Life's a Pitch, and then you buy

“He’s stolen my idea” I wailed today, hearing Philip Delves Broughton, author of Life's A Pitch, debating with writer and journalist Viv Groskop debate whether you can apply lessons from the business world to real life, on the Today Programme.

I had the same idea years ago, but never wrote it up so let me chip in now.

Their debate was, are we learning to sell in life, as we do in business? He argued that while society stereotypes all sales people as cheesy or cynical product pushers, they create real value to society, are the motor of any economy and what they do is very human.

I totally agree with him that there is no real difference between the car salesman and the parent or teacher selling good behaviour to children, the adult selling their attractiveness on the marriage or friendship markets or indeed Facebook.

He wants to close the “dangerous chasm” that is growing between the business and non-business world.

When Viv protested that our human interactions are based on love he said there are good and bad people everywhere but we all act in our own interests be it for profit or for the love of another human being; that we all put on masks and flirt with truth and half-truths and to call it bad in business while ignoring it in our dealings with neighbours, relatives and friends is a narrow and naive mindset.

As he says, the best philosopher won’t feed or house us. When we marvel at Europe’s beautiful medieval cities we should remember they were created for trade.

UK anti-business attitudes to me seems rooted in the old class system that relegated “people in trade”. But today, I see similar attitudes in the minds of sometimes naive youth and journalists who tend to assume that big business is inherently a little corrupt. So it’s good to ask ourselves occasionally, are we allowing deeply ingrained prejudices to create a dangerous chasm?

Kay Williamson