America is often referred to as the land of opportunities. Many have made use of the opportunities on offer and struck it big. There is a strong unmistakable entrepreneurial spirit that is omnipresent, especially if you are in a place like the Silicon Valley and I felt it was difficult to remain immune from it. . I had the privilege of being at the heart of Silicon Valley and see many of those organizations who from their humble beginnings in a garage or a backyard, went onto become large multinational conglomerates and household names across the world
Infact when in this country, one realizes that there are many more large corporations, probably just as bigger as the American firms we know, and yet they never left the shores of USA to explore business opportunities elsewhere. Exemplary customer service and good products have ensured a strong business in the US. Nothing in the Silicon Valley even remotely hints of any recession. Restaurants are running full, retail outlets are bustling with customers, and roads are busy with traffic.
Amidst all these observation, the most interesting and surprising observation I had was that of a paradox! A paradox, that appears to exist in the general American psyche. A paradox that is as funnier as it is surprising! Let me explain. As we know there are many hugely successful US enterprises who have not only done exceptionally well in America but also in many of the countries where they also setup their operations in. Among them, not all but, few handful of organizations are reserved for ‘awe’, ‘love’ ‘affection’ and ‘Pride’ in the American Psyche. Many American organizations have to face tremendous and widespread public hatred at home and here in lays the paradox. These hated orgs, make no mistake, are huge and successful across the world. The paradox becomes even more interesting when many of the orgs that are hated here are loved overseas and seen synonymous with the American Culture.
It is a syndrome of “Despised at home, loved elsewhere” (no I am not talking about husbands). Any American worth his or her salt wouldn’t like to be seen doing anything with these despised organizations! A middle class American wouldn’t like to be seen shopping in Wal-Mart, eating in McDonalds or Pizza Hut and driving Dodge. Even if an American is doing all of the above he wouldn’t like to be caught doing it! The case of Wal-Mart is worth a special mention here. Not only is it widely hated but I felt it also shows the class-divide in an American society. There are three classes, as per me, a Class that shops in Wal-Mart by choice, a class that shops at Wal-Mart by compulsion and a class that stays away from Wal-Mart under all circumstances. Infact the ones shopping by choice make all attempts to show they are doing it out of compulsion, the ones who are doing out of compulsion wouldn’t like to be caught in the act! Known for poor business ethics, poor work atmosphere, low pay and plethora of cheap Chinese made goods, I haven’t seen or heard any other org singled out for such choicest abuses, widespread hatred and yet be No1 (No.2) Fortune 500 company! Therein lays the Paradox!
There are many more such examples. Ofcourse not all large organizations are hated, though their record might be no different than Wal-Mart. There are few that are nonetheless reserved for widespread Awe, love, affection and what every American would like to identify with or take pride in. Apple, Starbucks, Cosco are some names that I could immediately remember based on the interactions I had. There are status symbols everywhere and America is no different, however the paradoxical nature of these symbols is what made it very interesting to observe. I need to update one of my previous blog about FDI(sigh!)