John W. Rogers Jr., founder and chief executive of Ariel Investments in Chicago, inspired a new hire at his company at a lunch they shared. The new hire, then 22-year old Mellody Hobson, went on to become the president of Ariel Investments.
In a New York Times essay on March 26, Hobson reflected on the lunch and Rogers's comments in an essay titled "Making Money Secondary in Decisions," in a "Your Money" special section. Hobson wrote,
I hung on John’s every word, filing away his every utterance.
And then he told me this: “Don’t make decisions based on money.” Come again?
This was peculiar advice for an investment manager to bestow — wasn’t every investment decision he made based on his research into which companies would thrive and make money? . . .
From my older and wiser perspective, the warning is so legitimate that it is deceptively simplistic. Yet I see people making major life decisions for the wrong reason — money — nearly every day. So I question the young person who wants to take the job that pays more over the one that inspires her, the graduate who pursues the field he thinks will be more lucrative instead of the one in which he will thrive, the bride or groom who marries the financially secure mate over the one who offers true compatibility, partnership and love. They ought to anchor personal life choices with long-term consequences in something more meaningful than money.