Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Land of Opportunity

Listening to the talk shows yesterday; one of the recurring themes was the minimum wage issue. I’m sorry; but that is some kind of smoke and mirrors game that has been played for way too long. There is a huge segment of our society that just doesn’t get what America is all about; this “land of opportunity”.

I have a motivational tape that is inside my head now, I played it so many times when I was starting up my own business that it became a part of me. I can’t say for sure who it was that made the tape; it was either Skip Ross or Jim Rohn, either of them were excellent teachers of what I call basic American business philosophy. There was a self reflective section where the speaker was trying to figure out why his life was so good while other’s around him had missed it some how. He was in the Tenderloin District, a place where the “less fortunate” seemed to end up. Was it some class in school that they had missed, perhaps a lecture that he had attended that they had not, all the while wondering aloud the fact that he had learned how to operate within the system to create a nice life for himself and there before him were the ones who had lost hope.

I think it may start in the homes of our children. At some point these kids see that their parents are not making any forward progress and maybe they accept that as the norm. They are taught, by example, to get minimum wage jobs. They are not given the important information; that it is a starting point for young people to gain experience in the market place, not a long term goal arrangement. It remains a problem when the leaders of our country insist that minimum wage is an issue rather than pointing out that “lack of spirit to succeed” is really the issue.

I have so many good motivational tapes that they tend to blur in my mind as to who said what. On one, I think it was Jim Rohn, he has a story about a man who has run low on food to feed his family. He knocks on his neighbor’s door and asks him for some bread.
Upon being rejected he goes home and thinks about the needs of his family. He returns to his neighbor; this time he begs for some bread to feed his starving family, and is again rejected. After a while he jokingly says if he gets turned away again, “Watch your bread!”, implying that he would break in and steal your bread if his poor starving family had reached that level. He then asks, “What would you do to survive”? Then, after you have thought about it for a moment, he takes it to the next level, “What would you do to succeed”?

So I ask, “What would you do to succeed”? This is not being taught, at least not to those who need it the most. Instead they are being fed the lie that “this is what you are worth, give or take a dollar.” How come new members of our society, those from foreign countries can make it to America, enter the work force and within a short period of time become business owners and live “the dream”? Is it because they can visualize all the steps necessary to accomplish the dream; hard work, extra hours, extra education, risking capital, not spending every dollar for entertainment so that capital can be put aside and all the other factors involved in individual growth?

I heard some guy getting off work the other day. He said he needed to pick up a couple of six packs on the way home where he was going to sit in front of his television and watch the game. To him, this was the American dream; unfortunately, this was the lesson he was teaching his children too. So when someone tells me that his minimum wage is too low, I agree and smile a simple smile of remorse that say, “You have the worlds greatest country and yet you settle for minimum wage, you idiot”. I then hand them my wife’s business card and tell them to call so she can show them how to improve their worth in the market place. Only a very few, less than 2% call, and even fewer actually take the second step, that of working to rise above minimum wage. Some have the patent, “Does this involve sales?”, built in exit strategy line.

I then tell them that it has to do with nuclear physics or some other line of BS, as if “Sales, oh my goodness, not that!”, is the same as “playing the piano at the local cat house”. What the hell difference would it make as long as it got you out of minimum wage and on your way to becoming more a part of the “Dream”? I have actually taken the card away from some of these idiots and told them, “Never mind, you wouldn’t work out anyway.” The look of “loser” is stamped across their forehead, deeply engraved letters that just won’t go away no matter how high the minimum wage ever reaches.

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