The Chains of Money

The Chains of Money

My mentor, Senator John Danforth, told me at lunch a few months back, "When it is all over and you are retired, you have to be able to look back at your life and not feel like you wasted it. And if that means that you switch careers, do it. If that means less money, do it."

The invincible executive "does not define success by a title," according to Express Scripts CEO Barrett Toan. The key to success is intellectual satisfaction, according to Toan. Congressman Gephardt agrees: "The main thing is to be intellectually stimulated and interested in what you are doing," he notes. Money is not the primary motivator either. Most top professionals are well-off, but they do not equate financial success with professional success—and few of them started out with expectations of riches. Manufacturing giant Sam Fox's motto is: "Don't show me the money. When you are looking for a job, do not look for the job that pays the most. Look for the job that fits your particular skills and that which you are going to enjoy."

For example, Dr. Joshua Korzenik is one of the nation's leading researchers in the area of gastrointestinal disorders. He is an invincible executive in the field of medical research—with a stellar worldwide reputation. He has often thought of how much more money he could be making in private practice. While he does fine financially, he knows he is helping more people by forgoing the big bucks and devoting his talents to medical research. Instead of making money, he is making a difference, he told me with great sincerity. He loves the "sense of service" his job gives him.

An acquaintance of mine who was a young partner in a super-prestigious law firm recently left the firm to become an adviser to the Bush administration on immigration policy. He left his law practice right at the time when his compensation would have increased exponentially—into the high six figures. Now he is working on our country's post-9/11 immigration policy for a fraction of the money that he could have made in private practice. However, he knows that the fruit of his labor will likely influence the future of our country. When I had dinner with him last spring, I asked him if he had any regrets leaving all that money behind. "Tom," he said, "I am having a blast."

In addition, he is young enough that there is still time to make money later on. It is amazing how easy it is to make money if you can distinguish yourself in a field without regard to the money. Low-paid politicians become highly paid lobbyists—if they ultimately decide they need the cash. Low-paid military officers who distinguish themselves become highly paid executives and consultants later on. Do what you love and what you are good at without regard to money, and the odds are that the money will follow.

Part II: The Invincible Personality

Chapter List

Rule 11: Anger is a Tactic, Not an Emotion
Rule 12: Harness Your Fear to Sharpen Your Professional Judgment
Rule 13: Respect Ambition, but Destroy Opportunism
Rule 14: Value Loyalty, but do Not Depend on It
Rule 15: Put a Very Fine Line between Yourself and Your Subordinates
Rule 16: Wield a Spiritual Shield, but Not a Spiritual Sword
Rule 17: You do Not Have to be Good-Looking, but You Have to Look Good
Rule 18: Take the High Ground and Never Give it Up
Rule 19: Don't Lose Your Confidence for Very Long
Rule 20: You Can and Must Develop Professional Charisma

Part Overview

Now it is time to move from the external career paths of invincible executives to their inner workings. In Part II, we will go into the minds of invincible executives to explore their emotional and spiritual makeup. We will answer such questions as, What role do anger and fear play in the personality of a person who makes it to the top? How do top professionals size up other people when deciding whether to work with them? What role do loyalty, friendship, and spirituality play in their professional lives?

There is less unanimity among top professionals about what personality characteristics lead to success than there was on the subject of career planning that we discussed in Part I. However, once we scratch the surface, it will become clear that most of the differences in the viewpoints among the interviewees are the result of a distinct evolution over the past twenty-five years in the personality qualities that lead to success. What worked twenty-five years ago does not work today. Consequently, more senior invincible executives tend to have one set of personality characteristics, while younger ones value and display a slightly different set of characteristics. Let's study the personalities of executives with staying power.