May 07, 2021
There will come a point in one’s life when we find out what is truly important in our lives. That’s exactly what happened to Ben Zeneca, a top executive from a big pharmaceutical company based in Germany. Let’s read about his story and how he was able to turn his life around.
I was at the top of the corporate ladder. And although it was extremely lonely at the top, it was my dream to head one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. My father was its former head, and my grandfather, its former owner. The company ran into trouble just before my grandfather died, and when my father took over, he was forced to sell it. I grew up watching my father do everything to buy back the company. He froze all our bank accounts and sold all our properties to prepare his children in case he was unsuccessful. He wanted us to learn how to strive in life as if we had nothing. He refused to send my older sister abroad to study and made all of us work on weekends to earn extra money. For many years my father never withdrew money from our banks and trust funds. He wanted us to learn the value of hard work—something he was never taught growing up being from an affluent family.
My siblings and I hated him. My sister and older brother ran away, leaving my father and me alone in the house (we never met our mother). I remember wanting to run away as well, but I pitied my father and felt bad for him. I stayed and helped him in the company I grew to love. I, with the approval of the new owners, took over after my father when I turned 40. My father died 3 years after I took over his position. But, before he did, he gave me access to a bank account with enough money to buy the company back. I was stunned. I asked him why he didn’t buy it while he was still the CEO. He said he needed to find out who was worthy enough to replace him. It broke my heart. For the first time in my life back then I felt I did something good. So for the next 25 years, I stirred the company to great heights. It was more successful than ever. I never got married. I devoted all my time to keep the company together. I never want my siblings and me to experience what we experienced when we were young.
All was well until I was rushed to the hospital for abdominal pain. Doctors said I had cancer. I had to step down from the company and let my eldest nephew take over. I was sent to Switzerland for chemotherapy. I stayed there for six months. The darkest six months of my life. Seven days after I left the hospital, my doctors called and said that I was cancer-free. I was able to beat the big C.
I miss working, so a week later, despite the advice of doctors, I went back to work. But, that first morning inside my old office, nothing felt the same. I felt as if I was trying to hold on to something that was no longer mine. I wept that morning. I felt like I didn’t have a purpose anymore. I felt like I was nothing more than a shadow of my former glory.
My longtime assistant walked in. I remember turning and seeing his usual smile. She wasn’t surprised at all that I was there. She said she had been waiting for me since I got out of the hospital. Then she said something that changed my life. You have done more than what your father dreamed for you, she said. It’s time to reclaim your life, she added. What is my life? I asked her. Do what makes you happy, she answered. Tell the world about your story—your beautiful story, she said before leaving.
I spent a week thinking about what she said. I was disappointed as well, disappointed that I couldn’t sort my thoughts for myself. Then I decided to leave for good. I called my assistant who never married as well. She devoted her life to helping me rebuild the company, so I called her and asked her to move in with me in New York.
We bought a penthouse overlooking the most beautiful city in the world. We transformed our lives and made sure that we are taking care of our health. It was difficult for me at first to not be busy with a company, but I grew to love moments of silence and mental peace.
We bought a bunch of indoor plants. We had a private gym installed in the house. We walk around Central Park every morning. We did everything to be closer to nature, closer to our true selves.
On my birthday, she gave me a standing desk and an ergonomic chair. I laughed when I saw her gifts. I thought an uncomfortable chair is necessary to get things done. But that night, I unpacked everything and used them for the first time. The Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair is the most comfortable chair I have used in my life. It’s what they call an ergonomic chair from a company called Flexispot. I didn’t sleep that night. I went online and researched more on ergonomic office furniture. I found out that ergonomic chairs are designed to help support the body while working. They guarantee hours of work without the usual lower back pains.
The Adjustable Standing Desk Pro Series seemed almost magical to me at first. Why would anyone work standing up, I asked. Online, I saw the benefits. I realized that working seated down for long periods is unhealthy. Standing desks will help you be healthy. It will help you save space as well since you won’t need another table with a higher tabletop height. It’s a 2-in-1 desk.
Six months later, we went back to Germany for the anniversary of my father’s death. We popped in the office and surprised everyone with their very own standing desks and ergonomic chairs. Employee welfare should go deep into their daily tasks. Taking care of their health is equal to taking care of the company’s future.
Back in New York, a month ago, using my Flexispot office furniture, I began writing my memoir. I want the world to know about my success story and the new life I now enjoy.
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