Football, bull riding, B-2 bombers, professional wrestling - these are what shape American entrepreneurs. And hot-dog-eating contests. And NASCAR half-mile ovals. Entrepreneurialism is to combine high-wire act with sleight of hand, under Ringling Bros.' glare and MGM Grand glitz. But it is not pretty. It is not Cal Ripken's America. Cal is like a factory worker who never took a day off, and in that he was almost European. No, entrepreneurialism is get financing, get famous, get rich, sell out. Then start all over again, because you're bored.

Gentle Pokes
Gosh, half of this stuff isn't even legal in Europe (outside of the United Kingdom). Nor does the average European really even seem to understand what it all means. One recent study blamed America's entrepreneurial vigor on an excess of "pioneer" spirit. Europe is, after all, the land of the 35-hour workweek, and of laws that require stores to close at 6 p.m. and to stay shut on Sundays. Many Europeans don't really want this way of life to change, says Tue David Bak, the man charged by Denmark's government with the tough task of leading his country's citizens toward an entrepreneurial enlightenment. "The basic philosophy here is that everyone should avoid standing out from the crowd. We don't dare act for ourselves. We are afraid of what our friends will say."

In Europe, even a slight departure from the norm can attract the frowns of society. When a Swede eschews the Volvo for a new Chevy Suburban, it's not like it's a secret from anyone else in Sweden. When a giant French corporation hires a hot new manager, who unfortunately graduated from a second-level university, the ranks get rattled. When Jean Pierre goes bank-rupt in Switzerland, all his high school buddies will whisper and point, perhaps for decades to come. The message is clear. Play at business too roughly, enjoy success too loudly, crash to earth too precipitously, and you just might disturb Europe's carefully calibrated social balances.