The killer instinct
††††††††††† I didnít always operate a hot dog stand along the highway.
††††††††††† I was once a promising young executive like yourself. See that diploma over there on the wall. Thatís right. Itís a degree from a very prominent university.
††††††††††† I had high hopes in college.
††††††††††† I wasnít so much fascinated with making money as in how it flowed from one set of hands to another.
††††††††††† No piece of art I ever studied seemed so beautiful to me as that transition.
††††††††††† I saw it as the highest of sciences and began to understand that if you could control where money went, you controlled the world.
††††††††††† Class mates saw me as a little strange. Most of those who went into business wanted to accumulate as much as possible and thought I was crazy when I said I didnít particularly care who had the cash.
††††††††††† Most of those fools spent the money as fast as they made it anyway.
††††††††††† They didnít see money had a vehicle or a living thing the way I did. They saw it as swimming pools or fancy cars.
††††††††††† Even my professor seemed a little put out with my enthusiasm for the subject Ė he mouthed all the right things like ďsupply and demandĒ or ďtrickle down,Ē but he sounded more like a religious zealot than a business scientist. He believed in these things as sacred truths, when I wanted to see them as living, breathing entities, and urged him to show me them in motion, rather than a doctrine I had to memorize.
††††††††††† This love of the motion of money made many in school and later claim I could never made it in a practical world of business.
††††††††††† Many scoffed at my high grades at graduation, saying my obsession allowed me to do well on tests, but questioned how well I would do when forced to deal with people instead of concepts.
††††††††††† But with such good grades, I had no problem getting a position with a good company at a good wage.
††††††††††† People in the corporation did not distinguish between me and my overly ambitious money-hungry classmates. Management assumed I was as hungry for success as the next person and they would benefit from my ambitious nature.
††††††††††† But soon managers caught on to me, finding that I did not love money in the same way they did, and that when I was supposed to ďgo for the killĒ on a deal, I tended to see the big picture differently than they did.
††††††††††† Most with whom I worked lived in a bizarre world where people stopped being people: They saw everything in terms of marketing, how to sell a product or idea. While they had plenty of demographics to show to whom they sold, these remained statistics, never taking on a human face.
††††††††††† For me, money didnít magically jump from one place to another so that the people, the faces and all became an important part of the passage from place to place.
††††††††††† I was perpetually seeing the human side of each transaction, taking into consideration the dynamic part people played in the flow Ė their needs and wants that were so vital to the system, and without them, money stagnant and grew to my mind the odious odor of greed. When money settled into rich peopleís bank accounts, it soured, the way water did if forced into a pool where it ceased to move.
††††††††††† The idea of human importance didnít sit well with my employers, nor did they understand me well enough to take advantage of the talents I did have.
††††††††††† Without greed as a motivation, I seemed to them as something perverted something untrustworthy.
††††††††††† Needless to say I wandered from job to job, each taking me farther away from the job my education had trained me for. While I remained on the fringe of management, I tended to be more of a babysitter for other peopleís money than anyone capable of using that money to make more money.
††††††††††† By seeing people as people I could never develop the killer instinct that made all my classmates so successful after graduation, and even giving me a position on the fringe of the corporation, management wanted me to show more of this killer instinct. They wanted me to destroy my competition rather than work with it, squeeze every possible penny out of consumers rather than providing for their needs.
††††††††††† By accident, I fell onto a job at a small warehouse in New Jersey that seemed less interested in killing its customers than serving them. Part of the reason was the distance between the warehouse from the main headquarters in Dallas. The big bosses rarely flew east to survey operations in the east, and saw the warehouse as little more than a cheaper way to redistribute product rather than do it all from the Texas factories.
††††††††††† No one looked over my shoulder. No one forbade me from being overfriendly with the help.
††††††††††† But higher wages and rents in the New York region eventually made Dallas take notice, after some overpaid consultant showed our costs as exceeding the rest of the company. Memo after memo warned me to cut corners where I could, especially in keeping wages down. Some even learned that I treated my workers as friends, and warned me to keep my distance.
††††††††††† No one noticed that production here also exceeded production elsewhere, and that happy workers didnít take advantage of management, they actually worked harder. People showed up for work everyday on time, worked hard while they were here, and we met every demand the Dallas office put on us.
††††††††††† I guess I felt too smug about my success to notice how little this mattered to management. During my trips to Dallas, I mistakenly boasted, which only made me seem like competition to other managers, who while keeping costs down, hadnít managed to meet my levels of production.
††††††††††† Eventually, Dallas responded, firing me first, and then my staff, before shipping the whole operation west where bosses didnít befriend workers and managers kept their costs down.
††††††††††† After that, nobody would hire me, fancy degree or not Ė each manager shaking his head at the interview telling me I just didnít have the killer instinct necessary.
††††††††††† So what do you want? Mustard or relish on your hot dog?