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Jim Anderton celebrates student enterprise: Speech

Young Enterprise Students enter Hall of Talent

Jim Anderton celebrates the enterprises of 5 top students.

Members of the NZ Enterprise Trust,

Hall of Talent entrants,

When it comes to talking about successful young businesspeople I'm reminded of a story about a fresh business school graduate who answered a job ad at a small business.

"Mainly, I'm looking for an accountant to do my worrying for me," the employer said.

The young graduate was puzzled.

The employer explained, "I worry about a lot of things, but I don't want to have to worry about money. Your job will be to take all the money worries off my back."

"I see," the young accountant said. "And how much does the job pay?"

"I will start you at $85,000."

"Eighty-five thousand dollars!" the young accountant exclaimed. "How can such a small business afford a sum like that?"

The owner said, "That is your first worry."

One of the best things about my job is the opportunity to see success and creativity at close hand.

There are some amazingly talented and creative people in New Zealand businesses.

Creativity is possibly part of our national identity.

Because New Zealand is small and isolated, we are used to having to solve problems ourselves, often with few resources.

We are used to having the freedom to try things out.

As our greatest physicist Lord Rutherford said, 'In New Zealand we don't have much money, so we have to think.'

The Enterprise Trust helps to channel the energy and creativity of young New Zealanders into business success.

It's difficult to over-stress how important the mission is for New Zealand.

Business success of course brings its own rewards.

The greatest of these is the feeling of accomplishment, of having created something with your own initiative and talent.

But it also brings rewards for New Zealand, in the jobs created and the economic opportunities it unlocks.

Business success is crucial to New Zealand.

We need high-value businesses to succeed if we are going to build a platform for the economy.

There are no third world countries with first world health and education.

A strong economy doesn't necessarily guarantee strong social services, but it gives you the option.

A few years ago it was fashionable to believe that if the government got out of the way and wished everyone luck, business success would happen by itself.

Unfortunately, the evidence came in and it showed we were falling behind other developed countries.

So when I became Minister of Economic Development the government began to play its role in business success.

One of the first things we found was that we could do better at creating an enterprise culture.

About a year ago, Industry New Zealand - now NZ Trade and Enterprise -- commissioned research.

It found New Zealanders support and celebrate our sporting heroes but not our business heroes.

About a third believe it is not appropriate to celebrate business success.

They prefer successful businesspeople to remain modest about their achievements.

I believe cynicism arises from self-serving corporate behaviour, for example, people who were seen to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

If we people to make people feel good about business we need to celebrate those whose activities do serve others.

True business heroes start businesses, and help other good ideas to flourish.

It means celebrating not wealth itself, but the wealth of ideas, creativity and energy.

The research showed only six percent of New Zealanders mentioned business or the economy as factors likely to ensure their ideal New Zealand.

Nearly half the country found economic issues boring

When business is remote and full of jargon, it is boring to many people.

But it is exciting when the issues are framed in terms of jobs, vibrant communities and opportunities for our young people.

94% of people do admire people who take a risk and start their own business

In welcoming five young businesspeople into the Hall of Talent today, we are making a difference to the culture of enterprise in New Zealand.

You have already achieved significant results in business and I hope this is only the beginning.

That's important in itself, but I also hope your flair and creativity is an example and an inspiration to others.

We need to believe in ourselves as a nation and believe our businesspeople are capable of matching the world.

We need to stop telling ourselves 'New Zealand will never do that.'

New Zealand makes aeroplanes

We make marine jet engines - one of the two best companies in the world (the other is Rolls Royce).

There are many examples of excellence in New Zealand.

If we're going to compete, we have to be more creative than other countries.

This hall of talent is an example of how we can go about being that.

So I congratulate you all and welcome you into the Hall.

Before the presentations I can also tell you the story of a very successful businessman who had a meeting with his new son-in-law.

"I love my daughter, and now I welcome you into the family. To show you how much we care for you, I'm making you a 50-50 partner in my business. All you have to do is go to the factory every day and learn the operations."

"The son-in-law interrupted, "I hate factories. I can't stand the noise."

"I see," replied the father-in-law. "Well, then you'll work in the office and take charge of some of the operations."

"I hate office work," said the son-on-law. "I can't stand being stuck behind a desk all day."

"Wait a minute," said the father-in-law. "I just made you half-owner of a moneymaking organization, but you don't like factories and won't work in an office. What am I going to do with you?"

"Easy," said the young man. "Buy me out!"


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