Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Widening Gap

During exams time, I wrote about Olson's observation of rational ignorance. In the same article, he wrote about the tendency of business practices, laws and regulations to become more sophisticated over time. Intelligent, sophisticated people come up with new, innovative ways to do business and make money all the time. Policy makers and legislators have to catch up with the suitable regulation and legislation. Then business people need lawyers, auditors, accountants and advisors to make sure they play by the rules (and find out if there were any gaps in the rules, any opportunities.) This all creates an exclusive, closed-circuit biosphere of intelligent, sophisticated people. You have to prove your intelligence, motivation and cunning to break into their circle and rise up to their level. You have to work very hard and build relationships. You have to pass the exams of their associations. All simply because they don't want the competition over-crowding brings.

And we are struggling to join the biosphere, not only because we need the money, but also because it's the only way we think we can prove our intelligence. Joining their circle seems like the best use of your time, something challenging enough. Something that can prove ourselves and the world that we are worthy. Look at the money we make. Look at the people we hang out with.

When I go to private equity conferences, I am envious. I feel like I'm looking at their circle from outside, because I'm not smart enough. I am dependent on the information they provide me within the few minutes of spare time they have, because they call the shots. Their time is important. This envy makes me want to join their circle. Become one of those smart girls who are always on their feet. It blurs my vision of what I really want to do and what is meaningful to me.

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