Who Owns Controlling Interest of You? Identify your “shareholders” to Achieve Business Balance


Mike Merrel and the “Personal IPO”:

You may have heard of Mike Merrel, the 30 year old entrepreneur who had lots of great ideas, but no capital and no idea which ideas to pursue.  His story was relayed by wired.com here.  He had ideas for video games he wanted to create, an internet backup service, a whiskey tasting society, and other ventures. But which to choose? And how to get the cash to get started?

That’s when Mike decided to try applying the principles of capitalism to his own future.  He created a website where he could be publicly traded, and made 100,000 shares of himself available to the public for $1 per share.

He deduced that, first, he could bring in some much needed cash to fund his projects, and second, that his investors, having cash on the line, would be effective at advising his business related activities toward the most productive avenues.  The payoff to investors was a share in his future financial success.

Within hours, his friends and family, including his girlfriend, had purchased 929 shares of Mike Merrel.  This left Mike with 99.1% stock in the company, but for the integrity of the project, Mike had declared that his stock would always be non-voting.

He made his various ideas available for a vote on his website and allowed his shareholders to decide his fate.  Mike was intrigued by the success of the program, but investors wanted more control of other elements of his life. After all, every choice Mike made had a potential impact on his market value.

Mike loved the idea and began expanding shareholder power in his personal life.  If he were doing this experiment, why not do it 100% ?

The voting expanded to more personal issues:
Should he grow a beard? They voted yes.
Should he become a vegetarian? They voted yes.
Should Mike try polyphasic sleeping? They voted yes and later revoted to return to normal sleep patterns when it became clear Mike was less productive.
Should Mike keep his spoon collection? They voted no.
Should he register as Democrat or Republican? His shareholders voted Republican

Investors enjoyed tailoring Mike’s life into what they considered to be the best possible platform on which to increase the value of their investment.  And to Mike, since his investors shared in the ownership of his future, they were possessive of how Mike sent his time.

Then Mike decided to move in with his girlfriend of 2.5 years who owned 19 shares of his stock.

His friends collectively owned the largest percentage of Mike’s shares and were upset that the shareholders were not consulted regarding this change which would greatly affect the time Mike had to dedicate to project development. They believed that a vote should have taken place to approve this move.  Mike agreed

When confronted by his girlfriend about this, Mike suggested that she invest in more shares.

Finally it became too much for his girlfriend and they split up.

When it was voted yes that he purchase a new $100,000 insurance policy, some speculation began that Mike might be more valuable to shareholders if he were liquidated. No further votes on this were taken.

After his breakup, Mike invited shareholders to choose his next love interest by posting potential candidates which were voted on and approved on a 3 month romance contract basis.  His new girlfriend loved the idea and is saving up to purchase a larger interest in Mike.

Mike continues to be traded today. You can buy or vote at kmikeym.com

As an entrepreneur, the story of Mike Merrel resounded with the challenges I face in my own life.

For our businesses to succeed, they require commitment. They require investment.  The challenge of all of us as business owners, is to facilitate our business success and to find and maintain balance in our personal, spiritual, and professional lives.

But the truth is that one of the elements of our lives will always have controlling interest of us.  So the question I pose is this: Who is your largest shareholder? Who owns 51%? Who casts the deciding vote in your life?

Here are a few steps to help you find out.

First, list the elements that make up the “life projection” you have created for yourself. We all have a picture of our lives that we want to project to others. That projection will usually consist of the following elements:

Personal Life (hobbies, personal interests, etc)
Faith or Spirituality
Professional Life

These are your shareholders.  One of them will have a majority of the influence in your decision making.

Put your shareholders in the order you think they should be in according to your ideal life projection.  No the way they are now, but the way they would be in an ideal world.

Now compare: Does the desired order and the real order match up? If your like me, they don’t.

Next, answer this question:
To whom are you paying dividends?

The results of your labor yield dividends which order of importance.  Look at your list of shareholders. Who is benefiting from your labor?  Does working long hours benefit you family, your church, your health? Does your labor give you more time with your family or does it alienate you from them? Do you send the time and money you should with your Church? How about your health? Is a dividend being paid to your long term health or are you killing yourself trying to do more.

The benefits of your work should pay out to the elements of your life that you list as most important. If they don’t you need to consider a corporate shakeup.

Last Question:

Regarding your business, and how it integrates with your life, is it arranged as a MERGER or a HOSTILE TAKEOVER? Does your business integrate and coexist with your personal life to make all elements better, or does your professional life take over all other elements to their detriment or neglect?

So what can you do if your ideal life doesn’t line up with where you spend your synapses, money and time?

Stage a share buyback.

Take back those shares from parts of your life that aren’t at the top of your priority list. Spend less time working. Hire an assistant. Delegate more. Perhaps you need to spend less time on hobbies and more time on family. Maybe your family needs to spend more time together volunteering or working with your church.

You can take back your shares, but know that it will cost you. As business owners, everything we do has an opportunity cost. But to reach the goals we have for a balanced life, it should be an investment we are willing to make.

Mike Lane, Available Technology Inc

Let me know what you think! Leave comments or contact us @availabletech






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