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Are you paying too much for a WHISTLE as employee, jobseeker or startup?

The Whistle

This letter written 240 years ago teaches us to act in our daily life as an employee, job seeker or a startup.

Are we paying too much for the whistle?

Read this interesting story based on Benjamin Franklin’s Letter back to the date Nov 10, 1779.

To summarise the story, as a seven-year-old child, Benjamin Franklin along with his friends went to a toy shop. He saw a whistle in the hands of another boy and was charmed by the sound of the whistle so much that he gave all his money to this boy and came back home. He went whistling all over the house being so much excited with his purchase. His brothers and sisters told him that he paid the price 4 times higher than the actual price. Realizing that, he would have bought other good things with the rest of the money, he cried.

But reflecting on this incident afterwards gave him an understanding that not only proved beneficial to him but also to each one of us even to this date.

You can also view the story in the form of a video.


Afterwards, whenever he was tempted to buy an unnecessary thing, he said to himself – Don’t give too much for the whistle’.

The best part of the letter is when he related this learning to everyday life. And he started viewing daily life events in the light of this new learning.

When he found someone busy seeking court-related favors, he related this concept saying he would have sacrificed so much of his time, resources and freedom just to get this. Wasn’t he paying too much for the whistle?

When he saw a man running after popularity, neglecting his own life, he too paid too much for his whistle.

He then related this remarkably with people from various facets of life such as a miser, a pleasure-seeking individual, a person fond of appearance and a sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured person.

“The great part of the miseries of mankind age are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistle.”

Let’s find out how can we relate this story to our daily lives as an employee, job seekers or a startup.

As an employee, we might be wasting our time, doing things that may consume our time, resources or talent, so much that it may feel we are giving too much for a whistle. For example, we may run after recognition at work, lucrative designations and salaries or spend so much time complaining about not-so-good things that we at times may be ignoring the worth of present job, neglect prioritizing on doing tasks at hand with excellence and dedication, our health or family. This ultimately leads to misery brought upon by our false estimates. Isn’t it paying too much for a whistle as an employee?.

So, for an employee, a whistle may be mindlessly running after

  • Recognition and appreciation at work

  • Lucrative Designations

  • Very High Pay Package

  • Authority & Power

  • Superiority among colleagues

As job seekers, we might be tempted to apply for all the seemingly lucrative jobs that we might not be ready for or do not have the skills and experience yet or we may run after jobs that may demand too much of our time and resources concerning our goals. At times, we spend all of our time and resources applying for even those jobs that we may never accept even after getting selected. Complaining about the current job situation or unemployment would also consume much of our time. Blindly applying for every job may not serve the purpose. We may instead use this time constructively to build key skills, or seek goal clarity and apply for relevant jobs. We need to constantly evaluate “Are we paying too much for a whistle as a jobseeker?”

For a job seeker, the whistle maybe

Blindly applying for

  • Jobs mentioning attractive salaries or designation

  • Jobs for which we do not have the required skills and experience

  • Jobs that we might not be ready to accept even if shortlisted

  • Jobs that demand too much of our resources, time and money, allowing no scope to balance life.

As a startup founder, we might tirelessly work days and nights running after investor funds, fame, Sales, Profits, Promotions to the extent that we neglect peace of mind, health, family, friends and at times neglect to focus on adding real value. Isn’t it giving too much for the want of success and fame? “What’s important here is not which hours are working hours, but that all hours are not “business hours.” Forbes Article*

For a startup founder, the whistle maybe

Purposeless chase of

  • Huge funds

  • Fame

  • Record Sales

  • Huge Profits

  • Wide-scale Promotions

  • Any other goal demanding a lot of time, energy and resources

A letter that was written by Benjamin Franklin 240 years back, still holds true if we really apply this in our lives.

We will be discussing in our next article  how can we avoid false estimates   as an employee, job seeker or startup.

What’s your whistle?

Share your thought at  [email protected]



  • *Book- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, E. Boyd Smith, Frank Woodworth Pine.

*Forbes – Article for quotation

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