Good employees quit
Or mediocre people become career employees
During my corporate career days, I witnessed a lot. I saw boss’s breaking down and crying in hallways, having nervous breakdowns because they just couldn’t deal — a result of being incompetent plus a toxic work environment. I saw middle aged men (50 years old) get fired for no good reason. And I experienced and witnessed the day in day out passive aggressive bullshit and manipulations that when multiplied by years changes people on a fundamental level.
I always wondered why the older people I came into contact with seemed to have a bad negative attitude. Well, now I know the answer — corporate work. It fucking kills your soul.
But enough of that, let’s talk about the opportunity cost of remaining an employee versus taking your future into your own hands and controlling your own destiny.
Let’s use Dan as an example. We will follow Dan down two different paths -(1) career corporate employee, or (2) entrepreneur.
Dan fresh out of college, degree in hand, decides to apply for an entry level analyst job with a big Fortune 500 company. Dan lucks out and gets the job. Upon arriving at his job, Dan in his unlimited optimism thinks that everyone is going to be happy and positive. Boy was he wrong. Seemingly everyone Dan meets his first day seems to know something he doesn’t as is evidenced by the bad attitudes and negative talk. Dan surprised, always thought corporate work was the best. After all, this is what his parents and grandparents always told him.
Anyhow, Dan proceeds to demonstrate his knowledge of spreadsheets and formulas and in no time at all gets a promotion. Very quickly Dan goes from making $30,000 per year to $70,000 per year. It is here that Dan gets the feeling his new boss doesn’t like him very much. Dan thinks that’s strange because he’s the smartest and youngest employee the boss has.
One morning in a meeting of about 40 people, Dan’s boss calls Dan out, asking why he hadn’t completed task XYZ. Dan, surprised, doesn’t know what to say, except he didn’t know he had to do XYZ. Dan’s boss (in front of everyone) says that at this high level in the company everyone is expected to know what needs to be done.
After the meeting, Dan notices his co-workers huddled in a little group, sneering at him and giggling. Dan then begins to feel emotions he’s never felt before. What could it be? Is passive aggressiveness really a real thing? Duh.
Before long, Dan’s boss has put Dan on a performance improvement plan which lays out a condition that if Dan makes one spelling mistake he can be fired. Dan, who needs the job and the money, begs and pleads with his boss not to fire him for a spelling mistake. He promises his performance will improve.
And so Dan’s life continues, one passive aggressive bullshit day at a time. The months and years pass and what was once a bright eyed, positive young man becomes hardened to the reality of the world — corporate work destroys your soul and changes you at a fundamental level.
Then one day Dan who is now age 50 gets fired. For no reason at all. Dan who at the time was making $100,000 per year, has no transferable skills. Even though he has an “MBA” designation behind his name, it really means jack shit in the real world. After all, no one ever told Dan that nobody else was ever going to look after his best interests, not the company, not the boss, not anyone but Dan himself. Had Dan known this he may have spent all his time building real world skills that are seen as being valuable in the real (non-insulated) corporate world. Now Dan is forced into a minimum wage job and Dan is forced to regret not having done something with his life when he had the chance.
Let’s rewind shall we? All the way back to the beginning when Dan first took the entry level job. Now let’s examine Dan’s life if he did what he should have done — take control of his own future/destiny.
Dan showing up to work on his first day greets his boss and new co-workers with a smile, radiating positive energy. Weird he thinks that his co-workers and boss seem to be mad about something. He can’t put his finger on it and wastes no time in thinking about it anymore, choosing instead to read some of the business and philosophy books he recently purchased.
A few days pass and then the meeting comes around. Dan’s boss calls Dan out in front of around 40 people claiming that Dan failed to complete an assignment. Dan responds with “you never gave me an assignment, if you would have I would have finished it”. Dan paid no attention to the wide eyed, open mouthed executives in the room. After all, these higher ups were used to having their way with entry level college grads such as Dan. But there was something different about this Dan kid.
He seemed to know what all of the older folks at the company knew — it’s all just one big stupid ass game.
Days and months passed and Dan continued learning and reading just the same. Even though he was young (24 years old) he was wise enough to see that it was stupid to have big dreams of having a huge home, fast car, and traveling the world doing whatever you want. Why? Because that just doesn’t happen when working for companies. The workers are placed in salary ranges such as $70k-$80k per year. How in the hell are these people ever going to become millionaires like that? Never.
Dan also took to hear the older people who he saw either getting fired or secretly whispering in his ear that if they had to do it over again, they would have quit a long time ago and struck out on their own. They whisper “don’t make the same mistake I did. It’s too late for me but not for you”.
Dan realized the skills he would gain at his company job weren’t really skills that society values. Typing numbers into a spreadsheet and reading documents and formatting reports just doesn’t have any value outside of a company, which was when it hit him:
The opportunity cost of staying at a company is the time lost in developing real world skills that society values such as programming, sales, hustling, writing, etc.
Thus, Dan began to design and construct companies while still working his corporate job. After all, you do realize that most corporate job tasks can be done in one or two hours out of the eight spent at work right? Thus, Dan used the remaining six hours in designing companies that if successful, would take him out of the rat race for good.
The one day in a meeting few months later, same 4o people present, Dan’s boss decides to throw Dan under the bus again for not completing a non-existing task. Dan responds, “I couldn’t wait for you to ask, I quit you idiot. And by the way, look at all of you sheep sitting at this table. You do realize you too are all idiots as well because you have these dreams deep inside of owning big homes, fast cars, and being free. But your too dumb to realize none of you will ever get any of this by working for this company. Instead all you do is the same stupid ass, passive aggressive shit to each other each and every day. You guys enjoy, but I’m fucking out of here”!
Dan walks out into the sunlight, smiling and free. One of the companies he started is working and making him money already. Dan would rather die than go back to work for a company. He’s a free man and that’s what it’s all about.
The moral of the story is this — you must take care of yourself. No one else will. True, companies love to tell their employees about different leadership programs and trainings, but these are incremental! If you truly want to develop yourself and your abilities you must learn to love to read. It is only then that you’ll be able to learn whatever it is you need and want to learn. And once you do that, no one can ever take it from you. Compare this to sitting at a corporate job for years while being a good little employee and not developing any skills that society values. What happens when your good luck runs out and you get a boss that doesn’t like you? If you’re 50 and have wasted all the previous years, well, you’re up shit creek aren’t you? You don’t have the time or ability to go back to square one, build a company, and compete with the 25 year olds that saw through the bull shit company façade.
If you like this story please share! I hope you enjoyed it :-) You can read more of my musings on my blog www.james-compton.com