Love Business, Hate Work (or why it’s important we understand the difference) Sunday’s “Coffee with Colm’

I’m know to say, “I love business and I hate work”

What do I mean by that?

Many years ago now I came across Robert Kiyosaki’s books, the Rich Dad series and was intrigued in particular by the second book in the series, The Cashflow Quadrant. In it, Kiyosaki taught me the difference between the various characters in the global play called Commerce. Turns out, despite the myriad businesses and millions of jobs on the planet, there are only four characters and they play 24/7/365 on repeat.

When I read the book first, probably shortly after its publication in 1998, it gave shape (literally) to my thoughts around why I was then unhappy in my career – I was unhappy because I was working!

As we entered 1998 I was Franchise Manager for Bewley’s Cafes in Ireland, based out of an office on Mary St on Dublin’s Northside and although I worked hard, I was unhappy in my career. You see, I had wanted to be a school teacher when I left St Paul’s College inn Raheny, Dublin almost two decades before but hadn’t put the work in to get the necessary honour in Irish to get into teacher training college and had fallen into catering by accident. My dad, Tommy O’Brien was working for Green Isle Frozen Foods in 1980 as I left school and so I wasn’t hanging around, he invited me to come work with him for a few days which is how I met Mr. Halpin in the Rooftop Restaurant in Clery’s – a then famous department store (since closed under ethically questionable circumstances) on the east side of Dublin’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell St. Mr. Halpin offered me a job as a trainee cashier on a Wednesday; I started my career now spanning almost four decades in catering on the following Monday.

I had a job.

Yep, by September 1980 the die was cast. I had a job.

The plan by the way was to work for a year, study Irish at night improve my grade and then enter teacher training college a year older and wiser.

Didn’t happen. Why? I had a job.

To find out how I can justify saying I Love Business and Hate Work, watch the video (8 mins teaching), listen to the podcast (8 mins teaching) or read on below…

Prefer Podcast? (8 mins teaching) Click here.

A job meant work (obviously) and in catering that meant long hours so my appetite for evening study was diminished. A job also meant the few bob, shekels, dollars, money in my back pocket; money for going out, not staying in. I was seventeen, hello! The few bob meant I could afford my ten Carroll’s No. 1 cigarettes in their iconic red and white carton (I know! – ashamed now) every day and twenty on a Saturday with my pint of Smithwicks (all my habits have changed – iconic black stuff is my preference today) – of course you could smoke in pubs back then in Ireland.

What is interesting about that time was that I had thought I wanted to be a school teacher and yet I had given up on that ‘dream’ within a few short months of earning ‘the few bob’. I’ve learned since that the dream of short hours and long holidays (the allure of teaching for me, not saving the world through education) simply wasn’t big enough to warrant my giving up my new found social life.

I’ve also learned since for things to change, things must change and to change things we need a huge why in our lives. I didn’t have that big a why and so binned the evening classes in Irish and got stuck in to a long and largely satisfying career in the world of commerce at the core of which was food.

Of course, in 1980, I hadn’t met Robert Kiosaki so I didn’t know of the four characters of which I had inadvertently become one. I was an employee. Actually I was an employee since 1976, aged thirteen – surely there are laws against that now? – when I started pushing shopping trolleys for H. Williams Supermarket in Donaghmede Shopping Centre about a mile from where I lived on Tonlegee Rd. My job was to walk the streets of the housing estates close by and collect discarded shopping trolleys, form a snake with them and push them back to their rightful place – must be laws against that too – of course no clever clog had come up with the Euro/pound/dollar slot at that stage. Anyway, I digress…

So by 1980 I had a job, a proper job, a full-time job.

I had a job, I had the few bob, I had zero responsibility, I was happy out, but I had no plan.

I didn’t know I needed one; why would I?

And I loved it. And if you love something you often get good at it, and if you get at something you often get on and so it went with me. I had a job with s steady upwards trajectory – what more could I possibly want. I had a job and I was happy.

