Thursday, May 10, 2012

Money – Who are you trying to impress?

Being a part of the world’s best military is impressive regardless of your rank and job. Not everyone is disciplined enough, tough enough, or physically able to make it.  Everyone who works for the DoD has a purpose and is important to the National Security of this great nation.  For those who aren’t in the military, and whether you are a citizen, or resident you are important. American’s number one asset are its people. An old Chinese Proverb says:

If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.

As Americans we should never forget this.  You do not need to do anything else in your life to be impressive.  In my cube at my office one of my coworkers gave me a great gift.  Best of all it was free because someone threw it in a dumpster. It’s the seal of the Army saying this we’ll defend.  Karin, one of my co-workers, who gave it to me…understands the meaning of value.

I’m a married man…and as a married man I really shouldn’t be going out of my way to impress others outside of my family.  However, many of us do this all the time even if we do not intend to do it.  If you are in the business of impressing people, such as show business, that is an exception.  In life there is a lot of noise. Tons of marketing is going on around you telling you what to buy, and how it will make you feel.  Beer commercials say…drink me and you’ll be cool, have fun, and have hot chicks want to dance with you.  I'm not sure where the appeal is for women, but perhaps I'm in a minority.  Some car commercials might say…look at me, I’m rich and classy.  Before you make any purchases ask yourself this question.  Who am I trying to impress?  If it is some random stranger that you think you want to meet, forget it.

If you smoke cigars or cigarettes I ask, who are you trying to impress?  Certainly not your kids or yourself. 

In the military and practically all government workers...we can all find out how much each other is making.  I think this is a great learning opportunity.  I’m not a big fan of secrets when it comes to money.  I have no problem showing my tax returns to people.  How else can you learn?

So my question is…why do some E3 military members drive a Dodge Neon, and another E3 is driving a BMW?  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Even if your parents are rich and can send the wrong signals.

Which brings me to a story about a guy who owned a janitorial service.  This guy had about 100 janitors working for him.  He paid them fair wages and they did good work for the company.  One day the board of directors were so pleased with how well the owner/operator ran the company that they wanted to do something nice for his 60th birthday.  They decided to buy him a brand new Bentley.  After all he was driving a used F-150, and they thought he could use an upgrade.  To show everyone how well he has done.

The owner was very angry and refused the gift.  He said, “Do you want to ruin my business?  My workers trust me.  They work hard for me.  To pull up in a fancy car like that would signal to my workers that I have been taking advantage of them.  Even if it wasn’t true, perception is reality.”

Let this be a lesson to all of you.  Your actions especially your buying decisions can lead to the wrong impression.  Driving a Ferrari while living in a trailer park can give mixed signals to many different people.  Cops might think you are a drug dealer.  Thieves think you have money.  Friends want you to take them out all the time thinking you have money.  The opposite sex might think the same. The last thing I ever wanted was my spouse to say the only reason why I dated you was because I saw your car an thought you had money.

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