in labor acquiring property. This is the universal condition of man. Unlike the other animals, he cannot survive without his property, i.e. his tools and possessions. So this property acquired by his labor during his finite time on earth is literally units of his life. When an outside force lays claim to that time and labor and its fruits, it lays claim to man’s very life and freedom.

  5. Invariable says:

    Good lord. What a contradictory statement you’re making there, Dawn.
    You say it is not about money; but about choice. Then you say, in your closing lines, that when an “outside force” lays claim to “that time and labor and its fruits,” it lays claim to man’s very life and freedom.

    So. Human freedom apparently resides in human’s capacity to choose, and it is the exercise of this choice that “it is all about” for entrepenuers, not money. Yet according to you, the coup de grâce to life and freedom (and entrepreneurship, by implication) occurs via the taking of the fruits of one’s labor, which must of course mean money, since it’s taxes that you’re talking about here.

    Try again, and go for a stronger, more coherent argument this time.

  6. Warren Buffett says:

    Amen, broheim! Love me some progressive taxation. I’m too damn awesome to stop making more money. Well said.

    Sincerely and truly,
    The Oracle of Omaha

  7. Jack Myswag says:

    Socialism …. bla bla bla …. BOOOOORRRRING!
    What a strawman! No one wants “socialism” and Romneycare is NOT socialism.
    I’m really tired of all this “if the government does it, is EEEEK Socialism!”-crap
    wait … so the goverment forcing me to pay for defense contractor big fat govt contractors … that’s SOCIALISM

    @dawn and others
    to argue against taxes is foolish, but to argue against taxes because they are part of one’s life is extremely stupid.
    Taxes are the first sign of civilisation. Working together is, and taxes are the financial expression of working together.
    Taxes are simply what we decide to pay together. The govt sometimes does that for us, to which not all of agree, hence … political debate. Once, Bush decided to LIE to us so that all 300 million of us, should spent 1300 BILLION dollars on IRAQ. Most of us cheered! But paying for the HEALTH of Americans? OOOOh socialism.

    The difference between Dems and Repubes is that we accept that somethings need to be collectively paid, like defense AND health care, and Repubes’ don’t accept that health care needs to be collective.
    It’s not about choice, it’s about being stupid over what works, like Repubes do and whining about non-existent socialism

    “he cannot survive without his property” Yah. I call BULL!!! he might be unhappy, but he’ll survive.

    See here the prime example of Repubes’ whiny-ism: “Taxes are life-threatening”
    Switch the vowels of the first word and you got something mostly accurate.

    Compare a parrish. Maintenance is NECESSARY. All members have to chip in. Per head it comes down to 500 dollars. Are you gonna sit there and argue that taxes are life-threatening? Those that do NOT pay are bumming off the rest. Just like Billionaires do now. Taxes can NEVER be voluntary, because then everyone will claim exception and nothing will get ever paid.

    Should everyone pay the same? For the waitress in the back pew that’s half her monthly salary… if she gets tips. For the landowner in the front pew, he makes that in just under 3.5 minutes.

  8. Dave says:

    The irony is that John Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods, is a libertarian. A hippy libertarian, which seems like a contradiction, but a free market libertarian nonetheless. Now, don’t go telling people this. It might cost him his customer base.

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