Categories
Life Work

Do you Live to Work?

Are you really free? If you’re like most middle-aged people, you’re probably living a life to serve the system.

Everyone starts with 24 hours:

  • 8 hours for sleep
  • 1 hour for showering, breakfast, etc. in the morning
  • 1 hour commute
  • 8-9 hours at work
  • 1 hour commute
  • 1 hour meal prep, eating, cleaning
  • 1 hour of exercise
  • 1 hour kids homework

What does that leave you? 1-2 hours of ‘freedom’. Yeah, your best hours to invest in yourself can begin after you’ve fully drained all your mental and physical energy.

Do you have hopes and dreams? Save them for between the hours of 10:00pm and 11:00pm.

You’ll notice I’m leaving out laundry, repairing the back stairs, mowing the lawn, dry-cleaning, picking up pencil crayons for your kid’s art project, and so on. That’s where your weekends go. And if you’re like many people, those obligatory social gatherings – after work drinks, in-law’s birthday party – might as well be minor forms of work too.

The time each of us has to actually do what we want is minimal. If you’re like me, you have to find enjoyment in the daily chores.

The funny thing is, most jobs don’t require 8-9 hours. How much of your day is wasted? This has become especially apparent when we started working from home. This new setup is amazing! I can get my work and daily errands done much faster than before.

But the system doesn’t like it. The system wants us indebted with little free time. This keeps us dependent on our employers for money. Moreover, with little spare time we blindly purchase short-lived dopamine hits – retail therapy, objects of desire. The house always wins.

Yeah, that’s it…your pusher wants you to happily return every penny he provides you so you’re totally dependent. It keeps you coming back for more, despite hating every minute of it.

Ever have a boss suggest you buy a bigger house or upgrade to a new car? Perhaps after they just gave you a raise? They certainly don’t want you using that extra money to pay down your debts to achieve financial freedom. If they’re to shape your behaviour they need you financially subservient. Highly mortgaged people with families to care for make the best indentured servants employees.

God forbid you smoke a little ganga when not on the clock and your employer tests. That stuff stays in your system for a while – doesn’t matter how good you are at your job. Even your free time is co-opted by the system.

In the end, you’re just an anonymous cog in a machine. Those people at work that call each other family will fall off the face of the earth as soon as they retire/quit/fired/die. Although turnover is a pain in the ass, in the long run everyone is replaceable.

So don’t give your life to work. Because work will happily take it. Break free by striving to become debt free while owning income-producing assets.

Categories
Work

The Great Resignation is Upon Us

It’s happening.

People have had it and they’re dropping their jobs like a bad habit. 18 months of downsizing, ill treatment and growing workloads have finally tipped the scale. 18 months of working from home and people have learned there’s a better life to be had. 18 months of watching your coworkers get sick and die because Scrooge McDuck didn’t provide paid sick days.

People are saying: “Fuck it!”

The chart below shows the huge increase in the level of quits in the worst hit sectors in the United States: manufacturing, leisure & hospitality and accommodation & food services. I’d expect to see a similar trend in Canada. These were the front-line workers. The war heroes who were cheered as they put their families’ health on the line, only to get shit on in the end.

People have realized it’s not worth staying loyal to an employer that pays garbage, doesn’t care and treats staff as disposable.

Moreover, people built cash piles over the past year as they sat home twiddling their thumbs. Now that the economy is roaring, people are confident enough to make moves.

Of course, now that people are quitting suddenly companies are scrambling. Positions are unfillable.

Just over the past week alone I’ve witnessed 2 top employees quit and 2 offers fall apart. Companies are getting more short-staffed by the day.

Still, I think the brunt of the departures are in the sectors shown in the chart above. While the business services sector is turning over quicker than normal, many of these workers were well supported (and still are) during the pandemic. Many white-collar employers are baking work-life flexibility into their DNA. For example, Sun Life Financial just announced a permanent flex work arrangement (i.e. WFH if you want to). Manulife has been flexible for years. Other big Canadian employers are doing the same.

Nevertheless, white collar employers are feeling the pressure. They’re just doing a better job at proactively mitigating their risk. Despite how hard they’re trying, these companies are still facing new competition. This is particularly true for companies with head offices in Toronto, as big tech firms open offices in the city adding new competition for talent.

Bottom line: it’s an employees market. Regardless of where you work, now might be a good time to ask for a raise.

Categories
Work

7 Workplace Trends According to Microsoft

Did you know:

  • 46% of the workforce planning to move because they can now work remotely.
  • Remote job postings on LinkedIn have increased over 5X since the pandemic.
  • Weekly meeting time has more than doubled for Teams users since February 2020.
  • There was a 40.6b increase in emails delivered in Feb. 2020 vs. Feb 2021.

