(Readers: Please note the blog is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, after reading a few recent entries, you might want to start at the beginning. More about the blog and about the author. )

Scene: Jordan having coffee with JC at usual spot near office in Washington, DC.  Jordan holds up newspaper article.

Jordan: “You know, this article really bothers me.”

newspaper_bwJC: “What’s the issue?  Headline says North Carolina wants to attract jobs.  What’s wrong with jobs?”

Jordan: “Jobs are not the issue.  The issue is how jobs are created…emphasis on ‘created.’”

JC: “I’m not following your logic.  The state of NC wants more jobs, so…”

Jordan: “…excuse me but North Carolina’s idea of job creation is stealing jobs from other areas.”

JC: “Whoa, big boy, slow down.  Stealing?  Did you say stealing?”

Jordan: “Yes, I said stealing.  And I mean stealing.”

010414_1635_16StudentsL1.jpgJC: “Why is attracting jobs from another location stealing?”

Jordan: “Look at it from the perspective of the other location.  What gives NC the right to take jobs?”

JC: “I’ll be honest.  I never thought about job relocation as stealing.”

Jordan: “Let’s say you have a factory in town.  And say the factory has been there a while.”

JC: “Ok.  What about it?”

Jordan: “And let’s say your father worked there.  And maybe your grandfather.  That’s not uncommon.”

JC: “I’ve read stories about families like that.”

Jordan: “When I was at Buick it was not unusual to find people who were 3rd generation.  Same town, same factory.”

JC: “If you take the three generations, there’s what 100 years…or more seniority in one family.  That’s a lot of time devoted to one company.”

Jordan: “Right.  Seems like a major commitment to me.”

JC: “A major commitment but the people also got paid along the way.  So what’s the big deal?”

manufacturing-production-operations-jobsJordan: “You don’t get it, do you, which is really surprising coming from you.  The big deal is people.  People make up organizations.  Paychecks don’t make organizations.”

JC: “I agree that families, companies, even cities are built around people.”

Jordan: “And people create and build an emotional bond with the organization.”

JC: “OK but I’m still not following why recruiting jobs from another state should be labeled as stealing.  What am I missing?”

Jordan: “What has the recruiter done to help build the organization and the emotional bond?”

JC: “Nothing really.  But the recruiter does offer incentives.  Now that I said that, the incentives are really for senior executives…and not the worker bees.”

money_24077_lgJordan: “To me allowing one state to recruit companies…really jobs…from another state, perverts the incentive to create jobs.  Allowing recruiting destroys loyalty and prevents workers from building a strong emotional bond with the company.”

JC: “So my cynical self says, so what?  Who really cares about the workers?  Why shouldn’t management take a few bucks?”

Jordan: “Yes, your cynical self has taken over.  But now I know you understand why I am frustrated with the program.  Money talks…but only for a very few.  A lot of other Mickey-Mouse-fingerpeople get the finger.”

JC: “I see what you mean by calling it stealing.  People put a lot of time and effort into building an organization…and then wham, management packs up and leaves.”

Jordan: “Most people think about stealing in terms of not paying for goods or services.  You know, like walking out of Best Buy with a computer or skipping out of a restaurant and not paying for dinner.”

JC: “But you want to expand the definition.”

Jordan: “I’m not expanding the definition.  Just making sure people include one thing that cannot be purchased and cannot be replaced.”

50166_clock1038_lgJC: “Is that one thing…time?”

Jordan: “Yes, time. What many executives and especially investors seem to forget is the value of time.”

JC: “Give me an example.”

Jordan: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard prospective investors ask, ‘How much skin…meaning how much money… you have in this project?”

JC: “Seems like a fair question.  How do you answer them?”

Jordan: “With another question.”

JC: “What else coming from you.  What’s the question?”

Jordan: “Simple.  ‘Can you buy yesterday?’”

JC: “Can you buy yesterday?”

Jordan: “Yes.  Simple question with a simple answer.”

JC: “The answer is always ‘no’.”

Jordan: “Think about it, regardless of how much money one has, yesterday is not for sale.”

JC: “So how do the investors respond?”

Jordan: “Surprisingly, most have never been asked the question…or even thought about it.”

JC: “Does the question change the tone of the conversation?”

Jordan: “Sometimes.  But my experience has been most investors, especially private equity firms and investment banks are so focused on one thing – how much money can they make – that they do not care about your time and commitment.  To them one’s time is of no value.”

JC: “Without sounding too much like a Republican, isn’t that why they’re in business – to maximize profits?”

Jordan: “Partially.  But not the entire reason for being.  The companies do have an obligation to society.”

JC: “Surely you are not opposed to letting investors make money?”

Jordan: “I’m all for making money, but not at the expense of destroying families, institutions and cities.”

JC: “You’re sounding like a populist.”

Jordan: “Maybe so but this is a conversation that society needs to have.”

JC: “Anyway, we started this conversation by you stating the state of North Carolina was stealing.  If I understand your logic, recruiting companies to relocate in North Carolina, or any state for that matter, is stealing from families and cities where the organization is located currently.  Right?”

Jordan: “You got it right.”

JC: “I need some more of your thinking but I also need a refill.”

(To be continued)