Sunflower Economics

“Money should allow you freedom.” This was my friend Gentry’s advice to me over winter break. A 19-year old should-be college sophomore (he graduated a year early from high school at the top of his class), Gentry became disillusioned with studying for grades rather than knowledge. He gave up his Presidential Scholarship to Georgia Tech and decided to take a break from school. Since beginning his semester off, Gentry has started his own Limited Liability Corporation and now sells sunflower oil to hotel restaurants in Mauritius, an island 560 miles east of Madagascar. For Gentry, it was using the benefits of a globalized economy, the World Wide Web, and superb business skills that let him strike a small goldmine. Gentry’s unconventional success story astonishes everyone except him. Anyone can have “1000 dollar hours,” he tells me, you just have to maximize work efficiency and minimize the time in which you work. For instance, he found ways to do the least-profitable work more quickly, including hiring a secretary from India. How did Gentry discover that Madagascar needed sunflower oil and that he could have a secretary? The Internet. Gentry’s business is thus the model for the smart exploitation of the Internet.

While many find themselves in a 40-hour-a-week job, Gentry feels that the rhythm of a workweek is brought upon by societal standards. “We work 40 hours a week because we are told to,”he argues. His business philosophy—placing his focus on profitable activities with the utmost efficiency—has allowed him to work no more than three hours a week selling and exporting sunflower oil. Without ever touching or seeing the sunflower oil or working more than two hours a week, Gentry manages to make a hefty profit by using the resources of a globalized world and efficiently running a business.