Sunday 19th March, 2006


Choose feathers or gravel

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At Googleplex, the headquarters of Google, the Internet search engine, all 1,000 employees eat free, snack for free, exercise, even do their laundry for free, and can use 20 per cent of their labour hours to do personal business.

Those are employee benefits, consistent with innovation, an abundance philosophy, world leadership and optimal stakeholder theory.

Of course, this could be disenchanting for people caught up in life’s labour, for the sake of putting enough bread on the table to make it to month-end! But I use the illustration, to raise the bar!

I would have liked to use the expression “push the envelope” but after recent news, that phrase sounds more like corporate “under-the-table” machinations, which must fall short of strategies in the best interest of stakeholders.

You see, many of us sell ourselves short, underestimate our capacity for success and achievement or on the other side of the continuum, can end up victims of other people’s greed. Even worse, we ourselves can climb to a state of perpetual greed because we don’t know when we have enough!

If you depend on an employer to furnish your pension, and your health benefits, what happens when the company folds due to corporate incompetence?

Perhaps it is because of the failure of certain large corporations, the prevalence of corporate impropriety, and questionable governance, which warrant that we get out the garden hose to pour water on our own houses.

It means that you need to set up parallel systems of savings and investments that are independent of the employer.

It means you can shift into new independent savings vehicles. It means saving differently!

It means that you have to upgrade your skills to become more marketable in the workplace, so that if you have to move, you can!

It means in an age of free trade, free movement goods and labour, you have to be marketable in the global arena.

It means that as parents, we have to finance the cross-discipline training of our children.

It’s about building an educated and marketable base for yourself and your family. The long view is about continuous self-assessment, self-improvement, and comfort for the long haul.

Who amongst us will choose a bed of gravel instead of a bed of down feathers? Yes, a few will respond to that thrill! And we have to make room for them to explore their limitations, but we must never sell ourselves short, even as others fulfill their destiny.

The fact is you are your own stakeholder, primary shareholder and CEO for the family, for your family’s business, and you are “entrepreneur at large.”

You have to stop seeing government as though government is responsible for you. You have to stop seeing the employer as though he owes you.

You have to create opportunities to fund the comforts you deserve; you have to commit yourself to creating self-sufficiency.

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