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We Need You to be a Good Samaritan, Not Machiavelli with an MBA

April 30, 2013, 1:01 PM

Hey, listen, for the young MBA students, there’s a study that came out not too long ago, I’m sorry to say, 80 percent of MBA students in America identify with what they call Machiavellian values.  That means me first all the way.  But let me tell you.  If you look at where that’s gotten Wall Street, its not very impressive.  You know, for many years I was a close friend of the great investor, Sir John Templeton.  Sir John is mythic in the field of investment; the Templeton Funds and the like have been immensely successful.  Sir John taught the love of neighbor.  He treated every client with great care, with great compassion.  He was the consummate Good Samaritan, if you will.  He was so concerned about staff, about colleagues.  

When you really get down to it go back to Adam Smith, you know.  Everybody knows Adam Smith who wrote the The Wealth of Nations in 1776.  But 10 years earlier or so, he wrote a beautiful book called, The Moral Sentiments, which is beautiful.  It basically talks about sympathy; that was his term.  They didn’t have the word empathy at that point or compassion necessarily, but sympathy was the reigning language game.  And he thought, you know, if you look empirically at human nature and at human success, any culture that is going to be successful has a tremendous amount of sympathy, a tremendous amount of love of neighbor, if you will.  And if we’re just wrapped up in ourselves, there’s no way that any kind of economic system or any kind of society can ultimately flourish.  

And so it’s only 10 years later the he writes The Wealth of Nations, but The Wealth of Nations is really not his core statement.  It builds on the earlier one.  And so that’s why when you have a capitalistic society, to the extent that you encourage and nurture these kinds of prosocial, generative, giving attitudes, the more you will have success, not the less.  And unfortunately, I think too many young people are laboring under false impressions.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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