My first business was folding legal paper into handmade envelopes that I sold three for a nickel. I was 6. By 15, I was producing and selling fake Ids. At 18 I filed my first LLC, a record label/recording studio operation, Boom Dox. To do this I had to physically drive to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Revenue, the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court, and the Lafayette Parish School Board. Now we can simply file online and don’t have to go through any physical effort to begin a company. The newfound ease of this process has given birth to a new phenomenon: The Tinder CEO.
You’ve all met a Tinder CEO. He’s anywhere from late teens into his mid thirties. He confuses selling knives for Cutco or working for Primerica with being self-employed. He definitely has credit card debt to maintain the image that he earns more than he actually does. On your first date he won’t hold the door, offer to pay and might even ask you to pay. He’ll talk a big game about business and money yet has never opened a business or made any large sum of money. He’s always got an idea for the next big thing. But rest assured, it will never be anything more than that: an idea. And he thinks that owning his own business makes him look SO sexy to you and SO cool to his friends.
That’s the age we’re in. Where wayward young men drawn in by Richard Branson and Elon Musk’s entrepreneur chic fortify their fragile egos behind the thinnest of defenses: their title in their Facebook bio. It is here behind the warm safety of a keyboard, that the modern Homo Fuckien, better known as fuck boy, transforms into the glorious Tinder CEO. “Now when girls see me on Tinder they won’t just see my dead fish or animal and meaningless college info. They’re going to see that I’m the CEO of DoucheBag Enterprises, Inc!”
Let’s be clear: a piece of paper from your local Secretary of State’s office does not make you an entrepreneur. Trust me, Tinder CEO, there are drug dealers with more legitimate cash flow than you. You probably don’t even have a company bank account. If you do, there isn’t much money in it and the money therein certainly didn’t come from customers.
I get it, the world is scary. Your degree won’t get you shit but a restaurant job that you hate and you lack purpose. So, you compensate by lying to yourself and perpetuating a false sense of self accomplishment to fill your void. It’s this that scares me. That you find your value as a human in your business or career, in your money or in your clothes. I’m terrified that when you have a family that to you, the car you drive will be more important than the smiles on your children’s faces.
Can I tell you a secret? All of you trying to be in business for money and fame: Profit is a byproduct of a well run operation. The purpose of business is not to glorify self. It is to mobilize resources both physical and monetary. It is the pump that keeps cashflow going. It is the customers who bless your company with their hard earned dollars. It is service to your community. It is the smile on your employee’s face when you hand them that big overtime check and they earned every penny. It is your legacy from your time here on earth.
The bottom line is that business is a personal journey. It’s a never ending string of every day crises tailored just to your needs. It will shape you, forge you and it will discipline you. Being a business man is not a title you bestow upon yourself. It is an honor bestowed upon you when you have created jobs, reinvigorated dilapidated infrastructure and contributed to the taxable revenue base of your area. It is a title measured by the value of your positive impact, not a title created and falsely given to increase your already feeble chance of getting laid.
My mama always told me, “time is the currency of your life, how are you going to spend it?” How will you spend it Tinder CEO? Filing empty papers to create a false trajectory with matching title? To boost your imaginary sex appeal? Buying stuff for your ‘friends’ who will leave as soon as the money runs out? Our worth as humans is not measured in fiat currency. So, while you’re out chasing booty and ignoring your problems, I’ll be getting paid to solve mine and my customers’. Cheers, Tinder CEO, this round is for you.