Neither Silver nor Bronze in America

Neither Silver nor Bronze in America

If football (yes, the real football) had been invented in America, there would neither be Silver nor Bronze prizes in competitions. Largely, U.S. does not believe in any prize that is not No.1 (the Gold), and that is why in most of its games, competitions and prizes, minimal provisions are made for second or third places. It is either you are No. 1 or you go home without a metal.

Yes, in the soccer, American football, baseball and hockey, there is nothing like 3rd place medal. That thinking is what drives America. They do not derive joy in coming second, and they have made their systems to eliminate second places. President Donald Trump has amplified this philosophy which has been at the core of the superpower, even though muted in past presidencies.

Boldly, the U.S. does not believe in the “Rise of the Rest” because it views that as destabilizing. In a recent report, the U.S. Defense Department made it clear that the “great-power competition” [with China and Russia], not necessarily terrorism, must drive U.S. national security. The report notes that China and Russia are actively working to “co-opt or replace the free and open order that has enabled global security and prosperity in since World War II.” Simply, if China rises, the world would see imbalance. And if Russia comes up, there would be a dislocation. Essentially, the global order which must exist is the one which America holds the Gold medal.

America has the right to its philosophy on its national security. They have the technology, economy, military might and they fought themselves into the position they are today. No one gave it to them. Joggling for that position is part of humanity: yes, it has been like that since the days of Nebuchadnezzar through Caesar to the British Empire.

On Friday, the U.S. Defense Department released an 11 page unclassified summary of its 2018 National Defense Strategy identifying competition with China and Russia as “principal priorities” for the US military. The report, distilled from a more detailed classified document submitted to Congress last year, warned that the two U.S. rivals are actively seeking to “co-opt or replace the free and open order that has enabled global security and prosperity in since World War II.” Henceforth, “great-power competition,” not terrorism, must be the primary focus of U.S. national security, the report declared: “The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term strategic competition,” primarily from China and Russia. (Fortune Newsletter)


You may not like that way of thinking because we like to preach win-win and co-opetition in markets. But the way I see it is that America wants domination, from its governments to its startups. That is how they are educated and that is how they play sports. Yes, the only win is when you have all the cakes, for the United States of America.

Contrast that with our Nigerian mindset; you will see where things change. That global domination is not just in our way. One of our former presidents was so disturbed with so much money in our national bank account that he started paying salaries of striking workers in other African countries. Had it been an American president, he might have asked for a piece of territory of that country. Unless kindness is exerted through power, which is undisputed as who holds the gold medal, it has no value.

That American fixation with China would be a long battle. The U.S. recently stopped a company owned by the founder of Alibaba from buying MoneyGram, a money remittance company. It indirectly truncated a deal between Huawei and AT&T, a U.S. wireless carrier. But China would not go away: it wants that gold medal. A China-based venture capital firm in Shenzhen, Green Pine Capital Partners, has launched a $155 million fund to lure Chinese scientists who are living overseas to return to China and start businesses.  I bet you dozens of elite Chinese researchers in leading U.S. companies may be going home. That is the battle U.S. has to fight. Why? That $155 million could become $1.55 billion through support from the Chinese Central Government if the citizens answer the call.

In recent years, many talented Chinese scientists have abandoned Silicon Valley to seek greater opportunities at home with local tech firms. Now they will have an added incentive as Chinese venture capital firm Shenzhen Green Pine Capital Partners has launched a RMB1 billion (US$155 million) fund to help overseas Chinese scientists start businesses in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Together with the fund, Green Pine Capital Partners also established a start-up incubator for overseas Chinese scientists. The incubator will provide free office space in Shenzhen for half a year, help scientists find business partners, and provide business consulting in areas like equity structuring, corporate finance and property rights

They would make the trips back to China. And from across the Pacific, the battle for the Gold medal continues.

All Together

In America, nothing matters but No.1. Their kids grow up having that understanding. It is an agitation that if you make mistakes, you are off the chart. Sure, there is no published data on any correlation [I can cite in any scientific journal) between that way of seeing things to how they conceptualize the whole construct of creating companies that are out to dominate the world. Yet, I would not give up that a kid that notices that coming second is a waste of effort would not be conditioned to do all to be No. 1 even when running a business. And if necessary, do all to have 100% of the cake because that is not really bad!


Click to register for Tekedia Mini-MBA (June 7 – Sept 1, 2021): online, self-paced, $140 (or N50,000 naira). Full curriculum here.

Click to join Tekedia Capital and build Next Africa with min of $10,000 co-investment in startups.

Share this post

2 thoughts on “Neither Silver nor Bronze in America

  1. Do main problem with our country is that we’ve not realized that there’s a competition not to talk about which position we want to take in the global play of power and economics.

    The right leaders would need to emerge for Nigeria to refocus on real growth and quit this mundane way of governance.


Post Comment