Park City Olympic Park Pool

Look ma, no rope!

Our family recently (last August when I wrote this) spent the day in Park City (site of the WCI Conference last month) at the Olympic Park. We had a  ton of fun. For 1/3 the price of a Park City ski lift ticket, we got unlimited access to three rope courses, three ziplines, a drop tower, 3 extreme tubing hills, two ski lifts, a Ninja-warrior style challenge course, and the infamous Psicobloc climbing wall (positioned above a deep pool, enabling you to deep-water solo.)

The kids did great and we were all sad when our time ran out. As we left, they were setting up for the “Extreme Slip N Soar” event the next day, where people paid for the opportunity to zip down the ski aerialists training ramps and fly into the pool. If we had more time, we would have paid $25 more to ride the Olympic Bobsled course.

set for life insurance
It has been 15 years since the Olympics were held in Salt Lake City. I’ve played ice hockey in four of the rinks built for the Olympics, skated on the speed-skating oval, and been to events at many of the venues (including proposing to my wife at center ice in one of them.) They are all still operational and mostly paying for themselves, while allowing American Winter Olympians to train there. For free. It is a remarkable example of the power of capitalism. Contrast that with the Olympic venues in most countries, where the facilities rapidly rot, rust, decay, sit unused, and disappear.

Business Made The Difference

What happened in Salt Lake? Well, two things. The first was Mitt Romney. He ensured that money was raised as a bit of an endowment to not just build the facilities, but also to maintain them. Whatever you think of his politics, having a successful businessman running the Olympics here worked out great for the facilities. The second thing is capitalism. And that was what we saw at work at the Olympic Park.

Park City Ropes Course

My daughter and I on the top (harder) level of the Olympic Park ropes course

We saw athletes practicing their snowboarding and aerialist jumps. They had ski jumpers practicing after we left. The bobsledders get to do their thing all year long. All for free. That wasn’t tax dollars doing that. It was someone realizing that business can often accomplish things that other institutions cannot. The fees that people gladly pay to go do a ropes course or sled down a monstrous hill pay for that. And what user fees can’t generate is paid for with generous grants from people who have been successful in business.

Business And The Professions

 

Too often in the professions like medicine, law, accounting, dentistry, teaching, and even police work, we denigrate those in business-“Awww, they’re just in it for the money, not for a noble cause like us.” But when you look around at the standard of living you enjoy, far more of it came not from a professional, but from a businessperson, who was motivated not only by profit but also looking to make the world a better place. Internal combustion engines, electricity, trains, automobiles, airplanes, personal computers, the internet, air conditioners, and your iPhone all came from someone trying to make a buck. Business paid for The Birth of Plenty (great Bernstein book by the way if you like economic history) beginning in the 1820s. Business pays for a major chunk of your retirement, whether you invest in corporate bonds, stocks, or real estate.

Successful professionals realize that they also need to learn a few things about business in order to be successful in their profession. No margin, no mission is the order of the day.

While I didn’t really start making any kind of real money with The White Coat Investor until about year four, that slowly increasing income it produced kept me interested and motivated to keep up my efforts and not quit. In exchange for that business focus, 10 times as many people have had a chance to hear The White Coat Investor message as would have if I had done it purely on a volunteer basis.

Mountain Top Ziplines

A mile-long zip line

So today, let’s tip our hat to business. Thank you to those who work in it and those who understand human nature enough to know that we can do a heck of a lot of good while pursuing our own self-interest. Business and markets can’t solve every problem, but they are the best solution out there to many of the issues we have. Let’s get out of the way and let them solve the problems that they can solve. Learn its principles and apply them in your life.

What do you think? Do you think business is a noble pursuit? What are you grateful for that business has produced? In what ways have you used or seen used a profit motive to accomplish a lot of good? Comment below!