Author Topic: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?  (Read 12787 times)

Sharkey

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Came across this article and it struck a chord with me: https://hbr.org/2018/02/if-youre-so-successful-why-are-you-still-working-70-hours-a-week

"Elite professional organizations deliberately set out to identify and recruit ďinsecure overachieversĒ ó some leading professional organizations explicitly use this terminology, though not in public. Insecure overachievers are exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, yet driven by a profound sense of their own inadequacy. This typically stems from childhood, and may result from various factors, such as experience of financial or physical deprivation, or a belief that their parentsí love was contingent upon their behaving and performing well.

As the recruiters I interviewed explained, these individuals are immensely attractive to elite professional organizations because they are entirely self-motivating and self-disciplining."

I wonder how many of us here fit this mold. I haven't posted here much, but I have lurked, and I know I've seen many threads where people have talked about growing up in financial or other straits. I did, and I feel I definitely fit that overachiever pattern.

I have not however seen mention before that companies specifically look for this sort of person.

Coasting a bit occasionally and pushing back on unreasonable demands, and generally being kind to ourselves may be the best thing we can do for ourselves once we're professionally established.

KungfuRabbit

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2018, 04:57:20 AM »
You know what never ceases to amaze me at work?  How worthless so many people are. My honest guess would be 70% of people coast and half ass the job, 25% of people work on the art of doing as little as possible without getting fired, and 5% of people actually work their ass off to run the place.

Also, from my experience this has nothing to do with stuff easy to judge on paper. One of the absolute worst employees in my building had a 4.0 GPA and all sorts of awards from MIT. One of the absolute best employees in the building we had to get special permission to hire because his GPA was too low to qualify based on standard protocol but he has a dad at the company in upper management.

So yea. A good recruiter doesn't just look at GPA and school, they look for that top 5% person that will work their ass off.

Maenad

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2018, 05:02:37 AM »
Sounds downright abusive, to me.

Caroline PF

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2018, 05:24:55 AM »
Quote
Paradoxically, the professionals I studied still believe that they have autonomy and that they are overworking by choice. They do not blame their organizations, which after all have invested in work-life balance initiatives and wellness programs. Instead, they blame themselves for being inadequate. Their colleagues seem to be coping, and they take that as further evidence of their own inadequacy. They do not talk honestly to their colleagues about their problems, thus perpetuating the myth of the invincible professional, which encourages their colleagues to feel inadequate in turn. If they suffer burnout, they think it is their fault. Their organization and its leadership are absolved of responsibility, so nothing fundamental changes.

This describes the environment most physicians work in.

wordnerd

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2018, 06:12:14 AM »
Wow. Some of this really strikes a chord. Thanks for posting.

edgema

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2018, 06:13:40 AM »
"The 500 interviews I conducted for my book showed a pattern: A professionalís insecurity is rooted in the inherent intangibility of knowledge work"

My personal view is that this points to one of the most pertinent issues which is that I believe 'intangibility' is just a polite way of saying that it is impossible to measure genuine output for many jobs. If it was (and I am talking white collar office dwellers here - not physicians and people with 'real' jobs) then we would have the confidence to dig our heels in, stand back, and let the work speak for itself.

Less politely, I might say that many jobs are actually 25% work and 75% nonsense (I replaced a stronger word).

It reminds me of other research I remember seeing a few years back which pointed to the fact that it is those jobs with the least tangible outputs which have the smartest/expensively dressed individuals. Apologies for any reading, but have a look at a big firm management consultant (I speak from experience). Part of signalling you are good is by looking 'expensive' because your work cannot speak for itself.

Working 70+ hours a week is just another way to signal your ability in the absence of tangible output. In our society we have, I believe, a cult of appearing busy, because if you are not busy both professionally and privately then surely you are deficient in some way. If you are so busy that you are working 70+ hours, and give off the impression of being an efficiency machine, you must be awesome at what you do. No-one respects the genuinely efficient worker who clocks off at 5pm and suspect instead that they must not be pulling their weight. Instead they seemingly respect the lunatic responding to emails at 4am. I have seen this personally across investment banking, trading, investment management, investment consulting, management consulting and private equity to name the, admittedly finance skewed, industries I am regularly in contact with. Friends in other industries feel the same.

So I would point to something more insidious than companies simply hiring insecure high achievers, and that leading to overwork. I agree that is part of it. However, I would also present a view that it is precisely because so many jobs are 75% nonsense that people have to signal their 'quality' in some other way than simply doing their job and one of those ways is working lunatic hours (preferably with 4am iron man training to discuss at work to really signal how amazing you are).

Quickly re-read this and I seem really bitter! I am not as I have been reasonably successful having never done 70 hour weeks and am 14 months from FIRE, but it genuinely upsets me to see friends waste so much of their lives caught in the game described in this article.

