I do think that there's value in it. If you genuinely enjoy what you do, you work in a low-stress environment, and you're not a subordinate, you can work 60-70 hours per week continuously without ill effects. If you have a regular office job in an open-plan environment, and you're a subordinate, then a 60-hour week will murder you over time. If you call the shots over your own work (there's always a boss, so the distinction of "not a subordinate" is more about degree and the people around you than formal reporting structure) then you can work harder and much more efficiently than typical disengaged office workers and it won't hurt you.
An important concept, that I've cribbed from Havel, is Living in Truth. At some point, I realized (to my annoyance) how much of an advantage the rich kids had in the career game. (Growing up in Central PA, I thought I was a "rich kid". Then I worked in finance in NYC.) They worked as hard as anyone else-- I'll never say that they didn't-- but it was received better and led to rapid promotion. If you're from a middle-class background and bust your ass, your bosses assume that it's because you want money and to be like them, and that doesn't really endear you to them. If you're already from a rich family, then people assume that you have a genuine work ethic when you put in the 40-55 hours that is taken for granted from everyone else.
So, I started thinking about it, and I realized that, most of the time, it's not obvious what peoples' actual backgrounds were. No one consciously favors the rich kids; it's the confidence and status that they carry with them that gives them the advantages. They expect to be treated with respect, even by powerful people, and most of the time, that's what happens. Paradoxically, the people who didn't fear their bosses or take the corporate nonsense too seriously were the ones who got ahead. That's when I realized that it's possible to act as if you were economically free-- to work only on the stuff that matters, either because it advances your career or because it helps someone or some cause that you care about-- and, most of the time, to get away with it. If you're ethical and hard-working but, at the same time, don't allow anyone to lower your status, ever, you definitely invite short-term rockiness (see: my Google experience) but people respect you more in the long term. Obviously, you have to be tactful and sometimes a bit political. When something not worth doing gets dropped on your plate, you need to find a way to get higher-priority and valuable stuff on it...
I bring this up because it's impossible to be efficient if you don't live in truth. You'll have recurring commitments and drudge work delegated onto you, and eventually the only escape will be to change jobs and, since you're going to be tired and bitter by that point, you'll get a mediocre raise (the 3-5% per year that you didn't get where you were) but no real promotion. I don't know the OP, but I'm guessing that he mastered the art of Living in Truth. For example, in an hour-long status meeting, he probably had a rehearsed and compact 2-minute update that didn't invite follow-on questions (status meetings are like Scrabble; good players aren't trying to drop 100-point words so much as they're trying not to open up the board) and 58 minutes to work on stuff that actually mattered. And while there's a lot that's in productivity literature that isn't replicable for most people, I think that the general concept of Living in Truth has a great deal of value.
Yes this is a very important and subtle dynamic that this group uses to great success.
Though I think it's worth mentioning that it's just one of a few archetypes. There's also the street-smart working class hustler type who is just absolutely relentless and tireless as a self-promoter and takes no opportunity for granted, always puts in the extra effort. That approach can be effective too.
What's common to both is that they are not passive, and that neither believes in a myth of "fairness" that promises them rewards simply for their work ethic. What rich and poor have in common -- and the middle class often misses -- is a keen understanding that the system isn't fair and isn't designed to be fair.
You nailed it.
Disagree. Favoring rich kids will obviously get you a lot of favor in return. Class delimiters abound and it's really not much to do with how you expect to be treated by others. It extends to the clothes you wear, the way you talk, your interests etc. It's just normally obvious.
I think any wise and conscious lad will know that there's just no inherent difference from man to man. He'll expect to be treated with respect by everybody while he also treats the other side equally. An example that immediately sprung to my mind is Jobs. He obviously didn't take any nonsense when he found his Atari job, though he didn't have a rich background at all. This is how any sensible and determined person should behave, nothing much to do with family background IMO. And I'd say even you're middle class you're still largely "economically free" in our modern society. It's all about luxury from this point on, economically.
Repeated for emphasis.
Current execs are a little puzzled that gasp I want to get paid what I'm worth, and am puzzled when my enthusiasm matches my salary and equity.
Fuck you, pay me.