On work and family and having a "real life"

Damn, lots of comments are coming in. Most calling me a butthead.

Interesting that on FastCompany.tv we’ll have an interview up in about a week with Jason Calacanis. Why a week? Because I’m not going to force Rocky, my producer/editor, to stay in his hotel room and do work just to get a few more hits today.

So, let’s take them on.

Brian Sullivan says: “This is all fine as long as the “owner” is plugging in the trenches as well and making similar time, committment and comfort sacrifices.”

Calacanis doesn’t disagree. He says he will always work harder than anyone on his team.

Christopher Coulter says: “Jason is a slave driver, breaking OHSA and common sense rules, treating employees as prisoners, whilst adopting Marxist economic outlooks, filing that under hard work is going seriously mental. He’s a lawsuit in the making.”

Funny how Christopher makes shit up about people. The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone. Everyone has huge monitors (most people there had three expensive monitors on their desks). Everyone had a $700 chair. Everyone I’ve talked to who work at Mahalo really loves working there. The two “smokers” notwithstanding.

Coulter continues: “There’s people that work very hard, and there’s slave labor, having a family is not the definition of slackerdom (in fact those with families tend to be the MOST loyal, as the singles are out to court companies and move up at whims).”

Right, many of those at Mahalo (and both employees at FastCompany.tv) have families. You’re missing the point. You CAN have a family and be a productive worker, a team player, and a nice guy.

Coulter continues: “And furthermorehence, some people are more efficient with their time, slackers can grant the appearance of hard work, but it’s the product output that matters.”

This is true. Many people think I’m a slacker, going to conferences all the time and hanging out with Calacanis in fun venues (driving a Tesla, etc). You’re right. Judge people on the output they generate. I guarantee you that if those two smokers had been the most productive that Calacanis probably would have moved the lunch crew outside to join them. Calacanis measures everything about his team’s productivity (that’s why he buys all his workers multiple large monitors, he knows those make his workers more productive).

Coulter continues: “Luck actually has more to do with success than hard work, right time, right place, right product, meeting the right demand.”

I’ve found that the lucky generally are also the ones who work to make that luck. Luck matters most at the meta level anyway. Mahalo does need a little luck to make it big. But that luck will probably be generated by whether they have the best search results. THAT depends on having productive and happy employees who work together as a team.

Coulter continues: “And yah know (just for a sense of history, as I have a good memory), you were on the OTHER SIDE of this argument, when it was Electronic Arts ruining families, and all the bad press that got. You were VERY pro-family then.”

Is Electronic Arts a startup? No. The reason I was mad about Electronic Arts is because it was a systemic abuse of workers due to poor management techniques. That’s VERY DIFFERENT from Jason’s points, despite what Coulter is saying. Jason’s workers are working hard because they have the opportunity to see a huge reward. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see. I know a few startup employees who work for no money. Why would they do that? Because of the potential upside.

Thunk writes: “You, Robert, have described your home-life as fulfilling, so I imagine that you are no workaholic, because otherwise you would hardly ever see your family.”

Keep in mind, that I don’t think what I do is work. Work is putting a roof on a Dallas building in the middle of summer. What I do is NOT work of that kind. And I’m extremely fortunate for that. My son, Milan, is six months old and he’s been to Europe twice already. I include my family in my work. Patrick, my 14-year-old, has been to many of my work functions and gotten dragged to many boring geeky events. I think that’s good for both of us. And I haven’t always been there for him, and right now I’m at SXSW and doing other interviews, which is keeping me away from my family for almost two weeks.

But, again, we’re talking about startups. Startups need people who will pour themselves into the work and, at least, be part of the team. If you want a 9-to-5 job, go work for a bigger company. I’ve done both and startups require more committment than other kinds of companies do.

Dom writes: “Should people be fired if they have a bladder problem and need to go to the restroom every 2 hours to relieve themselves?”

That doesn’t require much time and isn’t a flaunting of teamwork, which is what was going on with the smokers. Also, to tie a bodily function to something optional, like smoking, is ridiculous. I expect my readers to make smart arguments, if you want to make arguments like these please go back to Digg.