Hirondelle

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2018, 06:13:55 AM »
Quote
Paradoxically, the professionals I studied still believe that they have autonomy and that they are overworking by choice. They do not blame their organizations, which after all have invested in work-life balance initiatives and wellness programs. Instead, they blame themselves for being inadequate. Their colleagues seem to be coping, and they take that as further evidence of their own inadequacy. They do not talk honestly to their colleagues about their problems, thus perpetuating the myth of the invincible professional, which encourages their colleagues to feel inadequate in turn. If they suffer burnout, they think it is their fault. Their organization and its leadership are absolved of responsibility, so nothing fundamental changes.

This describes the environment most physicians work in.

And that of laboratory PhD students.

alanB

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2018, 06:14:46 AM »
You know what never ceases to amaze me at work?  How worthless so many people are. My honest guess would be 70% of people coast and half ass the job, 25% of people work on the art of doing as little as possible without getting fired, and 5% of people actually work their ass off to run the place.

Have you ever seen a person get fired for doing too little work?  I mean a full-time professional.  I feel like this never happens anymore.

Some of the 5% are just very inefficient.  At least that is my observation.  People who write emails all day, but type 10 words per minute.  People who take on way too many side projects or cannot prioritize.  People who overthink things, etc.  Some workplaces definitely reward this behavior.

I would definitely call myself a coaster, but I would also say I do at least 1 FTE worth of work.  I am just very effective at my job!  People who rely on others to pick up their slack are definitely annoying though.

Schaefer Light

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2018, 06:31:05 AM »
My personal view is that this points to one of the most pertinent issues which is that I believe 'intangibility' is just a polite way of saying that it is impossible to measure genuine output for many jobs. If it was (and I am talking white collar office dwellers here - not physicians and people with 'real' jobs) then we would have the confidence to dig our heels in, stand back, and let the work speak for itself.

Less politely, I might say that many jobs are actually 25% work and 75% nonsense (I replaced a stronger word).
I totally agree.  I've struggled with this for years in my job.  At the end of the day, I can't point to anything measurable and say "I did that".  None of my bosses have ever been able to tell me how I would know if I was doing a good job.  I think it's why I like hobbies that provide immediate feedback.  I sure as hell don't get it at work.

Cpa Cat

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2018, 07:05:24 AM »
Came across this article and it struck a chord with me: https://hbr.org/2018/02/if-youre-so-successful-why-are-you-still-working-70-hours-a-week

"Elite professional organizations deliberately set out to identify and recruit ďinsecure overachieversĒ ó some leading professional organizations explicitly use this terminology, though not in public. Insecure overachievers are exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, yet driven by a profound sense of their own inadequacy. This typically stems from childhood, and may result from various factors, such as experience of financial or physical deprivation, or a belief that their parentsí love was contingent upon their behaving and performing well.

As the recruiters I interviewed explained, these individuals are immensely attractive to elite professional organizations because they are entirely self-motivating and self-disciplining."

I guess it's no accident that the article uses several examples from public accounting firms. It's kind of creepy how well this captures the atmosphere of large accounting firms.

undercover

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2018, 07:13:28 AM »
I know someone exactly like this. They don't come from a rough background per se, just not a prestigious one. It's hard to read these people because they're constantly putting on a front. I feel like I can't really connect with this person or that they're never really being true to their self. They tend to develop imposter syndrome. It's sad and frustrating at the same time. As the article insinuates, if you're so important and successful then why are you working your ass off? To top it off, this person doesn't save anything and doesn't really have a good grasp on money.

Someone mentioned this, but I don't think many people are like this here. It's definitely consistent with a certain type of personality that you're born with, not so much your upbringing (though I think that triggers it). I don't think most people here feel that insecure about their abilities and don't really feel any need to keep up their "image". A job is a means to and end and not a necessary component to who you are as a person. We're more interested in being free than prestige. The archetype that the article profiles is more interested in image and the feeling of success.

Here is a good profile of this type of person:

https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/type3
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blinx7

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2018, 07:17:40 AM »
"The 500 interviews I conducted for my book showed a pattern: A professionalís insecurity is rooted in the inherent intangibility of knowledge work"

My personal view is that this points to one of the most pertinent issues which is that I believe 'intangibility' is just a polite way of saying that it is impossible to measure genuine output for many jobs. If it was (and I am talking white collar office dwellers here - not physicians and people with 'real' jobs) then we would have the confidence to dig our heels in, stand back, and let the work speak for itself.

Less politely, I might say that many jobs are actually 25% work and 75% nonsense (I replaced a stronger word).

It reminds me of other research I remember seeing a few years back which pointed to the fact that it is those jobs with the least tangible outputs which have the smartest/expensively dressed individuals. Apologies for any reading, but have a look at a big firm management consultant (I speak from experience). Part of signalling you are good is by looking 'expensive' because your work cannot speak for itself.

Working 70+ hours a week is just another way to signal your ability in the absence of tangible output. In our society we have, I believe, a cult of appearing busy, because if you are not busy both professionally and privately then surely you are deficient in some way. If you are so busy that you are working 70+ hours, and give off the impression of being an efficiency machine, you must be awesome at what you do. No-one respects the genuinely efficient worker who clocks off at 5pm and suspect instead that they must not be pulling their weight. Instead they seemingly respect the lunatic responding to emails at 4am. I have seen this personally across investment banking, trading, investment management, investment consulting, management consulting and private equity to name the, admittedly finance skewed, industries I am regularly in contact with. Friends in other industries feel the same.