According to research conducted by Microsoft, the year 2020 introduced dramatic workplace shifts that are here to stay.

I’ve provided the key excerpts below:

1. Flexible work is here to stay

Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft

2. Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call

“Many business leaders are faring better than their employees. Sixty-one percent of leaders say they are “thriving” right now — 23 percentage points higher than those without decision-making authority. They also report building stronger relationships with colleagues (+11 percentage points) and leadership (+19 percentage points), earning higher incomes (+17 percentage points), and taking all or more of their allotted vacation days (+12 percentage points).”

3. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce

“Self-assessed productivity has remained the same or higher for many employees over the past year, but at a human cost. One in five global survey respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. Fifty-four percent feel overworked. Thirty-nine percent feel exhausted.”

4. Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized

“Sixty percent of this generation — those between the ages of 18 and 25 — say they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling right now.”

5. Shrinking networks are endangering innovation

“…companies became more siloed than they were before the pandemic. And while interactions with our close networks are still more frequent than they were before the pandemic, the trend shows even these close team interactions have started to diminish over time.”

When you lose connections, you stop innovating. It’s harder for new ideas to get in and groupthink becomes a serious possibility.

Dr. Nancy Baym, Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft

6. Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing

Before the pandemic, we encouraged people to ‘bring their whole self to work,’ but it was tough to truly empower them to do that. The shared vulnerability of this time has given us a huge opportunity to bring real authenticity to company culture and transform work for the better.

Jared Spataro, CVP at Microsoft 365

“Compared to one year ago, 39 percent of people say they’re more likely to be their full, authentic selves at work and 31 percent are less likely to feel embarrassed or ashamed when their home life shows up at work. And people who interacted with their coworkers more closely than before not only experienced stronger work relationships, but also reported higher productivity and better overall wellbeing.”

7. Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world

This shift is likely to stick, and it’s good for democratizing access to opportunity. Companies in major cities can hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not have the means or desire to move to a big city. And in smaller cities, companies will now have access to talent that may have a different set of skills than they had before.

Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist at LinkedIn

The Consequence: Employees are More Willing to Quit

Categories
Work

The 2 Articles Every Rising Executive Must Read

Many of today’s rising managers and executives come from a range of academic backgrounds, from anthropology to zoology. While this doesn’t diminish their intelligence or critical thinking skills, I have found that many middle managers lack some of the foundational learnings critical to a business education.

I still think that practical experience outweighs academic theory. However, many people growing their knowledge within a particular industry develop a closed, myopic view of their industries and business strategy.

For this reason, I believe it is important to familiarize (or re-familiarize, for those who once attended business school) oneself with core strategic training.

Below are two eminent articles by Peter Drucker and Michael Porter, which capture the essence of many business school lectures and books. Read and understand these two articles and you’ll quickly be speaking the language of MBA grads…without the ridiculous tuition.

What Makes an Effective Executive
by Peter F. Drucker

An effective executive does not need to be a leader in the sense that the term is now most commonly used. Harry Truman did not have one ounce of charisma, for example, yet he was among the most effective chief executives in U.S. history. Similarly, some of the best business and nonprofit CEOs I’ve worked with over a 65-year consulting career were not stereotypical leaders. They were all over the map in terms of their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths, and weaknesses. They ranged from extroverted to nearly reclusive, from easygoing to controlling, from generous to parsimonious.

What made them all effective is that they followed the same eight practices.

<Read more>

How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy
by Michael E. Porter

The essence of strategy formulation is coping with competition. Yet it is easy to view competition too narrowly and too pessimistically. While one sometimes hears executives complaining to the contrary, intense competition in an industry is neither coincidence nor bad luck.

Moreover, in the fight for market share, competition is not manifested only in the other players. Rather, competition in an industry is rooted in its underlying economics, and competitive forces exist that go well beyond the established combatants in a particular industry. Customers, suppliers, potential entrants, and substitute products are all competitors that may be more or less prominent or active depending on the industry.

The state of competition in an industry depends on five basic forces…

<Read more>

Categories
Work

Succeed by Slacking: How to Get Promoted

I didn’t receive much guidance growing up. I fumbled my way through school not really knowing where I was headed. The only career advice I received was “be a doctor or lawyer”. I became neither.

I didn’t know much. But I did *know* (or so I thought) that working hard would pay off.

I busted my tail through college and university, and later two masters degrees while working full time. School teaches you that hard work is the key to success. It’s a reward system that I became addicted to and could manipulate to my advantage. Work hard, study hard and get my dopamine fix through my good grades.

