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Corporate America and Loyalty

Years ago, I worked in finance for a small financial institution. During that time I worked for a great individual that I will leave nameless for now. He was a great man, but one that managed with fear and he was often misunderstood because of that.

One day during a small seminar we attended together he made a speech about his father and corporate loyalty in America, one that I would like to share some parts of with you.

Back in the 50’s AT&T had enjoyed a very successful few years as it was quickly becoming a mega power in its industry, much of that success was the result of a few mens lifetime devotion to their work.

These men, one of which was his father had been devoted to making sure that as the economy was turning, AT&T would be ready to launch into a new era of success.

A year or so after this growth started for the mega giant chose to take a different direction than what these men had intended, it was restructuring itself and starting to become highly political. The more political it was becoming, the more these men felt like they were being pushed aside. They chose to talk things over and fix this misunderstanding but instead found themselves out the door on the street.

As they were no longer young, it was difficult for them to start again and therefore they never did, but to his father it was more than a job, it was his legacy and he could not bear having lost what he loved best and so he took his own life.

This story was particularly touching to me as I witness this behavior everyday in large organizations around the globe, the saddest part is that they actually believe that they are different from the rest of the companies that dont care for people, but only for money. Many people love their jobs, many look at it as a career, others devote more than just their time at work to the success of their company, they devote their life. Yet large companies often forget that it is because of these folks they are the companies they have become today.

If you simply want an example, think about how many times you have applied for a big step in your career, one that you are highly qualified for and yet they chose to bring a random stranger from outside without even considering you. How many times have you felt like your job was threatened because you felt different about the direction the company was taking.

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The advice I give everyone trying to deal with this problem that exists just about everywhere you look is quite simple, find loyalty in people, not organizations. Organizations really don’t care about you, but people you meet, work for or work with probably will care for you and help you but more importantly be there for you and help support your growth.

The hardest part is to make sure your loyalty lies with the right people and identifying those that care vs those that pretend to care. This isn’t easy but try to look for cues such as how they react to your growth, the time they take to help you, the attention they pay to you and your work. These are all good indications of what a person’s real concerns are, and please don’t believe those that constantly talk about corporate decisions etc.

So please make the right partnerships at work, know who to trust, follow and work with and dont become those folks that holds all their hopes and dreams on a large corporation that will dump you overnight, instead have many sources of income while you strive to conquer corporate America and make sure you work because you love what you do and not because you have to.

Or you might end up like my our AT&T friend, chasing a dream that was never yours.

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