Can't get no satisfaction? You may be looking in the wrong place. If you're seeking emotional rewards from all the blood, sweat and tears you expend building your business, give up the search, says bestselling author Stephen M. Pollan.
Feel good on your own time, Pollan commands. Owning a business is about one, and only one, thing: making money. And if you narrow your business goals to that single-minded pursuit, feel good you will, Pollan promises.
"I'm not talking about making money just for the sake of making money," he clarifies. "There's a seamless relationship between money and happiness."
Contrary to how it may sound, Pollan isn't advocating a return to the greed-is-good '80s. Nor is he promoting a put-it-on-plastic, consumption-crazed lifestyle accessorized with the slickest Armani suit, the slimmest cell phone and the sleekest luxury car. Instead, the New York City financial planner and attorney urges entrepreneurs to take a clear-eyed look at how money contributes to creating a deeply fulfilling life.
Like his bestseller Die Broke (HarperBusiness, $14, 800-242-7737), Pollan's newest book, Live Rich (HarperBusiness, $25, 800-242-7737), shatters some long-held American myths about money. In particular, he demolishes the starry-eyed notion that work should be meaningful in and of itself. Our grandparents' generation understood it well, Pollan says: We work to make money, not to gain emotional fulfillment.
It's not about doing what you love and waiting for the money to follow--you could be in for a good, long wait, he warns. Below, Pollan shares the finer points of his contrarian approach to creating a cash cow--and the rich quality of life that can result.
1. Make money a priority in your life. "Starting a business isn't for fulfillment or fame. It's not even to be the best or the smartest," Pollan says. "Your most important goal in starting a business is recognizing that it should exist solely for the purpose of making you money." Sound mercenary? Absolutely. And that's a good thing, the author says.
2. Look for a business that can provide an income that enables you to live a rich life. "Money has the extraordinary ability to create a rich life for you," says Pollan. No, he's not talking about locking yourself in the vault and wallowing in greenbacks and gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. "I'm talking about making money so you can take wonderful trips, so you can get out of a bean-counting HMO, so you can do the things you'd like to."
3. Don't look for fulfillment in business, but where it belongs: in the rest of your life. Blame the baby boomers for carefully cultivating the romanticized notion that the workplace should provide emotional satisfaction, a social life and personal growth. Pollan sets the record straight: Meaning comes from your personal life, not from your work. "You're going to get fulfillment from your spouse, from your children, from museums and music," he says.
4. Just because you're out there making money doesn't make you a slave to money. To the contrary, "It makes you a slave to your own happiness," Pollan says. "The entrepreneur's goal is freedom, and making money [brings you that] freedom."
Not convinced? Consider Leif, a client Pollan cites in Live Rich, who struggled for years as a poorly-paid "minister for social action" at a New York City church. Not only was he poor, but his efforts to effect social change were constantly thwarted by church bureaucracy. With Pollan's help, Leif left the ministry and launched his own psychotherapy practice. Today, his income allows him to take time off to lead peace and immigration rights marches and participate in other social causes. He's finally making money . . . and making a difference.
That's what living rich really means, Pollan says. "We only pass through [life] once," he says. "That's why we should make the most of it."
Stephen M. Pollan, (212) 737-2717.
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