For the past couple of weeks this image has been etched in my mind. This is perhaps the main place, outside of my South Florida home and favorite local places, where I truly go to unwind on a yearly basis. As María ripped through Aguas Buenas the early morning of Wednesday September 13, it destroyed countless homes, property and the fruits of labor accumulated by hundreds of thousands of people from the past through the present. As the images were sent to me, I asked myself the question, what am I supposed to learn, to take away from this?
During my first presentation at our accelerator boot-camp this past Thursday, I was telling our new participants about the concept of creative destruction. This was Joseph Shumpeter’s way of telling the world that at the heart of failure for an entrepreneur, there is gain for society as a whole. Society will grow in prosperity FASTER the more creative destruction we have. By seeking profits and fleeing losses, entrepreneurs improve society’s use of resources and human welfare. After class that night, I thought to myself, is that the lesson taught here to me by the hurricane?
Later on the drive home I realized I was WRONG to think that was the lesson. The destruction caused here by María is not creative. Disasters such as this one, natural or man-made, do not increase the general welfare or prosperity of society. To believe so would mean you do not understand Bastiat’s broken window fallacy, a topic I will touch upon in a future accelerator class. I realized the lesson I have seen as a result of Maria is another one I also taught during that first presentation: Entrepreneurs have tremendous optimism and energy. They are unflinchingly positive. Entrepreneurs have thick skin, and they never give up. In the wake of a major natural disaster, entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico are solving problems and making money – from PVC washboards to mufflers for generators.
That optimism and energy is what the Innovation Hub at Broward College wants to make known to entrepreneurial hopefuls, along with the knowledge and the methods to develop those traits.