Yesterday, Rey and I rented “The Big Short” for our Thursday date night. For those of you who have not watched it or do not know what it’s about- in short, it’s the story about 4 groups of individuals who foresaw the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and decided to take on the big banks in a game of odds against the world economy. I recommend this movie to anyone wanting to understand the levers that ignited the financial collapse, but also for anyone who wants to know more about the idiosyncrasies of Corporate America/Wall Street. It sure made me think about a lot of things… both good and bad. See below for a perspective on my love-hate relationship with corporate life.
Money is Power
Love: Corporate America allows you to make above median income to support a middle- to upper-class lifestyle. Who can complain about a steady, secure job that allows us to eat, be housed, and travel right?
Hate: Across all companies, the average CEO pay was $13.8 million per year, the average median worker pay was about $77,800. That’s a 204-1 ratio! Does anyone realistically need that much money a year? If you can afford to pay your hardworking employees more, why spend it on your 5th vacation home in Venice?
Perception of Personal Worth
Love: Scoring a good corporate job post-college typically means that you’ve graduated into the society of working class professionals- people respect your intellect, pursue your company (in love or in friendship), and happily welcome your business. You’re almost always guaranteed certain benefits such as a the choice to own a home in a developed neighborhood or access to good health insurance.
Hate: To Corporate America, you’re just a number. Once your number dips below a certain threshold, it won’t be hard for you to be kicked out the door, severance package in hand, with parting statements such as: “I’m sorry, it wasn’t my decision. This is what the company wants.” or “You’ve been a great asset to us, and I know you’ll find something better.” Who cares if you’ve slaved away for 15 years? The company needs to cut costs.
Love: Prospects in Corporate America look good if put in the time. If you work hard and get to know the right people for the next 10 years, you will probably make Managing Director with a $150K+ salary. The pay will be great and you’ll have enough in your 401K to retire by 65. Not to mention, you can see yourself owning a house in the burbs with the family that you love.
Hate: The Corporate American Dream seems great, but what about you dreams? What happened to all the things you used to love like playing the guitar, baking cookies, or hip-hop dancing? You find yourself spending most of your day building someone else’s dream and not enough time building your own. Seems unfair, doesn’t it?
Everyone’s relationship with Corporate America is different – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If you have no problem working a cushy 9-5 job most of your adult years, sure. If you’d rather pull out your entire life’s savings to open a dance studio in New York, why not? At the end of the day, it’s simply about what’s right for you. Cliché, I know, but can you disagree?