career

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Work ethic, income, advancement, and business ownership alvin July 15, 2017 - 9:56pm

Just saw this: “Never let your boss convince you that ‘work ethic’ is working extra hours for free. It’s the same as writing a check to the business owner.”

Technically that’s true, a good observation, and I can’t argue with it.

Conversely, when I got out of college, my wife’s grandfather told me the phrase, “If you do more for what you’re paid to do, you’ll eventually be paid more for what you do.” As an employee, I made a lot of money with his philosophy, rapidly doubling and tripling my income.

Later, as the owner of a small business, I didn’t mind it when employees didn’t work overtime – and we always paid for overtime. I respect people who want to work forty hours a week and have a balanced life. But I also knew that those people would never become partners in our business. I never thought of it as good or bad, just a fact of business life.

Writing tip: Just say what you mean

Somewhere around the year 2006, my writing style was influenced by the CIO of a company I was working with. When trying to get a new project started, a project manager gave me a very vague description of what he wanted, and as a result, the cost estimate and Statement of Work I wrote (so I would get paid) was vague as well.

The CIO called me to her office, and then told me that I didn’t have to write anything fancy, I just had to “say what I mean.” Since then, that simple approach has been a key to my writing style.

Stay focused and keep your head down

DeMarcus Ware is one of my favorite football players, by all accounts a real leader and team player. Here’s a nice quote from him in this article:

“I told myself, ‘Don’t get caught up. Stay focused and keep your head down and everything will be all right,’ ” he says. “That’s always been my motto: If you don’t get caught up in the hype, you can do something great.”

On asking a waitress a stupid question

Back in 2005 I used to walk over to a bar that was across the street from my apartment. One night I was talking to a waitress and wondered out loud whether I would be happier working a job that I enjoyed that might only pay $30K to $40K per year — as opposed to my current job, which paid a lot more but definitely wasn’t making me happy.

She wisely said, “Don’t look at me honey, I don’t make that kind of money,” then turned and walked away.

It’s important to distinguish opinions from facts

It’s important to remember that even when successful people say things, they’re often just opinions, not facts. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz once told Jeff Bezos of Amazon, “You have no physical presence. That is going to hold you back.” The reality was that not having a physical presence at that time is what propelled Amazon forward.

I’ve cow-towed to a culture of sensitivity

A quote from the founder of Buddhist Geeks: “I’ve cow-towed to a culture of sensitivity, whose aim has been to avoid offending others over having difficult conversations.”

This made me think of two things. First, many years ago my company worked as a consultant with a large church, and any time there was conflict about something on the project, all productivity came to a screeching halt. People there all felt the need to be nice to each other above all else, and as a result the tough decisions couldn’t be made, and they were our slowest-moving client of ever.

Second, as I learned from Zen, being your true self doesn’t mean “being nice above all else” all the time. That’s just faking it. There will always be disagreements, and the philosophy I try to follow is, “The best idea wins.”

I learned part of that philosophy — and how to handle conflict — from this article by Bill Parcells, The tough work of turning around a team.

“Keep Grinding”

“It just tells you how tough this team is. Down 25 points, we just keep grinding and we finish on top again.”

~ Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

IQ is not EQ

One of the things you have to remember when working with human beings is that IQ is not the same as EQ, and they’re rarely equal. Some people have a horrible temper. One guy I know is smart, but he remains the biggest jerk I’ve ever met.

I remember hearing one time that when people are hurt in their childhood or teen years they stop developing emotionally at that point. So if they are somehow hurt when they are twelve years old, they can be thirty years old physically but only twelve emotionally. I don’t know if that’s 100% true, but it seems like it in some cases I know. (And the hard thing is that these people don’t know that they have these problems.)