This week, President Obama directed the Labor Department to create rules aimed at increasing overtime pay for salaried employees. As I read about his plan, I drifted back to 1984 after graduating from the University of Illinois, starting work in downtown Chicago, and leaping into the vast ocean they call a career. I was suddenly left to create your own path. I had worked many hourly-rate jobs (and a classic paper route) to that point, but now I was entering the “salaried, professional” world.
I focused all efforts during my final two years at U of I on an accounting degree, with a goal of becoming a CPA. It sounds odd as I say it now, but prior to working as a CPA in an entry level position, I had never actually known or really talked to a CPA. Internships weren’t part of my recommended curriculum, and I worked various campus jobs to cover my tuition. Finding mentors to help guide me thorough my career options in this mysterious sea of opportunities was a major goal of mine at that time.
As I look back, the most valuable lessons at my first job out of college occurred when I arrived early, went to lunch with co-workers and stayed late, beyond the traditional eight-hour work day. I traveled often to the on-site audits and shared many meals, including dinners, with clients and co-workers. Valuable time was spent talking to and networking with peers, managers and clients who shared their experiences and guided me through conversation, advice and great examples. It was during a “working-dinner” conversation with my senior manager at Ernst & Whinney that I decided the CPA career path options were not for me.
Proponents of the new overtime rules will tell me that I was cheated by not getting paid for those extra hours beyond the forty per week and my “Millennial” kids will tell me that I was exploited by “The Man.” Thirty years in business tells me otherwise. Had my firm been required to pay me for those hours, they would have eliminated the early mornings, client meals and “working-dinners” that gave me the mentorship, networking opportunities and career knowledge I needed very much at that time. I wouldn’t have met the three people who have been the greatest business mentors of my life and who taught me the value of entrepreneurship and hard work. My goal in 1984 was to work in an entry level position where I could learn, practice my skills, and find great mentors and role models who could help me advance my career, so I could support my family. My goal in 1984 wasn’t to be a staff accountant for life
The Wealth Management processes for our client families use many of those “entry-level” lessons I learned back then. Often, an entry level or even unpaid job is where children and grandchildren gain the confidence, mentorship, skilled networking opportunities and experience they need to ultimately receive wealth in a way that fosters their development and lifetime goals. I advise my clients to mentor their loved ones and pass on their expertise; it is the greatest form of sharing wealth.
For the beneficiaries of your wealth to catch their personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish, create opportunities for them to find the mentors, experience and advice that will help them catch their dream fish. More importantly, they will have control over how they catch it, choosing the rivers and streams or oceans they fish in.
Tim Scannell, CPA, CFP TM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We deliver proactive, objective advice, plans and solutions enabling our clients to reach their unique family goals “.