All Posts in “Work”

The “I Deserve a Raise” Mentality

There are a lot of people out there that feel they deserve a raise but aren’t getting raises. They have the “I deserve a raise” mentality.

On the surface, their argument is about value creation, but deeper down it is actually about responsibility and resentment.

It is about choices they are making but trying to avoid responsibility for.

Every time you do something you don’t want to do (without accepting you are ultimately responsible for that decision) you are adding to a resentment savings account. When you don’t take responsibility for your work choices you are adding to that balance.

The healthy resolution to this feeling is to look at it and accept the decisions you are making. To accept reality. That everything you do, you want to do on some level, or else you wouldn’t do it.

But most people don’t take the healthy resolution. Most people don’t take personal responsibility. Instead, that balance of resentment is projected onto others. It is turned into the disempowered “they owe me” mentality.

People convince themselves they deserve a raise or a promotion because of sacrifices the are choosing but denying responsibility for.

If they get a raise they get a temporary reprieve but find out quickly that it doesn’t change anything about the dynamic. That they just find new reasons to project that resentment.

If they don’t get a raise they quit. They clear the board and go start somewhere new. But without any reflection or understanding the dynamic that got them there in the first place they will simply end up where they were before.

Finding Your Dream Job

My daily blog post for today is up on the Praxis blog. In it I talk about what it actually takes to “find” your dream job.

You won’t find your dream job on or any other job board. You won’t find a job description that ticks all the boxes you are interested in. If you are waiting around for the perfect job to appear, you will be waiting a long time.

To get a dream job you have to start working and create it.

Most people view employment relationships as a fixed unchangeable state instead of a dynamic two-way relationship. As a result, they fixate on job descriptions and discount their ability to adapt and develop over time.

Winning Your Championship

A great interview came out this weekend with Shaq interviewing Kobe Bryant. They talk about their time together and the disagreements they had along the way. It is a fascinating look into their relationship and how they think about their craft.

Something they both share in common is a fierce competitive drive. They both were obsessed with winning championships.

For Kobe especially, winning as many NBA Championships as he could was his goal and he made massive sacrifices in his life to get it. He sacrificed personal relationships, time with his family, physical health, all as a means of getting championships.

But even if you are not a professional athlete, to achieve something meaningful you have to make sacrifices, but what complicates things for most of us is the lack of a defined championship.

Great athletes have a clear goal they are working towards, so it is easier to make sacrifices to achieve it. Outside of the NBA/NHL/NFL, the championship is up to you to define. You can pursue many different ends, you can live a life with no championship, or you can pick one for yourself.

If you are an entrepreneur, maybe the championship for you is an IPO. Maybe it is a $10M exit. Maybe it is hiring 1000 people.

If you know what the goal you are working towards is, you can make decisions about what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.

But if you don’t define what you are after– if you simply float through life with the goal of enjoying the day–you will have no context for the sacrifices you need to make to succeed. You will sleep in, you will take the easy way you, you will avoid hard conversations because they don’t serve you because you don’t have an end you are aiming towards.

One of the many lessons you can take from great athletes like Shaq or Kobe is the incredible value of having a clear goal you are building towards. You don’t have the NBA Championship to go after, but you have the power to define your own goal and start working towards it.

***One of the most enjoyable and insightful parts of the interview comes when Shaq talks about how he would take the offseason off because he knew how hard Kobe would be working.

Sacrifice Is Required For Success

You have to sacrifice to get what you want in life.

Most of us aren’t willing to pay the price required to get what we want though. We want rewards without work.

We wish for easy results because sacrifice is hard. It is hard to get out of bed in the morning and get to work, it is hard to work at 8 pm on a Friday when your friends are going out and trying to convince you to come along. It is hard to achieve something lasting and meaningful.

Success is so elusive for people because they aren’t willing to pay the price to get what they want. They wish success was free and so they sit around complaining instead of working. They wait for success to go on special. They want the Black Friday deal for achieving their goals, but spoiler alert, success will never go on sale. The price will always be high. You will always have to sacrifice comfort, stability, and easy fun to achieve something of meaning.

If you aren’t willing to pay the price, if you aren’t willing to sacrifice to get what you want, it is time to step back and really think about if you actually care about the goals you are pursuing. Because to have an impact, you have to find the things you care enough about to make massive sacrifices for.

The Career of Fear

There is a movie called Company Man that stars Ben Affleck. It is the story of Ben’s character coming to terms with being fired from the company that he has worked for his entire life.

After getting fired, Ben’s character struggles mightily to find new work. In his past job, he became highly specialized for the company, and now he is a middle-aged man unable to find work through the traditional resume and interview process, and he is forced to resort to doing construction work for a time with a family member.

I watched it around the time I was looking for my first professional job, and it impacted me. I remember thinking “That is not going to happen to me”.

In my mind, I would escape this problem by never truly committing to work. If I never got into a position of responsibility, if I never really became specialized, if I never work for a company for more than a couple years, then I wouldn’t have this problem.

I had a lot of bad ideas about work at the time, but at a fundamental level, my mindset about work was disempowered.

The movie conveys the idea that the company is bad for firing a long-term employee. That they aren’t loyal and that people should be afraid of giving themselves fully to their work. It paints a company as evil for trying to maximize profit and for ending a relationship when that relationship is no longer profitable.

I think the movie represents the fears most people have about work, but most people’s ideas about work are wrong.

Most people have a non-entrepreneurial view of work. They think jobs are something beyond their control and that you need to get someone to give you one instead of having the ability to create one yourself.

Most people are passive traders. They think that even though you are paid and compensated according to the terms of your contract, you are owed a deeper “loyalty” because you show up and do your job.

Most people view work as a status game. They feel you are a loser if you change careers late in life. That doing something like briefly working construction as you make a job change is a terrible fate.

