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Or D, Youre a Pirate

A choose-your-own-adventure guide to the ultimate adult quest running your own business

SYNOPSIS This book is in the choose-your-own-adventure format that so many of us knew and loved as kids, except this time instead of dealing with spies, treasure and secret tunnels, the story deals with the ultimate adult adventure quitting your job and starting your own business. The story is written in the second person and the you character has a unisex name Kim. The nature of the job the central character leaves and the business he/she subsequently starts is also deliberately vague, as is the location, so that the book will have universal appeal. At the end of each chapter there are multiple choice options (usually two, three maximum) to a business-related dilemma in the story. Each option directs you to a different turn in the storyline and the progress of your hypothetical business. The scenarios are a little over the top for humour and entertainment employee rebellions, vengeful mentors and silent partners who turn out to be gangsters but these extremes help emphasise the business and ethical points made. The book is structured so that whichever choices you make at the end of each chapter, there will be common issues covered. These will include common sources of business dilemmas, such as: who to take on as a partner and should you work with family? leadership issues financing debt labour sources cost vs quality vs ethical concerns sourcing clients following trends dealing with media undervaluing/overvaluing your business leadership style dealing with employee morale, loyalty, motivation These themes will revolve around what I call the eight change points. Each storyline will consist of 11 steps (chapters) on the way to one of the 10 different possible endings. There will be an addendum to each ending, explaining what the readers arrival at this ending says about their business personality, the types of business that would be appropriate for them, and their work/lifestyle balance. As with childrens choose-your-own-adventure books, once finished part of the fun will be to go back check the what ifs what would have happened if you had taken one of the alternative options at the end of different chapters.

Chapter One
I heard you can eat cockroaches dipped in honey. No dude, thats locusts. Hey, do you think a family of four could sleep OK in the public restrooms in City Park? The water cooler talk at work has turned decidedly bleak lately. There have been some clues that downsizing is on the way for a while now. First, there was the company merger. Then Mai Lin the Girl Wonder was fast-tracked to the head of the accounts department on a third of her predecessors salary a big step up from being an intern just two months ago. Theres also a consultant known only as Razor, whos set himself up in the corner office. He doesnt seem to do anything except watch people all day and flip through files of papers, as noiseless as a finger in a glove. All you know is that whenever he makes a call, he whispers into the phone with a mouth like wilted lettuce and someone somewhere in the office picks up a phone and cries. Their redundancy is announced the following day. Walk past any printer in the office and youll catch it furtively spitting out updated CVs staff are disappearing faster than weekend house guests in an Agatha Christie story. Its a far cry from the vision you saw for the business and yourself when you started here five years ago. At first, everything looked roses its just that you couldnt see the pricks for the flowers. The company was young and fresh, riding on the wave of a trend like Kelly Slater riding The Pipeline in Hawaii. Life was good. You moved in with your partner and soon bought an apartment and new cars because things could only get better, right? Now you bleed a little money every week. If your finances were a woman, youd take her straight to the gynaecologist. Worse, youre owed a couple paychecks delayed, your boss says. Now you wonder if the only financial security youll have will come through employer financing stealing office supplies and equipment and reselling them before the creditors take them. It wasnt your fault. The business seemed safe as houses when you started here. And it was its just that those houses were financed on subprime mortgages. The big promise to move up in the organisation never quite came. Over time, you tended to move more sideways than up. And in different directions, too . In fact, youve been jostled around so much you really dont know how to describe your role. Its not a great feature when applying for new positions in a depressed job market. Now youre just going nowhere, youre on a treadmill, but one that spits up flames around your ankles. A door opens and a gruff voice roars your name, then slams the door shut. Its your boss. You feel both perplexed and apprehensive, as if you cant remember something terrible that hasnt happened yet. You get up, but before you go you take a quick visual inventory of the office supplies on your desk some of your colleagues are acting more than a little desperately. Your boss waves you into his office. Shut the door! he hisses at you. This in itself is not a cause for alarm usually when he does this its more about keeping his cigar smoke inside his office, not the secrecy of his conversation. He likes cigars, he says, because they make more secondary smoke, thereby killing off anti smokers faster. Filthy habit, you mutter, waving away the acrid cloud so you can find a chair. If I stopped smoking and drinking it would add ten years to my life. But it would add them to the wrong end, your boss replies. Hes huffing and chomping on those fat stogies more than ever now. You sit and wonder if the local economys downturn is the Cuban economys gain. Hows life at home? your boss asks.

