Having A Life In A J.O.B.

I think most people who run companies have no idea what is really required for the mental and spiritual well-being of their employees.

Having a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) takes up a huge chunk of your waking life.

Sure you do it for money, but do you do it for self-actualization?

Many employees at some stage dream about having their own business, or working as a “freelance” consultant, to get the “freedom” they desire. Or they look forward to retirement so that they can do what they really want to do.

How can you be yourself when you are caught in a company that dictates so many areas of your life in ways that are definitely NOT what you want?

Well one company, Semco, claims it has a solution.

Semco is a company in Brazil that runs very differently than most companies.

It is a democracy.

You don’t need to read Dilbert cartoons to realize that “democracy” and “company” are usually complete opposites.

But what would actually happen if the boss’ vote was equal to that of each of their subordinates.

How many of your bosses decisions would have won on a democratic vote? Oh, and that means if the votes were truly secret.

It would force management to persuade rather than dictate, and surely that would mean utter chaos in any organization.

Not Semco.

Back in 1993, the CEO a guy called Ricardo Semler, wrote a book about his upstart company SemCo. I thought it was a very brave book. He titled the book “Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace“.

He was advocating that self-fulfillment could be found WITHIN a big company. SemCo was his experiment to prove that companies didn’t have to be unfriendly to humans.

I loved the book and even recommended it to a few people which is rare for me, but I always had one big reservation. What if the company falls over? All these wonderful ideas, but will it last?

Well I finally found a decent interview with Ricardo Semler that describes where the company is at with it’s democratic capitalism “experiment”. It impresses me:


-Dr Martin Russell

5 thoughts on “Having A Life In A J.O.B.”

  1. I’m a huge fan of Ricardo Semler. His follow up book is even better – 7 Day Weekend.

    As a member of the toiling masses for many years, I could see where just a little more input a little more control over my own destiny would have made me stay put in my job. It will be 100’s of years before this becomes the standard though. Which no hope for my generation, unless Ray Kurzweil’s predictions come true and I’m able to stick around for the next millenium. 🙂

  2. Now this IS an exciting idea!

    A few years ago I was one of a group of crafts people that were considering setting up a co-operative (a collaboration of equal partners forming a united business). It came to nothing, as is often the way with crafts (rarely a good business model). However, one idea that came out of the discussions was to employ a management structure as we were each competent in our individual skills but none of us had any real business experience or know-how.

    This would have resulted in the workforce employing the bosses. decisions would have to be run past the workforce and, although it would be in our interests to be guided and directed by our management, they would have no power to sack anyone and would themselves be vulnerable if they failed to be effective in their role.

    Although I don’t regret that we didn’t embark on a venture that would have been heading for failure anyway, I do regret not having had the opportunity to run this experiment on turning the traditional hierarchal structure on its head. I think the current structure is as bad for business as it is for the workforce.

  3. Steven,

    Ricardo certainly has put a lot of effort into changing corporate culture and since he hasn’t been able to do it, I agree, you and I will be waiting a long while. Better to make our own futures rather than wait.

    It’s just good to know that his philosophy can last, and yes I liked his 7-Day Weekend book too.


    > I think the current structure is as bad for business as it is for the workforce.

    Spot on. It’s the ultimate irony, but I agree with you. At least there is one proven model for others to follow with less risk of failure than your venture would have had.

  4. However, I do think –– in England at least if not in other parts of the world –– that there is an element of ‘maintaining the differentials’ and that, even if proved beyond doubt that the democratic system works well for business, many Old School hierarchies would be reluctant to give up the position of detachment from the workforce.

    It’s not just about money or even about business and often it’s about image.

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