By Paul Butler
I write this on Veterans Day — the official United States public holiday observed annually on Nov. 11 honoring military veterans, that is, persons who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
It coincides with other holidays such as Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom (my country of birth).
Around this time, perhaps more so than ever, we hear people say, “Thank you for your service.” They may say this to a surviving veteran or they may post a similar comment on social media to honor a deceased family member or friend who’d previously served in the military.
The only sacrifice I can think of that’s even higher than serving in the military is to give one’s life in the act of doing so, which is of course what we honor on Memorial Day.
It seems so trivial to connect military service with the workplace, but the phrase, “Thank you for your service,” resonated with me more than ever these past few days, especially as we head into Thanksgiving.
My observation has been that few employees are truly thankful for what they’ve received. Most employees don’t appreciate what they have.
It’s often said that employers will pay just enough so that people won’t leave, and that employees will do just enough to not get fired. I’m not sure I agree with that analogy, as I’ve seen many people be overpaid (in my opinion) for what they actually do. Likewise, I’ve seen many people go the extra mile and still not be paid what they’re worth.
If you’re an employee, have you ever stopped to consider that an entrepreneur or a collection of entrepreneurs started the business you now work in? It’s not hard to align with this fact if you work for a start-up as you probably work alongside that person or those persons.
Even when I was an employee for the global publicly traded corporation Hilton Hotels, it was not hard to cast my mind back a few decades and think about Conrad Hilton — the founder of the company and great-grandfather of Paris Hilton.
As a side note, I met Paris Hilton once at what used to be the headquarters in Beverly Hills. She said to me: “You sound like Hugh Grant.”
I was mightily pleased with that comment, as Hugh is from a very posh part of London, whereas I’m from ragamuffin middle England. I was about to express my gratitude but she butted in and said: “Yeah, but you’re not as good-looking.” Charming. I’ve since refused to accept her “Friend Request” on Facebook.
Even if you work for a government or quasi-government entity, maybe even if you work for a church — in a very real sense, it was entrepreneurs who had the gall to apply for that school to be built, cityhood to be granted or church to be founded.
My point being is that we have so much to be grateful for as employees — a person or persons gave their time and talents to help create a place of work we now earn a living from.
The definition of an entrepreneur clearly amplifies the risk such people took — they could have lost it all, as an entrepreneur is defined as, “A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”
I’d encourage employees to reflect during this heightened season of gratitude between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving the sacrifices made by those who came before them to create the jobs they now have.
Nearly 48 percent of employees work for small businesses in the United States, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy report of 2018. Remember even those big businesses were once small. Even Wal-Mart, which employs 2.3 million people, was started by one entrepreneur — Sam Walton, just 56 years ago in 1962.
I can only imagine the horrors of war, and I am immensely grateful for the men and women who gave their time and, some of them, their lives, to be of service to their country. It is often said, there’s no greater love than to give one’s life for a friend.
So as we pause to again give thanks for the upcoming holiday, I hope that all employees will also take a moment and reflect on all we have to be grateful for — America may not be perfect; California certainly has its challenges; and even Awesometown is not always awesome — but they always say the measure of a great country, great state and great city is when more people want in than want out.
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaf-ca.com). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].