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Selling Your Soul

 article about business

This article belongs to BUSINESS MONTH: Education theme.


I ran my first business when I was 8 years old, selling lemonade on the side of the road to thirsty suburban passer-bys. In 5th grade I moved into the wonderful world of nudie pens and romance comics that had no actual nudity but reeked of sexual innuendo. 6th grade found me expanding my base with the sale of fireworks. I learned that while not every prepubescent wants to see a pen with a picture of a woman on it who undresses when the pen is turned over, they all like to blow stuff up. M-80's, Lady Fingers, Bottle Rockets, Roman Candles—I made Ted Kaczynski look like a boy scout.

When I was 13, I hit a new peak by selling 8mm porno films to the other kids in school. I was like the elementary edition of Larry Flynt. A pintsized entrepreneur who satisfied the consumer needs of his schoolmates. I created social networking events that one could call circle jerks, but that's such a dirty word.

Adult life found me running my own businesses as a record label owner, graphic design company, international journalist, band management team, festival promoter, and theatre owner. Throughout it all I have never doubted the fact that I was a terrible businessman, one whose disposition to balancing QuickBooks was mired in contempt for money. Hating money is not a quality that lends itself to solvent, successful, attempts at a sustainable future. In other words, I was always doomed to failure in my ventures, because I didn't give a rat's ass about the bottom dollar.

I think there is a gene that makes it possible to create business models that can last in a cutthroat society. Call it acumen, but whatever you call it, I never had it. I was the visionary, the cultivator, the originator--the one unable to follow through once the initial idea became boring.

Another aspect of my personality that is a traditional business model taboo was that I loved to share ideas. I would help anyone, and everyone that wanted to know how I did what I did. I believe in the sharing of ideas. I never suspected that others would profit off my ideas and cast me off like Wilson in the Pacific Ocean. But I've learned that burning new paths just means that others are on your heels, waiting for you to fail, so they can make a buck off your headway. And to me that's the business world--vultures circling waiting to capitalize on death—passion replaced with profit.

Having worked in newspapers for quite a while, it was easy to see the discrepancy in the way employees were treated. Journalists, writers, contributors were the bottom of the feeding pool, subsiding on table scraps and schwag. The greatest article would not garner any more payment besides the few cents a word. But, a salesman, who could land a new advertisement, was subject to bonuses that eclipsed what a writer would earn in a month. Salesmen on the top, writers (artists) on the bottom—that is the business model that makes the world go round. No matter that almost nobody picks up a paper to look at ads, but to read the cover story that caught their attention—writers were easily replaced (and often told so). And now, newspapers are to be replaced with a digital format, though I'm sure the writer's still work for next to nothing, while the ad sales team and web gurus are handsomely paid. Some things never change.


I believe that the economic collapse that is occurring stems from the systematic destruction of creative minds and souls. Conformity and homogenized turd stews have been rewarded for so long that the last drop of humanity has been squeezed dry from the financial world. You cannot destroy individuals and communities—selling work off to the lowest bidder—and expect to live in a world of quality. Business has steered towards shoddiness as a fundamental goal and now the hinges have rusted off the doors and the foundation is leaning towards oblivion.

Now if I can just figure out way to make a buck off the Apocalypse. . .


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