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My husband began a construction company when the economic and political climate in the U.S.A. was similar to our current condition.  In the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, when small businesses were closing their doors at an alarming rate, my husband's business was increasing every day.  We had every reason to believe that it would remain strong and successful because of the foundation on which it was built.

  

It began when the management for the corporation where my husband was employed became skittish about the effect the economy would have on their profits, and, to protect the paychecks of upper management, they foolishly began slashing employee compensation agreements. The cut in pay was not what made my husband choose to chart a course of his own.  It was the self-serving greed that was driving corporate decisions that made this employer one he could no longer serve.  

My husband and our youngest son, then 16 years old, started the company with a one line business plan: If it's work, and it pays, we'll do it better than anyone else.   Their first job was to cut up and remove an enormous tree that had fallen during a recent storm; and when that job was complete, the homeowner asked if they could do another task, and then another. Then she introduced them to her neighbor, who then introduced them to someone else, and by the end of the summer the calendar was booked solid, with everything from home repairs to new construction; and one half of the crew was getting ready to begin the 11th grade.  

Over the next year, my husband assimilated a crew of fourteen, ne'er do well, though talented, craftsmen from the back roads of East Texas.  There was not another construction company, in the area, which offered a similar opportunity; it was a tough life for the independent carpenter, weary of finding, and executing, enough work to feed their families; not to mention the tax burden of the self-employed.  

At first, the crew gushed their appreciation to my husband. They showed off their skill on the job site, anxious for the "boss-man's" approval. They called their cousins to come join them.  

I wonder what makes one person view their relationship to family, employer, or country as an opportunity to contribute, while this idea completely escapes the understanding of another...  

Maybe the reason this group of construction workers didn't get it was because they weren't there when that first big tree was cut up, and hauled away.  

Maybe they didn't understand, or respect, the work that took place before they got there.  

Maybe it was because they didn't pay for the 4×8 sheet of plywood that they had no motivation to double check measurements, cut correctly, and avoid waste.  

Opportunity has a different meaning when people aren't invested.  Maybe we only feel a responsibility to protect that which we helped to create and sustain.  I don't know if yours would have, but my jaw dropped the day the crew came to complain that the company was not offering Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday.  

It dropped again when the whole crew threatened to walk off the job site, and "put us out of business," after my husband had the audacity to require that the employees not throw cigarette butts on the customers lawn, leave their shirts on while on the job site, and leave the beer coolers at home during the workday.  

My husband was heartsick. I was furious. I ranted. He was silent.    

We finally closed my husband's company, and though the employees played a part in the company's fiscal loss; the responsibility for its demise lies with my husband and me.  

 

I still believe in why we did what we did; the single father who needed a place to live, the meth addict who needed rehab, the family who needed air conditioning, the female employee, recently released from prison, who needed respect and safety on the job site.  

With the best of intentions, and a true concern for the lives of each of the employees, my husband paid a wage that was far higher than average, and responded to each of their needs as if they were his own family.  

But the fact remains that this business was but a sapling, growing forth from a crack in the cement, and could not bear the weight of our Utopian ideas. No matter how heartfelt, no matter how pure our intentions;business is not a dream and reality will prevail.  

We didn't practice, or operate from, a realistic self-assessment of our financial strength, resources and obligations before we accepted the responsibility for the well being of those with much less.  

At the end of it all we were broke, still heartsick.
And they  were furious.    


Laurie Zieber is the founder of She Speaks To Inspire and The Real Life Radio Network.
When she emerged from a time in her life that Laurie refers to as her “Search and Destroy Mission,” she found that she and the desires of her heart had been completely and irrevocably changed.
Laurie became passionate about encouraging women to embrace the power of authenticity and transparency, and recognize the valuable impact they can have in the lives of others.
Since then, she’s been creating platforms where women connect with and learn from each other as they share the stories of their lives.
As Laurie transparently tells the stories of her own life, through  writing, internet radio, and public speaking, she inspires (and sometimes dares!) the women she meets to begin their own “Search and Destroy Missions,” and watch their lives be transformed.

