You owe them nothing

“You just gave me 3–4 red flags as an employer, do you know that?”

No

“You said you plan on changing your field in 2 years. Why would we put in the resources and effort to train you if you’re going to leave? This isn’t something an employer wants to hear. We want to know that if we train you you’re going to stay for a while. This is a career track position, and those are the people we’re looking for. You want to get a CFA and then start your own company.”

Yeah. That’s my plan. I’d like to work in finance and eventually focus on my start up. I’m looking for an internship for experience and training. I also need to earn money right now.

  • a few minutes later

“You haven’t stayed at any job for very long, why is that? You were at Express for a little over a year, then Nordstrom, and then another Nordstrom position for a few months.”

Well, yeah, if a better opportunity presented itself, I took it.

“That doesn’t look good.”

My desire to be an entrepreneur cost me a job today. I need a job. No, I need money. That’s why I applied. I don’t care about renting or selling cars. I care about building something new, about serving people, about creativity. So I guess I wasn’t right for the job. But something she said stuck with me. She said it didn’t look good that I hadn’t held a job for many years.

Who has? At 24 I know a handful of people that have had jobs for more than a year. They didn’t do it because they were loyal. If I doubled their salary they’d come work for me in a heart beat. Loyalty, my dear friends, must exist within yourself, for yourself, before it can be granted to anything else. Companies aren’t owed loyalty, unless they do something exceptional. Like if you were losing a family member to an illness and couldn’t pay for treatment, and your boss and his boss and her boss covered the bills and saved their life. Or if you were a single mom and you were given an extra month or two of maternity leave. I don’t know that that’s ever happened. But I can see why you would stick with an organization that went out of its way to help you.

Beyond that, you must first be loyal to yourself. Why stay at a job paying $8/hour when another offer values you at $13/hour? What’s the first company done for you? They’ve employed you, while you’ve made them thousands of dollars in sales. Their benefit from you is far greater than yours from them. And the minute your sales drop, they give you a warning. Followed by another warning. And if you haven’t gone back to hitting their quota, you’re out.

loy·al·ty: a strong feeling of support or allegiance

Companies expect it from you, but they don’t care to show you any if you’re having a rough week, month, year. Like a guy I worked with in sales. 20 years for the company, top salesman multiple times. Had a rough year. Got divorced, lost his house, failed at opening a bar.

“Sorry _____, you’ve given us 20 years, but this last year hasn’t been your best. We have to let you go.”

Loyalty to myself is a focus on entrepreneurship. For others it might be something else, the most important part being that you know which dreams to follow if you stay true to yourself and not an organization or something outside yourself. The world expects you to be loyal to it. It creates a compelling image of perfection that it uses to tease you and every time you get close, the target changes. It moves randomly.

Vaynerchuk believes entrepreneurship can’t be taught. It’s a component of our DNA. Some of us have it, others don’t. Perhaps in that room, I had it, and the recruiter didn’t. I’m starting to realize how true this might be. The same way Jobs said the thing about square pegs in round holes. It just doesn’t work. If you have it in you to be something different, you need to realize that now. You need to see it for what it is and act on it. Staying at your corporate job because you’ve put in a few years doesn’t mean anything. They don’t value your loyalty, they value the fact that as long as you’re there, they don’t have to worry about hiring someone else to do your job. 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, it’s all the same to them. If they want to get rid of you, you’re gone. Even your friend who started with you all those years ago won’t be able to help you. What does your loyalty for the last __ years mean now? Probably nothing.

You need to see what the best thing for you is. Don’t lie in an interview. It sucks that I didn’t get the job, but I left that interview with a smile on my face. Why? Because I was turned down for being honest. For wanting more out of life than what they could offer. I’d rather be a CEO at 30 than aim to be a CEO for an established company around the time I’m 50 or 60. What’s the point of that?

Oh, by the way, if you do want to move up the corporate ladder to a chief position, you won’t get there with just hard work and skill. You’ll get there once you’re old enough. At that point you could have been performing at a chief level for 20 years, but because you’d be younger than everyone around you at headquarters, they’ll make you wait.

“Listen friendo, you’re an amazing salesperson, possibly the best we’ve ever seen and if you keep this up, you might be running the company one day.”

Oh, really? One day? Like, a year from now? When I’m 35?

“Hahaha, good one. No, no one can be CEO that young, you won’t be experienced(replace experienced with any crap corporate buzzword that justifies a lack of experience) enough. But keep at it, 20 years from now, you could be in the big chair with the corner office.”

Yeah…right. That’s what I want. Working my entire youth for an opportunity I might get.

Define loyalty on your own. Figure out what it means to you and then stick with it. You don’t have to start a company. Maybe loyalty means being a musician, maybe it means leaving your hometown to travel the world, maybe it means ______ to do ______. You figure it out. Just don’t let it lie elsewhere. The era of big corporations is coming to an end. We don’t owe them anything. Especially not our unwavering support for our entire lives only to be let go when they find a “better fit”. Read this play.

Just don’t give up on yourself, and if someone or some company doesn’t value your dreams, give them nothing more than a smile and a well wish and be on your way.

Here’s an excerpt from Paul Arden’s book “Whatever you think, think the opposite,” I hope you understand what it means.

“A young man worked as a runner in an advertising firm. One day he said to his manager,

‘I’m leaving. I’m going to be a drummer.’

The manager said, ‘I didn’t know you played the drums.’

He replied, ‘I don’t, but I’m going to.’

A few years later that young man played in a band with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, and it was called Cream, and the young man’s name was Ginger Baker. He became what he wanted to become before he knew he could do it.”

If you were loyal to yourself and who you wanted to be, what would your life look like?

Disclaimer — I have no stake in either Arthur Miller nor Paul Arden’s estate. I just enjoy their work.