Chapter FourCreating Base Motivation

Figure depicting a pyramid, where the base denoting 'Money' that creates base motivation.

Money isn't the most important thing in life, but it's reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale.

Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker1

I had one talent in my younger years that bordered on Olympian. Throw me into a backyard swimming pool with a collection of other kids, and I could hold my breath underwater longer than any of them. I would challenge my fellows to the Big Gulp, submerge, and watch them turn a slight shade of blue before they raced to the surface a half-minute later. I don't remember at what point I found out that the Olympics did not award a medal for this stunt—and that only magicians and madmen did it in their adulthood.

As an adult, I came to realize that many entrepreneurs also practice the Big Gulp when their business requires them to stop taking a salary. I stopped taking a salary in April 2001, thinking it would just be temporary and San Francisco hotel occupancies would start recovering once the dot-com bubble burst was behind us. I was wrong; the length of the tourism depression that afflicted the San Francisco hotel industry made the Big Gulp that I took in my youth look like what it was: child's play.

During the next few years, I became painfully aware of both my employees' and my own base needs on the Employee Pyramid. As our revenues dropped, so did our net income. Soon after 9/11, we ...

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