ROSE NOLEN: 'Silver spoon' workers no different from others

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 | 1:08 p.m. CDT

I met a man recently who said that he had never had to earn a living. He confided that he walked right out of college into his family’s hotel business. He finally admitted that he had been working in his family’s business since he was a teenager, and it was a business he loved.

Later, I thought about him as a businessman, and I wondered what kind of example he could set for a young man starting out in business. People have a way of talking about what it means to grow up with a "silver spoon" in one’s mouth. And often what they say is not very flattering. They usually imply that this person is not worth a nickel at his job. Unfortunately, these are often people who have never worked with such a person in their lives.

In fact, I’ve worked with several people who were in that position, and I’ve not found them much different than others who were working for other families. It’s been my experience that most people behave in any situation much the way they were brought up. Some people work taking things the way they find them. They bring their talents and skills into the workplace and hope for a place to employ them. They are happiest when they feel useful and their personal gifts are found to be valuable. Often, people rate employers who have great appreciation for their employees’ talents as better bosses than those who pay greater salaries. These kind of employers also rate some employees on a higher scale for their loyalty and willingness to contribute more to the well-being of the business.

Some people who are brought up in families they eventually work for can be found in all of those categories. I’ve worked for people whose family members were not worth a dime, either in their family's business or anyone else’s business. On the other hand, a person of good merit will work as hard in any other person’s business as well as their own. It all depends on what they are made of.

Years ago, I knew a man who worked on the road selling shoes. It was a small company that built shoes for overweight men. The man’s driver was such a devoted believer in the product that most of his customers called the driver by the same name as the shoe. It was as if by his behavior everyone believed the driver owned the shoe company. People pay money for that.

I listen to people very carefully. The man I was speaking to claimed he had never had to work to earn a living. He never said that he never learned how to work. The man is a good businessman, a good citizen, well liked, generous, a good neighbor and friend.

Sometimes, people look for the wrong things in life and in people. So maybe, when they say they never found what they were looking for, that was a good thing.

Maybe, they just haven’t figured that out yet.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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