So I would point to something more insidious than companies simply hiring insecure high achievers, and that leading to overwork. I agree that is part of it. However, I would also present a view that it is precisely because so many jobs are 75% nonsense that people have to signal their 'quality' in some other way than simply doing their job and one of those ways is working lunatic hours (preferably with 4am iron man training to discuss at work to really signal how amazing you are).

Quickly re-read this and I seem really bitter! I am not as I have been reasonably successful having never done 70 hour weeks and am 14 months from FIRE, but it genuinely upsets me to see friends waste so much of their lives caught in the game described in this article.

I read this and AM bitter.  I am a lawyer at a law firm, which is a job literally designed to drive people insane.  There are tons of deadlines, but what happens if you put your head down and work frantically, with short lunches and no breaks, to hit them all and then try to kick out of the office at a semi-reasonable hour (I'm talking like 6:30 instead of 8:30)?  Then your hours at the end of the year look are lower than Joe down the hall who cheerfully stays until 10pm correcting typos but spends half the time secretly playing on his phone and billing for it. 

The fact that you closed more deals, on time and under budget, with thoughtful commentary on the documents that hits at key issues and ignores irrelevant stuff, is not just not recognized but brings you no benefit.  Coming in under budget and being judicious in your markups is, for many firms, not the point of the exercise, convincing the client of the need to rack up the hours is.  My firm is actually a lot better than most in this regard but the issue is endemic.  But the job market for lawyers on their own is weak, which is why I am so focused on getting my FU money. 

I don't dislike being what a lawyer could and should be.  But I really loathe the current pointless system where the real job at most big firms is to make the politically-connected baby boomers rich by unnecessarily churning documents. 
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 07:20:42 AM by blinx7 »

FIRE Artist

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2018, 07:55:57 AM »
This really rings true for my previous employer.  They also have an insidious policy of hiring new grads, sending them to work away from their support systems (to camp and often out of country, long training camps during "off" days) so employees are forced to forge social connections with others within the company, shielding them from discovering what is obvious to an outsider - that the employees are being abused with long hours and outrageous expectations.

Sibley

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2018, 07:57:37 AM »
Um, yeah. Me. However, I have sorta figured out that other people really respect me at work (but not why of course), so I have an interesting balance of working not-crazy hours while also convincing myself that I'm not a loser. It's taken me a long time to get there though. It started when I left my first job and heard they had to hire 2 people to replace me - and I was regularly leaving much earlier than my coworkers (public accounting). I truly had no idea I was actually getting through that much work.

The job I just left was similar. I worked 8-4 most days, and was specifically requested for various projects. Had a coworker I respected tell me flat out at one point that I was considered the star on the team. And the entire damn department was so unhappy that I was leaving that I actually had a breakdown over the cognitive dissonance and went into survival mode for a week or so.

Current job, I'm leaving around 4:45, and I'm one of the first ones to leave. I also come in about an hour earlier than most people.

LiveLean

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2018, 08:03:32 AM »
So long as you have people making salaries, paid the same regardless of performance, you will have these issues.

Quit my one and only full-time job in 1998 at the age of 29. Best decision of my life. I would still be coasting along, looking at the clock, collecting a paycheck with probably 1/4 the net worth and quality of life I have today. When you work for yourself in the freelance-gig economy, it's remarkable how efficiently you work -- and, actually, how little you work when you want.
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Tabaxus

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2018, 08:05:47 AM »
Uh, this is a little jarring.

Particularly true in law firms where one aspect of the drive is "must make partner to not be a failure, must make partner to not be a failure" (oh and also if you don't make partner you get fired, there is no middle ground).

Gondolin

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2018, 08:45:38 AM »
Quote
As the recruiters I interviewed explained, these individuals are immensely attractive to elite professional organizations because they are entirely self-motivating and self-disciplining

Recognition of this game is one of the primary reasons I decided to pursue FI. Ultimately, the only way to win is to stop playing.
"There cannot be two skies"

GU

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2018, 10:02:10 AM »
"The 500 interviews I conducted for my book showed a pattern: A professionalís insecurity is rooted in the inherent intangibility of knowledge work"

My personal view is that this points to one of the most pertinent issues which is that I believe 'intangibility' is just a polite way of saying that it is impossible to measure genuine output for many jobs. If it was (and I am talking white collar office dwellers here - not physicians and people with 'real' jobs) then we would have the confidence to dig our heels in, stand back, and let the work speak for itself.

Less politely, I might say that many jobs are actually 25% work and 75% nonsense (I replaced a stronger word).

It reminds me of other research I remember seeing a few years back which pointed to the fact that it is those jobs with the least tangible outputs which have the smartest/expensively dressed individuals. Apologies for any reading, but have a look at a big firm management consultant (I speak from experience). Part of signalling you are good is by looking 'expensive' because your work cannot speak for itself.

