When I first graduated from college many years ago, all I could think about was getting my first job. You know what was the deciding factor for me to take the job? Any guesses? Yes, like most people, the thing that drove me to accept an offer was money. How much were they going to pay me?
I did consider the quality of the company and where I would be working, but the overwhelming driving force in deciding who I was going to work with was the paycheck. That is pretty ridiculous when you look at it that way. If I had to do it all over again, I would change that. Alas, youth is wasted on the young.
The funny thing is, as I progressed in my career, money always seemed to drive my decisions…money and benefits. I remember early in my career one of my first jobs was with Johnson Wax. Great company, great products, and competitive pay. They had excellent training too. I quickly proved myself in the field and got two promotions and found myself working in the home office in Racine, Wisconsin as a field recruiter for two divisions of the company.
You have to remember, I am a native Texan. I had never seen a snow shovel. I had never experienced winters that lasted for 9 months. It was a great experience for me business-wise and yet caused a lot of personal problems. My marriage fell apart partly because I insisted on moving my family to Wisconsin for my promotion. I was so busy climbing the corporate ladder I lost my identity. I lost sight of why I was working in the first place. I wonder how many families have been destroyed over such foolish, self-centered behavior.
My career eventually turned to the medical field where I spent 22 years selling medical equipment. I was successful in that field, but I had to travel a lot. So, I was gone 3-5 days a week for most of the 22 years. That finally took its toll on me as well. My marriage was rocky at best, and while I was making a lot of money, earning top sales awards and traveling the world for fun, I knew there had to be something better. I left the job at the peak of my career, but lost my family in the process.
From there I transitioned to the banking industry. Got some great training with Chase bank…but never achieved the level of success that I was accustomed to. That career abruptly ended when Chase and Bank One merged and let go of my whole division. I found myself over 50 looking for a job. Not a good place to be. I did a lot of soul searching and trying to figure out what I was going to be when I grew up. I finally got into the insurance world out of desperation. I had to get a pay check and this was one industry that did not discriminate against me because of my age.
The funny thing is I actually like what I do now, and have been doing this for many years. I especially like the investment side of the business, and enjoy helping safeguard people’s future.
I learned the lesson late in life that the ladder you climb better be against the right wall. It is not all about the money, and it is not all about ME. You may be on that ladder for quite a while, so think long and hard before you take the first step. Pretty tragic when you get to the top and find it was the wrong wall to begin with. The moral of the story is, choose your ladder and your wall wisely. If you decide to climb the corporate ladder, count the cost and make sure it is against the wall that you truly love.