To my kids I am Dad, to my wife, I am her husband and to my employer, I am Employee #14442.
Sometime around 2006/2007 I was in a meeting with my old boss, who was the head of accounting. Halfway through the meeting, the managing director (MD) walks in, “how’re things?” he asks. My boss replied “not too bad, but cashflow isn’t looking good at the moment, we need to watch our spending until we received <X> and <Y> payments”. The MD turns towards the door and says “as long as there’s enough for my new car” then leaves the room without a care in the world. He got his new company car later that month, a brand new Audi R8. A month after this a colleague and I were laid off because of ‘financial difficulties’.
Andi Owen, CEO of office furniture company MillerKnoll, was recently in the news. It looks like her company missed its targets and as a result, staff did not get their bonus. Her motivational speech – “spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need and not thinking about what you’re going to do if we don’t get a bonus”. In 2022, she received a $1.1 million salary plus various stock options and bonus pay, totalling ~$5.5 million. (I recommend watching the video)
In big tech, one of the companies underperformed. Seeing share prices drop to 1/3 of their value at the start of the year, wiping hundreds of billions of dollars off its value. In its financial reports, senior execs received bonuses in excess of what they would normally receive, indicating they performed above expectations, making their cash compensation in excess of $1 million each along with additional equity grants valued in multiples of $10m each. The employees? They got a 6 to 8 month period during which they expect to see 20,000+ people laid off.
We are not in this together.
We might be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. Some of us are on super yacths, some an are luxury cruise ships, but some of us are trying to keep our family safe on a small inflatable raft.
And to the point, putting all your eggs in a single basket is generally seen as a bad idea.
But we all do it, we all put out family’s future and livelihood in a single basket, which looks like a single paycheck from a single employer.
At best, a family can diversify against risk if both couples work. And that’s assuming you have 2 couples in the family and assuming they are both able to work.
So what can we do then?
The first step is answering the question – do I even care about this? For most people, they don’t, not truly.
There is nothing wrong with following the ‘well-worn path’, 99% of the people you meet will be following the ‘well-worn path’. You know the one, wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, do your work thing for 8 hours, come home, find something to entertain yourself, go to sleep, repeat 5 times. Then try to mix it up on the 2 days you have off, repeat 52 times per year. If you grind enough, maybe you’ll get to go somewhere sunny for a couple of weeks every now and again. Repeat for 40+ years, get a gold watch which maybe cost a couple of hundred dollars in return for spending the best years of your life at a company, as you head off to retirement.
I’m the same, that’s what I do too. I don’t want to do it, but I do it.
I’m not preaching from some high moral ground. I thought I had answered the question years ago, but I hadn’t, not truly.
But, I don’t think this ‘well-worn path’ or the ‘all your eggs in one basket’ approach is a sustainable way to live life.
Any of us could end up being that person who loses their job because the MD wants a new car.
Any of us could end up being that person who doesn’t get the bonus, the bonus you were going to use to pay for a holiday or your kid’s birthday presents, but still watches their boss get paid millions.
Any of us could end up being one of the 20k+ people who gets laid off just to boost the share value while people taking ‘full responsibility’ are paid millions.
After all, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
This week has been a painful week, I’ve seen some of the greatest people I have worked with leave a job they loved, and the letter they received started with “Employee: XXXX”.
I hate to be the person to break this to you – but you, my friends, might just be an employee number to a company.
Closing Closing Thoughts
Gymnshark was founded by Ben Francis in his bedroom with a single sewing machine, and the company is now worth $1b. You don’t need a full $1b, although it would be nice. You just need a little side income to diversify your risk. If he can grow from nothing to $1b, you can grow from nothing to $10k per year side hustle. And that will be your foundation when you get the ‘Dear Employee XXXX’ letter.
Secondly, I love Noah Kagan, partly because he reminds me of an old friend. But also because he’s just good at what he does. If you answered ‘yes’ to the question above, check out his $10 course.