The most frequently asked question I’ve received since announcing the launch of The Red5 Agency has been: “What’s Red5?” Almost everyone wonders about it, some have a theory, but they all ask. So here’s the answer.
In the summer of 1977, one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made was released in theatres across the country. Star Wars was like nothing else before it. Sure, it is the classic hero story, but this one is set in space. A galaxy far far away, to be precise. It’s the story of a young boy, bright-eyed and full of idealism. A boy who wants nothing more than to grow up and fight the oppression of an evil galactic empire. Our hero’s name? Why, Luke Skywalker, of course.
Like most children of the 70’s and 80’s, I grew up with Star Wars. I wanted to be a Jedi and fight the Empire. I wanted to fly an X-Wing and blow up the Death Star. You could say that much of my early understanding of good vs. evil came from Star Wars.
To this day, I still credit the noble space heroes of my childhood with providing me with the foundation of my morality. So it’s no surprise that as an entrepreneur, I tend to see massive corporate conglomerates as 21st-century equivalents to the evil empire of my childhood. My personal experiences with working for more than one Fortune 500 company has taught me this: You don’t make it onto the cover of Forbes magazine without leaving a trail of bodies behind you. Big business is ruthless, cutthroat and about one thing and one thing only, profit. There’s no room for compassion, selflessness or even basic humanity. Just ask Nestle’s former CEO, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, he’s the guy that thinks humans shouldn’t have a fundamental right to clean drinking water. He thinks it’s a “foodstuff” which everyone should have to buy from him. Classy.
Perhaps people like me exist because of people like Letmathe. People who believe you can be an entrepreneur, run a successful private enterprise, and still care about other human beings. Even the ones who can’t do anything to benefit you financially. To me, this is what separates the average small business owner from his corporate counterpart. The ability to see beyond just the dollar signs. There’s a popular internet meme that talks about how when you buy from a small business owner you’re actually helping put their children through college, or pay for dance lessons vs. helping a corporate CEO pay for his fifth vacation home. As extreme as it sounds, there is a lot of truth to it.
The battle for America’s business soul is very much like the rebellion vs. the empire, I’ve chosen my side, and now it’s time to jump in. Oh, and just in case you hadn’t figured it out already; when Luke blew up the Death Star, his call sign was…Red Five.