Tuesday, March 27, 2007

To Youth: A Forward Payment

When I got my first job in corporate America, I was pretty excited. It was a low-level management job for a big developer, supervising construction crews in the field—the field being the construction of a massive skyscraper in New York City. But when I told my old man, he smiled and took me aside. "Brian," he said, "congratulations. Now remember one thing: as long as you're working for the Company, it's going to demand your loyalty, 100% and full throttle. Just keep in mind that it doesn't work in both directions. The Company will never return your loyalty. Whatever you give them of that will be your gift, so don't expect anything in return except your paycheck, and keep your eyes open, because the Company will always drop you like a hot rock as soon as they can profit by losing you."

iUniverse, Inc.

So here's my "pay it forward" moment for members of the younger generation, perhaps getting their first jobs in corporate America. Everything my father warned me about in that moment, everything he said, turned out to be the unvarnished truth, verified by my own hard experience. The Company owes you nothing but your paycheck, whatever measly benefits it might have, and the tools of your trade—a desk, a computer, whatever. It doesn't owe you its loyalty.

Sure, you'll meet some great people in your journey through corporate America; maybe people who, like you, missed the bus of their natural calling and wound up pushing the paper and the gears of insurance or banking or the retail sector. Maybe one of these folks will be your boss (lucky you); and you'll be tempted to think that the Company really is your friend, that it loves you and will always be there for you.

Bullshit, I tell you. The Company is owned and operated by myopic, leering bean counters—people who would scratch you off a ledger sheet and out into the street faster than you could say "outsourcing", if doing so translated into an extra dime's profit for The Company. And that cool boss who takes you out drinking after work and looks the other way when you show up late the morning after a really hot date—he won't be able to do a blessed thing to save you when that bean counter has made that scratch on his ledger.

You're never out of the job market in corporate America today, my young friends, remember that. And it's never too late to check back regularly at that bus stop where your destiny passed by without you once before. Whether you once thought you could be a filmmaker, a writer, a journalist, a builder, a mechanic, or a housewife (that's what I always wanted to be, from the moment my kid was born)—keep coming back to it. See how it has changed, that old dream; find out what you now have to give to it; listen for the sound of its voice, its call. Because no matter how deeply you bury it amid work and business and family and circumstances, it will still be audible; its heart will keep beating for you. The more you try to forget it, the more insistently, pervasively will it call.

Though it may seem as remote and untouchable as a distant nebula, Destiny will never drop a pink slip on you. It is waiting, dancing on the single point in the vastness of space where the quantum particles of will, energy, coincidence, opportunity, and effort will meet in a single radiant moment.


The Mad Hatter said...

Thank you so much for your words. I randomly found your blog. I am amazed. Thank you.

Brian Donohue said...

And thanks to you in turn! I had a look at your site and have bookmarked the "three notes for any speaker." (I love the Goethe quote, which I had never heard before). Outstanding!