August 30, 2011

Horse 1223 - If You Don't Like Your Job, Quit!

@rperrett recently retweeted a link to an article from a website called Lifehacker. The article in question was by someone called David Fuhriman who appears to be some sort of Venture Capitalist and Entrepreneur.

You can read through the article if you like but I'll provide a few select paragraphs:

What did I love enough that I would do it for free? I figured that if I was actually willing to do it for free, then that would be a good start. So I explored taking the CFA or CAIA certifications- maybe I would like to do more security analysis. No. I started looking into commodities and opened up a margin account, funded it with some money. But that wasn't it. Did some real estate analysis, properties in the mid-west have attractive cap-rates. No.
I ended up coming back to what I used to do: helping small companies grow. This time I wanted to grow something scalable- with national or international scope. I started attending tech events, reading everything online, buying books, and discovered something I love doing for free- and what I do really well. I am very good at working in the space between Technology and Business. I ended up quitting my job to work on these things full-time. I discovered there are two reasons to only work in a job that you would do for free.

Curiously of the 14 replies posted on the website and the 8 replies via Twitter, only 2 seem to be in agreement where as the other 20 are downright antagonistic. This is a selection:

- So forgive me if I'm not super-on-the-train with mr. startup-venture-capitalist, because I seriously doubt he's ever had to worry about making rent a day in the past twenty years of his life.
- That's not sound advice, it's airy-fairy bull****!
- If you don't have a family to support, or like to eat occasionally, perhaps.
- That's the worst advice I've ever heard if you've got a family to feed and aren't an independently wealthy entrepreneur.
- Haha, I can only imagine what small % that would be of people
- Is David Fuhriman going to pay my mortgage for me?

Do we see a trend emerging here?

Although I can understand the rationale for suggesting that people seek a job which they're ultimately going to find satisfying, there is a distinct difference between intangible ideals and very very tangible real life.

Firstly the article starts with the premise of a lie: "What did I love enough that I would do it for free?". Does this chap then back up those words by volunteering for anything? Of course not; not a bar of it. It's obvious that people like to receive rewards for the work they do (usually monetary). Not only do people like to receive rewards for the work they do but the vast majority of workers rely on the monetary rewards for the work they do.
Suppose that I was actually to carry through on this quite frankly irrational advice. Is my Landlord also likely to provide my housing for free? What about the electricity company, the phone company or even the grocery store? A chap still has to eat.

Secondly there is something altogether terse in the attitude "if you don't like it, quit". This is just a suggestion but maybe if employers started creating an agreeable and harmonious environment in the workplace, so that people didn't hate their job, maybe they wouldn't? This "if you don't like it, quit" attitude does little more than inspire mistrust and dare I say it hatred in employees for their employers.

By way of background I note that Mr Fuhriman happens to live in San Diego.This might be a gross generalisation but there is a great sense of free enterprise in the United States and a nebulous thing called the "American Dream", which is basically the ethos of success and prosperity. It's all very well to suggest that people simply quit but does this make any sense at all in the real world?

Maybe Mr Fuhriman hasn't read the San Diego Union-Tribune lately but last time I checked, the unemployment rate in the United States was 9.2%; meaning that some 14.1 million Americans are out of work. I would suggest that the vast bulk of them would jump at the chance to do even a lowly job if it meant that the bill-collectors were kept at bay. Clearly Mr Fuhriman has either never known hardship or poverty; for him to speak with such tones speaks volumes of his insincerity and callousness.

I also note that as an "Entrepreneur" and/or Venture Capitalist, it is in fact in Mr Fuhriman's interest that people quit their jobs and employ him during the initial start-up phase. Maybe it's willful blindness on his part but the fact remains that about 80% of all businesses fail in the first three years; I can say with almost 100% certainty that he would still collect his fees even if those businesses which he works with fail. So much for doing it for free.

Maybe it's his overriding belief in the American Dream which is what is driving him. There has to be a point though where you stop dreaming and wake up.

Probably the vast majority of people wouldn't just quit their jobs unless there was another better offer on the table, or the conditions in their existing job were so terrible that they felt that they were forced to. Given a very tight employment market, simply quitting your job, is not only irresponsible but downright idiotic and I think that the wave of invective which has followed is totally justified.

1 comment:

Rperrett said...

You know I mostly agree with you and thought exactly the same when I read the article. however I retweeted because the ideal is still a noble goal to reach for. You're right that in most cases it doesn't work like that and 99% of the world never has the option.

But how many people do have the option but never pursue it because they don't even realize they can? How many people leave school and get into a job they don't like but stick with it just because?

I believe strongly in finding your God given passion and pursuing it with everything you've got. It's not always easy to find but if you do then you'll unleash almost unlimited motivation and joy. That's what I want more people to find.

No you can't always do it and yes there are bills to be paid, but don't give up and never stop pursuing the dream.

For the record I've found what I love and I do do it for free, but I also work to pay the bills. It's a journey, but I'll never stop pursuing my dreams.