What Are You (really) Working For? Part IV


Every once in a while, we all need to get a second opinion… or maybe a third. An outside, objective perspective can sometimes bring real clarity to situations, and options and answers that we would otherwise overlook.

Okay… okay… maybe we don’t ALL need it… MAYBE it’s just me. Wow… what if it IS just me? Anyway… I digress; so let me rephrase.

Every once in a while, I really need to get a second opinion… and often a third. An outside, objective perspective can sometimes bring real clarity to situations, and options and answers that I would otherwise overlook.

Throughout the course of my business career, I have tried… “tried” being the operative word… I have TRIED to keep enough of an open door AND enough of an open mind to allow others the access and ability to shoot straight with me whenever they saw that I was off-base.

It requires developing a pretty high level of trust in your relationships… especially when dealing with employees or subordinates… but that’s what leadership is all about.

So it was that I received the (unsolicited) advice from my assistant that was outlined in Part II of this article. BTW, that was not an uncommon occurance… and was the grounds for many of her raises and promotions.


Then there is all of the advice that I seek out, the solicited opinions of people that I trust on a range of issues. These conversations happen quite spontaneously on a weekly basis… and more formally on a quarterly basis.

In Part I of this article, I detailed some of that advice surrounding the work I was doing… and what, and for whom, I was doing it.

Those were blunt words, to be sure… but the conversation that would stop me in my tracks was just around the corner.


In 1999, I was with my family (on business) in Phoenix. We were heavily involved in several ventures… and I was looking for more. Already working six (and usually a half) days each week, I was beginning to make plans to go national with one of our enterprises.

I sat down with my family… oh, this was going to be great… I detailed what I saw as the potential…. I was doing it all for them. At least that’s what I always said… it’s what I said that night in Arizona.

My wife simply looked at me, smiled and said, “That would all be fine… but we’d be happy anywhere. We don’t need the house… or the pool… we could sell that now and be happy. We don’t need the cars… or any of the stuff. In fact, we could sell the business… it’s nice… but what we really need… is you.”

Wham… a real-life “Come to Jesus” moment!

I should have been thrilled… after all… I was doing it all for them… right? But that’s not what happened… I thought, wait a minute… I don’t want to give up any of those things. I worked hard for the recognition. I worked hard for the success. I worked hard for all that stuff. I… I… I.

Yes, I worked hard… for… me.


We arrived back in Green Bay a few days later. It was about 10:30pm, and I immediately went to my office. Laying on the very top of a 10″ stack of mail, was a letter from a business broker in Orange County, California… it read, “Have you ever thought about selling your business…?”

I called them the next morning… and began the (somewhat long and sometimes difficult) process of (really) working for something bigger than myself.

What, or who, are you working for?


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One thought on “What Are You (really) Working For? Part IV

  1. Great article. It poses a very vital question that all small business owners need to ask themselves. It is worth evaluating their business operations once in a while.

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