Bathe Entrepreneurs in Glory, Not Suspicion

What do great artists do?

They create something from where there once was nothing. No guarantees, but this “something” may eventually be embraced by hordes of people. And if so, a trifecta of dollars, respect and profound adulation may rain down upon said artist’s head, be they musicians, actors, visual artists or writers.

So…what do great entrepreneurs do?

In essence, the same things as great artists do.

And what do great entrepreneurs get in return?

Again, about the same thing as great artists do.

Except for great entrepreneurs in Quebec that is, where respect and profound adulation are often replaced by envy, jealousy, criticism and sometimes even abuse.

Wow, what an incentive to take risks and generate jobs here!

If this is the elephant in the boardroom, it is painted neon yellow and is trumpeting like Miles Davis. I’m not saying we treat all our Quebec entrepreneurs like crap; we actually treat some of them quite well…um, if they’ve enjoyed success outside our borders.

If you can believe the whispers in the halls of conference centers and venture cap gatherings, most successful entrepreneurs de chez-nous are ultimately looked upon with suspicion rather than glory…a strange conundrum given the unique nature of Quebec’s homegrown “vedette” system in the artistic community.

Yet a few days ago, Quebec Inc. (alongside throngs of Quebec Inc. Wanna-Bes) showed up in droves, filling Place des Arts’ giant Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier to hear the spoken word performance of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Artist, entrepreneur, or both? Who cares…he was smothered in love, accolades, reverence and selfies on the coldest night of the year. Good thing he was born in San Jose, not Saint-Joseph.

Yes, entrepreneurs are different. They may be pompous, self-centered, egomaniacal and demanding. Many of them are slightly crazy. These character traits may not make them immediately endearing, but it’s those same traits that separate them from the masses, the followers. And like the artists they resemble in soul and spirit, we need confident entrepreneurs to lead so that we can grow and thrive as a society in Quebec.

Maybe if we would show our Quebecois entrepreneurs a bit more love, respect and gratitude, if we would celebrate them instead of denunciate them, perhaps they would then stay the course and enjoy the ride here longer, instead of doing something foolish like retire, move away…or set their sights on trying to lead a political party.

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