Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the man

It sounds kind of weird coming from me, but I really believe that one of the true keys to happiness comes from at some point saying 'yes' to certain values in your life and 'no' to money.

Weird, because I openly have sold my soul for the last couple of years.

Instead of leaving corporate culture I chose the primrose path of a higher salary. There have been some nice side effects. Dumping the debt and the stress associated with it. Being able to afford to go out on the town or on a trip because I actually have the funds to. Having the opportunity to treat friends to some drinks and give gifts to family.

Okay, it totally sounds like I'm richer than I am. By no means am I a millionaire. No means. Just able to indulge in middle-class dreams.

Sure, you are thinking from this vantage point it must be easy to say that money doesn't buy happiness. Because I TOTALLY made that cliché up myself. Yeah.

So I thought of an analogy. But I don't know if it is any good, because it kind of ties into a personal story. You all can be the judge.

Once upon a time there was a really cool company. It was a self-starter, a small place. The 20 or so people who worked there all became great friends - if they were not friends already. The owner was generous with his employees, because he worked with them all day every day. Each night after close everyone would hang out together to talk, drink, and dance. Even if they didn't work that day. They just enjoyed each other that much.

The public loved this business. People would line up to come in. It was not just the product, it was the atmosphere. That many happy people in one spot tends to do something to innocent bystanders.

After about four years the business expanded. Another location opened up, and the original opened a second floor. The original management was busy with the new spot, but there was still enough of the original staff to maintain the spirit and the camaraderie. With the expansion a second generation of employees also became close, again spending not only every working day together but all of their free time.

Still these locations thrived. Business continued to grow, and it seemed limitless potential was possible.

The owner saw this potential. But what happens when you replace a handful of positive people with thirty people you hire to manage as positive? Can they carry on that spirit?

Can thirty ordinary people (with one or two great ones) replace a visionary? No.

As the company expanded and more stores opened, and more spirit drifted away. All the originals were gone, few second generations remained. The more stores the owner opened, the more he had to structure all of them to be alike. To be franchised. Individuals were no longer celebrated. They were diffused, smothered.

Eventually when the word franchise became a reality all that was truly awesome about the business was gone. Revenue per location waned. Some say due to over distribution of the product, but it was never the product alone that sold the experience. At least the owner was able to sell his entire company to a large conglomerate in the end.

Obviously that must have made him the happiest of all his experiences, right? Selling to a corporation?

If he had stuck with a handful of locations and not standardized life, he may not be as rich but his life would be much fuller. Now he keeps company with a bed of dollar bills, not late nights of talking, drinking, and dancing with twenty or more people who are friends.

You are wondering if I made this up. Nope.

I was a second generation. And you would think I would have learned my lesson the first time.

1 comment:

AliGirl said...