Live, Work, Die
On finding meaning and balance in our work lives
3 Days Left To Own A Slice Of This Money Pie
The $155 billion pizza industry is about to get a full-scale upgrade, and one private startup is leading the way with robotic pizza kiosks.
(It’s called Piestro, and they’re taking investors right here until July 28th.)
Here’s why renowned brands like 800 Degrees and Fast Fired have already preordered $580 million in Piestro’s pizza pods:
- Operates in most high-traffic areas
- Slices the pizzeria budget in half for 3X higher margins
- Cooks the perfect pie in 3 minutes
You can become a shareholder before they spread to stadiums, office buildings, college campuses, malls, and street corners around the world.
A few weeks ago, I was hit with some unfortunate news that a former coworker passed away.
He was my supervisor and mentor for a few years while working on two big projects together. An extremely bright mind and freakishly organized, you could tell he loved what he did throughout his entire career.
He was one of the first 100 employees in a multi-billion dollar company that has been around for a long time. He came straight from school and proceeded to work for more than 45 years at the same company—a trait you just don't see anymore. He would have worked until he was 100 years old if he had the choice. He was built different.
About 6 years ago we were going through a rough patch and rumors of layoffs were swirling around the office. As it was relayed to me at the time, he was approached by management and asked if he was planning on retiring soon. He said no and was laid off a few months later—essentially put into a forced retirement. He was promptly marched out of the building by security and I never saw or spoke with him again.
I have always been upset about how he was let go from the company—as such a well-respected and wise man who was absolutely devoted to the company. That event changed my view of corporate America forever. Everyone is replaceable.
When I heard of his death, I tried Googling his name to see if there was an obituary. Nothing. I couldn't even find a picture of him on the Internet. Knowing him and his quirks, this is exactly how he would have wanted it. He never wanted to bask in glory or have people remember his name. He just wanted to help others out. From my foggy memory I can still see his face and smile and remember his belly laugh, although the finer details aren’t as crisp as they once were.
The sobering news of his death was a reminder of how much of our time is centered around our work lives and how we should strive to find meaning in our work.
For many of us, work is just another place to earn a paycheck. We can’t all run tech startups that are trying to change the world. Many are doing what they can just to get by. Others may want to climb the corporate ladder if that’s their choice. Others let their work lives consume them, alienating themselves from their families and friends, in pursuit of something that will never fully satisfy them.
If you feel stuck in this cycle, there are ways to realign your priorities to get more meaning out of your work.
Make yourself meaningful to others
Some of us don't have to try to find meaning in our careers because it's already built-in to our job title. For example, if you're a surgeon, firefighter, or financial planner, you're already helping people in need on a daily basis. You're hopefully already getting a profound sense of meaning from your work.
But maybe you're a waiter or work in the service industry. It can be difficult to change someone's life in a role like that but it just requires a bit more effort and a different mindset. You can make yourself meaningful to customers by having a positive attitude in everything you do. Your positivity will spread and the customers and coworkers will remember your efforts for a long time. Research has shown that strong relationships enhance our sense of meaning in life.
Don't focus on the money
Wait, how can you not focus on the money? That has to be the most important reason to wake up every day to go to work.
Don't let money be the sole driver of your career choice.
Eventually, the shine will wear off and you will be miserable in your role, looking for deeper connections and meaning. Moreover, many of the people I know who make a lot of money in their roles are very stressed out because of the daily demands and responsibilities they have. They barely even have time to spend all of the money they make. Even when they do find time to decompress, they dread going back to work in a highly stressful environment.
One tactic I've seen firsthand is people slaving away for a few years at a job making ridiculous money, then they leave and use that money to bootstrap their own startup, creating something they're passionate about. I like this strategy. My only advice for this would be don't overextend yourself or get burnt out in the process as it could lead to some psychological damage.
Use money to gain control over your time, because not having control of your time is such a powerful and universal drag on happiness. The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want to, pays the highest dividend that exists in finance.
Become a mentor
Mentoring someone is one of the top ways to find fulfillment in your work. It’s also a great way to retrain your brain. Doing certain work tasks may start to become second nature to you. But when you get a fresh young mind watching you and asking questions, it opens up a new world of opportunities for both of you. Sometimes the person who needs help the most is you.
Don't fall into the trap of refusing to help younger workers because no one ever helped you out. Break the cycle and form a new trusted relationship. This is especially true for interns and new hires who are working remotely and need guidance and someone to look up to.
Refuse to climb the corporate ladder
Climbing the corporate ladder isn't for everyone. You slave away at a company putting in 60 hour weeks for 20 years, all while politicking your way to the top. For what? More money? Power? It's never worth it. In my experience, these people are the most despised people in every company. Empty shells of a human that can’t be trusted.
Focus on creating new relationships in lieu of destroying old ones on your way to the top.
If the Great Resignation and the working from home movement taught us anything, it's that life is all about balance. People quit in droves because they were unhappy with their work situations and thought better opportunities laid elsewhere.
Many people who started working from home realized how much happier they were. For me, it was a function of spending more time with friends and family and pursuing other passions without the need to constantly show face time at the office—especially when I could increase my output and quality remotely.
Walking the dog, taking a nap, playing golf, and spending more time outside gave me a sense of freedom that will be hard to ever give up, especially when we have the tools to stay connected in a digital world. I realized very quickly I was one who thrived working remotely because I can handle myself without succumbing to distractions and am driven to work harder to earn time to pursue other passions.
At the end of the day, you should love what you do and do what you love.
“We’re returning to the office because our culture is so important”
— Chris Herd (@chris_herd)
Aug 30, 2021