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"Greed is stupid"

CEO Ernst Prost writes in today's circular for his colleagues that misdirected thriftiness has nothing to do with entrepreneurship and why it is so important to invest especially in difficult times.

Dear colleagues,

 

When bean counters and nitpickers take over a company, it’s lost. In Swabian, this type of manager is also called a “duck pincher” (one who pinches the duck’s rear to find out whether an egg is about to be laid and the duck should be kept in the pen). Not quite polite, but apt enough. The limit to politeness is definitely exceeded with the following expression: “For five pennies, he will have a blood blister pinched in his crown jewels.” I’ll allow myself this lapse, since I don’t expect that any children will be reading my letters. About the Masquerade with Ministers: Did any politician at any airport today once again welcome an aircraft with face masks made in China?

Returning again to the “duck pincher”, the counter-concept to the visionary with play instinct and the mover & shaker with specific goals:

If you drill deeper through the layers of vernacular, folklore and wisdom, you will come across one of the seven main vices: Stinginess (also known as greed). This has nothing to do with thriftiness, but rather with the desire to pass away with full pockets and an unwillingness to share. “Don’t ask what it costs, ask what benefits it brings.” A few hundred times in my professional life, I have chanted this text when someone would rather die than invest or even share. If this saying did not help, I told the story of the miserly farmer who – not blessed, moreover, with trust in God and confidence in the future – did not want to do his job and therefore preferred to eat up the seed rather than entrust it to the earth, where it might give him a rich harvest a few months later. Most of the time, the message was then understood: “He who will reap must sow!” … And must fertilize, weed, water, and also guard and protect the seedlings. Many an act of sowing, i.e. investing, is probably not rejected out of commercial considerations, but rather either out of laziness, out of feigned fear or out of stinginess – or out of all three mental and moral aberrations … Sitting on the moneybag instead of increasing its contents – or even giving away some of it – is not the businessman’s most noble task, and this (mis)behavior s certainly not part of the creative will to shape the future and the joy of entrepreneurs in the growth of their “baby” and the creation of new jobs.

Thrift makes sense. Saving means, first of all, avoiding unnecessary costs. You can’t really say anything against that. But saving also means making provision for bad times. At this point, I must again quote my grandmother: “Waste not, want not.” Bad times always come back. As do times of need. Please do not think that this crisis was the last crisis you will experience. There will be “crop damage” of all kinds over and over again. Be it through floods, droughts, pests, hail, frost, false policies or corona. Should we therefore now stop sowing, i.e. investing, and no longer lovingly tend our fields until the harvest? A miser and a coward would do this, but an entrepreneur would not. Stinginess is not sexy. Stinginess is stupid. Stingy and stupid at the same time are those who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing … Saving money no matter the cost is stupid too. Saving in the wrong way often enough yields nasty surprises and high costs on top of that …

“Never have I chased blindly after money. I have always waited for it to come to me.” Not one of mine, but I like it.

The bottom line: Working is fun. Making money, too. Helping makes sense. Penny-pinching is harmful. There must be growth. Investing brings benefits. If you want to reap, you must sow … and water and weed. It’s that simple. Have fun while you’re about it!

 

Yours,

Ernst Prost

Managing Director


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