Money was not a problem for my client and his company. For the purposes of this event I will call him ‘Bob’. Ten years ago he had started his oil industry affiliated business. Year after year sales grew and profits increased. He drew a lower mid-level six figure salary.
You may ask as I did, what would cause someone who has a successful business to engage a personal business coach? Initially, he told me he was bored with his business. It wasn’t exciting any more. The money was great but he wasn’t happy.
Money—It’s A Tool–Does It Work For You Or Against You?
During our first couple of months of business coaching I was confused as to what the real problem was. But, little tell tale signs started to emerge. I had noticed that he had an old style printer in his office. One day we needed to make copies. Instead of having his assistant make them he suggested we go down the hall to the break room which was next to the copy room.
When I saw the copier I was shocked. It looked like a museum piece. It took about a minute to warm up and then it took another 30 seconds to make the copy. I asked him about the machine. He told me it was 15 years old but that he wasn’t going to spend the money on a new one as long as this one worked.
Money—How Are You Using It To Treat Others?
The copier turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. As I got to know his office operation better I found out that in 2005 he was using computers from the mid-90’s and that the software had not been updated.
His employees liked him as a person but despised his cheapness. They could not do their work as efficiently or as smoothly as they would like. Their performance suffered. Yet Bob still expected more out of them. They were still on dial up internet and their office was equipped for high speed.
As a result, morale was low. He refused to spend money on new equipment, new processes and as it turned out, on his people.
The Money Malaise
A malaise had set in with Bob’s employees. Bob was tight and proud of it. Bob was fanatical about saving money. One day I was in his office and his purchasing agent came in to give him a purchase order to sign for purchasing some paper clips from Office Depot.
He looked at the purchase order and asked her if she had checked around lately on the price of paper clips. When she said she hadn’t he asked her to see if she could find a better price.
Raises for the employees averaged 1% to 2% if at all.
Consumed By Money And You Will Lose Your Most Important Assets
I made some headway with Bob in upgrading his equipment. When it came to paying his people on a scale with the rest of the industry he would not budge.
But, when you least expect a breakthrough one came. One day I arrived and I could tell that Bob was very upset. He was wound tight. He emanated fear, anger and being lost. Much as I wanted to know what was going on I waited for him to speak.
When he spoke it was clear why things were bad. He started, “Steve, I am going to lose my daughter and my wife.” Silence. And he continued, “They no longer want to be around me.”
Money—Are You Focusing On What You Believe Is Truly Important At The Expense of What Truly Matters?
Bob’s daughter, a strait A high school student, who worked a part time job liked certain rock groups. She was the ideal teenager. Bob would give her a $20 a week allowance which in their very upper middle class to wealthy area was nothing compared to the other kids. It infuriated Bob that she would spend a large part of her allowance on CD’s and other items related to these groups.
He would always criticize his daughter for how she spent her money. The previous night she had told Bob that she wasn’t going to take his criticism any more and that she didn’t want him in her life. And, his wife sided with his daughter.
As I sat there and listened Bob’s voice got lower and lower. Then he fell silent and started to cry. When he collected himself he asked, “What am I to do?”
I asked him what thought was the right thing to do. If he was his daughter how would he feel. He looked at me, turned his palms up and said, “What’s the use? My attitude about money is destroying my family.”
That was the opening. The truth was that his attitude about money was destroying everything. At this point we started talking and decided that immediate action was required.
It was now 2 in the afternoon and he would be home eating dinner at 7. Much as he had no idea how to start repairing his family relationships he knew he had to act. He said he would come up with a plan. To hold him accountable I asked him to call me that evening and let me know what he had come up with.
Around 8 that night my phone rang. It was a giddy and happy Bob on the line. The man who had been so thoroughly defeated 6 hours before was in a great place.
After I left that afternoon, he thought for about an hour and then decided to go online to see if any of the rock groups his daughter liked were going to be coming to town. It turned out that one of them was coming in a month.
Money When Used Correctly Can Be Your Ticket To A Better Life
Bob purchased two tickets to the concert. He told me he hadn’t felt this good in years. When he arrived home that night he was in such a great mood. His daughter asked what was wrong with him. His wife wanted to know if they were getting a divorce. He assured them that all was good, in fact, great.
At dinner he apologized to his daughter for his attitude about her money and presented the two tickets. At first she thought that he was going with her. But he told her that the tickets were for her and a friend. He also gave her another $20 for food and drinks. She got up from the table ran over and hugged him. They were both crying.
Then Bob turned to his wife and apologized to her for his poor behavior with money. It turned out that they hadn’t been out to dinner in over a year. Why? Bob would always fret about the tip. Should it be 11% or 14% or 17%? His wife had told him that she never wanted to go out to eat with him again.
He invited her out for the following night and told her she could take care of the bill and the tip and that he would say nothing about the money then or in the future.
Money With The Right Attitude Leads To Great Things
With this breakthrough I could now reach Bob on issues of money in his business. He was ready and willing to improve the equipment, to invest in updated processes and he even brought in a human resources consultant and all the employees got substantial raises.
Bob was excited. He was back in the game. Morale improved. Production improved. And so did sales and profits. I remember Bob looking at me and saying, “It really is true that you have to spend money to make money.”
But here’s the best part. Bob’s relationship with his wife and daughter went to a new level of love and respect. Bob’s relationships with his employees improved dramatically. There was laughter and happiness at work. Bob started to put others first and money second.
All successful self-employed business owners, managers or executives can get stuck. Bob got stuck on money. It consumed him and overwhelmed him. It took his daughter and wife to make him give up what he thought was truly important for the things in life that really matters.
Money is a great tool. But as with any tool, we must learn how to use it effectively for ourselves, others and the greater good. Your legacy won’t be the amount of money you have. Your legacy will be about what you did and how you benefitted others with your money.