Oh, you know the same. The truth is that since your partner took a second job, relations have been tense. You sleep a lot and you dont have the energy and motivation to play a sport or work out. At the same time, you feel guilty about going out or socialising with friends. Any kids on the way? You shake your head. You dont want to give him words to play with. Talking about your personal life with your boss is just creepy. By the way, I need you to get rid of Lydia. Lydia? What has she done? you ask, knowing that she is still under the three -month probation period for all new employees. Find something. I think shes pregnant and we just cant afford that. You think shes pregnant? Look at the weight shes gained. Besides, I never really trusted her she doesnt drink. Well thats not very nice. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter! he barks at you. Thats your boss in public he can be Joe Charisma. Behind closed doors, hes more Joe Stalin. Jesus, do you have some mother issues or something? you add a little laugh at the end, hoping he might mistake your reaction for a joke. But really, you just dont care any more. Your boss frowns. My mother never liked me much. She used to pass me off to the fat neighbour for breastfeeding. I still hate that guy. Theres an awkward silence. You look down at the floor. Then at the desk. Across the top edge of the desk, a dozen or so credit cards are neatly lined up, including one issued by the Union Bank of Nigeria. Below each one is a line of bills and invoices including, you notice, one that you approved six weeks ago. It sits there, listless, like a prisoner on a hunger strike. Umm, I thought you said you paid this invoice? you say, tapping the page of the contact you have relied on for years, building up the relationship carefully like a tower made of flaked chocolate. They can wait, he says, quickly snatching the paper away from you. He relights his cigar with it. Anyway, I brought you in here to see if youd like to take charge of the new rollout. Me? youre puzzled. This isnt really what you do. Sure, youve given input on projects like this before, but theres only so much of being ignored you can handle before something inside you dies. Yeah. I know, its a step up, but I like you, your boss says. He leans forward and does his best impersonation of sincerity. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid. Uh, Im not sure. Did you hear how the presentation for it went down with the focus group? he asks. You shift awkwardly in your chair. There is no way to ease the pain. Bad. It rated a minus 34 any worse and they would have pulled their eyes out like Oedipus. Your boss just nods. Dont worry, theres light at the end of the tunnel. But wouldnt that just be an oncoming train? you ask.

Look, he says, slapping his palms down on the desktop and scattering bills to the floor. I admit, the whole plans flawed. Ive taken my eye off the ball because of he trails off, waving a hand at the papers on his desk and darting a nervous jerk of his chin at Razor, who is picking up his phone receiver in slow motion, like a sniper squeezing a trigger. But thats where you come in. We need someone whos hungry to take a fresh approach to this. Youll have free rein. For the first time in a long while you feel something like a flutter in your belly and the fog that clouds your head clears just a little. Is it stimulation? As an incentive, I can offer you 5% of all profits that arise from the project. Over a year, that could be at least an extra $20,000 on top of your salary. You quickly calculate 5% of zero. But does it matter? It will be good experience and it sure beats doing the usual mundane work. Theres a catch, though, your boss says. He blows a huge cloud of smoke, completely obscuring his face. You can work on it for three weeks, but I cant pay you during that time. Ill call it leave without absence. After all, Im taking a huge risk I mean, its you but on the other hand, think of the long-term benefit if you pull it off! You dont know what to say. You open and close your mouth like a tropical fish, but nothing comes out. Thankfully, his phone rings and his hand pounces out and throttles it. Why? I dont have to explain why! Just dont let him in! Thats all! your boss yells. He puts the phone down Are you going out for lunch? Ah, sure, you say, thrown by the sudden change in topic. Do you want something? No, he says, pulling a brown paper envelope out from his desk drawer. But on the way out can you give this to Steve who used to work here? Youll see him security have him pinned down outside the front door to the building. Best I dont go down dont want to rile him up any further. He thrusts the envelope across to you. It feels light. Go. Have lunch, then well talk about this afterwards. You stand up and take the envelope, thankful for the chance to think before you give your answer. Besides, youre hungry, like your boss said. * Do you: A: Take up the challenge but give your notice to leave the company that way if it doesnt turn out, you can resign with full benefits. Go to page XX. Politely refuse the poisoned chalice and put in your resignation. You can always work as a consultant to the company until you find another job your boss will have no choice. You know too many roles in the business, so he cant operate without you. Go to page XX. Go out and have a couple strong drinks then return and quit with a scene reminiscent of the climax to Scarface. Its obvious the company is going under and you probably wont get the money owed to you if you stick it out another four weeks anyway. Your life and dignity are worth more than this. Go to page XX. * * *



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