The Tale of a Young Salesman

Once upon a time, there was a young fellow who took on a job in a bank. His task is to introduce financial products to the new clients.

There is a wide variety of products available from the bank, ranging from high risk and high return, to low risk and low return. To meet the quota and bonus plan, our young salesman is trained to sell the product that can generate the highest commission for the bank, even when the product doesn’t really fit the client’s particular background and needs.

When the market was great, everybody was a happy camper. The client was satisfied with the return, the salesman was getting his hefty commission, and the bank’s management were pocketing tens of millions of bonuses.

Not until the financial meltdown came along, the ugly mess exploded, and massive lawsuits and layoff followed.

As expected, our young salesman was part of the layoff crowd. He was very unhappy and couldn’t land a job for months since the financial crisis. Out of desperation, he went back to school and asked his business school professor for advice.

Salesman asked: “Professor, I was doing what the company asked me to do, what went wrong here?”.

The wise professor paused for a few seconds and said, “Kid, welcome to the business world. Wall Street acts purely on profit taking. What your company instructed you to do might be legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s ethical. To be truly successful in business, we need to build a lasting relationship with our clients, employees and business partners. If simply because of hitting the quarterly quota and we end up damaging our business relationships, this goal is not worth pursuing.”

The kid finally woke up after the chat with the professor.

In the months that followed, he founded an education center in his local community. The mission of the center is to apply his financial knowledge and inform people the pros and cons of different financial products. No more hefty commission or quarterly bonuses, but he is now a very happy man.

In our journey of seeking happiness, setting achievable goals along the way can serve as encouragement to drive us forward, but what’s more important is the journey itself.

Achieving happiness is not the destination, it is a never ending process that we are committed to throughout our life journey.


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