Monday, August 31, 2009

The Happy Hundredaire

Success is measured in inches, metres, miles, smiles and, for some, dollars. I like to think that I'm pretty successful if I wake up in the morning. That's the first 35 inches of my yardstick. Life is a one-sided coin without any obvious dollar value, that's why it always disappoints me when someone says their goal in life is to become a millionaire. They remind me of wading pools.

I haven't heard anyone say that lately, which I take as a good sign yet I do know people who want to be rich more than anything else. I have one friend who has transformed himself from an admirable entrepreneur into a lazy snake oil salesman. It's depressing to watch. There's nothing wrong with being rich, in fact, it's quite me. I'm a happy hundredaire and beyond, without the need for superfluous zeroes. Being rich is the byproduct of a happy existence, and should not be identified as a goal.

The image above is what I see when I get up in the morning, and that particular morning wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Compare what I see to what greets the a.m. eyeballs of others: the wall of a neighbouring apartment building, squealing jake brakes from a busy highway, or the smell of sulfur (living next to Dubya) you see why I feel wealthy.

The only measure of wealth that I acknowledge is health and lifestyle. If you've got them both, then the money, and by that I mean excess wealth, doesn't matter much. It's nice to have a view down the lake, but real wealth starts and begins within. It's subjective. It's about appreciating what you've got...finding the silver lining. Some people love the view of the highway or the train tracks. Some people love the view of the neighbouring apartment building, especially the sight of the exhibitionist in apartment 12C.

There's more to life than money, though I'm careful not to devalue the dollar. We all need a little bit to cover the basics: food, shelter, wine, windsurfers, etc.

There's a woman who works at Pizza Twice in Fredericton who probably doesn't earn much more than minimum wage, yet she's fast, efficient, friendly and above all appears to be happy, even though she spends her days boxing pizzas for bilingual boys and girls (it's the Pizza Twice near ecole Ste.Anne...the French school). She's probably the most successful business person that I've ever met in Fredericton, because she seems to love what she does. Dollars be damned.

Business writer Peter Drucker said "“the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” I like that definition. Actually, I love it. It sure beats the often cited 'to make money'.

I can think of more than one business in my butt of the woods which has an owner in business 'to make money'. What a shame, for everyone involved, especially the customers. I only wish that the humble pizza girl could come down and show them how to create and keep a customer. Loonies, toonies and twenties will flock to a business that appreciates its customers, but some knuckle dragging business owners have yet to figure that out.

I believe in evolution, it just happens more slowly in Cambridge-Narrows than in other places (Minto, Jemseg and the Oromocto Mall excluded).

I'm going to go help my friend out in his vineyard this morning. Why? Because it's a happy place. My friends at Motts Landing Vineyard know how to create and keep a customer, and they're in business for all the right reasons. It's not about the money. They also know how to create and keep a friend. They're the richest people in their neighbourhood, by far. They're clever enough to get a leisurologist off the sofa and on his hands and knees rolling in the dirt, and I'm clever enough to appreciate the wealth of experience (and friendship) that I get in return.

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