Sunday, December 01, 2013

Chartering New Lands & Appreciating the Holidays

Here's a note shared with me by Nick Neonakis, a consultant with FranChoice and author of The Franchise MBA

 It is my belief that as Americans, we have an innate entrepreneurial drive.  All of us have our roots somewhere else and our forebears all came to this country seeking freedom and independence.  If you want to think of the entrepreneurs in your family, your ancestor who first came to this country certainly is an important one!  Whether shown through the entrepreneurial bravery in coming here or in starting a business, ours has always been a country that rewards ambitious immigrants.  In fact, 40% of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring.  It was here they met Squanto the Abenaki Indian who taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer.

The bravery these people showed in picking up their belongings and sailing over the horizon to start a new life is embodied by the thousands of men and women who start a new business every year in the USA.  As we wrap up the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s be thankful for all of their (and our) sacrifices as we make this world a better place.

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