Working 70+ hours a week is just another way to signal your ability in the absence of tangible output. In our society we have, I believe, a cult of appearing busy, because if you are not busy both professionally and privately then surely you are deficient in some way. If you are so busy that you are working 70+ hours, and give off the impression of being an efficiency machine, you must be awesome at what you do. No-one respects the genuinely efficient worker who clocks off at 5pm and suspect instead that they must not be pulling their weight. Instead they seemingly respect the lunatic responding to emails at 4am. I have seen this personally across investment banking, trading, investment management, investment consulting, management consulting and private equity to name the, admittedly finance skewed, industries I am regularly in contact with. Friends in other industries feel the same.

So I would point to something more insidious than companies simply hiring insecure high achievers, and that leading to overwork. I agree that is part of it. However, I would also present a view that it is precisely because so many jobs are 75% nonsense that people have to signal their 'quality' in some other way than simply doing their job and one of those ways is working lunatic hours (preferably with 4am iron man training to discuss at work to really signal how amazing you are).

Quickly re-read this and I seem really bitter! I am not as I have been reasonably successful having never done 70 hour weeks and am 14 months from FIRE, but it genuinely upsets me to see friends waste so much of their lives caught in the game described in this article.

I read this and AM bitter.  I am a lawyer at a law firm, which is a job literally designed to drive people insane.  There are tons of deadlines, but what happens if you put your head down and work frantically, with short lunches and no breaks, to hit them all and then try to kick out of the office at a semi-reasonable hour (I'm talking like 6:30 instead of 8:30)?  Then your hours at the end of the year look are lower than Joe down the hall who cheerfully stays until 10pm correcting typos but spends half the time secretly playing on his phone and billing for it. 

The fact that you closed more deals, on time and under budget, with thoughtful commentary on the documents that hits at key issues and ignores irrelevant stuff, is not just not recognized but brings you no benefit.  Coming in under budget and being judicious in your markups is, for many firms, not the point of the exercise, convincing the client of the need to rack up the hours is.  My firm is actually a lot better than most in this regard but the issue is endemic.  But the job market for lawyers on their own is weak, which is why I am so focused on getting my FU money. 

I don't dislike being what a lawyer could and should be.  But I really loathe the current pointless system where the real job at most big firms is to make the politically-connected baby boomers rich by unnecessarily churning documents.

+1, the billable hour system is truly loathsome and has ruined large swaths of the legal profession.

Also, "insecure overachievers" describes more than 50% of all contemporary biglaw partners.

MrMoneySaver

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2018, 10:13:38 AM »
You know what never ceases to amaze me at work?  How worthless so many people are. My honest guess would be 70% of people coast and half ass the job, 25% of people work on the art of doing as little as possible without getting fired, and 5% of people actually work their ass off to run the place.

Found the insecure overachiever.

Tabaxus

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2018, 10:32:19 AM »
Yes, the billable system is absolutely, 100% THE WORST.

Sharkey

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2018, 10:38:00 AM »
Quote
As the recruiters I interviewed explained, these individuals are immensely attractive to elite professional organizations because they are entirely self-motivating and self-disciplining

Recognition of this game is one of the primary reasons I decided to pursue FI. Ultimately, the only way to win is to stop playing.

Amen, sir or madam.

Yes. I think this is a thing that drives me - the feeling that work life is a treadmill and an unwinnable game.

ysette9

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2018, 11:08:49 AM »
I work at a government contractor so we have to charge all of our hours at work to a specific project. We end up with some of the issues that the lawyer folks have, except the culture is not one (usually) of working crazy hours. The fundamental issue of evaluating work via number of hours in a chair persists though.

I have struggled for years with feeling guilty for not working all of the 40 hours/week that I am supposed to. I slack and read MMM forums and all sorts of other nonsense. It has taken me more than a decade at work to begin to accept that I will not be giving the company 100% for 8 or 9 hours each day. The human brain doesn’t work that way, or at least mine doesn’t. I mostly slack and then I have periods of inspiration where I am efficient and produce. Thankfully I have found myself under management who values results, so my slacker ways aren’t getting me in trouble, instead I generally have been highly rated.

I would love to see my company move to evaluating productivity via task completion and meeting objectives versus hours warming a chair. I’m not holding my breath though.
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lhamo

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2018, 06:18:40 PM »
Quote
Paradoxically, the professionals I studied still believe that they have autonomy and that they are overworking by choice. They do not blame their organizations, which after all have invested in work-life balance initiatives and wellness programs. Instead, they blame themselves for being inadequate. Their colleagues seem to be coping, and they take that as further evidence of their own inadequacy. They do not talk honestly to their colleagues about their problems, thus perpetuating the myth of the invincible professional, which encourages their colleagues to feel inadequate in turn. If they suffer burnout, they think it is their fault. Their organization and its leadership are absolved of responsibility, so nothing fundamental changes.

This describes the environment most physicians work in.

And that of laboratory PhD students.

