Subject: Message from David Siegel
Date:Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: [David Siegel]
To: [All employees]
To All My Valued Employees,
|“I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.”|
According to the quote above, David Seigel began his business in 1970 and has worked tirelessly to grow the business which would enable him to, one day, build the house of his dreams.
Below is a photo of David Seigel in front of his “dream house” looking through through a graph showing the dip in the share of households that earn a middle class income.
This is not about YOU
I am grateful for this message from David Seigel to his employees, since it provides a great context for talk about this whole class warfare, greedy 1% phenomenon slicing through the media and our lives. You see, I too built my dreams in a garage beginning a little later than you, in about 1981. My garage was a vacated Brinks Truck terminal in Madison, Wisconsin that I converted into a “store front” theater: The “ARK Improvisational Theatre”. My wife and I lived, ate, and breathed making a success of the venture, just as you did.
Let us read a bit more of you message. But I am editing your letter to make a case here. You can read the full message
HERE – Letter to employees
|I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I’m the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed. Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made.|
So, we have the “sacrifice and hard work” thing in common, but here comes the big difference. We part ways in the metric we use to define our “success”. Where your determination of success was myopically focused on the bottom line, on the accounting, on the profit margin generated by your business, my metric was more of a balancing act. I was satisfied with just paying the bills of the non-profit organization in order to continue doing the work of training volunteer actors, and producing shows. Neither choice is right or wrong…this is life on earth…they are just choices.
Whereas your metric for success allowed you to amass a fortune in money, my metric allowed me to amass a fortune in having created an incubator for the careers of Chris Farely, Joan Cusack, and dozens of other lesser known actors, commedians, and performers.
Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don’t pay enough. We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes. I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes. The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not, or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?|
You are pictured in front of your dream house that is the size of a Holiday Inn, while I live in subsidized housing in a small village in Southwest Wisconsin. So what? This is not about you and your choices, nor is it about mine. This whole thing is about a difference of a 4 point upward shift in your taxes for some period of time. I would gladly do more, pay more, offer more for the good of all, and I do what I can as a volunteer in for the local high school theater program. It’s all good.
This is not about you or me. I would not want to be in your shoes anymore than you want to be in mine. But, just as you asked your employees to take a look at your sacrifice, please take a look at their sacrifice. They do not live in your mindset and have been crippled by the shift in the balance of wealth in this country. It hurts.
Your employees do not need a threat to be tossed further down into the abyss by their employer if they disagree with your mindset. The threat that you are giving up when their chips are down is not becoming. Please honor them to make their own choices about the path that might chose to improve their lot.
I think that is what is country is supposed to be all about.