Key business decision – don’t get married!
The leaves on the road muffle the sound of our car. One of the most successful and well-respected scrap metal buyers in Europe is sitting on the back seat of my car. I glance at him in the rear mirror, a middle-aged man in
well-pressed trousers and a brown tweed jacket. He is stressing the importance of structures and efficiency. “And don’t ever trust anybody, Mattias,” he says with conviction. “My job used to be about doing business. There was nervous tension in every deal, handshake, meeting. We have grown so much over the years. We’ve become a large group.
Today the only thing I spend my waking hours doing is exerting control. Controlling branch managers. Checking figures and accounts,” he says. He goes quiet and looks out through the windscreen at the cold autumn day.
I think back to the message of that last lecture at university. Studies were about to end. The teacher said: “I would like to give you some advice. You have been given so much information here, we have filled you up with facts and knowledge. But whatever you do in life, however exciting things get in your daily work, whatever demands are made, never forget what I’m going to tell you now.” The lecture room suddenly went very quiet.
“Never get married to the job!” he said with emphasis. “Work is important and it will take up a lot of your time, but it will never replace your family, your friends or your dreams.” Those were the last notes I made while I was a student. I underlined those words twice.
I look out over the autumn landscape that stretches out between the motorway and the airport. I look at the man on the rear seat. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like not to own anything, he says. To stand here beside the road and hitch a lift, take each day as it comes. He smiles for a minute and looks thoughtful. Then his phone rings.
That day I left work and went home early. I almost run up the stairs from the garage. My young son is propped up on the carpet. He rolls over when he sees me, his muscles are still too weak to hold him upright. He lands on a cushion and fights with all his body strength. I put him in the child seat in the kitchen. His eyes are as large as saucers. He shakes his legs, not wanting to sit still. We both laugh. He’s laughing because there is a lump of apple sauce in his porridge. I’m laughing because I underlined those lines in my student notebook.
Mattias Malmer, CEO