You aren’t wealthy until you have something that money can’t buy...
~ Garth Brooks
Every so often, I am asked to participate in new business ventures by friends and acquaintances alike.
This was the case this past spring, when I was asked by a good friend to help source some equipment used in marine applications.
My friend, who happens to live in East Europe, was having a hard time finding qualified suppliers and manufacturers who would actually take his inquiries seriously (probably due to his limited English skills) and pleaded with me to assist him.
After trying to explain that I knew nothing about this type of equipment, I finally agreed to intervene on his behalf and ultimately spent about 80 hours of my time searching for qualified suppliers, matching up specifications to the suppliers’ part numbers, and finally negotiating with the suppliers to offer a competitive quotation for this project.
My friend was extremely pleased with my efforts and offered to pay me a substantial commission if he was successful in winning the business (the commission would have amounted to well over $250K).
He also explained to me that he was planning on quoting two additional projects and that he’d like me to work with him on those projects as well.
The budget for two projects was in the 10’s of millions of dollars which meant that the commission split would have been extremely lucrative if we were awarded the projects. Furthermore, his company, due to connections in high places, would be the only company bidding.
After a few weeks, I received the specifications for the new projects. The first project consisted of sourcing and installing a complete passenger / baggage security system at a new airport. The second project involved procuring and installing traffic signals at several new intersections.
Needless to say... I know absolutely nothing about these types of systems.
However the lure of potential riches, if successful, danced through my head.
My initial thought was that I knew lots of people who actually DID know a lot about these types of projects. If I could only build a team of knowledgeable engineers and projects managers... we had a great chance to win this business.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, I had multiple meetings and phone calls with several individuals who expressed a strong interest in becoming a part of these projects.
As of last Friday, the team was now filling out and I was feeling confident that we could actually offer up a proposal to complete the work specified.
On Sunday... I went to the office to work on several OptiFuse projects that had been long neglected during the period of time that I had been working on these new projects.
It was then, in the flash of a moment, that I had a great epiphany...
WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING??!!
I already have a company that needs my full and undivided attention... why was I spending even two minutes considering venturing off into areas that I knew nothing about and had no passion to build?...
Then it hit me... it was simply the lure of money... there was a possibility that these projects could bring me a certain amount of wealth...
...but at what cost?...
If we actually won these contracts... then I would be taken away from my real love... OptiFuse.
Money is simply an instrument... it should never be the end... but rather a means to an end...
Over the years, I have found that while money is important... there are far more important things in life.
Here are just a few items that I believe are far more important than money:
- Time - Someone can always make more money... but they can never manufacture more time... money is infinite whereas time is limited. Time, well-invested can bring fortunes. Always invest your time in things that will bring you the best returns... education... relationships... health. Time wasted is time lost forever.
- Attitude - There are people who started with nothing and have made themselves and others around them successful. They start by committing to something and then work hard and tirelessly to give it all they have... and although they might fail at first, they keep going and never ever quit. They don’t let setbacks stop them and have the discipline to overcome resistance and procrastination.
- Experience - You can only get experience in one way... by doing. Not by talking about doing... not by thinking about doing... not by watching someone else doing... but going out and doing it yourself.
- Integrity and Character - Integrity is always doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Character is saying what you’ll do and doing what you say. You can’t fake integrity or character. If you always demonstrate integrity and character, others will trust in you and in your word.
- Courage - Courage isn’t the absence of fear... rather it is moving forward despite of the fear. Humans can do most incredible things no matter what happens... courage in spite of, not because of, the circumstances. Having faith in yourself or in others takes courage because you never know in advance what the outcome will be. The courageous take initiative and always lead from the front despite the dangers that lie ahead. They understand that rewards come from risk.
- Ingenuity - Ingenuity is the ability to look at and understand problems then create solutions to solve the problems. Rarely is life a straightforward problem but rather a complex set of variables that are constantly changing and evolving. Intelligence doesn’t come from encyclopedic knowledge but rather from creating relatively simple solutions to complex problems. Ingenuity starts with the word "why" and works outwards to present the "what" and the "how".
When you give the world your time, attitude, experience, integrity, character, courage and ingenuity... then the world gives you money in return.
And despite popular opinion, money isn’t the most important thing in the world...
I am certain that we all know at least one person who has amassed a great deal of wealth and despite their money... they are not satisfied or happy...
Whereas in contrast, I am equally certain that we know other people who have little or no wealth but are grateful and happy for what they do have.
On Monday, I wrote my friend an e-mail offering my "letter of resignation" and putting him in contact with other members of the team I assembled to hopefully complete the project proposal for him.
I thanked him for the opportunity and the faith he placed in me... but in the end, I still have a lot of work ahead of me at OptiFuse and I needed to focus my attentions there.
Maybe one day OptiFuse will bring me similar opportunities to create a great deal of wealth... but that’s not why I started OptiFuse...
I started OptiFuse because I wanted to create products that protect people and equipment... to offer employees a work place that respects and rewards their efforts... to work with customers who present us with problems that we can work together to solve... and the opportunity to give back to our community...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where each day we are living the dream.
Jim Kalb President
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse