The Biz of Pacelinebiz

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Business Lessons From Richard Cory

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NOT Richard Cory but the Author of the Poem

Before we learn the lessons from Richard Cory some of you may need a little background as to who Richard Cory was.  He, in fact was a fictional character written about in a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson and later a song by Simon and Garfunkel.  The song is based on the poem which they studied while in middle school.  I also read that poem in school and it has stayed with me over the years.

I  have included the poem below for you to read and a link below to the song performed by Simon and Garfunkel on YouTube

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town, 

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean-favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,

And he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses when he said,

“Good Morning!” and he glittered when he walked. 

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine — we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place. 

So on we worked and waited for the light,

And went without the meat and cursed the bread,

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet in his head.

There are several lessons we can learn from Richard Cory.  The first is be happy with what you have and maintain a good balance between work and home life. This is true today.  When the times are difficult we are tempted to put more hours in at the office to land that next sale.  Remember; don’t let your business run you.

The second lesson we can learn is to be charitable to the best of your ability.  Mr. Cory was richer than even a king yet he passed by people on the street that had nothing and ate only bread.  Perhaps he could have employed these people in one of his business ventures from where his fortune came.  Perhaps at least he could have given a helping hand in some way so they could have a little better life through his charity.  Is this why Richard Cory was unhappy, unhappy enough to put a bullet in his head?  In my years as a CPA I prepared many tax returns for many “Richard Cory’s” and have seen a shocking amount of charitable giving on their tax returns – shockingly little.  I have seen tax returns where absolutely nothing was given to charity for people making hundreds of thousands of dollars and worth millions of dollars. 

Yes, we can assume Richard Cory was a very successful business man but the lesson he has for us is to not follow his example.  I encourage everyone reading this to keep working hard but temper your success or failure with a good work and home life balance and to measure your success by making the world a better place, not in the size of your bank account. Doing good deeds for society through the success of your business is an important metric to measure as a business owner.  How do you measure up?

Have a great week NOT following the example of Richard Cory.


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