I was a great student!

In school I was consistently near the top of my class and I figured I was on the right path to success. Unfortunately, school doesn’t really prepare you for the corporate world.

In the corporate world, hard work will only take you so far. In fact, it can be counterproductive at times. It is in the first phase of your career that hard work matters the most.

During the early stages of your career, you need to learn a lot and prove yourself. Nobody knows you so you must deliver a lot to succeed. This means taking on and learning as much as humanly possible. It means working long days until what once took you 3 hours to complete eventually takes 30 minutes.

Junior employees are ditch-digging foot soldiers. The only thing that matters is how well you can take orders and use the tools provided. Call this Phase I of your career.

Once you become a master of your tools (physical or intellectual), you start to add value. You generate your own processes, interpret and analyze information and communicate recommendations to senior staff. This is the point of your career where those who create value can progress quickly, often by jumping from company to company.

Call this Phase II of your career.

So now you’re a middle-manager in some corporate behemoth. This is where many careers fizzle out. Why? Not because people can’t handle their new positions. No, it’s because they keep applying the same strategies as they did in Phase I and II of their careers.

It is in this third phase that the marginal benefits of hard work start to decline. Sure, a hard worker will be valuable to the team. You will get a decent paycheque and occasional recognition. But working super-hard during this third phase of your career could counterintuitively limit your upward mobility.

When you’re working hard, your time is gone. You’re busy managing multiple projects at the same time with little remining time to think. And by the time you have a moment you’re too drained to be productive.

Doing a lot is not the same as doing the things that matter.

Often, time to ruminate is needed to prioritize the work that has the biggest impact. Executing on 3 high impact projects very well will get you noticed far more than doing 15 low impact activities moderately well. People are remembered for their pinnacle work, not for all the shit they shoveled for the firm.

Another reason to work less hard as you rise in the ranks is so you always have spare capacity. When the big boss has an urgent request, the person with spare capacity can more easily and quickly jump into action and save the day. Meanwhile, people bogged down by meaningless tasks miss those opportunities to shine in front of senior executives.

Perhaps most importantly, unfortunately for the introverts out there (e.g. me), managers who aren’t glued to their desks make connections and get noticed. I’m talking about facetime. Networking. Schmoozing.

Of course, meeting people for lunch or coffee requires time. But networking is critical to career progression so you better make the time. Namely, you better reallocate time from completing meaningless tasks to making meaningful connections with people in your company and industry.

Won’t people think you’re slacking?

Nope. You have to be pretty blatant about it to get noticed. So much work within a corporation is qualitatively measured, it’s almost impossible to keep track of individual capacity. In a corporate environment, determining whether someone is operating at 70% or 100% capacity is an impossible task. Usually, it’s not worth the time and effort to figure out to any degree of certainty. Moreover, if business leaders care about results (as opposed to busyness) the person operating with spare capacity will actually appear like they’re working harder than the rest.

Once you’re in that middle management phase of your career, my suggestion is to set your own agenda as much as possible. Without disregarding your boss’s requests, this means setting time aside for business and career priorities.

If X, Y and Z are critical to your company’s success, don’t waste too much time on A, B and C. Many people mistake activity for productivity. This is why bureaucrats love meetings. Meetings feel productive even though they accomplish nothing.

Many middle managers work like crazy without reward. If you prove you’re an indispensable shit-shoveler that’s who you’ll remain.

Categories
Work

Top Blockchain Projects in 2021

The blockchain is more than just Bitcoin. Companies across a wide variety of industries are developing interesting projects utilizing blockchain technology. Here are just a few:

Categories
Work

Goldman Sachs and The 100 Hour Work Week

NEWSFLASH: Working at Goldman Sachs is hard.

This is according to a recent survey of Goldman Sachs junior analysts. I won’t go through the entire survey, but the following slide basically sums up the findings. Junior analysts work about 100 hours a week and don’t sleep. As you can guess, these working conditions have had a big impact on their social lives, health and well-being.

Are you surprised? I’m not.

This is Goldman Sachs. The premiere shop in one of the toughest industries, investment banking. Despite grueling working conditions, the company has fresh grads clamoring to work there. A two-year analyst stint at Goldman can set up a 22 year old grad for life. It’s a stamp of approval and proof someone has the stamina and intellect to do anything. This is why Goldman Sachs has no shortage of eager applicants.

What do analysts at Goldman Sachs make?

Junior analysts are paid well. According to data from Wall Street Oasis, Goldman pays its first-year investment-banking analysts an average of $123,500 a year, including base salary and bonuses.

