21 Chapters
Medium 9781576753323

4. Retirement on the Job

Hock, Dee Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

How can a part know the whole? Man is related to everything that he
knows. And everything is both cause and effect, working and worked
upon, mediate and immediate, all things mutually dependent.

—Blaise Pascal

For prosperity doth best discover vice, and adversity doth best discover

—Sir Francis Bacon

It was in 1965 that the heart went out of me. Four years before, partially from concern we would never be able to educate three children on my earnings alone and partially to fulfill a thwarted dream, Ferol had decided she would begin university.

With three young children, a heavily mortgaged house, no job, little money in reserve, and Ferol in her final year at university, it was impossible to stay out of a dismal swamp of depression. Day after day, I walked the woods in misting Northwest rain. My constant companion was an overwhelming feeling of failure. What was wrong with me? Why constant inability to climb the corporate ladder? Why continual conflict with superiors? Extraordinary effort and exceptional results had come to nothing. It seemed impossible to act consistent with my beliefs and succeed in the corporate world. Yet, there seemed no way to escape from it without putting the welfare of family at risk.That I could not do.

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19. Out of Control and into Order

Hock, Dee Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

This is the true joy of life, the being used for a purpose recognized by
yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you
are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of
a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining
that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…. The only
tragedy in life is being used by personally minded men for purposes
that you recognize to be base.

—George Bernard Shaw

The next day brought deep blue skies and magnificent sunshine. The private park we had been creating for more than a decade was never more beautiful; our splendid home on the hill never more enticing; the views over valley, village, forests, and ocean never more stunning. As the family scattered across the 200 acres to enjoy their bit of paradise, I could not forget how I had labored through the years to plant thousands of trees. Even the fastest growing evergreens would not reach maturity in my lifetime.

Hundreds of nuts from huge black walnut trees surrounding the small Utah cottage where I had been born had been sprouted in pots, then planted as saplings throughout the ranch. They would not reach full maturity for a century. Redwoods would take even longer. In my imagination, I could wander at will under the magnificent canopy they would make, though I would never live long enough to experience it. Nor would my children or grandchildren.

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6. The House of Cards

Hock, Dee Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Taking a new step; uttering a new word is what people fear most.

—Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky

Early in 1966, within months after Bank of America let it be known that it would license its BankAmericard program and five California banks announced a joint MasterCharge program, the banking industry was seething with speculation and rampant with rumors: “Citicorp has committed millions to develop proprietary card technology to force an industry standard controlled by them” — “American Express is buying a bank and will blanket the country with American Express bank cards” — “Bank of America’s licensing program is a cover-up they will use to promote deposit accounts nationwide” — “Citicorp and Chase Manhattan are going to license proprietary cards” — “Banks in a dozen different regions are forming groups modeled after the California MasterCharge association” — “Independent bank cards are forming a network using a common interbank logo” — “Legislation is being introduced to give the Federal Reserve System a monopoly for the clearing of sales drafts between banks” — “The federal government is going to pass a usury law to preempt all state laws governing credit card rates” — “The federal government is going to forbid mass mailing of unsolicited cards.”

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7. Peeling the Onion

Hock, Dee Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

To be free is precisely the same thing as to be pious, wise, just and temperate,
careful of one’s own, abstinent from what is another’s and
thence, magnanimous and brave... To be an opposite of these is the
same thing as to be a slave ... So it comes to pass that the nation
which has been incapable of governing and ordering itself and has
delivered itself up to the slavery of its own lusts is itself delivered
against its will to other masters, and whether it will or not, is compelled to serve.

—John Milton

There was no time for the new licensee committee to do more than get acquainted and agree to meet two weeks hence. On the flight home, Jim Cronkhite and I ripped a map of the United States from the airline magazine and began dividing the country into sections, minds buzzing with a multitude of questions. What might best define areas of operational, political, cultural, and banking interests? What might provide equitable balance of number of licensees and volume of BankAmericard business? What might keep travel time and costs to a minimum? What might include a healthy mix of differing interests, yet not be so diverse as to make agreement impossible?

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3. The Bloodied Sheep

Hock, Dee Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet the busybody, the
ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things
happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.

—Marcus Aurelius Antonius

A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.

—Bertrand de Jouvenal

In the summer of 1951, the lamb fell into a job at a small, floundering branch office of a consumer finance company. Within months, the manager departed and his lot fell to the lamb. Protected by remoteness, anonymity, and insignificance, four lambs, whose average age was twenty, trashed the company manual, ignored commandments, and did things as common sense, conditions, and ingenuity combined to suggest.Within two years, business tripled and the office was leading the company in growth, profit, and quality of business.Anonymity was gone and the blind fists of corporate power and orthodoxy began pounding for conformity. How much better the lambs could do if they conformed to central mandates. Even if they could be trusted with freedom to use their ingenuity, others could not. Exceptions could not be made without risking anarchy.

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