Solo writes: “I’ve been at companies that demanded long hours and it’s funny how quickly the marginal return of those additional hours approaches zero.”

Jason doesn’t demand long hours. Most of his workers get in at 11 a.m. He actually is quite liberal with work hours.

AC writes: “First of all people who work 40hrs/week are not slackers. They’re good workers (assuming they really do work during that time).”

That’s true, but startups don’t need “good” workers. They need “great” workers.

Anatoly says: “Robert, get a clue. You measure people by the work they produce, not by the number of hours they put in.”

Good point. But if you can do more great stuff in two hours than I can in eight, please give me a call, I’m hiring.

Duncan Riley, of TechCrunch writes: “I never once defended slackers and that you’d suggest that I did speaks volumes for you and your low opinion of human beings. “

No, you took Jason’s words out of context and put a sensational headline on them. The two people he fired were slackers, were not producing what the rest of the team’s members were, and weren’t team players to boot. Maybe you should go and interview Calacanis and find out what he meant before using it to push your own agenda. One, which, I find your own employer doesn’t agree with.

Anyway, I am at SXSW and gotta run to the Google Party. Just a little “work/life” balance thing I gotta do. More later. :-)

Comments

  1. For a calm and collected man, you sure do get passionate about work/life balance. Jason Calacanis seems to be the hot button topic this week, it’ll only make the interview more exciting to see. Have fun at SXSW.

  2. I actually liked Jason’s tips. I went through his 17 tips and commented from an engineer’s perspective over on my blog.

    I particularly agreed with his point on workaholics.

  3. I actually liked Jason’s tips. I went through his 17 tips and commented from an engineer’s perspective over on my blog.

    I particularly agreed with his point on workaholics.

  4. For a calm and collected man, you sure do get passionate about work/life balance. Jason Calacanis seems to be the hot button topic this week, it’ll only make the interview more exciting to see. Have fun at SXSW.

  5. Though I’m taking no sides in the matter I loved this post! You definitely set a lot of things into perspective that Jason Calacanis should’ve done himself to begin with.

    Someone at Techcrunch wrote that Calacanis should’ve taken more time to write the post and maybe he wouldn’t have gotten half of the reactions he’s gotten (though I think that was his point). Nevertheless, I’m glad he didn’t because it’s bringing about a great debate on the issue…

    Plus, we’re seeing who’s a true friend (I’d say that’s you) and who’s merely in the game for powerful alliances…

  6. Though I’m taking no sides in the matter I loved this post! You definitely set a lot of things into perspective that Jason Calacanis should’ve done himself to begin with.

    Someone at Techcrunch wrote that Calacanis should’ve taken more time to write the post and maybe he wouldn’t have gotten half of the reactions he’s gotten (though I think that was his point). Nevertheless, I’m glad he didn’t because it’s bringing about a great debate on the issue…

    Plus, we’re seeing who’s a true friend (I’d say that’s you) and who’s merely in the game for powerful alliances…

  7. Thanks for the post robert… i think Duncan went off because he feels strongly about family–can’t blame a guy for that. I clearly had a grin when i wrote the “fire people who are not workaholics.. for realz!” line, but sure… i could have been a little more clear.

    So, I forgive Duncan and understand he is a family guy. At the end of the day we’re all better for this debate.

    rock on,

    Jason

    ps – not going to SXSW, too much work :-)

  8. Thanks for the post robert… i think Duncan went off because he feels strongly about family–can’t blame a guy for that. I clearly had a grin when i wrote the “fire people who are not workaholics.. for realz!” line, but sure… i could have been a little more clear.

    So, I forgive Duncan and understand he is a family guy. At the end of the day we’re all better for this debate.

    rock on,

    Jason

    ps – not going to SXSW, too much work :-)

  9. “if you want to make arguments like these please go back to Digg.”

    Funny. You go to the weakest point I made and reply ONLY to that. Just like a Digger would do :-)

  10. “if you want to make arguments like these please go back to Digg.”