A 22 year old kid isn’t going to make that kind of money somewhere else.

Starting at $100k+, if one continues down the path they would easily net $500k annually within a few years.

All of this information is well documented.

If you join the army don’t be shocked when you’re asked to wear a uniform.

Any business student applying to the analyst program at Goldman Sachs (or any i-bank, for that matter) should know what they’re getting into. These aren’t drunks crimped at naval ports to become crewmen on ships. These Goldman analysts voluntarily chose to fill out an application form, interview and sign on the dotted line. They are also smart, connected and educated. They knew.

And guess what? If it sucks so badly, they can quit. This is a free society.

Despite the working conditions of every investment bank being common knowledge within b-school hallways, every once in a while the press gets ahold of news like this:

“XYZ investment bank analyst working 100hrs a week and doesn’t have time for a life.”

Shock-the-Monkey News Corp.

Well, this isn’t news. The world of investment banking (and many other professions) has always been extremely intense and demanding. 100 hour weeks are the norm – especially when you’re green.

I know I couldn’t handle it and would hate it. I don’t believe in sacrificing my life for money. I’d trade my time for passion, but producing the next corporate spin-off, while interesting, isn’t my idea of pleasure. I’d prefer to limit that kind of shit to 10 hours a day max. Others have a different life plan, and that’s OK.

That’s why I never worked in i-banking. It’s also why I never joined the navy.

Categories
Life Work

UBI: A Modern Day Utopia?

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Categories
Work

Work Emails During a Holiday?

I understand the lure. It’s the weekend or you’re on holiday and your work phone pings. Or perhaps you walk by it on a desk and get the urge to ‘catch up’.

We’ve all been classically conditioned to check our phones.

So you sneak away for 2 minutes to check in to see if there’s anything urgent. Next thing you know you’re elbows deep in work emails, you’re mind is in corporate mode and your stress levels are rising.

Today in Canada is ‘Family Day’. Presidents Day in the US. Yet, just 10 minutes ago I felt the pull to check my work phone.

I caved.

In a flash, I saw dozens of unread messages. Suddenly the final moments of my long weekend turned from relaxing until the sun rises to dreaded anticipation for the shit-storm about to hit in the morning. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just the ordinary, regular, daily shit-storm that we call work.

Repulsed at what I had just done, I quickly put the phone back down and walked back to my family and comfort of my living room. I’ll deal with it all tomorrow. Of course, I now must pay the price for my curiosity with a cortisol spike pushing through my bloodstream.

Who the fuck is sending me emails when they should be spending time with their families or on leisure pursuits?

I spent no more than 30 seconds looking at my phone, but it was enough to see I received a dozen emails over the past 3 days – Saturday, Sunday and a holiday Monday.

Who the fuck is sending me emails when they should be spending time with their families or on leisure pursuits? I understand the drive to get ahead, but if productivity is really the siren’s call then why not learn a skill or read a book? Why attempt to ruin your colleagues’ Sunday with the Monday-to-Friday chaos?

Are these people bored? Do they have no interests outside of work? Or are they trying to cultivate the 24/7 workaholic image, which is celebrated in North American culture?

Worse, do they feel pressured by their peers to check their emails? After all, there’s nothing worse than being 2 days behind on a crisis.

Regardless of the reason, it’s unhealthy.

We already devote 5 out of 7 days to work, and much of the remaining two days is spent preparing for Monday. There’s already no such thing as a work-life balance. We don’t need to make it worse by answering emails on a Sunday.

Categories
Work

Should You Include Hobbies on Your Resume?

People add their personal interests and hobbies to their resume to appear well-rounded and interesting. As a hiring manager I can tell you right now that 99% of the time I don’t give a shit about your hobbies.

You’re sending me your resume to get a job. So make sure every single thing on your resume helps you achieve that goal. If you do include a hobby it must help further your objectives and not simply serve as filler or an attempt at humanizing yourself. I know you’re human. I know you probably have a life outside of work. Unless what you do outside of work makes you better at work I don’t really care.

How do you know if listing your hobby helps further your career objectives? First consider the skills and characteristics the hiring manager is seeking. Leadership? Then list how you spearheaded neighbourhood cleanup efforts.

Or use your hobbies to show how you are gaining experience you haven’t been provided during your 9-5.

Or use your hobbies as a way to craft your personal brand. You want to be seen as a self-starter? Then list personal interests that show that.

Unfortunately, most people take a passive, superficial approach to listing personal interests on their resume. They literally list personal interests: cat herding, unicycling, circle-research. Great, but irrelevant.

If you do include personal interests on your resume, ensure they are there for a purpose.