Financial Bureaucrat vs. Financial Entrepreneur
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
Have you ever encountered the company’s self-proclaimed apologist? This is the person who bleeds the corporate colors, memorizes the company mission statement, all 250 words, and who quotes all the slogans and tag lines of the corporate mantra?
I’m not the best example in this case, because I always wanted to morph into Hulk Hogan and body slam the schmuck. I’ll never forget the memo received many years ago from Corporate Head Quarters entitled “Good News” and then the body of the memo proceeded to explain why a cut in pay was in fact a good thing.
Not long after this memo, the corporate trainer flew out to interview me for a promotion back to HQ (Headquarters). She met me early for breakfast and asked where I saw myself with the company over the next five years. Now since, this interview took place, I’ve grown older and somewhat wiser in my communication skills. But back in those days, I had very little concern for feelings or verbal cloaking, so my response was somewhat bold and straightforward.
I chuckled, arrogantly, and explained that I don’t see myself at all with the company in five years. She asked if me if I wouldn’t want to be in corporate management and further my career with a corporate promotion.
Almost indignantly I responded that it would embarrass me to accept a corporate position and furthermore it would violate my ethics to accept such a position and associate with the likes of our fearless leaders. I should have left a note on my desk so all would know I intended on committing Corporate Suicide that morning.
I know what you’re probably thinking, that wasn’t the most eloquent denial of a job promotion ever articulated, but like I said, I’ve matured somewhat since then. She was a delightful corporate representative, however, and a wonderful person on top of that. We had a great day working together and stayed in touch until I left the company shortly thereafter.
In my corporate job, I felt hindered, micro-managed, small, insignificant and a means to an end for those higher up the pecking order (aka: the Corporate Ladder.) My fill of bureaucratic enablers of a higher cause had hit a tipping point and I questioned if there wasn’t a better way to approach my work or my career.
The vision of the bureaucrat versus the entrepreneur was being formed before my very eyes. I met some of the slickest, most deviant behaviors during my corporate stay that knew the corporate system and how to push the right elevator buttons to a higher floor. Me? Well, I kept pushing the wrong button and would always exit on the lowest floor possible.
Each time I asked why or how or is there a better way, my elevator would descend rather than ascend. Not long after this experience, I accepted a managerial position with another corporation, this time a much smaller organization. Sometimes, two or three knocks upside my head are required for greater clarity. At the time of this experience, my schedule at the office was 70 hours per week. I was also a full-time student studying for my Master’s degree and I taught a zero hour religion class for 24 students Monday through Friday.
Our company was losing a lot of money due to a particular systems malfunction, so I spent some late evenings researching a solution, on my own time. After figuring out the best way to recover the lost revenue, and stop further bleeding, I approached the owner and the general manager with my findings. Rather than a thank you or some questions for greater clarity, the owner and general manager verbally informed me that I had stepped outside of my job description. I was informed that it wasn’t my job to think or solve and I would do well to just follow the corporate culture. Mind you there was only one other manager between me and the owner and GM.
They weren’t just a little upset, this really put a burr under their saddled and it irritated the bejeebers out of them. (This word was not found in spell check, but I feel it was the most accurate description of the situation.) Another corporate lesson learned.
Not long after this, I submitted an employee’s name for promotion and a raise. In my explanation I wrote that the employee was coming in on his own time and working, that he was a family man and very dependable. I compared his current wage to the poverty level and explained his employment and the return we were getting off him, given the overtime he was working and not recording was a prudent move.
After my explanation of said income, and two weeks after receiving the highest evaluation marks in the history of our region, my immediate manager called and fired me. That rash really festered. Another lesson learned.
Consider the following definitions:
- An administrator concerned with procedural correctness at the expense of the people’s needs.
- Someone who wants to perpetuate the status quo with the motive of safety and security.
- A follower who is more concerned with how it’s always been done (tradition) rather than finding a better way.
- Someone who is more interested in being right, than in doing what’s right.
- A student of possibilities that searches to improve the system for the benefit of all.
- Someone who has a set of principles and is willing to take risks on behalf of those principles.
- Someone who is concerned with doing what’s right not on who is right.
When it comes to finances, these terms are most interesting. Which are you, a bureaucrat or an entrepreneur? It is no secret that financially, Americans could use a little help getting themselves organized for retirement. Most of us won’t have enough money to last during retirement. In other words, our money will run out before we do!
Here is my definition of a Financial Bureaucrat. Someone who…
- Thinks that their 401k will be the primary source of retirement.
- Believes Social Security will still be around after the Baby Boomers retire
- Believes Stocks are a great place for retirement money
- Buys stock after they read about it in the paper or a financial magazine or newsletter or overhears the Water-Cooler-Pool-Of-Experts.
