I was reading The Three Little Pigs to my son, Noah, last week… and was suddenly appalled by how completely and utterly wrong the moral of this story is… especially in this day and age.
Outrage over a kid’s book, I know it seems pretty extreme…
But it’s not when you ask yourself, “What the hell are we really teaching our kids with stories like this?”
Do we really want them to believe that the secret to success is just to knuckle down and work hard… and if they just do that, they’ll enjoy a happy, secure life?
That’s a bit 1900’s, wouldn’t you agree?
Because, even if you work hard nowadays, if you’re working in the wrong field – it’s just like betting big on the wrong horse at the track. And for many industries, the race is already run.
Amazon is putting retailers out of business.
Companies are relying on automation and outsourcing, more and more.
And the pension system is absolutely crumbling underfoot. So it doesn’t matter how many years you put in, you’re still not going to get the retirement you deserve.
To be successful, ‘yes’, you’ve got to work hard… you’ve got to obsess, in fact… but you’ve got to obsess about the RIGHT things.
And THAT’S the moral of the story we should be giving our kids these days. That’s the only way they’re going to have any chance of succeeding in the new economy. And, if we aren’t – then aren’t we just sending them out, like pigs to the slaughter?
And now on to the main event …
Below, with a bit of artistic license, I’ve thrown away the flawed thinking from the original Three Little Pigs and replaced that with a nice dose of reality for the modern era.
Here’s to our future generation’s enjoyment and edification, and I hope you get a kick out of it as well.
One fine spring day, the three little pigs strode across the university’s graduation stage.
One by one, they held their heads high as the Head Dean bestowed each of them with honors and their diplomas.
With a firm handshake, she urged them each to go forth into the world and “become a success.”
Now, even though the Dean knew that the big bad wolf of recession was out there somewhere, lying in wait, she still sent the young little pigs off without a warning.
“I’ve prepared them as best I can,” she told herself, “Besides, why ruin their big day?”
And so the three little pigs went skipping happily across the fields, each full of hope for the future.
Unfortunately, this enthusiasm quickly evaporated at the end of the first month, when their first student loan bill came due.
“$25K!!!” screeched the first little pig.
And so he took the first job he could find.
Yes, the work was tough. And, no, it didn’t have anything to do with what he had been studying for the last 4 years, but he applied himself. And soon, he’d saved up enough to set himself up with a comfortable little life in the heart of the city.
“This is great!” he snorted to himself, “I’m finally free!”
The second little pig had a little more ambition than his younger brother and took out another loan, on top of his student loans, and opened his own clothing store in the burbs.
“There’s a 100% markup on every item I sell,” he exclaimed with self-satisfaction. Clearly, he was going places.
The third little pig knew ‘The money’s in the email list’, and so he set out to systematically grow and nurture his list of subscribers, so he could start making affiliate sales and begin developing his own courses and educational programs.
Sure, he was a bit of a hermit for a while… and he couldn’t enjoy the fancy restaurants and escapades his brothers were always bragging about, but that was ok with him. He saw the bigger picture.
And it didn’t take long for that picture to come into focus.
As spring turned to summer… and with just a few half-baked statements and a few dozen tweets composed while sitting on the throne, the world suddenly started careening into the biggest trade war that anyone had ever seen.
“Don’t worry,” said the first little pig, “Trade wars are very easy to win.”
But when the big bad wolf of recession started lumbering through the streets, slaughtering all the older, slower moving companies, there were massive, cascading layoffs and factories were quickly shuttered, far and wide.
The first little pig ran like the wind to his brother’s clothing store, begging for a job. And that went well for a while…
Until the big bad wolf huffed and puffed again, sending shivers down the spine of consumer spending; sapping confidence, and snapping pocket books closed on all non-essential items.
“But people need clothes,” the second little pig complained.
“Yes, but they can always get them cheaper on Amazon,” the first little pig blurted out.
As angry as that made him, he realized his brother was right…
… And because of the crushing weight of all the new tariffs, his constant struggle to make payroll, and the never-ending drama of monthly overhead, the second little pig decided that the best thing to do was to close his doors for the very last time.
Destitute, the first and second little pigs visited their elder brother one night.
Freezing and buffeted by gale force winds, they knocked and peered in the window, hoping for a little warmth, comfort, and solace from their woes.
After a long, scrumptious dinner, both of the younger brothers were beside themselves with curiosity: how was it that their older brother was in such an even-tempered, jovial mood, especially in these, admittedly, dark days?
“What gives!?” they oinked in unison. “What’s your secret?”
The third little pig served them another round of espresso and explained that “it doesn’t matter what’s happening in your local economy, or even in your country, if you’re operating digitally. Bits and bites and digital dollars flow across international borders as naturally these days as corn through a goose.
“And it doesn’t matter what you’re charging for your info-products, as long as you have a system for justifying their value.”
He let this sink in for a little while, as they sipped and got wired and the wind and rain raged outside.
Then he asked them the 2 most important questions of their entire lives…
“What’s your superpower, guys? And why not create a list-based business around that?”
“I love gardening,” said the first little pig.
“Excellent,” beamed the elder brother, “There are plenty of affiliate products in that niche. And there are tons of homeowners who share your passion, and could benefit from your help and guidance. You could put a simple video course together in a few weeks, couldn’t you? And you could easily sell that for $295-$495, depending on how you package it.”
“Wow, that sounds great,” said the first little pig.
“And I’m into slimming down and eating healthy,” said the second little pig.
“You know, the supplement market is a multi-billion-dollar industry,” said the elder brother, “and each one of those companies needs buyers…
“If you focused on this niche, you could help your subscribers find the highest quality products – and that could provide you with a nice, 6-figure income. How would you like to be doing that?”
“Really? I’d love that,” said the second little pig. It was the first glimmer of hope in ages.
“Of course, this is all going to take hard work and dedication,” their brother warned, “but show me anything worthwhile that doesn’t take hard work and dedication, right?”
“The big difference here is that when you’re doing something you love… something that has real meaning to you… the hard work doesn’t seem so hard, does it? In fact, I think you’ll find it’s really fun.”
“That’s why it pays to work smarter, not harder!”
“And so, now that you’ve got the plan,” their big brother asked, “What’s stopping you?”
“Nothing!” both of the younger brothers shouted.
And so the three little pigs stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, planning out their new business ventures together; excited for the dawning of a brand new day.
So tell me, do you like the story?
Don’t you think THIS is a little bit better than telling our kids to work hard every day, even if it’s working in a dying economy that will soon cease to exist? And if so, let me also ask: what’s stopping you from charging head long into your future?