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Why I Didn't Take Anybody's Daughter or Son to Work with Me Last Week

Last week, "Take Our Daughters and Our Sons to Work" day occurred. I didn't take anybody's daughter or son to work with me. The obvious reason is that I don't have a son or a daughter. I could have taken countless great-nephews and great-nieces to work, though. The reason why I didn't is this: I don't want to teach my great-nieces and great-nephews to be employees like I am. I want them to be entrepreneurs and business owners, even if they have a small business on the side.

The reality is that, at least in a good economy, anybody with a high school diploma and a pulse can get a job.albeit not one the pays a living wage. And in a bad economy, anybody can lose a job regardless of his or her qualifications or experience.  That's because, in bad economy, bosses -- or the government, if you're a government employee like me -- get to decide who stays and who goes. If you happen to be on the poopy end of that decision stick, you're stuck. You have a greater measure of control, to my mind, if you are your own boss and supply and demand, not people, determine whether you work. At least you cut out the middle man -- bosses and, if you're a government employee like me, the government. If you have a skill or a product that is needed or desired even in the worst of times (e.g., iPhone sales in a down economy -- WTF?), then you will always have a steady source of income. If you don't, what you will have is the illusion of a steady source of income, i.e., a job. And if you have a skill or product that is needed or desired even in the worst of times, why sell it to a middle man, i.e., your employer, who gets to decide whether you will retain your job or not?

At the risk of offending my fellow African-Americans, I think that, because of the added dimension of racism, we have raised our children to be employees, not business owners. That's not because we don't want the best for our children -- precisely the opposite: We were taught that a steady income, or the illusion of a steady income, that a job represents is what is the best. We were taught that working for someone else results in the least amount of risk. And when you live in a society where there are things that are beyond your control that you can't readily guard against, like racism, you seek the least risky income option, like a job working for someone else.

The Great Recession changed the risk equation in a whole lot of ways.

Government employees were let go or furloughed; the down economy gave employers the option to get rid of people they may not have been able to get rid of otherwise. Because we're traditionally the last to get hired, we're easily the first to get fired. African-Americans have been affected by this recession more than our white brethren. We could not avoid the risk we were taught to avoid by working for others.

Sure, business ownership is risky. But the rewards are greater, too. The potential for greater income through business ownership can also hedge against recessionary risks that employment cannot. Even if the business you own is a small business you run on the side while you work for someone else, that's all the better. Multiple streams of income are fantastic. But to put all your economic eggs in the basket of one person or entity -- your employer? That's a lesson I didn't want to teach anybody's daughter or son.

So until I get my stuff together and get my side businesses up and running, I won't be taking anybody's daughter or son to work.

Maybe by then it will be called, "Take Your Daughters and Sons to Your Business" day.


Olympia said…
This is precisely the mindset I have and I am trying to pass along to others. I agree with your point wholeheartedly! I especially agree with: "And if you have a skill or product that is needed or desired even in the worst of times, why sell it to a middle man, i.e., your employer, who gets to decide whether you will retain your job or not? "

If that's not the truth, I don't know what is.

Thanks for your comments. I truly want to change the thinking of the generation that's following me. Even with all my degrees and whatnot, I am not free. As I told my family at our last "Something to Think About" family meeting, I don't have an obsession with money -- I have an obsession with freedom. When you work for someone else -- and solely for someone else -- you aren't truly free.

Thanks for reading.

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