Just like the internet, a sudden windfall can be the cause of and solution to a world of problems. It can cure the anxiety of not having enough cash to buy a home but it can also be frittered away on material goods with ever-diminishing returns.
These are problems no doubt many would wish to have but the fallout is real enough that it has own quasi-diagnosis. Sudden Wealth Syndrome refers to an increase in general anxiety, obsessive thoughts, mood swings, fears and guilt associated with a flood of money.
So what is a beneficiary to do when a big pay day finally arrives and Croesus suddenly seems like just another member of the 99 percent?
Reuters reports that Alibaba is all too well aware of the possible pitfalls of instant wealth and is taking pre-emptive action ahead of its planned debut in the United States. It’s offering employees advice on how to handle the billions of US dollars tipped to flow from the listing, “warning them not to be carried away and splurge on material goods.”
Sure, that Alibaba-orange BMW might be the car you’ve always dreamed of but is it adding to the general good or supporting a new generation of innovation?
And so the company has brought in outside advisors to talk about personal development and offered some of its workers the chance to sell some of their stakes. The approach also has dividends for Alibaba. “The thinking was that if sudden wealth is like venom, giving small doses every now and then was a bit like anti-venom because your company isn’t thrown into chaos,” the report quoted one unnamed source as saying.
The report says present and former Alibaba staff hold more than a quarter of the company but there’s no word on the exact number of people this might involve. Whoever they are, their future happiness could rest on how they make more out of more and find meaning in manna.
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