I put my hands up and said, “Let’s stop right there. Having 1,500 clients is an oxymoron. Nobody has 1,500 clients. You probably have 100 clients and 1,400 dissatisfied customers.”

“Make that 1,404 dissatisfied customers,” he confessed. “You’ll have to include my wife and three kids in that number as well.”

He went on to describe his ungodly hours and the all-consuming situation he was mired in and concluded with, “I’ve done everything I was taught to do. I’ve got plenty of money, the admiration of my peers and no life.”

The look in this advisor’s eye brought a wisp of recognition to me. I had seen it before, 30 years ago, when I was in suicide prevention. It wasn’t quite the same as encountering a man who wanted to end his life; this was a man who instead wanted his life back because his business had stolen it. This man was committing practicide.

It Can Get Messy

In a previous career, I was consulting with a start-up firm in the health-care sector. The job required me to drive 90 miles each way three days a week. I would leave home around 6 each morning to arrive at my office around 7:30. I would work until 4:30 and leave a half hour before rush hour in hopes of getting home to have dinner with my young family. One day, the owner stopped me as I was heading out and asked why I was leaving earlier than everyone else. I informed him that I had put in a nine-hour day and was, by the way, quite productive for his company. He boldly questioned my commitment and told me that he personally put in 17 hours a day and wanted to see people equally as committed.

I thought his choice of the word “commitment” carried no little irony, as I suddenly remembered seeing his wife a month before—sitting forlornly in the business lobby waiting to see him, as he had forgotten it was their anniversary. I told him I had a commitment that was a bit more important to me, which was being home to dine with my family. If I’m not producing, I told him, you’ve got a point. If I am, then we don’t have much more to talk about. I knew it was the beginning of the end. In retrospect, I couldn’t be any more relieved that I made the decision to part ways. This was a man with a messyage: put everything and everyone in line behind the force that drives your greed.

This was a very rich man with a very poor philosophy.

If you keep this sort of company long enough, you’ll get talked into the life and the consequences of misplaced priorities.

A Better Place Starts With A Better Pace