    Funny. You go to the weakest point I made and reply ONLY to that. Just like a Digger would do :-)

  11. Wow, this is why I hate living on the right Coast…Calacanis is from New York people,even though it sounds like he’s adapting very well to the “laid back, be productive without the hours” Cali style. You can’t please everyone. So as a Guy who has a young family, I think Calacanis has a very even attitude towards Start-up dedication…

  12. Wow, this is why I hate living on the right Coast…Calacanis is from New York people,even though it sounds like he’s adapting very well to the “laid back, be productive without the hours” Cali style. You can’t please everyone. So as a Guy who has a young family, I think Calacanis has a very even attitude towards Start-up dedication…

  13. I read recently…I think it was in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins…that studies have shown that coders who work more than 8 hours a day do more harm than good as the number of bugs they create skyrocket.

    I would rather have well-rounded employees who can bring thought and creativity to the table, as well as well-rested employees who don’t screw everything up because their brains are tired.

    There is a happy medium between workaholics and slackers. Nobody wants slackers, but to make the leap that the employees who value brutal hours above healthy families are somehow more valuable is beyond absurd. When there’s trouble at home, the quality of work will inevitably suffer.

    I’ve worked at startups, including Tripwire a decade ago. “Workaholics” are usually people trying to overcompensate weaknesses in their lives. If you’re a founding CEO and don’t understand that there is a lot more to monitor and manage than manipulating the number of hours your workers’ asses are in $600 chairs, then I predict that you are the one who will eventually be replaced, if your startup survives at all.

  14. I read recently…I think it was in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins…that studies have shown that coders who work more than 8 hours a day do more harm than good as the number of bugs they create skyrocket.

    I would rather have well-rounded employees who can bring thought and creativity to the table, as well as well-rested employees who don’t screw everything up because their brains are tired.

    There is a happy medium between workaholics and slackers. Nobody wants slackers, but to make the leap that the employees who value brutal hours above healthy families are somehow more valuable is beyond absurd. When there’s trouble at home, the quality of work will inevitably suffer.

    I’ve worked at startups, including Tripwire a decade ago. “Workaholics” are usually people trying to overcompensate weaknesses in their lives. If you’re a founding CEO and don’t understand that there is a lot more to monitor and manage than manipulating the number of hours your workers’ asses are in $600 chairs, then I predict that you are the one who will eventually be replaced, if your startup survives at all.

  15. I guess what I always marvel at from where I sit is that you folks are always able to find venture capitalists to pay for this self-indulgent stuff, these “start-ups”.

    Do you think that money will always be there?

  16. I guess what I always marvel at from where I sit is that you folks are always able to find venture capitalists to pay for this self-indulgent stuff, these “start-ups”.

    Do you think that money will always be there?

  17. Robert,

    The point which needs to be made is that regardless of Christopher or Jason or EA or any other company, people… and that means all people (in a free country) DECIDE to work where they work. They DECIDE how many hours they wish to work. These are DECISIONS made of one’s FREE WILL. If you don’t like where you work… work for someone else.

    If you don’t like it, quit complaining and create something better for yourself.

    Simple stuff.

  18. Robert,

    The point which needs to be made is that regardless of Christopher or Jason or EA or any other company, people… and that means all people (in a free country) DECIDE to work where they work. They DECIDE how many hours they wish to work. These are DECISIONS made of one’s FREE WILL. If you don’t like where you work… work for someone else.

    If you don’t like it, quit complaining and create something better for yourself.

    Simple stuff.

  19. “Calacanis doesn’t disagree. He says he will always work harder than anyone on his team.”

    Leaving at 7:00 PM to drive his car around Santa Monica to get useless PR? I’m guessing then he doesn’t fire all his employees if they all leave at 6:59? And please don’t try to convince me his joy riding with you was “work”. Leaving at 7:00 classifies as working arder than anyone on his team? Hope he doesn’t have a heart attack from the stress.

