After Michael Phelps set an Olympic record by winning his 19th medal he was congratulated for his achievement by President Obama via Twitter. “Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You’ve made your country proud,” tweeted Obama.
Phelps, of course, has become a recognizable face on TV for his commercial endorsements especially with Subway Restaurants and this great AT & T spot with Bill Kurtis. In other words, Michael Phelps is also a successful businessman.
I made a point of mentioning this in my swimming article yesterday but I’ll do so again. If we President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” argument to its logical conclusion then it’s not inconceivable that he could have said to Phelps, “You didn’t earn those medals. Somebody else built that pool. You had great coaches.” Well, someone else did build the pool but Phelps put in the hours to do something with it that no one else has done. And yes, Phelps did receive great coaching. While a great coach can lead you to water, he can’t win 19 Olympic medals for you.
Michael Phelps built his American dream and worked hard for it spending three to six hours in the pool each day to achieve it. Well, there are entrepreneurs in all corners of this country who spend 12, 15, 18 hours a day trying to achieve their American dream. Their feats might not be as spectacular as winning 19 Olympic medals but they are the key to a thriving economy. Yet President Obama is far more likely to give entrepreneurs a condescending sneer than a congratulatory tweet.