Last day of school!
On the bus after our last class at EMLYON
Our final lecture covered entrepreneurship in Europe.
Per usual, the French claimed to have invented entrepreneurship. They say it then proceeded to explode in America. Okay, but what does it take to make a country entrepreneurial? This was the question the lecture revolved around. Some of the answers given by the class were a sense of hopelessness, desperation, failure, necessity as the mother of invention, and a lack of consistency and homogeneity in business. The EMLYON lecturer gave a different answer: essentially, to become entrepreneurial a European country needs the mindset, skill set, and tool set to navigate out of the current crisis. He believes that entrepreneurship should be the key vector to improve the EU's socioeconomic conditions, because entrepreneurs see opportunities where others see problems.
This is quite the challenge in Europe however, because Europeans tend to be risk averse. Historically, European governments have leaned toward socialism in that there is an inherent dependency on others and the government for survival. How can this and the decrease in EU self-employment be reversed? The intuitive answer is to create incentives, provide funding and capital, and reduce regulation. However, our lecturer believes the solution is the opposite: make becoming an entrepreneur more difficult and relieve the pressure on the idea of entrepreneurship as a necessity. His solution involves more focus on improving the tax and fiscal systems within the EU so that it is a better environment for creating and sustaining businesses. However, this is a delicate balance. The government cannot afford to lose tax revenue but it also holds an important role in helping the economy revive itself.
Finally, we were introduced to a gentlemen who had moved to France from America and has a habit of building businesses. Essentially, his advice was to work hard, be prepared for long hours, and take advantage of luck and opportunity when it finds you. While this advice seemed somewhat underwhelming to many of my entrepreneur classmates, I think I may understand why. This guest was from America originally. We, also being from America, seem to have an inherent and ingrained entrepreneurial spirit within us. After all, entrepreneurship is what the American Dream is all about! So perhaps this is the difference in the challenge facing the EU and that facing the US. We Americans are lucky; we have been taught all our lives that we can build ourselves and our families around a success that we can create for ourselves through hard work, sound ideas, and a little luck. This is something I pray we never forget, and something we should never sacrifice in exchange for dependency on volatile government.
An Afternoon in Lyon
After class we spent a rainy afternoon in the streets of Lyon, trying to squeeze out as much culture and enjoyment as we could in our few remaining hours in the town. A classmate and I made our way up the hill to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The church was awe-inspiring. Tiny tiles no bigger than your thumbnail covered the ceilings and walls to create colorful representations of the heavens and saints.
Ornately carved doorway
Statue of an angel
The Virgin Mary and tiled Biblical illustrations
The Basilica altar
I was lucky to be able to take photos inside, since many churches do not allow for indoor photographs. After taking the tram back down the hill, we had to hustle to make our way back to the Lyon silk district to find a shop to buy true Lyonnaise silk. After picking through colorful scarves and ties of 100% French silk, we sprinted to the bus and made our way to the train station to make our way to Paris.
Our first evening in Paris was fairly uneventful. Everyone was hungry and tired, so we had dinner in an Italian restaurant and turned in somewhat early.
Waiting for dinner