The Loss of Influence

Aaron Thompson January 05, 2016

Without money, we lose influence. Without influence, we lose control. Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. The difference is how far you are willing to go, and how much are you willing to lose in order to gain.

As said by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his novel The Great Gatsby “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” Imagine a time in which everything around you which you thought was prospering begins to fall apart. This was the case for the citizens of the United States during the late 1920’s and again more recently with the housing bubble of the early 2000’s.

In both scenarios influence from various financial leaders was dangerously spreading.

Deals, trades, and other business negotiations were being undertaken, negotiations that in the eyes of most would seem unethical. For most, the desire for riches and wealth exceeds even the risk of losing that influence. It’s this unquenchable thirst that has lead to the downfall of countless. The cost of a dream is not something that is often felt alone. The cost of a dream, and the effects of losing influence chasing dreams, are felt by all who are around to witness.

Before the bubble, huge amounts of money were being gambled among banks and mortgage companies alike. Money that belonged to thousands all over the country. The excessive greed of bank owners eventually overtook the risk involved, and the damage became devastating worldwide. As spoken by the Chief advisor of the China Banking Regulatory Commision, Andrew Shang, “A real engineer builds bridges. A financial engineer builds dreams. When those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.”
Photo courtesy of: 60 Second Recap
In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the main characters, Gatsby, had another dream. Gatsby was in love with a character in the book named Daisy. He goes to far lengths in attempt to gain wealth in order to impress her. He eventually succeeds in becoming fabulously rich, but he does so by unethical means. His obsession over Daisy and with his wealth inevitably leads to Gatsby's demise. Being so consumed in his dream he lost not only his influence but also his life. After his death his entire empire came crashing down beneath him along with everyone who was supporting it. His secret was revealed and a man who was admired by many was now one of the few in attendance at his own funeral. As another character in the book had said “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

In another article When Leaders Cheat, Companies Lose, Geoffrey James states that “Conventional wisdom says "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." With that in mind, plenty of business leaders believe ethics and honesty are all well and good, as long as they don't get in the way of winning.” With this mentality, unethical behaviors such as cheating customers, outsourcing, scamming, evading taxes, lying to investors, and so forth are good business strategies, as long as you don't get caught. However, as James goes on to say “Even if you appear to "win" through cheating, you're making your team less effective, driving away your best people, and setting yourself up to be cheated in turn.” Through experiments conducted by Robert B. Cialdini it was possible to prove that cheating in business generates huge hidden costs including the loss of influence and valuable employees.

Photo courtesy of: Jim Roumell of Roumell Asset Management

Tobacco is the only drug when used as intended by the manufacturer, leads to disability and early death. The tobacco industry has lied, defrauded, deceived and contributed to the early deaths of millions of people over the last 50 years. As mentioned in Tobacco Industry Influence by the University of Minnesota Division of Periodontology, “Tobacco kills Americans at the rate of one World Trade Center tragedy every 5 days. Tobacco products are without question the greatest weapons of mass destruction.” The amount of relentless greed in pursuing a dream that is harmful to others has caused an immense loss of influence over the last 50 years alone for tobacco companies worldwide.

Photo courtesy of: Community News Commons

The cost of pursuing a dream lies with persons influence. When motivations turn destructive, dreams also become destructive and potentially harmful to everyone around. When the inevitable loss occurs the dreamers end up losing much more than just influence.