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Berkshire Hathaway
Quarter Life Crisis

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By gamma78
September 9, 2002

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We're coming around to September 11th, a date when I put a lot of what I believed in into question. I wanted to share this with all the posters.

At the time of the WTC attacks I had been working for approximately 1 year for a large corporate bank in NY. The reason I had joined, of course, was not because I truly wanted to be a banker but because they paid well. And anybody who comes out of a decent school in the US really feels he/she has but three options: become a banker, a lawyer or a consultant. That day changed my life, because ever since then, I have questioned want I want from my job, from my life and from myself.

Shortly after the events, I decided that I wanted to be closer to my family, and asked for a transfer to Europe. I am now writing to you from Germany, where I have been since March.

The question that really burned, after having settled my personal issues, was what I wanted out of my job. I no longer have the same glamorous job as in NY. I am no longer paid as well. But I love my company, as well as my job, much more now than 1 year ago. I suspect most young people today will tell you they do not truly feel "ownership" of their workplace. Today, now that I have moved away from NY and feel I have moved away from the "be a millionaire or you are worthless" culture that unfortunately seem to dominate in NY, I do feel ownership, and it has nothing to do with the size of my paycheck (which is small) or the amount of options I have (0, to be precise). It has to do with empowerment and being respected for who you are, not the image you portray. In an age where more and more young people are true believers in the "get-rich-quick" mentality, I think it is important to underline that true success comes to those who truly love what they do, not to those who do something only because its considered to be glamorous or what have you.

Now, what does this all have to do with this board? The culture of the company is obviously quite important and I suspect that Warren realized this long ago, when he left NY to start something where he had "ownership." And this is why Berkshire does well, since all the sub managers feel "ownership." And it is why many companies have failed, because, despite all the options they dole out, the employees do not feel ownership. I think many people today need to ask themselves if they truly love what they do, or if they do it for other motives. Defining your life by your assets leads to corruption, greed (as we have seen), envy, unhappiness, as well as a bankrupt culture.

Hope you got this far through the rant.

cheers

gamma78


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