Goofs and Gadflies

Thursday, May 12, 2005

When they say "It isn't about the money", you better believe it's about the money.

A friend from High School sent out an email today, announcing that he and his wife are expecting a baby. Along with the note came an ultrasound picture attachment. Such a peaceful looking fetus. That kid looked like it was holding a spliff in one hand, while grooving to some Portishead being piped intra-uterine. This couple I have known since they met. Two creative, driven, and sociable persons; have just moved into their first house. So much nachas (fortune) for two people who I think deserve all of it and more.

I have friends who were lucky enough to pursue their passions and curiosities unencumbered from the same sorts of financial restrictions that most people live with. That they are successful people is not owed completely to the helping hands and support they have enjoyed. They still work very hard, tirelessly and with great personal stress, to achieve their goals in life. What is notable is that they were able to fail and learn from their failures. Sometimes you can do everything right and still fail. Its easy to learn from your mistakes, harder to learn from your circumstantial failures.

So it can be said that I have friends who succeeded through personal development and their intrinsic belief in success, and friends who have been molded and shaped into a successful life. First let me state that for the purpose of this discussion I am going to define success as the "obtaining the ability to progress through the natural steps of adulthood and citizenry". Having seen both types of success I note some contrasting points of definition between "old" and "new" money. The following isn't based on am analysis of any one person, but it is rather a conglomeration of trends I have noticed.

New money might not have a university degree or a college designation, but has a proven track record of dependable and reliable employment. Becoming a workhorse to compensate for feelings of inferiority to the MBA'ed of the company. Their contributions to the office are technically sound and double checked for accuracy. Their output is dependable and their eagerness to accept extra-responsibility in the company is welcomed (although not compensated for). By doing this "free" work, the under-educated employee gains experience and knowledge. The only downside to the excessive work habits of the earnest employee, is a nagging feeling that they are underpaid and unappreciated. There is also a tendency to have a work "personality" that is cordial and polite, and a "social" personality that reflects their friend choices. This is often less refined and churlish. So while one might see this employee talking "white-collar" at the office, if you heard them on a personal call or saw them outside the work environment, they might display more "blue-collar" tendencies. It seems that every one at the office knows their various maladies and they have no trouble sharing personal stories to coworkers.

Old money has at least an undergraduate degree, and most often has completed some post-graduate work in either business or law. They often seek to start their own businesses, or work at an executive level for a company. The conflicts with old money are centered around finding the balance between work and life. The desire to maintain the existing social position causes an external strain on these people. It's not enough to work hard and make money. There should be an altruistic element to their careers. Through volunteering on community boards or by actively mentoring younger employees or students, old money believes that giving back to the community is expected of them. They don't like to share personal information with coworkers, but might have one person in the company as a confidante. Work is done for the sake of work, recognition is internal and it is not necessary to receive praise from others. If you hear them talking on the phone, they are most likely planning a social event or discussing a future trip. They are shrouded with secrecy and not flashy with their money.

Money. It's not the only motivator around. It's just a convenient currency in which to measure worth. There is no value in money, just need and want. People are raised with certain attitudes towards money. They don't realize how instilled these values are until they are much older and have either made more money than they need, or have exhausted every reasonable line of credit available to them. Money can cause tension and strain among friends and family. Death and inheritance divide families at a time where they need each other most. It's wrong to say money is the root of all evil. It's equally wrong to say money makes the world go round. The truth is that there is no one root of all evil, and gravity is what makes the world go around. Money doesn't lie, and its a fairly good arbiter of authority. Money talks. Money can't buy you love, but it can get you whatever you need to get you through the night.

If its all the same to you, I'd rather be sitting under a big oak tree reading a book and eating an apple. Jill Binder (Stop Smoking Coach) once told me: "Do what you love and the money will follow." Good advice for all, and to all a good night.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home