  20. “Calacanis doesn’t disagree. He says he will always work harder than anyone on his team.”

    Leaving at 7:00 PM to drive his car around Santa Monica to get useless PR? I’m guessing then he doesn’t fire all his employees if they all leave at 6:59? And please don’t try to convince me his joy riding with you was “work”. Leaving at 7:00 classifies as working arder than anyone on his team? Hope he doesn’t have a heart attack from the stress.

  21. “Is Electronic Arts a startup? No. The reason I was mad about Electronic Arts is because it was a systemic abuse of workers due to poor management techniques. That’s VERY DIFFERENT from Jason’s points, despite what Coulter is saying. Jason’s workers are working hard because they have the opportunity to see a huge reward. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see. I know a few startup employees who work for no money. Why would they do that? Because of the potential upside.”

    This is the most convoluted logic ever. So the fact that a company is a start up is the differentiator? That makes no sense. Isn’t EA a public company? Thus the harder the employees work, the more money the company makes, the higher the stock price goes, thus the more the stock options are worth. How is that philosophy different from what you described for Mahalo. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t many of your fellow employees reap the rewards of long hours and sacrificing family life end up being able to retire due to cashing in valuable stock options? So, how is EA different. Look, I’m not defending EA’s practices, but your defense of your position is a very weak argument. You have no idea what potential rewards Mahalo employees will see. The odds are it is more likely Mahalo will go tits up before EA does. So, I’ll bet on the long term upside of EA over Mahalo.

  22. “Is Electronic Arts a startup? No. The reason I was mad about Electronic Arts is because it was a systemic abuse of workers due to poor management techniques. That’s VERY DIFFERENT from Jason’s points, despite what Coulter is saying. Jason’s workers are working hard because they have the opportunity to see a huge reward. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see. I know a few startup employees who work for no money. Why would they do that? Because of the potential upside.”

    This is the most convoluted logic ever. So the fact that a company is a start up is the differentiator? That makes no sense. Isn’t EA a public company? Thus the harder the employees work, the more money the company makes, the higher the stock price goes, thus the more the stock options are worth. How is that philosophy different from what you described for Mahalo. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t many of your fellow employees reap the rewards of long hours and sacrificing family life end up being able to retire due to cashing in valuable stock options? So, how is EA different. Look, I’m not defending EA’s practices, but your defense of your position is a very weak argument. You have no idea what potential rewards Mahalo employees will see. The odds are it is more likely Mahalo will go tits up before EA does. So, I’ll bet on the long term upside of EA over Mahalo.

  23. Robert,

    Thanks for this. As a guy who works for Jason, I’m amazed at the vitriol folks have voiced on this topic. I’m trying to figure out if they’re worried about the welfare of folks like myself and my co-workers, or if they just make it a point to dislike Jason.

    Jason’s never told me to “leave my family at the door.” In fact, when all the developers flew in to town last month, he flew all our wives in as well so they could meet and hang with the team…get to know who their spouses were working with. That’s not the action of a slave driver.

    It’s such an fundamental misunderstanding to think that we work longer hours because he walks around and demands it, whip to our backs. We work long hours because the work needs to get done and we believe in what we are doing. In the end, it comes down to the fact that you need to work hard to achieve outstanding results. It’s really just that simple.

  24. Robert,

    Thanks for this. As a guy who works for Jason, I’m amazed at the vitriol folks have voiced on this topic. I’m trying to figure out if they’re worried about the welfare of folks like myself and my co-workers, or if they just make it a point to dislike Jason.

    Jason’s never told me to “leave my family at the door.” In fact, when all the developers flew in to town last month, he flew all our wives in as well so they could meet and hang with the team…get to know who their spouses were working with. That’s not the action of a slave driver.

    It’s such an fundamental misunderstanding to think that we work longer hours because he walks around and demands it, whip to our backs. We work long hours because the work needs to get done and we believe in what we are doing. In the end, it comes down to the fact that you need to work hard to achieve outstanding results. It’s really just that simple.

