Summary: In today's lesson we learn that since working alone is futile, we ought to work together with others.
A New York Times article on people who are sick of too many hours at work tells the story of Diane Knorr, a former dot.com executive. “The first time I got a call way after hours from a senior manager, I remember being really flattered and thinking, ‘Wow! I’m really getting up there now,’” she said.
But gradually, her work and family life became a blur with hours that were hard to scale back.
“If I leave at 5 and everyone else leaves at 6:30, I might look like the one who is not pulling her weight,” she said.
In college, Diane Knorr set a goal of making a six-figure salary by the time she was 49. She reached it at 35, and “nothing happened; no balloons dropped,” she said. “That’s when I really became aware of that hollow feeling.”
The New York Times article noted that Diane Knorr eventually quit her job and started a non-profit organization.
In his quest to find out how to live a meaningful life the writer of Ecclesiastes comes back to the topic of work.
Let us read Ecclesiastes 4:4-16:
4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
5 The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.
6 Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king’s place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4-16)
If it had not been for Bernie Madoff, the most famous white collar criminal in America right now would probably be Marc Dreier. If that name is not ringing a bell, it’s because Dreier’s $400 million Ponzi scheme was blown off the front pages by Madoff’s arrest just a few days after Dreier’s arrest.
Last week Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes on CBS ran a fascinating interview with Marc Dreier. Dreier has degrees from Yale and Harvard, and with the ego of a successful trial lawyer, he told friends that he was going to become a billionaire. He started his own law firm that he said would revolutionize the business of law. He hired the best attorneys, paid them top dollar, and kept all the profits for himself as the firm’s only partner. At the pinnacle of the scam, Dreier employed more than 250 lawyers, and had high profile clients like Bill Cosby, Andy Pettite, Maria Sharapova, and Justin Timberlake.
“The idea for the law firm was very viable,” Dreier told Kroft. “But it needed much more money to get off the ground than I anticipated, much more.”
And so in order to get more money he scammed money through false impersonation, fraud, and deceit off wealthy investors. He eventually owed $400 million to various investors.
Dreier says that he used most of the $400 million to expand his law firm, but also to finance a lifestyle designed to create the illusion that he already was a billionaire. He owned an $11 million ocean-front compound in the Hamptons, an art collection that included a Picasso, three Matisses, and 12 Warhols, and also a 120-foot yacht with a full-time crew of ten.
“How did you end up becoming a crook?” Kroft asked.
“I can’t remember the moment in which I decided to do something that I knew was wrong,” Dreier replied. “I had an ambition that I needed to feed. I think I fell into the trap of wanting to be more successful than I was.”