And most professors.
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SC93

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2018, 06:43:47 PM »
I wasn't going to read through the whole thread but to answer the headline, my wife works her ass off at the museum (still there right now on a Friday at 7:40pm and will be there a few more hours). She loves it. Some day I might be able to talk her in to going part time but not for several years (she is going to be 49). Most of the higher up people there are rich but there is one of the ladies that works there that is from one of if not the richest families in this area and she is 74 years old. She said the day she doesn't come in to just know she is dead.

As for me, I don't work 70 hours a week but I do still have my own business and actively work in it because I get bored and usually spend lots of money when I am bored. So it is safer if I have some type of business going. I'm not the old guy that sits and reads the paper and walks the dog every morning. It would be pretty hard to walk a dog when we don't even own one. lol

big_slacker

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2018, 07:19:38 PM »
I work with some people who work some really long hours. I don't work really long hours. I prioritize. And I don't mean just in my head. I write down the big impact things that I need to do for a period (quarterly goals, big project, etc.), break that down into months. Months get broken down into weeks on monday morning. Every morning the weeks get broken down into days.

If I check those 2-3 daily things off the list I'm f'in good for the day, everything else is gravy. It's not about working hard or long. It's about getting shit done that makes an impact and adds value to the business.

Agree with the cult of busy thing. Busy happens, but if you're working 70 hours weeks something is wrong and needs to be fixed.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 07:21:19 PM by big_slacker »

Brother Esau

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2018, 06:53:30 AM »


Agree with the cult of busy thing. Busy happens, but if you're working 70 hours weeks something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

I once had a boss who said to me during an interview "If we're working more than 40 hours/week, we're doing something wrong". He ran a solid company but valued family/personal time.

Tig_

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2018, 12:16:09 PM »
I found this conversation fascinating.

I work in (higher) education and find the same sort of thing happening - we operate from an ethic of "care" for the students, so working long hours to show up at events, counsel students through personal decisions or a major change, etcetc.  Just this week I showed up to work at 7:30am to help blow up balloons for an event.  It requires a BA and two MAs or a PhD to blow up balloons.  Apparently no college students exist capable of this task.  But we all "care" about each other, and as such, good employees "show up."  My position isn't student facing so I don't have as many of these challenges as others.

Just an example of another field that exists outside the realm of "billable hours" with highly "intangible outputs" (e.g., are my students more resilient as a result of my program?  Did this calligraphy workshop help increase students mental well-being?) where I believe most folks are highly insecure.

scottish

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2018, 12:26:28 PM »
Reminds me of this scenario:



Pressure to work weekends, evening, all nighters to get it done:  very high.
Interest in reducing build time:  zero.
Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2018, 12:39:28 PM »
I found this conversation fascinating.

I work in (higher) education and find the same sort of thing happening - we operate from an ethic of "care" for the students, so working long hours to show up at events, counsel students through personal decisions or a major change, etcetc.  Just this week I showed up to work at 7:30am to help blow up balloons for an event.  It requires a BA and two MAs or a PhD to blow up balloons.  Apparently no college students exist capable of this task.  But we all "care" about each other, and as such, good employees "show up."  My position isn't student facing so I don't have as many of these challenges as others.

Just an example of another field that exists outside the realm of "billable hours" with highly "intangible outputs" (e.g., are my students more resilient as a result of my program?  Did this calligraphy workshop help increase students mental well-being?) where I believe most folks are highly insecure.

Good to know that blowing up balloons is the reason I'm getting a PhD :D

Freedomin5

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2018, 04:28:36 AM »
So many people I know are like this. The interesting thing that jumped out at me was the authorís credentials. Investment banker AND strategic consultant. Then she became a senior research fellow at HARVARD. Makes me wonder to what extent she is talking about herself.

Rural

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2018, 09:33:15 AM »
I found this conversation fascinating.

I work in (higher) education and find the same sort of thing happening - we operate from an ethic of "care" for the students, so working long hours to show up at events, counsel students through personal decisions or a major change, etcetc.  Just this week I showed up to work at 7:30am to help blow up balloons for an event.  It requires a BA and two MAs or a PhD to blow up balloons.  Apparently no college students exist capable of this task.  But we all "care" about each other, and as such, good employees "show up."  My position isn't student facing so I don't have as many of these challenges as others.

Just an example of another field that exists outside the realm of "billable hours" with highly "intangible outputs" (e.g., are my students more resilient as a result of my program?  Did this calligraphy workshop help increase students mental well-being?) where I believe most folks are highly insecure.

Good to know that blowing up balloons is the reason I'm getting a PhD :D


Oh, it's not just balloons. I sometimes get to use mine to help put up decorations or to bake for a potluck. :)

MrMoneyMullet

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2018, 08:53:27 AM »
This is a really interesting article. I wonder how many people are living the professional career equivalent of "paycheck to paycheck" - feeling constantly stressed, sacrificing their life outside of work to chase their idea of "success" at work.

In one of my MBA classes, a fellow student prefaced a response to a professor's question by saying, "Well, I think it's the goal of everyone in this room to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company so..." and I just about fell out of my chair. I have zero desire to be a fortune 500 CEO because the sacrifice required to get there is just not worth it to me (even if it was a guarantee that I'd get there someday, which it obviously isn't). And the daily life once you get there wouldn't be enjoyable either!