  25. See Robert, you’ve never worked as a software engineer/developer before. You don’t know how it feels how these tools can put you in a chair more than 8 hours. You don’t know how it feels when one stupid bug occurred with no particular reason due to the platform you’re using might take you a whole day to debug.

    So you stated that your job (as a PR guy) is to get out from the office, do something “relaxed” (riding a car, talking about anything, unscripted), bring your children to work, etc. These are all nice and fun.

    As a Software Engineer, I envy your job because I can’t let people distract me when I’m coding. I can’t get out and talk to people because I need a computer to type the code into the broken platform (Windows, Java, whatever, they all are broken tools).

    Most people think or trying to brainwash Software Engineer by telling stories such as “coke, coffee, more caffeine, more monitors, fast computer, code all nighters”. Shame on you people for trying to brainwash us. We are all human being. We’re about the same: we prefer to socialize sometime. We prefer to do whatever we want with no time limitation if possible. For example, I’d rather code outside the office because the weather is nice during summer.

    And I hope all Americans think the same way as I do and move out from Software Development field and become a PR machine (or executive like Jason). What’s the point of becoming a Software Engineer when you’re just a “code monkey” supplied by endless hardware and “super smart people” around you when you can’t really do much other than sit and “code” for a company that might fail 99%.

    We are all a human being. Unfortunately, you don’t see the way a software engineer does. I’d suggest you to be a professional software engineer once to actually feel how we feel.

    This is why I appreciate 37Signals more than ever even though I dislike some of their opinions (especially DHH).

  26. See Robert, you’ve never worked as a software engineer/developer before. You don’t know how it feels how these tools can put you in a chair more than 8 hours. You don’t know how it feels when one stupid bug occurred with no particular reason due to the platform you’re using might take you a whole day to debug.

    So you stated that your job (as a PR guy) is to get out from the office, do something “relaxed” (riding a car, talking about anything, unscripted), bring your children to work, etc. These are all nice and fun.

    As a Software Engineer, I envy your job because I can’t let people distract me when I’m coding. I can’t get out and talk to people because I need a computer to type the code into the broken platform (Windows, Java, whatever, they all are broken tools).

    Most people think or trying to brainwash Software Engineer by telling stories such as “coke, coffee, more caffeine, more monitors, fast computer, code all nighters”. Shame on you people for trying to brainwash us. We are all human being. We’re about the same: we prefer to socialize sometime. We prefer to do whatever we want with no time limitation if possible. For example, I’d rather code outside the office because the weather is nice during summer.

    And I hope all Americans think the same way as I do and move out from Software Development field and become a PR machine (or executive like Jason). What’s the point of becoming a Software Engineer when you’re just a “code monkey” supplied by endless hardware and “super smart people” around you when you can’t really do much other than sit and “code” for a company that might fail 99%.

    We are all a human being. Unfortunately, you don’t see the way a software engineer does. I’d suggest you to be a professional software engineer once to actually feel how we feel.

    This is why I appreciate 37Signals more than ever even though I dislike some of their opinions (especially DHH).

  27. On the topic of Executive. Usually an Executive works longer hour than the employees because Executive needs to stay on top of EVERYTHING. But the difference between Executive and the employees is that the Executive IS NOT the person whose doing the DIRTY work. He’s just telling people what to do. He’s a visionary.

    So if Jason works more hours than his employee, it is what it is. You can’t argue that “Oh, Jason works more hours, that means he’s workaholic”. Nu-uh. He MUST work more hours. He MUST know the progress day-by-day or week-by-week. How to get the progress? once everyone calls it a day, an Executive would check “what have we done today?”

    But here’s the fun part of being an Executive/Owner: You’re not afraid to get FIRED. You keep doing what you love until you can’t do it anymore (and raise a white flag). And if you ever argued that “that’s your worst nightmare”, you’d have to keep remind yourself the fact that 99% startup fails anyway.

    And shit, how many people actually got filthy RICH for working at a startup? So far, I only know Microsoft (during the 90′s) and Google (during the 00′s). Most of the time, the founder/executive got the biggest and fattest paycheck while the other employees got couple hundred thousand dollars if they were lucky. I’d argue that it won’t be as high as million dollars level.

