Someone once speculated they could tell how fast a silicon valley startup would file for bankruptcy by the number of Herman Miller Aeron Chairs they had in their expansive offices.
Now, I’m not going to take part in disparaging one of the world’s finest chairs that once, very comfortably, supported the hindquarters of yours truly. What I will say is that by using this line of reasoning we should be in business long after Justin Beiber has 20 grandchildren (okay, bad example). It’s true, fancy pants we ain’t. Think of us as Billy Beane’s 2002 Oakland Athletics competing in an industry that has been conditioned to expect the “Yankee fineness.”
Allow me to paraphrase for those who aren’t sports fanatics and/or haven’t seen the movie Moneyball:
“There are rich agencies and there are poor agencies, then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us.”
We do not come from money. We do not have investors. Shiny offices with glass plated conference rooms? Yet to be built. Aeron Chairs? Nada. What little we have we are proud to say we own, and have earned by the sweat of our rapidly mouse clicking index fingers. The “soda money,” my friends, is “on the field.”
Now don’t get me wrong – we like nice things and would like to take our clients on long, leisurely tours of our immaculate facilities. We would like them to see their beautiful reflections in our stainless steel conference room table as they sit comfortably in a fleet of (that’s right) Herman Miller Aeron chairs. These things would be nice – a wonderful expression of our exceptional talent and capabilities. But if prematurely, at what expense?
The lesson behind the Aeron chair theory? Perhaps we are all too eager to portray financial success long before we have learned to properly respect a dollar? We are caught up in seeming, rather than being. We expect success without sacrifice.
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe we owe our clients a greater level of stability. After all, we would like to think they will continue to remain in business for many years to come, able to pay our invoices by making prudent financial decisions. Would we not be nervous if they were feverishly spending money they didn’t have as though they were trying to keep up with the United States federal government? Where do we expect this “keeping up with the Joneses” will lead?
In the cogent words of Lane Pryce, “Pennies make pounds and pounds make profits.” As long as this holds true, we will keep a careful watch over our pocketbooks. Not because we are greedy and want David Justice to suffer the indignity of purchasing his own soda, but because our talent will best serve our clients by staying in business. For now that means keeping the soda money on the field while our butts dream of Aeron chairs. Pardon the crude mixed metaphor.
Do you have an alternate point of view or an “Amen?” Please share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you.