In the darkened heat soaked July night, company leaders of the firm employing us followed in the footsteps others before. Surrounded by smiling attorneys, venture capitalists, Presidents and Vice Presidents, in a single pen stroke the firm was sold.
Officially, press reports would label this as an ‘acquisition,’ a not too uncommon, but very diplomatic word for ‘taking the cash and running.’ If you’re a Republican or Tea Party proponent, this would be classified as a reward for the risk and simply confirms the natural business lifecycle. If you’re Democratic or an ‘Average Joe,’ one would probably term this as selling out.
Objectively, I bypassed the usual acronyms management poured forth via the conference call. Over the years I have heard enough of the “I’m jazzed,” “…our nation is depending upon us,” “synergy” and “…we honor and respect every employee as family.”
In truth, in the dark covert mahogany laced boardroom, management didn’t give a shit and in a true form of modern slavery, each employee was sold (by rough calculations) for approximately $383,000 per person. Thus, in a single swoop of the pen, before the ink was dry, the top .7% of the company walked away with an excess of $460,000,000. For the remaining 99.3%, we were simply ‘acquired.’
What irks me about today’s politicians and business leaders is that some claim government regulations kill jobs and tax breaks help the wealthy help create positions. Borrowing a phrase from Stephen Covey, I simply agree to disagree agreeably.
While it is true that as leaders, each of you has had a profound influence on upon our lives. But it was the ‘acquired’ who were the face of your company. In dutiful devotion, it was also our blood, sweat and tears that produced that $460 million.
We traveled Sundays, missed weekends, anniversaries, our child’s first steps, bar mitzvah’s, ballgames, summer walks, fishing trips, vacations and poured caffeine into our veins during repeated all-nighters. At one time or another, each of us slept in flea ridden hotels, caught red-flights, spent endless hours in cattle cramped aircraft and fell asleep in airports. Some slept, a few never awoke.
We persevered. In spite of cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart palpations, death of a father, mother, child, fractured legs, laryngitis, chills, fevers, lost fingers, broken arms and minds we carried the mission. Through it all, the 99% experienced divorce, broken relationships, lonely nights, bad meals, excessive heat, torrential cold, floods, blizzards, tornados, hurricanes and car accidents.
The 99% lived and breathed with your clients. We were their hopes, fears, tears, laughter, friend and mentors. It was our responsibility to hold, console and push. We made them a better organization and each of them touched our lives. And they lived, still live, within us.
For better or worse, we are your legacy. We were the harmony, melody, music and soul of your very dreams.
In due time, the ‘acquired’ will eventually become ‘reorganized’ and ultimately ‘retired.’ We will cry, reflect and move on. But still at the end of this life, you may be $460 million dollars wealthier, but you’ll never be richer.
For you see, it was we, the 99% who created the jobs and the wealth. It was never solely about you. And thankfully, it never will.