Quote of the Day, July 3, 2014: “The philosophy of the rich versus the poor is this: The rich invest their money and then spend what is left; The poor spend their money and then invest what is left.”

I’m going to avoid the obvious meaning of the saying, that is money, and I’m going to offer an alternative view, albeit a parallel one.

I play piano. Better than some, and worse than others. I’ll leave it at that. Without going into my long history with the instrument, which included lessons while I was a young boy that I loathed at times, I will say that I fell in love and got the bug during my time at university.

There I met many pianists, guitarists, bassoonists, and all types of musicians of varying skill levels. Some were professionals already hoping to hone their skills under the tutelage of those even more advanced than they. Some may as well have been beginners, seemingly having had decided to make music their major at the last minute while registering for classes. I would have fallen in the latter category, with the exception that music was not my major at all, just a newfound love.

Though I started out behind most pianists I met, my deep desire aroused in me a rare type of discipline. The kind one usually notices in a man trying to woo a woman. I had a goal and a drive to attain it that surpassed my desires for anything else at the time, women included. I found myself “borrowing” any sheet music I could get my hands on. I found myself ditching class in order to practice. I may have ‘allowed’ the secretary at the music department to believe I was a music major so as to have access to pianos to practice on. It was so bad that I even distinctly remember blowing of an incredibly attractive blonde cheerleader (whom I had a pretty sizable crush on at the time) for a party that she really wanted me to attend with her, so that I could solidify a piece of music that I had been working on all week. So instead of partying with her, which would have been the “logical” college thing to do at the time, I instead was running my fingers over the smooth ivory keys of a baby grand deep into the night on a sultry Friday evening.first steps pic

To put it short. What I wanted above all things at that time was proficiency at the piano. I asked questions about the piano. I dreamt about the piano. I played air piano on my binder in class. And most importantly I spend my time and energy on my goal, the piano. Looking back, until my father’s death, which deadened my drive for some time, I practiced piano for an average of 4 hours a day. When my fingers hurt, or when the practice rooms were closed for a holiday, and I had some free time, then I’d go to the party or hang out with the guys. They understood though. They had drives too.

There were those who didn’t understand though. They said they wanted to be good at the piano or perhaps another instrument, but every time there was a party you’d be sure to see them there. Any time there was a cute girl to be distracted by they were ready to give her their undivided attention. On the occasional Wednesday leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend you’d see them in the practice rooms, mostly because everyone else had gone home and they were getting some practicing in to stave off boredom.

Now years later, my close friends, the ones who understood when I wasn’t at the party every Friday night, mostly because they were also ditching the party, and in the practice room down the hall from me, gig all the time. Many have become professionals and live completely off their instrument, or the royalties from music they write or perform. They have become rich beyond their wildest dreams when it comes to opportunities to use the musical talents they have spent a lifetime developing. Our other friends look at us and say, “Well you’re just a lot more talented than I am. I wish I was born with as much rhythm as you,” always thinking that it was some sort of luck of the draw or a genetic disposition that created such a gap in the wealth of musical ability. At this point there is not much to say that they will believe or understand. After all, way back, when we only had two pennies of musical ability to rub together between the whole lot of us, they didn’t understand why we would spend so much time in the practice rooms, giving the piano the first and best hours of our day, and saving the left overs for the parties and the hanging out. They did exactly the opposite and gave the most to the women and the good times, and filled in the gaps with cultivating their skills.

But in the end both got what they desired. They truly wanted the women and the parties and they got them at that time, but now they do not have the musicality because they invested only the left-overs. We at the time, invested only our left overs in women and parties, and often felt left out when people forgot to invite us to get together, being accustomed to us not showing up in the first place. But we gave our best to the piano, and it is what has born fruit for us and continues to grow to this day, for after all, once you’re rich you tend to get richer.

So one gets a frat group of drinking buddies that extends deep into their 20s and perhaps 30s. The other gets a skill that if nurtured, keeps growing and satisfies both them and those around them. Each to his own philosophy, investing first one way, then spending the rest another, or visa versa. The thing is, by the time you’re this age, the musician is the party and always gets an invite, where the guy who’s got no skills but is merely a good time often gets forgotten. Oddly enough the old adage is true, that when it comes to the poor, no matter what type of commodity of currency you’re speaking of, it does seem that even what he has is taken from him. Invest wisely.

Quote of the Day, September 15, 2013: “The good CEO would, in theory, be willing to go out and do every job in his company to best of his ability”

Continued from Quote of the Day, September 13, 2013……….The natural way of things, and what seems to be the best way to keep everyone healthy and happy in their jobs is that everyone has certain skills and everyone only has so much time. When people understand their roles and feel respected in them for being a valuable part of a larger working organism things tend to go well. Lower level employees might have very specific projects they are working on. Managers may have several that they are overseeing all at the same time. And again executives and CEOs have even more to juggle.

The good CEO would in theory be willing to go out and do every job in his company to best of his ability, just as he would expect from any of his executives on down to the janitor. The reason he’s not is because he’s got so many projects in scope, he couldn’t possibly do them all well enough and in time to make the whole company work. That’s it. If there were a way to be proficient at it all and timely and still not die of the stress and lack of sleep, a company owner or CEO or manager would do it. But humans aren’t designed to do it all. We are designed to focus on a few things, and work together with others who are focused on a few (related) other things. Together we end up building huge systems that do lots of good. But the building blocks of any company are its employees and when managers learn to respect them they can soar.

So a company owner has a huge vision to do and create and serve. But he realizes that his vision is actually too big for himself. So he goes to someone else and says, “Hey I’ve got this idea but I can’t do it on my own. I need help and I’ll pay you to help share the load.” An employee is born. But the owner has to constantly keep his own vision in check. Are their parts to my vision that are simply too dangerous, or perhaps immoral. Say the whole business is up and up but there’s this one facet that requires somebody to do something a little illegal. I’m not willing to do it. So I’ll hire someone who is willing, or needs the money enough that they’ll go against their better judgment out of financial desperation. That is not a winning strategy and that owner needs to reevaluate his company.

And of course it’s only the CEO or the owner that should be willing to do every other job in the company if needed. The hire the position, the more responsibility and the more of a servant attitude is required. (Same goes for politicians.) The CEO in one sense, is the guy indirectly asking everyone below him to do all the tasks they are working on, so he better be willing to do that task himself. The janitor doesn’t necessarily need to be willing to do what the CEO does though, or even the manager directly above him. But the manager above him, needs to be willing to keep his own office clean if need be. Oddly enough a company, ideally, is a pyramid scheme in which service goes from the top downward and out to the consumers. The owners and executives ideally are the biggest servants of all, serving all their employees. So that the employees can in turn serve the public. It seems though that we have no shortage of examples of companies that have turned this idea on its head.