You can learn more about the inspired initiatives of She Speaks To Inspire at www.lauriezieber.com  and www.realliferadionetwork.com

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mztracy wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • heartheart



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • The thing about hope is no matter what happens no one can take it away from you.
      Hopefully the dream doesn’t end foreverheart



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • Wow, I am speechless. Very well written, very well said, and unfortunately, all too true, Laurie.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kim Groshek wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • Wow! I am really sad to read your story.  You know... there are so many people, myself included, that walk a similar story as yours.  It’s sad that one has a skill, talent, service or product they can provide to people who may gain valuable insight or need; and we have to worry about legal responsibilities.  I have sunk over $5000 dollars, just to start to cover myself, copyright, trademark and that doesn’t even include insurance, which is over $15,000 dollars.  My idea is a wonderful story that can provide positive insight in life.  Instead, I have to worry about the risk, suing, franchise stealing, you name it.  Similar story, but very different.  It’s very hard to be an entrepreneur; I suppose that is why many don’t even try it; however, the rewards are great!  Because I can truly live and walk with my heart!  Living my dream. It’s very sad when others cannot see that and let greed get in the way, causing heartbreak, financial burdens and loss.  Again, I am very sorry to hear about your story.  And I am sure, it’s probably easy for me to write, and hard for you to see this right now, however, keep your eyes and ears open to what is going to come your way, stay connected and networked with the groups of people that have similar dreams and interests for support and soon, you will look back and gain valuable insight from this experience.  =D



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Laurie Zieber wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • Kim,
      Thanks for your kindness! That was several years ago and my husband has since enjoyed a successful and rewarding career for which this experience undoubtedly prepared and equipped him.  

      You‘re right, it is hard to be an entrepreneur and the rewards are great when the discipline is greatest!  

      xoxo



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linni wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • Powerful Laurie! thank you for sharing it with us...
      You see, God had you all in His hands taking care of you along the way! isnt He AWSOME?
      heartheart



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kari McCune wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • I’m sorry that happened to you and Dan. I am sorry that the people whom you were serving, your employees, were too short sighted to see your care and devotion. I would wager they have found no better employer since that time. Why is it that as human beings we seem to take so much for granted or feel the need to demand more? I was thinking last night as I posted the picture for you on Facebook that my biggest regret in this life has got to be taking my health for granted when I had it. You, my friend, are a fabulous story teller and writer.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Laurie Zieber wrote Jun 15, 2010
    • Vikki-Plenty of hope still abides but not as a business plan. tongue out

      Thanks Cynthia- and how are you, anyway? I haven’t seen you in so long!

      Yes Linni, Every experience is a process that prepares us for what’s next- if we choose to see it that way. heart

      Kari, I used to think it was because things came too easily but that’s not always it.  These people had always struggled and nothing ever came easily.  

      I know the experience alerted me to look for similar attitudes of my own and correct them.  I found some.  It was humbling. worried

      xoxo



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Denise Richardson wrote Jun 16, 2010
    • Laurie, NEVER lose hope, God will always, always meet you where you are. With every new day there comes with it new possibilities.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cori87 wrote Jun 16, 2010
    • Hey Laurie,

      This reminder is well timed as I’m working on a business plan as I type.  Thanks for sharing.

      Love, Cori



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lazylola wrote Jun 16, 2010
    • You are where you are supposed to beestatic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Suzann wrote Jun 16, 2010
    • I was very moved by your story. I’m glad things have since picked up, and wish you and your family every success.heartheart



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Jun 16, 2010
    • Laurie Z ...........

      So good to have you back - I could have written that myself honey.

      For a woman who could climb Everest in flip flops and a swimsuit some days my staff can take me to the limit over something which hasn’t even blipped on my register !
      We used to give free trainers / sneakers worth $70 as uniform until they bitched they hated them - so I stopped and they bought from me ! Lesson learnt ...
      I now have a feeling some folk don’t know when they are on a good thing and realise the risks the employer takes so they have a job ....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Anne E wrote Jun 18, 2010
    • Great blog.  So glad you and your husband are doing well now.



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