This year begins with a new series,
Developing Leadership Skills from History.
Should we teach business skills in schools? Do business skills matter?
For 373 years, the Vikings terrified Europe. The Germans were powerless before the Danes. Vikings called the Franks in the powerful Carolingian Empire “beggars,” because they would beg for their lives.
“Here, take all of our treasure, just please leave us alone,” the Franks would cry.
But when the Vikings became Christians and the Viking age ended, the tide turned completely back. It was not the Vikings who controlled their domains, but the Germans. Merchants of the German Hanseatic League set up trading cities, hired armies, and established banking. The Hanse merchants were simply better at marketing, supply chain management, and scaling. For 300 years, the merchants controlled the economies of the Baltic and most of Scandinavia.
So as it often in history, the abacus was mightier than the battle axe.
Japan borrowed that lesson. In the first part of the 20th century, their military controlled Asia. Japan grew an empire that covered (at the peak) between 1/4 and 1/3 of the world’s population. But they lost it all pretty quickly. So they built an economic powerhouse, and Japan is much more prosperous. The abacus was more powerful than the katana sword. Japanese are much more happy.
The Viking descendants did catch up on business skills. Now they sell tiny plastic toy blocks at 10,000% profit (Legos). And they sell furniture cheaply by outsourcing most of the manufacturing to the customer (IKEA).
Are you developing your business skills? Remember that basic business skills do help build economies.
::: Be fierce. Be kind. Be knowledge-hungry. :::