FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - A friend of mine got a call from a recruiter last year. He had a challenging job with a growing company whose mission he believed in. He enjoyed his work, and he had the kind of work-life balance that was important to him and his family. He really wasn't looking for a change.
Then the recruiter said the magic words: Dotcom startup, backed by Kleiner Perkins, pre-IPO. Ka-ching! You could almost see the dollar signs flash in his eyes.
The new job was nowhere near as interesting, and the hours would be grueling.
He'd have to give up coaching basketball. He'd probably be working a lot of weekends for a while. But he'd get a 3 percent share....
How could he not make the leap? It might be a once- in-a-lifetime chance!
Wouldn't he be failing his family if he didn't? Wouldn't he, in fact, be less of a man?
Our cover story, "Wheel of Misfortune?" by Stewart Deck, offers guidance in evaluating such new business opportunities. But before you take the plunge, there are certain questions you should ask about the company--and yourself.
The changing world is uprooting us all from once-cherished values and identity anchors. The changes affect more than the economic balance of power. They affect who we are, how we behave, what we expect (or desire), and who we choose to envy and emulate.
The "privileged" among us define success, keep our fears at bay and establish our human identities against the economic benchmarks of rampantly growing wealth, bigger houses and upscale imported cars. Conversely, many of those with little access to the new economy's power structure rely on the equally extravagant codes of such popular institutions as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), where (according to a recent article in The Boston Globe) "might makes right, with extreme violence defining how power is exercised." If you think this is hot air, just check out the playground behavior of 10-year-old boys who watch pro wrestling with their dads. Simulating what they see on TV, they act out the belief that (saith the Globe), "intimidation, humiliation, control and verbal aggression is the way that 'real men' prevail."
The fever to reap dotcom riches is no less a modern cartoon than the fabulous plotlines of villainy and triumph that stir the fans of the WWF. When the driving fantasies of a society are, on the one hand, to get filthy rich really quick or, on the other, to viciously knee-drop one's adversary into submission, something is haywire. TV shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and WWF SmackDown--are defining attributes of our time.
The question is not who wants to be a millionaire, but how badly, and at what costs? The serenity of our families, the civility of our discourse?