The Founder

©2017 by Tom Sparough

The Founder

I spoke to my son in his dreams. “You slacker! Are you going to let my company fall apart? Get off your lazy butt and get back to work.”

Two weeks after the funeral, my “beloved” son went back to work. Better late than never.

The upstart moved into the boss’ room. My room! He left my desk and chair in the office, but he removed my antique lamp, my original rotary phone, and my floor-to-ceiling filing system.

As he sat in my leather chair, I spoke to him as if he could hear me. “You have no right to move anything. Follow my orders.”

He slowly pushed his hands over his ears. He cleared his throat and mumbled, “Leave me alone.”

The veil between the living and the dead is thin. He might not understand everything I say, but I know he hears me.

For 47 years, I ran The Constant Call Telemarketing Firm. For 23 of those years, we were the largest telemarketing company in the nation. My son joined the business in year 31, just as we had started our decline in market share. He was full of new ideas to bring us back to our former glory.

Gradually he got my message, “Business is not an experiment. The rules of our firm were set years ago, and those rules have led to our success. Change the rules over my dead body.”

After my death, my spirit became the voice of reason in his head. But, he was headstrong and wouldn’t listen. Within a week of taking charge, he gathered a group of nine employees into our workroom.

I named them The Inept Nine.

“As you know, I am not my father. I believe that each of you has an important role to play in helping to decide the future of Constant Call. I want to work together to ensure the growth of our company.”

While he said these pathetic words, I moved through the room speaking to the group one by one.

“He is not your boss. Remember who built this company.” I watched my words take effect. A frown came over this one’s face.

“You have nothing to say. Why would he want your help?” That one raised an eyebrow.

“You’re a loser. Stupid, stupid, stupid.” Look at this imbecile glancing around the room nervously.

Despite my efforts, The Inept Nine soon had “a change initiative to control costs and empower employees.” One of the first steps was to reduce in-person regional meetings from once a month to every six months.

I said to my son, “Fool, you know nothing. People need clear leadership. Every month the iron fist of management must be waved before their subordinate eyes!”

For years I had been fighting the winds of change. I had a proven system, and it was stupidity to mess with it. Over time, I was sure our market share would return.

My son and his team decided, “to expand modalities. Current times required current methods.” When I heard that come out of their mouths, I threw up all over their heads. I wish they could have seen that toxic air they were breathing.

Perhaps my son got wind of it. Shortly after that he had my desk and chair moved into the basement. Then, with the complete backing of The Inept Nine, he put the building up for sale.

As the memo to the full staff read, “We are streamlining our operations, ensuring job security, and moving into a state-of-the-art facility.”

I did everything I could to stop the sale of my historic building. On the day the contract was signed, the important papers went into the old-fashioned mailbox on the edge of our parking lot.

There, as twilight descended, I put my hand and arm into that box and pulled the letter forth. A gentle rain was falling, and I dropped the letter into the gutter and watched it wash down the grated drain.

So about a week later my beloved son Matthew comes to our building late at night, 11:37 p.m. I was in the basement, sitting in my chair thinking about the cancer that had eaten my body.

“I know you are here,” he shouted. “I am tired of you trying to run my life. I don’t know how you did it, but only you could have stopped that deal.”

I heard the elevator engage. A moment later the door opened and he was in the basement. He got a dolly and managed to get my desk onto it and into the elevator. Over the next two hours he removed all of my things and wheeled them into the side parking lot.

It was all there in a pile, my lamp, my chair, my filing cabinets, even my favorite coffee mug. He got a five-gallon can of kerosene out of the trunk of his car. He slathered it all over my things.

I screamed, “Don’t you dare put kerosene on my chair. Stop it. Stop it right now. Listen to me you fool.”

He shook his head as if he heard every word and whispered, “You are dead. It is my company now!”

My son left the empty kerosene can on my desk.

Pulling out a pack of matches, he struck one against the flint. The yellow flame flared in the darkness of the parking lot. He tossed it into a puddle of kerosene. Engulfed in flames, I watched my desk, my lamp, my life burn to the ground.

When the blaze was over, my son calmly said in a loud voice, “Time to move on.”

So now I have a new job. I am a consultant and help people preserve the old ways of doing business. Just call me to mind, and I’ll be with you. I am that little voice of reason that keeps you from changing with the whims of time.

 

Reflection

As the saying goes, “Everything changes, but change itself.” The balance of a successful business requires continuous improvement. As soon as we stop and think we have the perfect balance, we see it begin to slip away.

What are five things that are wrong with the narrator’s behavior?

When have you been successful with a change initiative?