Napoleon Outflanked by Early Retirement

5 min read
Nov 11, 2023 4:00:00 PM

Welcome to the Financial Boss blog. Today, we bring you a parody interview with renowned French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte whose impact continues to be felt on our modern world in terms of military innovation, higher education, and the code of law. His rapid rise to power on the heels of the French Revolution, and subsequent fall when making the classic blunder of getting involved in a land war in Asia, serves to both inspire us to reach for our goals no matter what station you start out in life, and to caution us to plan in advance for the inevitable setbacks that come with living in a dynamic world subject to the whims of nature and manmade foibles.

Napoleon is not without controversy. According to a Wikipedia article entitled, Legacy of Napoleon, "his role in the Haitian Revolution and decision to reinstate slavery in France's overseas colonies are controversial and affect his reputation. Napoleon institutionalized plunder of conquered territories: he loaded French museums with art stolen from across Europe." Possessing a fiery personality, Napoleon is prone to fits of anger that can be either inspiring or frightening. Fresh off a recent movie debut in a film directed by Ridley Scott entitled, Napoleon, this interview promises to be mesmerizing and enlightening. 

Financial Boss:  Welcome Napoleon to our blog, and congratulations on your recent big picture movie feature.

Napoleon: Oh - that nonsense. It's nothing but a load of self-aggrandizing propaganda, and a total misrepresentation of my character. The director made me look like a fool. I am a great military leader and a brilliant diplomat, not a buffoon who falls in love with a silly actress.

Financial Boss: What is clear, though, is that you are very ambitious. Where does that drive come from?

Napoleon: I am from Corsica where we are always fighting for freedom against the tyrants. From a young age, I had a strong sense of purpose and destiny that my mother Letizia helped fuel. My father Carlo was also ambitious. He always encouraged me to strive for greatness. I felt an overwhelming determination to accomplish extraordinary things.

Financial Boss: What are some of your early memories of money?

Napoleon: My family came from Italy and were of minor nobility. My father was a lawyer and diplomat, so while we didn't struggle with money, we also weren't rich. I enjoyed some privileges. It wasn't until I left for France at nine years old to attend military school on a scholarship that I learned how relatively poor I was. I believe that if my father hadn't secured that scholarship with the help of Count Marbeuf, I wouldn't have been able to attend Brienne. When I went up to the Paris École Militaire to continue my studies, I needed to finish my schooling in just one year, because my father had died from cancer and money was scant. It impacted my class standing where I was ranked just 42 out of 58 students. 

Financial Boss: On the lighter side, did you ever participate in any mischief or debauchery while in school?

Napoleon: Haha, of course. I led our class to victory in a snowball fight over the upperclassman. The secret is to build a stockpile of snowballs while keeping an eye on the enemy position. Take from the snow just below the powder but above the ice. Find cover. Dodge and throw. Repeat. Coordinate your counter attacks, and of course, lead from the front.

Financial Boss: Besides military history, was there a subject that you were interested in and excelled at that had a practical application in your later career?

Napoleon: Maths! Especially algebra and geometry. I was awarded the prestigious "First in Mathematics" prize while at Brienne. Artillery was a crucial element of battle during my time and required the ability to precisely calculate and deliver devastating blasts. I also delighted in math puzzles like estimating the number of times the blocks from the pyramids could encircle France. 

Financial Boss: How did you manage your early career and get noticed? 

Napoleon: One of my early assignments was with the Corsican National Guard. It was a tumultuous period and the French Revolution was in full swing. I hastily returned to the French mainland when the traitor Pasquale Paoli aligned Corsica with the English and ousted the French. Lorsqu'une porte se ferme, une autre porte s'ouvre. I went on to achieve great victories at Toulon against all odds. Defeating the royalist insurrection changed my fortunes. Luck played a role, too. I narrowly escaped losing my head during the Reign of Terror. Good for France, because after my exploits in Egypt, I returned to Paris and saved France from the Directory by becoming First Consul. I never worried about money again.

Financial Boss: You also found love during that period. How did you find balance in your life and did your priorities change?

Napoleon: Ah, my marriage with Joséphine was a complex and tumultuous affair. We first met in 1795 and were married a year later. Joséphine, being a woman of charm and grace, captured my heart. However, our relationship faced many challenges, including my frequent absences due to military campaigns and her own personal struggles. Despite these difficulties, we shared moments of great love and affection. Sadly, we didn't have any children together and our marriage ended in divorce in 1809. A year later I married Marie Louise of Austria, who while raised to dislike the French, soon fell under my charms and bore me a son. What should have been a joyous time quickly turned to ruin with a sequence of defeats in Russia and Waterloo. 

Financial Boss: You suffered an ignominious end. You were forced to abdicate your throne and you were banished to Elba and then St. Helena where you spent your final years. Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self?

Napoleon: It is true that my fortunes changed, but I have no regrets. All I did was for the glory of France down to the smallest detail like forming bread into a baguette to make it easier for soldiers to carry. After abdicating, I lost my wife and son who returned to Austria. Within months after arriving in Elba, I learned that my one true love Joséphine passed away. My wealth disappeared. I had nothing. Just before my movie premiered, Netflix released a biopic on Sylvester Stallone. He was also a fighter. His words echo my thoughts, "What is healthier? To live under the illusion that you could have been great, or actually have an opportunity to be great and then you blow it, and you realize you're a failure."



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