Business Magazine

Your Work is God’s Work

By Shrinkingthecamel

Your Work is God’s WorkLast week I attended a large deal-making convention. The place was brimming with investment bankers, private equity wonks, corporate development stiffs, and the like.

In other words, it was a room full of suits.

When we could no longer take the awesome power networking, the crowd neatly descended upon a cavernous ballroom theatre for a power lunch. Our featured keynote speaker was Ben Stein, the oddball economist who has somehow managed to cobble together a thriving career blending economics, political analysis and Hollywood star status.

I mostly associate Ben Stein with the movie, Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off, where he plays the excruciatingly monotone high school teacher standing at the front of the classroom attempting to engage the students: “Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?” 

In real life he is a little more colorful.

Mr. Stein is a pretty smart guy, and aside from his throwaway TV Shows, like “Win Ben Stein’s Money” and “America’s Most Smartest Model,” he can be frequently spotted in The New York Times business section, or The New Yorker, or a spot on CBS news opining on the current state of national politics and the economy. Not too shabby.

Once Mr. Stein took his place at the podium, he started ranting a bit about the Occupy Wall Street uprising, politely inquiring about the goals of the movement, and wondering how they might channel their vague attacks on corporate greed into something more productive.

Also, he mentioned several times his concern with their dress code and general standards of cleanliness.

Mr. Stein went on to comment on the importance of our young citizens’ willingness to work, to take jobs, whatever they were, in order to make ends meet. One might have gotten the impression from him that people are angry because their expectations are a bit out of whack.

I reflected on my own career. No one ever handed me a trust fund, or a silver-lined pathway lighting the way to my fabulous career. I had absolutely zero connections with the corporate elite. I went to a state school, all on grants and loans, then on to graduate school where I graduated, again, with 100% loans.

Then I struggled, and I was fine.

I had some good jobs – but I also took some jobs that I hated. I never expected anything different, either. I figured that at some point, even after getting educated, that you had to pay your dues, to suck it up, to press on – and that meant taking jobs – hard, difficult, un-glamorous jobs – in working your way to wherever, and just hope for the best. That is the beauty and chaos of America.

Ben Stein rambled on for a few more minutes and then ended the session with a surprising benediction:

“Don’t ever forget,” he said, “Your Work is God’s Work.”

Well. That came right out of left field, but I caught it.

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