Most people are anti-capitalist. They think a company making decisions to maximize profit (and secure its future) are bad when it means firing people. Even though not firing people who are no longer creating value would eventually mean everyone losing a job when the company tanks.

Just Make Yourself Useful

Young people base their ambitions on the world they see around them—a very small sample of the total options. When it comes to careers, that means picking something they’ve seen their parents or relatives do, something they’ve seen their teachers do, something popular, or something they’ve seen on the internet.

Because most young people are growing up sheltered from the market and they don’t know much about actual opportunities that exist, they think they have to be a teacher, doctor, accountant, actor, author, tech tycoon, “digital marketer”, or motivational speaker.

What they don’t know is that they don’t have to choose a career based on the very limited information they currently have to do.

As a young person, starting your career, you don’t need to choose a path for the rest of your life. You don’t need to choose a vocation based on the list a guidance counselor gave you. You certainly don’t need to find mentors to show you the 67 secrets to success. All you need to do is find a way to be useful to someone else. Find someone who is willing to pay you for something, do it well, and watch the opportunities open up.

The Future of Office Buildings

Over the past half-century, we transitioned from a manufacturing-focused economy to information or intellectually focused economy. Ideas and the ability to create with your mind are now crucial to success for individuals and firms.

Until recently, this change hasn’t been recognized in workspaces. Companies built cubicle farms as the intellectual work equivalent of a manufacturing line. It was optimized for the physical computer work, but not for intellectual work.

Competition for talent in the intellectual work age has pushed more and more companies to be human-focused with the spaces they are creating. But up to this point startups have painted on the same canvas of the office buildings. They have made cooler versions of essentially the same thing.

The Apple Experiment

The new Apple office building is an incredible space and an impressive experiment in human-focused design.

Instead of a marginal improvement on the standard office skyscraper, Apple created something different. Something radical. They have made a five billion bet that this building will help their current employees create better more inspired work and that it will help them attract better talent.

Apple is the pinnacle of this, but only the beginning of a radical change in the way spaces are designed.

CoWorking Competition

Co-working has exploded over the last ten years as more businesses outsource property management to specialists.

Up until recently, every business had to focus on their unique ability and invest in running an office (or office building) on top of that. But a whole new group of coworking, meeting, and event space companies have started with the explicit focus on creating great spaces for work and events.

Coworking giant WeWork is at the forefront of this new human environment industry. Over the past eight years, they have gone from one building to 171 and raised almost $7 billion to fuel a rapid expansion around the world.

I work at a WeWork location in Mexico City which is nice on the whole, it is only a marginal improvement on a standard new office building.

As we get deeper into an intellectually focused work era, and the costs to move from office to office continue to drop, competition in coworking will drive more radical experiments in work and living spaces.

When individuals and companies are looking for places to work, they will expect a lot more than good WiFi, coffee, and fruit infused water. They will want a building that their employees love to work at. They will want to work in a building or on a campus designed with similar care and focus on the Apple building.

Watching videos of the Apple building, you can’t help but see a future where a building like this is not a unique and noteworthy story, but an expectation for any company that expects to attract the top knowledge workers.

The Most Important Moment of the Day

The moment when you sit down to work is the most important moment of the day.

If you choose to get right to your most important tasks, you start building momentum and set yourself up for success.

If you choose to check Facebook or Twitter or take some other action you don’t feel proud of, you will feel guilt, and take a hit to your productivity that is almost impossible to recover from. The small amount of pleasure you gained at the moment from engaging in entertainment, will be overwhelmed by bad feelings as you postpone your responsibilities.

So tomorrow when you go to work, remember how crucial the first moments of your work day are. If you are tempted by distraction as the day begins, you don’t have to be tyrannical with yourself. You can still check your social media, but commit to completing a task first. Commit to 15 minutes of getting off on the right foot and you will be amazed by the impact it has on your day.

Brute Force

It is becoming more and more popular to deride people who work a lot. When you tell people the hours that you work it’s not uncommon to hear back “You know, people are actually more productive with 30 hour work weeks than sixty hours.”

There is something to the idea; when you work long hours you often lose out on per hour productivity. Becuase you are working with less energy, things take longer. But the desire to work short efficient hours throws a lot of people off.

Most of the time, before you can get down to working short and productive days, you need to get comfortable working long hard hours. To reach a point of efficient productivity, you need to get comfortable brute forcing your work with long hours.

Self-Transformation and Greatness (Whiplash)

Last night Amanda and I watched Whiplash. It is the story of an ambitious young jazz drummer struggling to become great at his craft.


It reminds me a lot of Black Swan, and there is a great video from Lessons From Screenplay comparing the two.

His story covers a semesters time at a prestigious and demanding music school. The conductor of the studio band is a tyrant, who comes from the hard ass school of developing talent.

Andrew, the main character, is obsessed with drumming, and he is pushed to the limits of his mental and physical health to reach his potential as a drummer and his obsession almost destroys him. He is in a serious car accident and then attacks his teacher and is kicked out of school.

That break allows him to get some mental space and take his foot off the gas before completely descending into madness. He has space to connect with his original passion outside of the obsession and then ends up in a show delivering the best performance of his life.

The movie is a reminder about the amount of dedication and effort required to succeed at anything. To be truly great, you need to sacrifice many other things. Not necessarily your health, safety, and relationships–you need to maintain those to succeed in the long-term. But to reach your potential in any craft, you need to give into personal transformation and truly let your craft become part of you. This is not an easy thing to do.

Accepting self-transformation is scary, so most people never do it. They never fully give themselves up to their craft and remain stuck as an old version of themselves. They end up caught between a vision of the future they want to achieve and a version of themselves from the past that they refuse to let go of.