Happy Links

LinksBeing nice helps you get customers. “When we asked our new client what put us over the edge, they said that of course they liked our work, but they also were impressed by the way we related to each other–cracking jokes, bantering, etc. “You guys just seem to like each other,??? they said.”

Slow Leadership on The Road Least Taken to Happiness at Work. “Most people make decisions about their life and work based on what is generally considered “right??? and “good.??? This is living from the outside in: letting others people’s expectations, rule your life. You do what you do because that’s what you have been told to do. It’s a good recipe for frustration and stress.”

Bob Sutton explains how The Billable Hour Turns People into Workaholics. “Once you’re paid by the hour,??? he says, “you start placing a monetary value on that hour. Lawyers watching their kids play soccer admitted to mentally ticking away lost income for each minute they stood on the sidelines.??? Ouch!

Paul English, the CEO of travel site kayak.com, on stuff I’ve learned at work. “Jim and i were struggling for many days making a difficult decision about a reorg which would probably hurt some people. We argued with each other about the options we had. Neither of us were really sure which one would be best, and one day he said since I am not sure which one will produce the best business result, let’s choose the path that does the best for the people, and let’s hope the world works that way; I would not want to participate in a system which worked another way.”

3 thoughts on “Happy Links”

  1. What’s scary is how fast that can happen to you. I have *always* tried to live with the non-work priorities as the highest, I still found myself doing those same calculations when I was doing contract software development. While I kept myself to a strict 40 hour week, I still ended up taking almost no vacation days, sick days or otherwise taking time off. When a week off costs the same as a plasma TV or a $3000 vacation actually costs you $6000 because of lost time, you too easily start comparing the 2. Suddenly, you don’t take the vacation at all, because, while it was worthwhile at $3000, it’s not at $6000 (the “actual” cost).

    It’s not that you set out to live your life that way, it’s just that you are faced with the time=money equation at its most literal. Unfortunately, when you look that equation in the eye, it takes a really strong will to not fall victim to this particular temptation.

    If you don’t believe me, just ask the people around you,

    “If I wrote you a check for $500 to come in on Saturday and work for 8 hours, would you do it? How about $1000 for the weekend?”

    You’ll probably be surprised how many of the people you ask would jump on it. That’s the exact offer being made to many people in these situations.

    And, it often doesn’t come all at once. I think if you asked someone to put in 12 hour days, 7 days a week right at the beginning, most wouldn’t do it. It starts out slowly. An extra hour, 3 days a week. One Saturday morning a month “to catch up”, shortening the vacation by a day, etc. 5 years of erosion later, you haven’t taken more than 2 days off in a row in 2 years.

    I switched 9 months ago from my version of that life to a job with 18 days a year off, plus holidays and I’m still feeling guilty for every day I take off. While I am now much happier *at* work, it’s still hard to take time off.

  2. Josh: I agree – scary. And even on a smaller scale it tends to affect your relationship with time and how you choose to use your time.

    J: Exactly – it starts out slowly, but ends up taking over if we’re not careful.

    In the IT company I co-founded we found that it took a strong will to make sure that everybody was taking courses, going on holidays and not working too much. The temptation to see all of this as “lost income” was huge, but that perspective is just waaaaay too simplistic.

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