25 years ago I promised myself that I would never again ask anyone for a job. A big move, don’t you think?. What led me to do this?
Here is my story.
I had been working for a distributor of computer supplies. They were a relatively new business that was on the move. I started out as a customer service rep. Also assisted on special projects. I worked my way up into management, and became a key member of the firm.
Then, the owners of the company sold the business. They had learned how to start an enterprise from scratch and build it into a multimillion-dollar moneymaker. But they couldn’t get it to the next level, or the level after that. So they sold it to two guys from an international firm who wanted to “adopt a baby” business, as opposed to “have one themselves,” you might say.
Tragically, the new ownership had no idea what they were doing. Their idea of cleaning up the balance sheet was to cut the biggest expenses. Those happened to be the salaries of the key managers – like me. In the first three months of their stewardship, they fired a manager each month. I was the third.
The irony is that in a small business like this one, the management knows the operation as well as, or even better than, the owners. So you can imagine how this downsizing crippled the firm. They basically ran it into the ground.
What a shame.
I took away two lessons from this experience. The first was that I would never again work did not know what they were doing. People who were so reckless as to ruin a perfectly good business did not deserve to be employers. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but owning a business is a big responsibility. The jobs and livelihoods of many households are at stake. A prosperous business can grow the local community around it, not to mention all the out of town vendors. If you can’t take that to heart, then don’t get involved.
The second lesson was that for the rest of my working career, I would be in sales. At least as a salesman, I would have control over my own fate. I would live or die by my own efforts. Since I was familiar with the life insurance trade from my father, it was a natural move for me to switch careers.
Within three weeks of my termination, I was signed up with a life insurance agency. And I have not looked back. I have learned how to ask people for appointments, and for applications, and for checks. But I have never had to ask them for a job, and I never will.
I will be forever grateful for the opportunity this great country has provided me to be self-employed. I and millions of my fellow Americans – including my father and grandfather – can take charge of our destiny. Even though many of us fail, those setbacks can be temporary. We are still given second and third and fourth chances to succeed.
The small business is one of the many institutions that makes this the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now that we are officially in the election season, I will be looking for candidates who will make sure the government keeps it that way.
Added note: Senator Ben Sasse sums up what makes America great in 90 seconds! Listed here.