My sense of self-worth and identity does NOT come from my job, but it seems like that's the exception rather than the rule.
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ysette9

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2018, 09:01:42 AM »
Freakonomics has been doing a series on CEOs recently, and I listened to the interview with the CEO of Pepsico last week. Smart, insightful, well-spoken lady, but the biggest thing I got from it was that I have zero desire to have any job that is that demanding. She described her schedule that included only four hours of sleep, and I didn’t hear her say anything about seeing her family during the 20 hours she was awake. To me that would be a recipe for total emotional and physical meltdown. I wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world, which is about what these people earn.
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DS

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2018, 09:39:10 AM »

Tig_

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2018, 11:53:36 AM »
I found this conversation fascinating.

I work in (higher) education and find the same sort of thing happening - we operate from an ethic of "care" for the students, so working long hours to show up at events, counsel students through personal decisions or a major change, etcetc.  Just this week I showed up to work at 7:30am to help blow up balloons for an event.  It requires a BA and two MAs or a PhD to blow up balloons.  Apparently no college students exist capable of this task.  But we all "care" about each other, and as such, good employees "show up."  My position isn't student facing so I don't have as many of these challenges as others.

Just an example of another field that exists outside the realm of "billable hours" with highly "intangible outputs" (e.g., are my students more resilient as a result of my program?  Did this calligraphy workshop help increase students mental well-being?) where I believe most folks are highly insecure.

Good to know that blowing up balloons is the reason I'm getting a PhD :D


Oh, it's not just balloons. I sometimes get to use mine to help put up decorations or to bake for a potluck. :)

Oh yes!  That's my plan for this coming weekend.  We have a Chili and Mac&Cheese Cook Off.  Hosted by the "Community Building Committee."

FireLane

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2018, 02:02:16 PM »
I'm sure this wouldn't work in all careers or all offices, but my approach is to set expectations early. If you start out working until 8 PM every day or pulling regular all-nighters, you cement an image of yourself in your boss' head as a person who can always take on extra work, and then it becomes the expectation.

If you leave the office at a reasonable hour, don't respond to e-mails on nights or weekends, and otherwise hold firm on the separation between your job and your life, people will come to expect that, and it won't be remarkable or unusual. On the occasions when you do have to work late, it will be seen as you going above and beyond (which it is, and should be).

Of course, for this to work out, you have to manage your time well and work efficiently. But I've always noticed that I get just as much done in a 40-hour week as people who work crazy hours. It's almost as if they're staying late for the sake of appearance, rather than because they're really that busy!

ysette9

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2018, 03:29:09 PM »
FireLane has exactly the right idea about setting expectations. A good mentor and friend of mine at work told me the same thing when I first started my career; he said he got the same advice when he started out his PhD program. He is my role model of how to have an awesome career and leave every afternoon on time to have dinner with the family (on his bike, no less).
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scottish

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Hirondelle

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2018, 12:26:07 AM »
I'm sure this wouldn't work in all careers or all offices, but my approach is to set expectations early. If you start out working until 8 PM every day or pulling regular all-nighters, you cement an image of yourself in your boss' head as a person who can always take on extra work, and then it becomes the expectation.

If you leave the office at a reasonable hour, don't respond to e-mails on nights or weekends, and otherwise hold firm on the separation between your job and your life, people will come to expect that, and it won't be remarkable or unusual. On the occasions when you do have to work late, it will be seen as you going above and beyond (which it is, and should be).

Of course, for this to work out, you have to manage your time well and work efficiently. But I've always noticed that I get just as much done in a 40-hour week as people who work crazy hours. It's almost as if they're staying late for the sake of appearance, rather than because they're really that busy!

This is so true.

Dave1442397

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2018, 05:24:18 AM »
I'm sure this wouldn't work in all careers or all offices, but my approach is to set expectations early. If you start out working until 8 PM every day or pulling regular all-nighters, you cement an image of yourself in your boss' head as a person who can always take on extra work, and then it becomes the expectation.

If you leave the office at a reasonable hour, don't respond to e-mails on nights or weekends, and otherwise hold firm on the separation between your job and your life, people will come to expect that, and it won't be remarkable or unusual. On the occasions when you do have to work late, it will be seen as you going above and beyond (which it is, and should be).

Of course, for this to work out, you have to manage your time well and work efficiently. But I've always noticed that I get just as much done in a 40-hour week as people who work crazy hours. It's almost as if they're staying late for the sake of appearance, rather than because they're really that busy!

This is so true.

I worked for a department manager who spent at least 12 hours a day at work every day. I spent 8 hours there and got everything done right and on time. When it came to review time, he said something about how people sometimes looked for me after normal work hours and I wasn't around, and maybe I should be more like Tom (one of his 12-hour-day people).

I said I could only be like Tom if I spent the first two hours of my day with the sports section catching up on fantasy football, took a two-hour lunch, and then spent at least three hours every afternoon sitting in people's cubes yakking. That line of conversation got dropped in a hurry.

