Financial Prostitution

Financial Prostitution by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

Ever heard “consultant-speak?” You know the kind the “Big Time” consultants use? I remember the first time I heard it. We were in a meeting and some consultants (from one of the world’s top consulting firms) had some handouts. Handouts. They asked if I could help pass out “the deck.” The what? The deck. You know, the handout.

Later, they talked to us about “on-boarding, desking, and officing.” In the mid-80s, no one, except the consultants knew what these terms meant. But they sounded important.

The infatuation we have with highly paid, intelligent, and articulate consultants has lead to a fascination, an addiction, with quantification. To be fair, this addiction has also been driven by Wall Street, by greed, and by shareholders of public corporation. This addiction causes one to quantify EVERYTHING!!!

We now strive to make everything “accretive.” Another consulting and Wall Street buzzword I didn’t hear for 20+ years, but now hear DAILY! Everything has to be quantified economically and it had better be “accretive.” Everything can (& MUST!!!) be put in economic terms (so says the financial prostitute). How many dollars are we spending on this? How much does this cost? How much does it return? You know, the ROI?

Now, I believe in numbers. I believe in quantifying many things, but NOT all. I’m not in favor of going to the extremes to measure EVERY activity in terms of the mighty dollar. Yes, the bottom-line matters, but so do things that aren’t easily (if at all) quantified. Ummm …. like how ’bout PEOPLE!!!

What is the value of attending the funeral of an employee? What is the value of talking with someone about a personal issue they’re facing? What is the value of having a celebration? Of recognizing others? You know, some things that can’t be valued are terribly important. Some things should be done because they’re the right thing to do. Period.

You have choices every day. You can make a difference in the lives of others. Pay attention to the numbers, but don’t become a financial prostitute. Chose to show the world your character and do the right thing. In the end, the there are things more important than numbers. People. Character. Values.

Sometimes, you can have BOTH. But on the days where you can’t (or you can’t measure the ROI), do the right thing. Don’t worry about quantifying everything. Be a leader. Set the example. Do what’s right, because it’s right!

What examples do you have of people (maybe YOU) doing the right thing regardless of being able to quantify an ROI?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. The floor is ALWAYS open.

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