    I might be wrong in terms of the compensation post-IPO or post-buyout. But if you have any evidence, please bring them forward.

    Basically, a sane engineer should only work on their own startup that they build with their friends. Like them Reddit people: split $10-$20 mill by 4 and Paul Graham & Co.

  28. On the topic of Executive. Usually an Executive works longer hour than the employees because Executive needs to stay on top of EVERYTHING. But the difference between Executive and the employees is that the Executive IS NOT the person whose doing the DIRTY work. He’s just telling people what to do. He’s a visionary.

    So if Jason works more hours than his employee, it is what it is. You can’t argue that “Oh, Jason works more hours, that means he’s workaholic”. Nu-uh. He MUST work more hours. He MUST know the progress day-by-day or week-by-week. How to get the progress? once everyone calls it a day, an Executive would check “what have we done today?”

    But here’s the fun part of being an Executive/Owner: You’re not afraid to get FIRED. You keep doing what you love until you can’t do it anymore (and raise a white flag). And if you ever argued that “that’s your worst nightmare”, you’d have to keep remind yourself the fact that 99% startup fails anyway.

    And shit, how many people actually got filthy RICH for working at a startup? So far, I only know Microsoft (during the 90′s) and Google (during the 00′s). Most of the time, the founder/executive got the biggest and fattest paycheck while the other employees got couple hundred thousand dollars if they were lucky. I’d argue that it won’t be as high as million dollars level.

    I might be wrong in terms of the compensation post-IPO or post-buyout. But if you have any evidence, please bring them forward.

    Basically, a sane engineer should only work on their own startup that they build with their friends. Like them Reddit people: split $10-$20 mill by 4 and Paul Graham & Co.

  29. With attitudes like J and Calcan Mahalo is so flippin’ doomed.

    The concept. The creators. The “socialness” of it all. Hamsters in wheels,folks, hamsters in wheels.

    Now with whips!

  30. With attitudes like J and Calcan Mahalo is so flippin’ doomed.

    The concept. The creators. The “socialness” of it all. Hamsters in wheels,folks, hamsters in wheels.

    Now with whips!

  31. “Leaving at 7:00 classifies as working arder than anyone on his team? Hope he doesn’t have a heart attack from the stress.
    Comment by Steve — March 8,”

    You know, funny as it may sound, not everything is done by writing code.
    Have you seen when he got back to the office at 11PM for example?

    If you measure “work” by hours spent at the office, then you misunderstand a few things.

    Most of the complainers associates the demand for hard work with “staying until 5AM in the morning”.
    I associate it with less frequent coffee and smoke breaks – you don’t need a cigarette every 25 minutes, and the occasional longer hours.

    I really, really wonder why do the concentrate on hours spent at the office.
    For the record – my boss works pretty hard. And leaves the office at 6PM. And then he is still sending mails at 1AM.
    He puts in way over 12 hours a day, AND he spends enough time with his kids.
    Getting home between 18:00 – 18:30, he spends his time with his kids till they go to bed, then he resumes work.

    I really don’t know why people INTENTIONALLY misunderstand what Calacanis wrote.

  32. “Leaving at 7:00 classifies as working arder than anyone on his team? Hope he doesn’t have a heart attack from the stress.
    Comment by Steve — March 8,”

    You know, funny as it may sound, not everything is done by writing code.
    Have you seen when he got back to the office at 11PM for example?

    If you measure “work” by hours spent at the office, then you misunderstand a few things.

    Most of the complainers associates the demand for hard work with “staying until 5AM in the morning”.
    I associate it with less frequent coffee and smoke breaks – you don’t need a cigarette every 25 minutes, and the occasional longer hours.

    I really, really wonder why do the concentrate on hours spent at the office.
    For the record – my boss works pretty hard. And leaves the office at 6PM. And then he is still sending mails at 1AM.
    He puts in way over 12 hours a day, AND he spends enough time with his kids.
    Getting home between 18:00 – 18:30, he spends his time with his kids till they go to bed, then he resumes work.

