Addicted To Money



Sam Polk, a former Wall Street hedge-fund trader confesses in an editorial in today’s International New York Times [January 20, 2014]: “In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million—and I was angry it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to bay, no philanthropic goals in mind. I wanted more money for the same reason an alcoholic need another drink: I was addicted.”

If you read the editorial, you can easily conclude that this may well be a common addiction on Wall Street. But why is this? The answer lies in a comment Sam makes latter in the editorial, “I recently got an email from a hedge-fund trader who said that though he was making millions every year, he felt trapped an empty.”

As I discuss in my recent book, “BALANCE: The Business-Life Connection, long-term fulfillment always takes the same path. You discover your Essence, that special thing that you’re good at and that you like to do—we all have something inside that can make us shine; you apply it to a Need in the world that makes it a better place; this generates intense Passion that allows you tap into Creativity you never knew you had; the result is Innovation, which generates a Return; it could be financial, psychological, spiritual or some combination; and this creates lasting Gratitude; which is always the source of long-term Fulfillment.

What Sam was missing was a Need that makes this world a better place. After a crash-and-burn experience, he decided to face his addiction head on and following much physical and emotional pain he came out the other end of this challenging vortex, a wonderful human being. He founded Groceryships, a non-profit company that buys 6 months worth of healthy groceries for single moms who can’t easily afford them, thereby not only putting food on their table, but also fighting the current obesity epidemic by teaching moms about nutrition. Nowadays, Sam’s a very happy and fulfilled guy! 

James A. Cusumano, Ph.D., is a former rock and roll crooner, movie producer, pharmaceutical CEO, and author of BALANCE, who now owns and operates Chateau Mcely, an award-winning castle hotel and spa in the Czech Republic