About 15 years ago, Bill Oesterle called me. Founder of Angie’s List, Bill is a role model.
At the time of that telephone call, Bill was a silent partner in my advertising agency, the late Young Isaac.
Bill had long watched me fail to grow the value of the company. So he asked: “Artie, I’m wondering: do you want to be rich or do you want to be in charge?”
I said, “I want to be both.”
“There’s no data to support that’s going to happen,” said Bill. “You have been in charge and you aren’t getting rich.” Bill is good at fierce conversations. He can deliver the message without the load. He’s kind.
“Well, then: if this is a forced choice,” I said, “I would choose: ‘I want to be rich.'”
“Great,” said Bill. “Then we have to find someone to be in charge.”
He was absolutely correct.
We found someone else to be in charge. And it worked better. Our profitability — and the consistency of our work — advanced.
In the end, it didn’t make me rich. Intelligent folks can argue about why Young Isaac didn’t become a prodigious accumulator of wealth. But Bill was right: I was better off with someone else in charge.
What about you?
Are you facing a forced choice?
- Would you rather be in charge or would you rather be rich?
- Would you rather be in charge or would you rather be growing?
- Would you rather be in charge or would you rather be learning?
- Would you rather be in charge or would you rather be in love?
- Would you rather be in charge or would you rather be [anything else]?
Maybe it’s a forced choice.