Doing the Business

He wants to delay the Board meeting because he hasn’t put in the time to prepare for it, because he has another job to attend to and even though this company should be taking all his attention, he is unable to give it. He does the other job because he needs the money because this company isn’t making any. The other job involves working for the man who has invested in this company also, so he is trapped. This man is paying him less than the market rate, which means he is working for too little to allow his company the oxygen it needs, or to allow him to replace himself in this company. He will delay the Board meeting and send signals to the Directors that he is not able to support the little green shoot which this company is. He doesn’t want to send these signals because this is his little experiment, his departure from the claustrophobia of corporate life. He doesn’t want the little green shoot to wither because he has spent his savings and re-mortgaged his house to get it started. He is going to deliver a failure, and it won’t be his fault. Well, not altogether. He made a choice to take in the investor, as a last-ditch attempt to keep his little green shoot alive, to give it water. He didn’t see the tangle he was creating when he took in the investment, and for that, it is his fault. He didn’t stand firm on his business fees with the investor, or on his own time, because he was indebted, because his family was moving into rented accommodation. It is also be the fault of the investor, who has starved the company of income because he invested in order to acquire the resources and not the activities of the company. This man can afford to lose his investment, and he has extracted his pint of blood already, so he can walk away. But he is being short-sighted because he could so easily pay the market rate for what he is getting, and by doing so, feed the little green shoot and allow the company to grow. He owns his share of that growth, so his investment would pay dividends. But he is not focusing on the little green shoot. He is focusing on his own business and what this company can do for it.
This impending failure is unnecessary. For the want of a little more support, the green shoot will not grow. For the want of water, this man will lose his self esteem. His family will lose their respect. His business will fail.

I designed yet another albatross which I knew, from the moment I opened the New Blank Document and started to type the headline, would not fly. It was a big and complex study collecting a swathe of sectoral information. It assessed ongoing awareness and tracked response to this and that and the other, and the pathway to purchase, and brand engagement, and uncle Tom Cobbley’s nuts. It wouldn’t fly because it was designed by one tired has-been who had done this thing many times before, and would be offered to executives who don’t have budgets by another tired has-been who doesn’t understand what it is he is offering. If it were in great demand, if it would be a success, the market would have demanded it, or someone else would be busy making money out of it.
So why did I design it? Because the second tired has-been needed something to hang on to. He’d been pulled from his comfortable job as an advertising sales manager, selling printed ads in printed magazines, and asked, no told, to sell concepts to people without budgets. His past was chequered and his profitability in question. It’s what happens to has-beens. The gradually fade out. Their light which once shone brightly is dimmed and those around them are cast in shadow. The second has-been, in his big Mercedes, which is already six years old, is not stupid. He knows the writing is on the wall. This, in fact, is his last chance. He is at sea. He has been in to meetings and made the right noises, smiled and joked with his clients. He’s tapped his contacts, chased his ‘friends’ and had his meetings and it has resulted in too little. So this albatross would give him something concrete to talk about. It would allow him to hold up his head in budgeting meetings and perhaps find one or two clients with deeper pockets who wanted to please, or more likely wanted something to justify their own lives.
You could have said ‘no’. You could have explained the cyclicity of failure to the second tired has-been and asked him to hang up his hat. You could have sat down and written your novel, or thrown your pots. You could have said ‘enough is enough’. But you’d have been denying your value, your status as a man who is ‘needed’. You’d have been giving in to the cynicism of a has-been who knows in his heart that this albatross won’t fly.

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