Thursday, February 02, 2012

Happiness : Do you earn to live or live to earn ?

The age old question! How important is money in our lives ? This what the recent coverage of the Facebook IPO reminded me of. A lot has been said about the IPO - the possible price per share (from ~$27 to $31) , the money various people will make from the founder, to the employees to their financial adviser - and how it compares with the other technology stocks.

A commentator on Bloomberg mentioned that Zuckerberg has never taken money out Facebook unlike the executives of few other technology companies that recently came up with IPOs. As you read the text of the Zuckerberg's letter to his investors you can't miss the fact that he believes in what he is doing. The letter is in part an attempt to build an ethos among the people associated with Facebook. 

Though there are a lot of ideas, the following few caught my attention:

...Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services. 

... These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.
Since the man is worth billions, you need to put his statements in context before you start renouncing the too much (or the too little) that you have. I agree that money is important because in a social setting or a relationship it often becomes a proxy for power and authority. I have a friend who insisted on paying (though we always split the check and paid him back) whenever we went out because he believed it gave him the power whenever there was decision to be made, even if was simply about where to go.

But the undeniable fact is that money is the means not the end, and the two are different. In the end Zuckerberg knows what is most important for Facebook because it is most important for all of us.
There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. starts small — with the relationship between two people.
 Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness.
While I write this I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend. I was at a crossroad unable to decide. She helped me think rationally with the simple question, " What would make you happy ?"  I am grateful for the people who enrich my life. I realize that they are the end in my life, and not the means and the distinction is critical.

But there is more worth reading in the letter. The full text is here.


Sehar said...

I think the topics I see here hold so much relevance in our lives..but not digressing from the topic here...I have been doing a lot of analysis on it lately (one esp. starts asking this - when boggled down by work pressure :P) ,I think , we all have created a web around us , of things which otherwise might not have been that fulfilling but because of the society trends and lifestyle pressures.For all the beautiful things and experiences aren't that expensive - that you have to "live to earn " - Power, position,fame,satisfaction are somethings that should have more to do with what you "do" and not what you "earn".What I concluded was,while you are earning , make sure , you remain focused on what you want from life - what you like to do - what will make you think 20-30 years from now - that every year of life was worth it - that you followed your passion and dreams - and if you are too busy earning - then its time to think because a feeling of void is just lurking around the corner.

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