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The Real Cost of Selling One’s Soul
I heard from a friend that he recently sold his start-up business after years of building it to do just that. Wow! I was so impressed! “Take a break!” I replied. “I can only imagine how much work that was and how much money you must have made!” Yes, he told me. It was a LOT of work and he is exhausted. But, he confided, he really didn’t make much money in the sale. What?? I was flabbergasted… Then I learned why. It seems that he and his partners, in order to raise the money they needed to make their business so enticing and salable, had given away most of the company to investors – first angels, then later venture capitalists – so that by the time they sold it and all those investors took their chunks of the profit, there was little left for the original idea guys who had started the venture. (ouch!) It got me to thinking. Over the years, I have been approached by businesses that want to “support” my work. The first time it was a pharmaceutical company that wanted to pay me to speak to patients diagnosed with the diseases their drugs treated, teaching those patients about empowerment principles, and (oh, by the way) about the great work their company was doing. The offer came very early in my patient empowerment career and I was really hurting for income. I was so hurting that I didn’t know if I could keep doing the work I wanted so badly to do! Their offer was extremely tempting. I gave it some serious thought… But eventually I decided against it. I wasn’t willing to sell my soul to that pharma devil. I realized the income would never make up for the loss of credibility that would affect my future work. Making recommendations to patients about negotiating their journey through the healthcare system requires total objectivity, and letting that be influenced by pharma would dilute my message and reputation. These almost 10 years later I know it was one of the smartest decisions I have made. More recently,…