Sunday, May 06, 2012

A slave with two masters is a free man.

Some ideas have more power than others.

A statement very similar like the above can be found in the Bible Book of Matthews where worshippers are told that they cannot serve two masters and must choose between Money and God.

Closer to home, I was first exposed to this statement in my first job P&G. It was then, as part of corporate myth that the Father of Management Peter Drucker took one look at P&G's corporate structure and declared that a slave with two masters is a free man.

Drucker was concerned about the rise in popularity of matrix structures, where every resource had a solid line to an administrative manager and a horizontal dotted line to a functional manager or project manager. This allowed the resource to game one reporting manager against another.

Suppose the resource has job A and did not perform up to task, the resource can claim that his time was spent doing job B. This can be a logistical nightmare for managers, for each other manager a resource had to be shared with, some expectations need to be clearly spelled out with each counter-party. Give an organization time and it grows top heavy from the relentless load managers need to account for their resources.

This is the reason why as a manager, I am not a big fan of sharing resources.

Anyway, just last Friday, I had to leave slightly early to pick my daughter up and a colleague joked that I am leaving early because I am now a slave to two masters and therefore a free man. The reference was made because I'm serving my notice and have another job waiting for me.

Well he might be right but this turned out to be quite a teachable moment because I suddenly had an insight about investing and work.

I have a line of income from my job that my family can live on.

I have a line of income from my investments and real estate that my family can live on as well.

My capital gains this year alone, is about the same my annual income from my work.

Investor-employees, therefore are under the payroll of many masters at the same time.

If they choose wisely, they can be free men.

Of course, work is more than a paycheck for me, it's a place to build accomplishments and a great way to be engaged in meaningful activity.