[Column] Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten: I hope I never get rich
You want your children to have a basic understanding of money, but you don’t want them to worry about your mortgage. I have kids, and I think about that often. My children are curious about how my company works, how much money I make, who in our household makes more money, how much they have and how much it is in comparison to how much I have, among other things.
Not too long ago, my teenage daughter sighed deeply and said, "I hope I never get rich." We all laughed and asked her what she meant. We found out her idea of rich people was managing expensive cars, fur coats, and lots of possessions, and she hated all of it. It revealed a lot to me about her perspective on money.
I've talked to her a few times since then and I think she understands that experiences are more important than buying things and amassing wealth. I think she believes this now because it is what I believe and something I have tried to teach her.
The fact that we can even hold this belief is a luxury in itself. I happen to live in a part of the world where earning a living is relatively easy compared to other parts of the world. I have the luxury of being able to state that making money isn’t my first priority. I’m aware it would annoy or even offend people who aren’t in this same position.
The concept of a company is a shareholder value generating organization. Shareholder value is almost always perceived as being about money. To most people, the only goal of a company then is to make money. But that’s a very simplistic and old-fashioned explanation. A company whose only value is let's make more money is not going to motivate its employees or share a great bond with its customers. Creating experiences and adding value for your shareholders, employees, partners, and customers are important too, and they are all mutually beneficial.
I feel lucky to work at a company where people care about more than just making money. Several times during meetings I've heard people say Well, it can't only be about making money, right? We all nod our heads in agreement. Money is a side-effect of doing business well and making your customers happy, but experience and personal happiness are just as important.
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten is een serial internet entrepreneur en is oprichter en eigenaar van The Next Web, een techmediabedrijf dat zich focust op Generation T; de generatie met een groeiende interesse in technologie. Voor The Next Web schrijft Boris wekelijks een blog die tevens wordt gepubliceerd op Marketing Report.
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