I don't often have much good to say about the richest among us, and with good reason. There are multiple studies now that show that at least 1 in 5 CEO's are in fact psychopaths, they are generally overly charming, lack empathy, prey on other people's emotions, have a grand sense of self, are likely to trick others for self-advancement and so on.
source: Wikimedia Commons
The general population consists of approximately 1% psychopaths, compared to 21% among CEO's, and this goes for other positions of power as well, like politicians for example; this should come as no surprise though, as we have an economy that rewards selfishness and punishes altruism, it's to be expected that the most self-centered personalities float to the top. There must be some emotional detachment when you're able to make countless people jobless, just to make an extra buck on top of the millions you already have. I decided very early in life that I would never become rich, not that I would mind having a lot of wealth, but because I realized early on that I lack that special kind of "killer-mentality" to make it to the top of the socioeconomic ladder. I've never been able to understand that mindset. But I'm aware that there are also studies that show that people really do change when they become richer, so it's not sure if it's only that psychopaths float to the top, or that a number of them were created on their way to the top. Here are two articles about the high percentage of psychopathy among the winners in our societies: Why your boss could easily be a psychopath (The Telegraph) and a more recent one, 1 in 5 business leaders may have psychopathic tendencies—here’s why, according to a psychology professor (CNBC).
Enough is never enough for these people, it seems, so they could learn a wise lesson from the parable about a Mexican Fisherman, which goes something like this:
An American CEO was standing at the pier of a small village on the Mexican coast; he's stressed out by his work and his doctor advised him to take a break, so here he was. That moment a small boat with one fisherman docked; inside the boat were only a few large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the fisherman on his beautiful catch, and asked him how long it took to catch the fish.
The Mexican replied: "only a little while."
The American asked why he didn't stay out longer to catch more fish.
The Mexican answered: "I have enough to support my family's immediate needs, and I can even give some to my amigos."
The American then asked: "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The fisherman said: "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."
The American scoffed, "I studied at Harvard and I can help you; you should spend more time fishing and buy a bigger boat with the profits you'll be able to make. With the profits from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle man, you could sell directly to the processor and eventually open up your own cannery; this way you could control the product, processing and distribution." He continued: "Of course you would have to leave this small village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City from where you will run your growing enterprise."
The Fisherman asked: "How long will this all take?"
The American CEO replied: "I estimate 15, maybe 20 years."
"But then what?" asked the Mexican.
The American smiled and said: "This is the best part; when the time is right, you announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!"
The Mexican: "Millions... then what?"
To which the American answered: "Well, then you could retire and move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, take siestas with your wife, and stroll into the village each evening where you sip wine, and play guitar with your amigos."
I love that little story; the fisherman had it right all the time and the CEO is still clueless... However, today I bring some good news which proves that there are some millionaires who stay clear from the psychopathy-trap and who recognize that extreme income inequality is among the most harmful effects of capitalism on society. This little news item brightened up my day, as I hope it does yours; here's a CEO who made one million dollars per year, saw that his employees struggled on minimum wages and raised the minimum wage in his company to 70,000 dollar per year and... LOWERED his own income to the exact same amount. I so often hear that if we tax the rich more, when we redistribute wealth more, we'll "destroy" the economy because companies wouldn't be able to compete anymore, or wouldn't be able to hire the absolute brightest people anymore and so on. Here's that one millionaire that proves all these arguments wrong; his company is thriving, and most importantly, HE is thriving and so are all his employees.
He is Dan Price and his company is Gravity Payments; some of you may have already heard of him, as his radical move to more equality went viral, and he was the laughing-stock of all his peers for a good while. The story about how he came to this "insane" decision is wonderful, and I'll quote from an article that describes the whole ordeal, an article I invite you all to read in full by the way. It describes how one of his employees who got payed 35,000 dollar per year made him see the light:
It was late 2011. Haley was a 32-year-old phone tech earning about $35,000 a year, and he was in a sour mood. Price had noticed it, and when he spotted Haley outside on a smoking break, he approached. "Seems like something's bothering you," he said. "What's on your mind?"
"You're ripping me off," Haley told him.
Price was taken aback. Haley is shy, not prone to outbursts. "Your pay is based on market rates," Price said. "If you have different data, please let me know. I have no intention of ripping you off." The data doesn't matter, Haley responded: "I know your intentions are bad. You brag about how financially disciplined you are, but that just translates into me not making enough money to lead a decent life."
Price walked away, shocked and hurt. For three days, he groused about the encounter to family and friends. "I felt horrible," he says. "Like a victim." An entrepreneur since he was a teen, Price prided himself on treating employees well at Gravity, which he co-founded in 2004 with his brother Lucas Price. Three years before, as a 16-year-old high school kid, Dan Price saw bar owners being gouged by big financial firms every time they swiped a patron's credit card. By first outsourcing technology, and then building its own systems, Gravity offered lower prices and better service, and grew rapidly for four years -- until the Great Recession nearly wiped it out. Traumatized, Price kept a lid on wages even after the economy recovered -- to save the company, of course! Why can't employees see that? Yet the more people tried to cheer him up about his wage policy, the worse Price felt.
Finally, he realized why: Haley was right -- not only about being underpaid, but also about Price's intentions. "I was so scarred by the recession that I was proactively, and proudly, hurting my staff," he says. Thus began Price's transformation from classic entrepreneur to crusader against income inequality, set on fundamentally changing the way America does business. For three years after his face-off with Haley, Price handed out 20 percent annual raises. Profit growth continued to substantially outpace wage growth. This spring, he spent two weeks running the numbers and battling insomnia before making a dramatic announcement to his 120-member staff on April 13, inviting NBC News and The New York Times to cover it: Over the next three years, he will phase in a minimum wage of $70,000 at Gravity and immediately cut his own salary from $1.1 million to $70,000 to help fund it.
The article concludes with: "Six months after Price's announcement, Gravity has defied doubters," and the video linked below is from this month. Please enjoy:
CEO Cut Salary To Pay Employees $70k
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