- Thinks Mutual Funds are a great place for retirement money.
- Enjoys talking about their stock picks and analysis with their friends or anyone who will listen around the water cooler.
- Doesn’t say anything when their stocks are descending in value.
- Believes retirement isn’t something you prepare for until you’re in your 50′s.
- Pays off the mortgage by making extra payments to the mortgage company as the only safe, secure and smart practice.
- Carries balances on credit cards.
- Always finances their car purchases using loans from banks, finance companies and credit unions.
- Thinks that retirement preparation is all about how much money you have saved.
- Accepts a job because of the benefit package.
- Works for security and not freedom.
- Over funds their company 401k. (More than the company match.)
Now it’s possible your blood might be flowing a little quicker through your veins assuming that everything about the above stated list is bad, it isn’t. All things financial, including debt, is neutral; it is your ability to manage and control these items that remove the neutrality from the situation.
Let’s have a look at my definition of a Financial Entrepreneur. Someone who…
- Believes all roads lead to passive income.
- Doesn’t believe that diversity is the key to safe investing.
- Understands that investing and safe are not synonymous.
- Understands that safe means you can’t lose your money and that risk means you can.
- Asks questions about the direction the crowd is going but doesn’t follow unless the math works.
- Uses math and not literature to make financial decisions.
- Knows the difference between risk and risky.
- Believes that freedom precedes security.
- Uses other people’s money for everything possible, unless they have their own bank.
- Understands and operates the Bank of U
- Uses systems in their financial life to prepare for the future by focusing on the now.
- Understands that 94% of all failure is a systems malfunction and works to constantly improve their systems.
- Understands that communication is more important than money.
- Prepares for retirement everyday by improving their communication and systems.
- Who is preparing a legacy for their children and grandchildren by automating their financial quadrant and teaching the systems to their posterity.
Another oft repeated definition is apropos right now:
Insanity: Doing something over and over again and expecting different results.
Some years ago, a new service industry emerged that called themselves Financial Planners. The primary focus of financial planners and stockbrokers is focusing on asset growth. As mentioned earlier, this is neither good nor bad, it is neutral. My observation is, however, this isn’t working and too many stories exist of couples whose entire retirement hope was invested (potential, which means risk is involved) in the stock market. There is a time and place for all things, but putting all the eggs into one basket for the past 40 years doesn’t seem to be the cure.
This is not to be conceived as an industry that is somehow evil, bad, or harmful. Most professionals, just as in any industry, do their best for their clients. I’m questioning the system, is there a better way? Is asset management and growth the sole solution for retirement preparation? Statistics argue it’s not working. Either is the E.R.I.S.A. concept of Defined Contributions otherwise known as a 401k program.
If more people focused their energy on passive income rather than static planning, we could avoid tremendous Wealth Transfers and dashed futures. The only way for proper retirement preparation to bear fruit is to learn the tools of communication and problem solving. Self-help books are great but too many seem to focus on the symptom and not the source. A product or commodity sure to create tremendous wealth.
For example, living within your means is often cited as a key to wealth growth, however, no system is ever provided for that to take place. How many people, at the end of the month who have $50 left in their pocket find a way to exterminate that additional source of retirement? There is no reason for them NOT to spend the money. The word ‘budget’ is a four-letter word and they slip into the role of a Financial Bureaucrat:
- it’s cool not to live within your means, (tradition)
- everybody is deep into debt and I can make the extra monthly payments and still have money left over (denial, status quo)
- It’s too hard to budget, too many variables, too much work (preservation of the current at the expense of the future)
John Wooden once said, “Discipline yourself and others won’t have to.”
Entrepreneurism is the future to 21st Century wealth and retirement. Financial Entrepreneurism means you have a passion for something, you believe in it, you are willing to stick your neck out for your belief and you are willing to learn proper systems that will give you the greatest chance for success.
There is a difference between a risk and being risky. Getting up in the morning and driving to work is a risk. Going 80 miles an hour while texting your co-worker and eating breakfast is risky. Eating out is a risk, eating fast food every day is risky. Trying to understand the tender gender from a male’s point of view is a risk, claiming you can understand the tender gender is risky. And one more, going to the bathroom in a public Sani-can is a risk, going to the bathroom while skiing in the woods on a 13% slope is risky.
Financial Entrepreneurism is knowing the difference between risk and risky. It is asking if there is a better way. It is researching a better way and then implementing it. It is understanding that your system is the key to success and that your system is the source of your failure. Perhaps it is recognizing that you don’t have a system and therefore will surely arrive at your pointed destination: nowhere!