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On the first point: Behavioral economics has taught us that life is just a lot more complicated than that. You're referring to fairly simple econ 101 models of human behavior. There's also principal-agent problems. Maybe you create value for your bosses career prospects, but does that mean the stuff you're working on is creating value for the company? Or is just creating the perception of value? Executive tenures are very short - they may or may not be creating long-term value.

On the second point: this could happen a variety of way. For example, shareholder value is destroyed when there are positive returns, but those returns are worse than what could be realized from equivalently risky positions. Another way of thinking about this is that the return on capital is less than the cost of capital, resulting in a net negative return. Another way this could happen is if shareholder returns follow a power law where only a handful of companies (e.g. Amazon) create outsized positive risk-adjusted returns whereas most companies generate negative returns or positive returns at an unnecessarily high risk level.

So, yeah, just because someone pays you doesn't imply you're actually doing something worthwhile.

This is kind of personal for me because I spent way too many years under the mistaken belief that just because I was getting paid I was doing something worthwhile. I would hope others avoid the mistake I made.

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