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I’m Sorry, The Magic Is Gone (#6)

April 28, 2015

(Business Lessons From My 7 Dads)

(Photo Credit: World Wide Weird News)

Have you ever seen someone you love and care about headed down a path that you think will bring them grief? 

What do you do? Do you “say your piece” even though you know it will do no good? Do you opt out and not participate? Do you go along for the ride and hope that your instincts are wrong?

My mother married her sixth husband after I was an adult and had my own family. None of us knew much about him and we all felt she was still grieving. But, who is going to tell an adult woman who had built two multi-million dollar businesses that she was rushing into it too fast? 

I did learn a valuable business lesson from dad #6.

The wedding was beautiful. My mother asked me to walk her down the aisle. It’s a strange sensation to be the one in that role. The wedding took place at the country club in the gated community where she lived. As a long time member of the community, she had hundreds of friends, family and former clients. They were all invited. The food was superb. The music was wonderful. We all danced. I sang a song I had composed for the occasion. 

By all outward appearances it was a huge success. 

Outward appearances were misleading. 

The wedding was a social event in the small city where Mom lived. I think the paper might have even written about it. But, somewhere in the midst of the salmon and the dinner mints and the balloons and the cake, something was missing. 

Tragically, just a few weeks after coming together in a wonderful public display of unity, the marriage was over. My stepfather was from out of state. He’d met my mother on a cruise and they fell in love. But, when it came to the reality of settling down together, he realized something that he’d missed in the whirlwind romance and wedding. My mother was very popular in her town and he was an unknown. I don’t think his ego could take the idea that everywhere they went, to dinner, to the symphony, even just a simple shopping trip, she knew nearly everyone and everyone knew her. . .and he was just “the guy she married.” 

He announced the end of their marriage with the words, “The magic is gone.”

Both businesses and people make the same mistakes that my step-father made. Back in the early 1990’s Novell, a computer networking company in Provo, UT bought WordPerfect, an computer application company in neighboring Orem, UT. The merger was touted with great fanfare by both companies. Novell gave up A billion dollars in stock to the two principal owners of WordPerfect. On paper, the match looked pretty good. The companies had no competing product lines. They serviced many of the same customers. Their physical proximity meant that they didn’t even need to worry about moving a bunch of people across the country. 

But, just as my mother’s 6th wedding was all about the glitz and not about the reality of merging two different lives, Novell and WordPerfect were destined to fail. Just a couple of years after the big merger, Novell quitely sold off most of the former WordPerfect Corporation to a small Canadian company called Correl. And rather than a billion dollars, they got about ten million for it. 

The companies were so interested in having a wedding that they didn’t check to see if they had a future. 

It’s not just companies that rush into bad relationships. Several years ago, I was between jobs and had been looking for months. I had a chance to move my family to Wisconsin and go into partnership with a man I didn’t know well. I spent thousands of dollars moving. Then, I bought a house right away. Twenty-five days later the “partnership” was over. I was stuck in Wisconsin with no job, more debt and a house I couldn’t afford. 

Had I heeded the lesson of Dad #6, or the Novell/WordPerfect merger, I could have saved myself years of heartache as I worked to dig my way out of the financial hole I was in. I would have been better off to not even go  in the first place. 

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. If you expect a relationship to last for years, it’s a good idea to spend more than a few weeks planning it. 

Make sure the magic is really there before you risk it being gone. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 

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