Friday, February 24, 2012

Entrepreneur or Corporate Minion? (Part 1)

The truth is that it's never as simple as that. I've been both and have concluded that for most of us, one is vastly superior to the other. As a business owner (and I've done it twice for several years each time) I never worked fewer than 7 days a week. I rarely worked fewer than 15 hours in a day. Forget the notion that you'll "be your own boss." Your schedule will be dictated by vendors, customers, and employees. When we could afford employees they cost twice what the job is worth thanks to employment taxes and insurance. Suppliers raise prices, delay deliveries, ship lower quality product; customers want faster delivery, lower prices, better quality and you're squeezed between the opposing forces.  I loved it, but it didn't give me the life I really wanted--the business was my life, which upon reflection was not the life I wanted.

Now I work for one of the largest companies on earth, admittedly very far down the food chain.  I have 200 employees who serve over 10,000 customers per day.  And, yes, that leads to significant levels of stress and anxiety--very similar to my entrepreneur experience.  The difference, however, is that I now have an army of support--we call them SME's, or Subject Matter Experts.  I have HR professionals, merchandisers, accountants, regulatory compliance experts, corporate security professionals, maintenance and construction project managers--dozens of people backing me up.  That level of support allows me to focus on what I do best without all the distractions.  I successfully manage a multi-million dollar budget and once I embraced the different mind-set, employee vs. owner, I've found it to be just as rewarding as when I was the owner.  It's not perfect--I can't often leave it behind at the end of the day.  I still bring work home with me, but thanks to the support structure I get real vacation days, real time off, occasionally; and, the company helps pay my health insurance, contributes to my 401K, and a pension fund--all benefits that few small business owners enjoy.

I could go on (& on) with the comparison, but what it boils down to is that you can realize real freedom and satisfaction working for a big company and in many ways it's better than "being your own boss."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

John Grisham

I intended to keep my book reviews separate from my personal blog--but this is personal.  I just read Grisham's Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer and my "objective" opinion is that Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer is just as good.  Here's my review:

Theo Boone is a lot like Mike Madison, the main character in my book, Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer.  They're the same age, both smart, curious, relentless in the pursuit of the truth; and, they both know when to bring in Mom, Dad, and friends.  I've read everything Grisham has published, but was really waiting for my 13 year-old son to read this one first (he bought it with his allowance).  Then today I ran out of reading material and there it was--I finished it in about 3 hours.  Admittedly, Grisham did a better job developing Theo--his character and personality, but Mike's pretty good, too.  And, Grisham is one of the great story-tellers of our time.  It's likely I'm not being totally objective, but I'm stunned by how well Mike Madison compares to Kid Lawyer.  If you like Kid Lawyer, you'll like Mike Madison, Intrepid Explorer and Friends and Foes?, the soon-to-be released Volume II of the Madison Adventures.  They are good stories, well told, likeable characters, and wholesome, family adventures. 

Check out my Goodreads Author page to see all my reviews.