Capt j-rod

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2018, 05:48:35 AM »
My wife is a physician... Her previous work place was "unable" to recruit and hire more docs to help with the insane workload. When her contract came due we negotiated away from salary and onto what are called RVU's. Think piece rate based on the billing code. That next year her income doubled when they had to pay her for what she actually produced. Needless to say they wanted her back on salary lol. They still couldn't get anyone to sign on for the offers that they were making. For the next contract we were only willing to produce 6000 "rvu's" (the national average for her specialty). The previous year she had over 10,000. Her "partner" had 4100. Needless to say when a numbers system spells out your real production the debate gets pretty uncomfortable. After 6 months the 6000 was met and we told them she was going home and would see them next year. After many meetings, attorneys, and sleepless nights, she finally changed jobs and have lived happily ever after. Short story long, we didn't need the money and they are still dumbfounded that we gave up that much income for quality of life. We are by no means hungry or poor with the current income, and they are still recruiting to find "just the right candidate" LOL.

ysette9

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #41 on: February 06, 2018, 07:23:48 AM »
Good for your wife!
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dude

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2018, 07:52:10 AM »
I've done LOTS of manual labor jobs -- delivering soda (2 summers), siding houses (2 summers), framing houses (1 summer), roofing houses (weekends for 5-6 years), roofing commercial buildings (1 summer), mate on a fishing boat (1 summer), and worked my ass off at those jobs. Mostly because I enjoyed being outside and working with my hands, and because I felt a great sense of accomplishment in seeing the fruits of my labor.  But I learned from those who I worked with that those jobs are back-breaking and thus relatively short-lived, and I took the advice of many of those people to "work with your head, not your back, kid." So I went to law school.

Got caught up in the On Campus Recruiting (OCR) whirlwind (the NFL Combine for prospective lawyers) and worked my 2L summer for a big firm. Figured out right away what a shitty game that was. As one friend put it, as an associate, you get a big slice of shit pie; making partner just gets you a bigger slice of that same shit pie. Knew for certain I wasn't cut out for that life.

So I went to work for the government. Worked hard in early years (but never more then 40 hours/week), rose through the ranks pretty quickly, and now, after 20 years of doing it, my heart just isn't in it.  Hasn't been for years.  So I do the absolute minimum I have to -- which is more than enough since I've been doing the job for so long; most legal briefs I draft are cut-and-paste jobs from previous work (the law in my area just hasn't changed much in the last 10 years). So yeah, I coast my ass off, and I'm fine with it. Because the work gets done. But there's zero personal satisfaction. I'm fine with that, too, as I have many pursuits outside of work that provide tons of self-actualization and personal satisfaction.

PizzaSteve

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2018, 08:50:15 AM »
I worked for the pioneer, gold standard employer in this space and the term has been used for decades to poke fun at the internal culture.  It is important to understand that the insecurity complex is unrelated to confidence.  In fact, the work community both feeds insecurity and self confidence, while also building skills.  These people know they are extemely competent, and are confident.  They just have an internal `go button' that is easily pushed to get more from them, professionally.  They want to be the best and as stated are self motivated to be that way.

Is it healthy?  Hard to say. 

Another factor is that these people with ambition seek out the cultures that recognize and reward their behavior.  They apply to schools like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton business school and form networks of like minded people.  They then compete with each other and the competition creates excellent outcomes, materially, even to the point of controlling companies and being able to feed allies better opportunities.

The rewards, materially, of joining a culture like this can be substantial, but as noted, the psychology can leave one with a bit too much of a work focus.

[edited to correct typos]
« Last Edit: February 08, 2018, 05:49:26 PM by PizzaSteve »
All posts are opinions of the author subject to independent verification by the reader.  No representations of fact are asserted regarding commercial products or services.

bridget

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #44 on: February 06, 2018, 09:44:40 AM »
You know what never ceases to amaze me at work?  How worthless so many people are. My honest guess would be 70% of people coast and half ass the job, 25% of people work on the art of doing as little as possible without getting fired, and 5% of people actually work their ass off to run the place.

...

Frankly, I have not found this to be the case, and for only the reason that biglaw tends to hire almost exclusively insecure overachievers, who do in fact work their asses off.  If you are going to be an insecure overachiever anyway, it is very nice actually to be surrounded by others like you so you don't feel like you are carrying the group project while other people slack off.

This distinction has become very real to me recently: we have ONE new associate in our office who is not an insecure overachiever.  This person walks around with a totally unearned sense of confidence.  They are very frustrating, and it is one of my biggest challenges at work right now being a senior-ish associate on a team where they are a junior.  Most people at my job are hyper aware of what others are doing in order to imitate the culture and style and work product therefore fit in.  This person, in contrast, is blithely obtuse to the fact that other people don't shoot off half-baked emails to large teams without proper punctuation, or that other people always try their hand at google before asking lazy questions, or that other people consistently communicate with their teams about whether they will be in the office (and on and on and on).  Another coworker and I were venting about how frustrating it is to work with this new associate, and have commented many times that we would never do the things this associate is doing precisely because we are insecure and always terrified of making mistakes, so we are hypervigilant about minimizing any of them.  Because these are avoidable mistakes if you are paying attention, and insecurity makes you pay very close attention. 

