Gotta Serve Somebody ~ Bob Dylan
By Wayne Mates
A few days ago I received an email from a reader looking to start a business and wanting some input from me. Mostly, I ignore those emails, but something about her approach and attitude led me to call her. It was an interesting conversation.
She is a young, middle level manager of an important department in a mid size company. She makes very good money and seems (in my opinion) to have a great future ahead of her. She is smart, confident, driven and moving up the corporate ladder quite quickly. She also has a good idea for her business (again, my opinion).
As we talked about many things (I like far ranging, open conversations to gauge a person’s personality, skills and motivation), I became intrigued about her business. On the surface, she has a great idea, the drive and smarts to start and grow a successful business. So, I drilled deeper.
“Why, I asked, do you want to start a business when you have a successful business career?” I expected to hear some of the usual well rehearsed answers. And, I did. She has seen the business problem she wants to solve many times and knows how to solve it. She has talented people she will enlist as her first employees. She has thoroughly thought it out. She has done her projections and secured some of the funding she needs to start up.
As we continued talking, I heard more pre-rehearsed answers, so I changed my questions. I asked her about her current management position and her company. The more she spoke, it became clear to me she is looking for a way to escape her job. She wants to get out of the daily stress of long hours, little recognition and low job satisfaction, not uncommon reasons for people to want to make changes.
I listened as she said, “I am tired of having bosses tell me what to do. It is time to be independent and do things as I want.” For a moment, I was silent. I simply said to her “There is no one that does not have a boss.”
I showed her that as a business owner/founder she would have more bosses than she ever thought imaginable. Each customer or potential customer is a boss. Her bank/angel or VC will be her boss. Each vendor she works with will be her boss. Her employees will be her boss. To be successful, she will need to be able to please all of them most, if not, all of the time.
As she listened to me preach she began to see that we are all accountable to others. We “Gotta Serve Somebody.” I sent her this link http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/gotta-serve-somebody and haven’t heard from her since. I suppose she may be rethinking her motivation.
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