Don't listen to what the guy at the top is telling you to do with your life. Ever. But do nod and smile when he says it.
If you don't work there, then I think it's best to hold leaders emotionally accountable for their effect on the world. If you do work there, then it's really up to you, but there's a middle ground where you don't legitimize the system but don't rock the boat.
For example, you could just not nod, and not smile. And only pretend to clap after the next announcement. And if everybody does this, it adds up without anybody being a target.
This is hilarious and terrifying.
Definitely don't listen to the people at the bottom telling you how to run your life. Ideally, listen to people who started where you started, and rose to where you want to get.
Bezos himself started fairly low. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Bezos#Early_life_and_educ...
There's a lot of bad advice there too. People like to attribute their success to something they did but most people have no clue why they are successful. Luck has a lot to do with it and sometimes people succeed in spite of things they think might help.
You don't necessarily have control over whether you're successful, but you have a lot of control over how you see yourself and your personal narrative.
Not sure if you spend time to read at all, but what he said is essentially you can't be happy at home if you are miserable at work, and vice versa. Which makes sense to me. Too obvious to be honest.
I believe that in many cases cultures of overwork are intrinsically generated, not imposed from on high. It could be fear of the boss, it could be a ruthless layer of middle management, it could be example-setting by perceived high fliers. Nothing is ever done about it because nobody wants to bother the execs with that sort of nebulous and sticky issue (especially one which sounds like whining).
It often happens with very driven and brilliant leaders, the types who themselves frequently work very hard and very long hours. Doubtless there is some social primate leader emulation dynamic, something we are helpless to escape.
Alternatively, I'd think middle management people are doing exactly what they were hired for. In most cases, their job is to simply act as a buffer and propagate upper layer's wishes to mere mortals, without them losing face or being directly involved in any kind of conflict.
It builds a culture of uncertainty and doubt and more layers of management means less perceived value and power for individual contributors. I can definitely see the value it provides to those at the top.
Well, they're there to take care of the details of implementing the execs' orders. That is a necessary function for scale. An analogy: Field Marshal Haig wants a village taken. He doesn't shout at the infantry; rather there's a chain of command which fractally decomposes the order into a coherent plan for achieving the goal. We'll need artillery to soften the defenses, then infantry will flank the fortifications; ok put a battery here and load it up with this kind of shell; and so on down to the platoon level where little groups of soldiers will tackle micro-scale obstacles along the way (there's an enemy sniper in that church, etc.) So the reasons for hiring this layer are sound.
I'm not really arguing with you though: it does provide value to those at the top (arguably not necessarily long-term value). I just don't think, in most cases, that it's a conscious Machiavellian plan to stuff the mid-tier with remote-controlled, plausibly deniable bastards. I just think that people in those positions end up exhibiting bastardish behavior circumstantially. (Although of course if there was such a devious scheme anywhere, it'd probably be Amazon.) So I still think that it's largely intrinsic.
There's another important dynamic: your manager will often be able to get more done in the same time than you will if your manager does it himself/herself, because the manager is typically more experienced and wields power in a way that you can't. This stays true for each step up the hierarchy. Since managers often gauge a reasonable amount of work for the employee based on how long it takes the manager, there's a disconnect in anticipated workload too.
Finally, the higher you go, the more you are able to buy into a strategy and vision. If you're at ground level, executing on that strategy often means spending days squashing bugs. It's much harder to buy into the big picture when your immediate picture looks like more of the same as everywhere else.
Not to say "you shouldn't work hard," but I do think there are structural reasons why ground level is a less motivating place to be.
- Manager fills plate higher, accrues rewards.
- Manager judges your target output based on her ability.
- Manager buys in to strategy and vision (because of access), becomes more motivated.
Smaller companies, everyone is in execution mode and superhuman efforts often get rewarded simply because they generate a good result.
Be a billionaire, then you don't have to worry about your work-life balance.
Sooner or later, you will get physically and mentally exhausted at work, even though you have lots of fun doing so before you get wiped out.
I also informed them that if your engineers are working 70+ hours a week basically every week, then you don't have an engineering problem but a management problem. It's no longer a work-life balance, but purely a work-work balance, and that it was up to management to ensure that they don't burn their engineers out.
I didn't get to the next round (thankfully). I didn't "fit their culture". So I thanked them and moved on. Better for them, better for me.
I personally want people who are effective, and can put in a solid day of work. I still pull wisdom from, "Debugging the Development Process" back from 1994. I think it still holds true today for many aspects of software engineering. Or am I really an outdated curmudgeon?
Whatever you do, don't be the low-energy guy in a meeting.
Thanks for the "advice".
Bezos is completely out of touch with the reality of work for most workers, including most Amazon workers. Maybe for CEOs this advice might make sense, but it's bad advice for most other workers, including most Amazon workers. It's simply a plug trying to get workers to give up even more of their time in exchange for nothing so the company can get more out of them. Bezos is the last person on earth, literally, who should be giving workers advice. Few people are so out of touch with the lives of regular workers as Bezos is.
Work, sleep, commute, eat, keep yourself fed, keep you and the house clean, maybe do some exercise and a bit of whatever out of the ordinary needs to be done (shopping for new shoes, fixing stuff in the house, doing the taxes).
Leaves maybe 4h and it's fair to have to rest 1 of it with some no-brain activity.
So 3h for family, romance, hobbies, learning non-job related stuff, politics, culture, reading, friends, side projects, building things, helping someone, etc...
It's something more immediate and realistic than hoping index funds will carry me one day (and it avoids some taxes... the 8 extra hours don't pay so well after taxes).
Good luck to you though, I hope it all works out for us!
It's a big stress reliever knowing that if things go bad, you can always jump ship.
Might work if you trust index funds, earn quite well in the first place or (plan to) live in a cheap country and you are willing to do the grind for a few years.
- freely chosen
- not feeling unaccomplished in comparison to the spouse
- not doing 8 hours of chores a day
- enjoying time with the kids (if applicable)
- still having a say in financial matters
- no old fashioned gender roles
- financially and educationally independent enough to survive comfortably alone if the partnership fails
- you actually want to be in that relationship