This is all irrelevant to the bigger question, which is whether it's worth your mental health to be an insecure overachiever.  But it absolutely translates into performance in some environments. 

ysette9

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #45 on: February 06, 2018, 11:39:30 AM »
PizzaSteve has interesting thoughts on people with that internal go button. I wonder about that myself, as a product of top schools working for a brand-name employer. I don’t work extra hours but I understand the imposter complex (getting much better over the years) and see people around me who can’t help themselves from being over achievers.
It is like we/they are programmed that way and have to work to consciously turn that off. One friend always finds herself in these demanding roles and struggling with work-life balance. I used to think it was her org but after more than a decade, a pattern emerges and the consistent factor is her. It is probably that which got her into Stanford, the same thing that makes it impossible for her to turn it off now and just relax for a weekend.

I sometimes worry a bit how this mindset will mesh with FIRE.
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MrMoneySaver

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #46 on: February 06, 2018, 02:14:32 PM »
The article points out the issue, but it doesn't really offer much in the way of solutions. Stop working so many hours? The author already acknowledged that these environments are up-or-out.

What PizzaSteve said is probably close to the truth. These environments contain a self-selected group of people. A certain personality type loves it.

Would not be my thing.

mm1970

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #47 on: February 06, 2018, 02:29:32 PM »
PizzaSteve has interesting thoughts on people with that internal go button. I wonder about that myself, as a product of top schools working for a brand-name employer. I donít work extra hours but I understand the imposter complex (getting much better over the years) and see people around me who canít help themselves from being over achievers.
It is like we/they are programmed that way and have to work to consciously turn that off. One friend always finds herself in these demanding roles and struggling with work-life balance. I used to think it was her org but after more than a decade, a pattern emerges and the consistent factor is her. It is probably that which got her into Stanford, the same thing that makes it impossible for her to turn it off now and just relax for a weekend.

I sometimes worry a bit how this mindset will mesh with FIRE.

I resemble that a lot.  I have had to work very hard to turn off the overachiever in me, to the point of maintaining work-life balance.  It's still a struggle and when I tell people "I used to be worse!" they cringe a bit.

It's hard to say if she takes in on because she likes it, or if it's handed to her because she's good at it, or what.  My company would just keep giving more work and taking all my free time away as long as I let them.  What really helped me through this is 5 years of no raise. 

Slee_stack

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #48 on: February 07, 2018, 12:40:39 PM »
Lots of great and interesting comments here.

I've always felt that Perception has trumped Reality throughout my career.  Its tough to accept as I have always been a data driven type of person.


It continues to hold true today with my current boss.  She is all about 'hours'.  I challenge her regularly with 'output' whenever 'hours' pops up.  She admits that output is important...but then just can't help fall back to 'hours'.  I suppose its a lot easier to measure as we all fill out timecards with actual hours worked.

I just keep shaking my head.  The money is good enough.


Last Friday at 5:30 my boss and I were leaving the building together.  I had just finished a 47 hour week which already chapped me. I do 40 - 42 and get cranky at any time past that.  My line in the sand...

I didn't have my laptop with me.

She commented 'You're not bringing your laptop home over the weekend?! That's poor planning!'

I responded 'Actually, its exactly as planned.'

She was speechless.  The power of FU (and FI) money!


I still let myself get taken advantage of though.  I'm working on that.

The people that rise the farthest here always have the 'hours' box checked.  Some of them also happen to be bright and competent.  Many however, don't have too much beyond the 'hours'.

This article resonates with me.

gerardc

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Re: If you're so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?
« Reply #49 on: February 07, 2018, 08:32:57 PM »
Yes. I think this is a thing that drives me - the feeling that work life is a treadmill and an unwinnable game.

Fixed that for you :P

Freakonomics has been doing a series on CEOs recently, and I listened to the interview with the CEO of Pepsico last week. Smart, insightful, well-spoken lady, but the biggest thing I got from it was that I have zero desire to have any job that is that demanding. She described her schedule that included only four hours of sleep, and I didn’t hear her say anything about seeing her family during the 20 hours she was awake. To me that would be a recipe for total emotional and physical meltdown. I wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world, which is about what these people earn.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned so far in this thread is that many people (bullshitters) greatly exaggerate their working hours and lack of sleep. Some people claim 100+ hours per week but they just want to portray some image; after 6-7 hours/day consistently you'll be basically useless anyway. Also depends what they count as work, dinners with co-workers, long breaks, fucking around at the office, IDK, but I'd bet my shirt they're not productive 100 hours/week. Like Elon Musk, I hate how this guy is idolized by everyone, but he's just running on his reputation at this point. Not impressed. If you write a "day in the life" capsule of a VP or CEO, do you start his schedule waking up at 5am to go for a run and take care of his kids, or laze around in bed until 9am?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2018, 08:56:02 PM by gerardc »