Roll on thirteen more years to 1993 and my world looked very different. I still had a job; a bigger, better job, this time as General Manager of Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton St. I was married; two kids, two car payments and a mortgage; I had more bobs but many more responsibilities, things were very different and although I should have been grateful, I was in fact deeply unhappy.

Why? Because in 1980, aged thirty I realized for the first time that because I didn’t have a plan to begin with, – I just went with the flow – I had arrived at a point where all I was qualified to do was to work hard to earn the few bob for the rest of my life unless something changed.

Remember we agreed earlier for things to change, things must change, so I began studying again, this time however I began to study business, not Irish. I decided I needed to figure out why some people got ahead and why many didn’t and that study, that search led me five years later to my reading The Cashflow Quadrant when a light bulb went on in my head; I learned about the four characters and I learned I could choose to be any one of them or any combination of them or indeed all of them if I wished!

The four players in the play ‘Global Commerce’ are:

  1. Employee (me at the time)
  2. Self-employed
  3. Business Owner
  4. Investor

I learned that ‘Commerce’ is a system and the four players interact with ‘the system’ differently

  1. Employees WORK IN the system
  2. Self-employed ARE the system
  3. Business Owners OWN (or control) the system
  4. Investors PROVIDE THE FUNDS for the system

Kioyosaki taught me that although we all earn our crust or our few bob within the system, we get to CHOOSE which part or parts we play; I never knew that. In fact worse than that, I never knew I never knew that!

Yes, we (you and I) can choose the role(s) we play.

The fundamental differences between the four players is that Player 1 and Player 2 trade their time for money – they go to work for ‘the man’ or they are ‘the man’ or woman in their own play. They get up every morning and hit the ‘repeat’ button and go out to earn the few bob for the day and that is fine, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that; I’d prefer that than sitting on my rear end, scratching.

Players 1 and 2 WORK.

On the other hand, and this is where it gets interesting, Players 3 and 4 have learned how to LEVERAGE themselves – they still work (and many work harder than most Players 1 and 2) but they work at work that keeps paying once they stop!

Players 3 and 4 OWN the work.

This is the difference between WORK and BUSINESS.

I Love Business and I Hate Work

Think of Michael O’Leary (of Ryanair infamy) or Sir Richard Branson if you will. Is is a fair assumption that whether they get up and turn up in the office on Monday or not, they will get paid? Fair assumption? I can feel you nodding in agreement. It is more than a fair assumption and to use one of my favourite, most descriptive Limerickisms (here since 1998), you can ‘chalk it down’ – whether Michael O’Leary or Richard Branson go to the office or not, they will get paid.

If the pilot or cabin crew member or baggage handler chooses not to turn up, will she or he get paid? Nope.

Players 1 and 2 WORK FOR pay. Players 3 and 4 BUILD BUSINESSES THAT pay.

Simple as.

I work hard by the way; some say too hard but the one cardinal rule I live by is that I try to figure out ways to offload all my ‘work’ to others so that I can ‘work’ at creating business; business that will pay me, like Michael and Richard, whether I choose to go to the office or not.

What part(s) are you playing today? What is your 2020 Vision – what part(s) would you like to play by the time your birtday rols around in 2020?

Remember for things to change, things must change.

My best to you.

How can I help?


HIRE ME TO SPEAK. Consider me speaking at your event, launch, awards, or as your after-dinner keynote. Find out more here.

WORK WITH ME OR THE COBM TEAM. Need help with your business? Check out the areas I and The Sounding Board of trusted experts can assist with. Find out more here.

MORE. Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sniff at some of my other “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • Last week’s “Coffee with Colm”. Click here
  • Determining your 2020 Vision. Click here.
  • Making sure you are on the right track. Click here
  • The importance of EQ over IQ. Click here

STAY CONNECTED. If this is your thing, consider joining in the conversation here.

FREE BOOK. If would like a complimentary copy of my book “Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks” in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

DEEP DIVE. If you would like to go deeper in your own personal journey, you can review the first step in my “12 Steps to Create the Life You Really Want” for FREE. Check it out here.

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly,


“How can I help?”

Share this

No Comments

Be the first to start a conversation

Leave a Reply
  • (will not be published)