A day in a millionaire’s life. Part 4: It's business, Frank...
Frank follows up his words with actions. He intends to take an active part in managing his father’s company. However, his unorthodox proposals don’t find the needed support among the members of the board of directors.
If you’ve got opportunities, don’t waste them. Making the world better is the most awesome thing you can do in life.
Frank opened the office doors and went inside. People in formal business attire at a large long table raised their heads from their papers and laptops. At the end of the table stood a middle-aged man who was talking until the moment Frank appeared. He was very much surprised:
David O'Neil: Frank? What are you doing here?
Frank: I came to the board and shareholders meeting. I'm the owner of a 20% stake in this company, aren't I?
David O'Neil: But listen...
Frank: Yeah, I know, you used to vote on my behalf by proxy. I will be attending the meetings from now on and casting my own votes. In addition, I intend to be actively involved in managing the company. Is there a free seat anywhere?
David O'Neil, Frank's father, pointed out an empty seat to him, perplexed. Frank sat down at the table and took out his laptop.
Frank: Please go on, David, you were saying something when I came over.
David kept silent for a few more seconds and returned to his speech. For the next hour, David and his colleagues discussed profits, taxes, dividends, turnovers and prices. Frank listened to all of it intently, and when David O'Neil suggested a final formal vote on the agenda, he took the floor.
Frank: Gentlemen, before we proceed to the vote, I would like to put another issue up for discussion. I want to create a Foundation for Civilizational Development within our corporation.
People sitting at the table began to look each other and throw questioning glances at David O'Neill. He frowned.
David O'Neil: What's the purpose of this foundation?
Frank: Funding various projects of my choice. It will mainly be projects related to environmental protection, new energy-saving technologies, education and more. Give me ten minutes, I have a small presentation.
David O'Neil: Frank, your presentation wasn't on the agenda of today's meeting...
Sam: Make a small exception for an aspiring board member. Okay, Dad?
David frowned even harder, and Frank started his presentation. When he was done, everyone at the table started whispering. David sighed and turned to Frank.
David O'Neil: Look, Frank, you're suggesting we do charity work. You're offering more than half of our profits to spend on it every year.
Frank: It's not charity. It's a social responsibility. Doesn't anyone here want to make this world a better place? Don't any of you want to think about something more important than the size of your bank account?
Frank glanced over the faces of those sitting at the table.
Frank: Your accounts are overflowing anyway. Why do you need this much money? David, you're no longer young. Are you thinking of taking all that money to the grave with you?
David O'Neil: This is not the best place or time to discuss this. Can we talk about this later?
Frank: Because of companies like ours, because of people like you, David, this world is rolling towards the abyss along with all your stocks, profits and dividends. Our company absorbs labor, resources and human potential like a black hole. We buy up small companies and bury the ideas for which they were created. We destroy our competitors in various ways to boost our profits. But what do we give to the world? Trinkets that are of no value in reality.
David O'Neil: It's business, Frank...
Frank: It's madness. The middle class around the world is shrinking at a catastrophic rate because corporations are destroying small and medium businesses and funnelling most of their profits offshore to avoid taxes and social responsibility. Corporations, including our company, are putting enormous pressure on the government, which is forced to make concessions to them and cut social spending. We are being extremely irresponsible. And most importantly, what is all this for? Why do we accumulate so much power and money in our hands?
Frank paused and looked over those present, hoping to find a scrap of understanding and solidarity with his words.
Frank: You have so much resources and power, but all you discuss in your meetings are your goals for next year - to get even more resources and power. You are only interested in the growth of stock prices and financial indicators. Our damn economic system is based on growth. If there is no growth, then the entire economy will collapse because companies have to pay interest on loans. And each of you has to pay interest on your personal loans. And for everyone to be able to pay interest, you need the economy to grow all the time. But you do realize that's impossible, right? This path is leading our civilization to annihilation.
David O'Neil: Thank you for the good speech, Frank. I'm sure it would have been much appreciated somewhere in the Club of Rome. And now let's move on to the vote.
Frank: I'm not done yet.
David O'Neil: Nobody's interested in listening to this crap here!!! (David lost it and hit the table hard with his fist.) Who do you think you are? You've never been interested in company business, you've never attended meetings, and now you suddenly show up and think you're gonna save the world? Are you having a bout of youthful maximalism again?
Frank: I'm entitled to...
David O'Neil: You weren't even supposed to be at this meeting! And according to our charter, you shouldn't have made your proposal. However, we appreciate your interest in the future of our company and will vote on your proposal - just as an exception. Now, let's move on directly to the vote.
On that same evening Sam found Frank sitting alone at a pub counter.
Sam: Hey, what's up?
Frank: OK. They voted against establishing the Foundation.
Sam: Did you go to the shareholder meeting? I thought you were joking yesterday.
Frank looked at Sam with reproach.
Sam: Not in the sense that you can't go, I just thought that... well, never mind. I'm really surprised you had the courage and nerve to do this. Your defeat was obvious, but you did it anyway.
Frank: I won't give up. The company's shares are split between me, my mum, my dad and my sister Emily. Another 20% are owned by other people and companies. If I can convince my mom and sister to vote for me, then we can do it. Are you going to work with me?
Sam: But I already have a job...
Frank: Screw it! We’ll save the world. Together. Like the good old days. So what?
Sam: (smiling) I'll consider your proposal.
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