Two Kinds of Pay

We were discussing purpose in life and work. A man shared a story. In his first career, he was a chef. An angry teenager washed pots and pans. The chef told the boy he was going to teach him how to make homemade ravioli. He had the boy make the dish each day. One day he told the boy that he was the only teenager in the country who knew how to do what he was doing.

There was an impact. The boy began to grow. He went into the military and fought in two wars. Twenty-five years after the incident, the soldier found the chef on Facebook. He thanked him for turning his life around.

The former chef said, “I continually search for ways to grow people. This is why I work. Money is necessary to live, but this is my most important form of pay. It is my reason to live.”

The room grew silent. A peer spoke up, “Thank you for sharing that story; it really matters to me. Thank you.”


  • Why do you live?
  • How many forms of pay do you receive?
  • How could you give yourself a raise?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

2 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Pay

  1. I was recently interviewing candidates for a supervisory position. I have 45 people who report to me, two of whom are often negativistic and critical. Those two are confidantes and feed off of each other. I invited one of them to join me in initial supervisor screening interviews. A senior manager in my organization was incredulous and asked, “Why are you giving that person “perks” that he doesn’t deserve? If you’re going to involve your staff, involve someone who’s earned the privilege.” I replied, “I understand what you’re saying, but I want this guy to improve his performance. I think he’s more likely to be responsive if he knows that I value him and his opinions.”

    I was concerned that our opinions about potential supervisors would be widely divergent, but was committed to consider whatever my co-interviewer offered. I was surprised that not only did we agree on our impressions of candidates, but that he offered some insights that I genuinely found valuable.

    About three weeks after we’d finished interviewing, I had to ask my team to complete some unpopular, time consuming online trainings that were newly mandated by the state. Guess who completed all the trainings first? My co-interviewer. And he did not utter a single disparaging remark or complaint!

    This is nowhere near the magnitude of what the chef gave to his adolescent dishwasher, but the chef’s experience articulates for me why inviting my negativistic employee to have a voice in “important decisions” felt like the right thing to do.


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