The Art of Competitive Frugality
Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough always proves little enough: let us then up and be doing, and doing to the purpose.
—Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth
Time is always short, and “anguish absolute, and many hurt,” to quote Emily Dickinson. The classics are a valuable source for reminding us to do more with less, since the emphasis is always on the smart doing and the saving of time and effort, without becoming machine-like. For example, Franklin connects diligence with the elimination of distraction, waste, and self-harm. I have argued the same, while adding a comparison to Dilbert in Chapter 1. If our great competitors of tomorrow would keep Franklin in their cubicles, we’d have better products—and a better world. Dilbert would lose, by 2020, his cartoonish material.
Before I wrote this chapter, I reread all my Franklin texts and confirmed that every word of The Way to Wealth is relevant to chief executive officers (CEOs) and world leaders today. Franklin is artful, competitive, and clever; he is a master of the business of sportive seriousness. He was far more frugal than we tend to remember, and far more humorous than his legend and actions. He reminds us that the real purpose of money is social, and that we must be inventive to add value as we position for the future.
Franklin embodies a distinctive way of thinking. Franklin’s industrial worldview proves right again, for our world and our century. And ...