Monday, March 9, 2015

The corporate fairy tale I believed in...

When I was a kid my parents told me a wonderful story about corporate America. They didn’t read it to me at bedtime. This story was too important for bedtime reading. They told me this story every time we discussed which middle school I would go to, which high school was the best, or which universities I should apply for. The story was simple and enticing. I believed it with everything I was.

This is that story.

Once there was a little boy who was above average and very well behaved. He went to school with lots of other children. The little boy performed better than the other children and was awarded the highest grades. When the time came for the little boy to got to University he applied to the best schools in the nation and was accepted at a well respected Institution.

The little boy was above average at University. He had prestigious internships and was awarded multiple honors. When he received his degree he was offered a full-time job at a big corporation. He gladly accepted the offer.

After five years of working hard for the big corporation the little boy was promoted. What an honor it was to receive such a distinguished promotion. After ten years of service the little was again promoted to a senior level and awarded another week of vacation. The little boy was thrilled and continued to perform above average. Twenty Five years went by and the little boy was honored with another week of vacation and a special gold watch presented by the CEO himself.

The little boy had a very successful career and was admired by all his peers. He was happy, he had a happy family and he retired happy.

It is a beautiful story, if only it were true.

I believed the story of the little boy up until my first year at a big corporation. That’s when I saw the truth. Bless my parents, but they were from small towns and corporations offered a lifestyle better than they had ever expected. I grew up in the city and my dreams and goals grew much larger.

The little boy who retired happy after giving 35 years to a big corporation is a lie. I work with the little boy. In fact, I work with many little boys and girls who are all hoping that they will make it to retirement and live happily ever after. The truth is they are gambling on a single horse, just hoping they picked the right one.

At a stockholders meeting I heard a retired employee begging the CEO to build retirement housing and medical care facilities. For 45 years that man’s generation had been told the company would always be there to take care of them. The company had told the story of the little boy who faithfully served and was comfortably rewarded. This poor, retired employee was starting to see that he had been lied to his whole career.

My first year at a big corporation smashed reality into my face. That first year I experienced a reorg and watched as many of the little girls and boys who were living the fairy tale path to retirement were laid-off. That’s when I realized that every job is temporary. That’s when I realized I needed to make myself indispensable.

I need to be the most profitable employee and be willing to ask for the most salary in return. Promises of bonuses and promotions next year become the year after and soon never arrive. Perks and benefits are used as leverage in times of need and once they are cut back they never return. I need to stand up for myself and give value to the highest bidder.

Never stop improving, never stop learning. If my current employer isn’t in a position to realize profits from my talents then it is time to join a winning team. This is the new economy, everyone is a freelancer. Ever job is temporary. Always work harder and always be ready to seize the opportunity.

-Carpe Diem!