    I really don’t know why people INTENTIONALLY misunderstand what Calacanis wrote.

  33. Having worked at two startups, I didn’t see the correlation between the number of hours worked and quality work produced. I don’t know what people mean when the use the word, “workaholic”, anymore. Is that someone who just loves to be at the office for long hours or someone who loves his work? I’ve worked with people who work a very inefficient 14-16 hours each day while other got more quality work done in 4 hours. Seriously, can’t we stop focusing on labels and the number of hours worked and start rewarding those that do quality work?

  34. Having worked at two startups, I didn’t see the correlation between the number of hours worked and quality work produced. I don’t know what people mean when the use the word, “workaholic”, anymore. Is that someone who just loves to be at the office for long hours or someone who loves his work? I’ve worked with people who work a very inefficient 14-16 hours each day while other got more quality work done in 4 hours. Seriously, can’t we stop focusing on labels and the number of hours worked and start rewarding those that do quality work?

  35. “These are DECISIONS made of one’s FREE WILL. If you don’t like where you work… work for someone else.”

    Exactly Steve. Last time I was on the interview, I made it clear that I am looking for a job without needless and crazy overtimes.
    It was simple. I told what amount was acceptable and they hired me with that condition.

    I think on the interview you can laid the the basic rules. And if I join a startup, I would never think it will be short days. Not necessarily at the office, but you can work from home after you spent time with your family IF NEEDED.

    Startups are like huge, heavy trucks stuck in the mud. You can’t free them without getting dirty, tired, and winded.

  36. “These are DECISIONS made of one’s FREE WILL. If you don’t like where you work… work for someone else.”

    Exactly Steve. Last time I was on the interview, I made it clear that I am looking for a job without needless and crazy overtimes.
    It was simple. I told what amount was acceptable and they hired me with that condition.

    I think on the interview you can laid the the basic rules. And if I join a startup, I would never think it will be short days. Not necessarily at the office, but you can work from home after you spent time with your family IF NEEDED.

    Startups are like huge, heavy trucks stuck in the mud. You can’t free them without getting dirty, tired, and winded.

  37. Robert Scoble: it is nice that you are defending your dear friend Jason Calacanis but please don’t forget that he has libel about me on his blog, and he points in this libel post to posts of Russell even though Russell removed them long time ago (it was misunderstanding) and I am in peace with Russell.

    Robert, please you are losing your credibility when you are defending Calacanis.

  38. Robert Scoble: it is nice that you are defending your dear friend Jason Calacanis but please don’t forget that he has libel about me on his blog, and he points in this libel post to posts of Russell even though Russell removed them long time ago (it was misunderstanding) and I am in peace with Russell.

    Robert, please you are losing your credibility when you are defending Calacanis.

  39. Robert,
    I think the problem isn’t with the reality of what Jason is doing with Mahalo, but with the appearance of a negative attitude towards his workers in his essay.

    Based on the essay alone, with no other data, I would go to great lengths to avoid using, promoting, or funding any of his projects. I’m not surprised that the reality is more complex, but the amount of effort required to avoid him and his stuff is trivial compared to the effort to learn about the subtleties of what he really meant.

    It’s easier to just skip the effort and make a mental note to not touch any of Calacanis’ projects. It’s not as though he’s Microsoft, where it’s impossible to not feed the beast. He’s just got some small scale stuff that might not pan out at all. I can afford to ignore that.

    Summary: Calacanis made himself sound like precisely the kind of boss that we all hate. It is as though he trolled himself on his own blog. Ouch!

  40. Robert,
    I think the problem isn’t with the reality of what Jason is doing with Mahalo, but with the appearance of a negative attitude towards his workers in his essay.

    Based on the essay alone, with no other data, I would go to great lengths to avoid using, promoting, or funding any of his projects. I’m not surprised that the reality is more complex, but the amount of effort required to avoid him and his stuff is trivial compared to the effort to learn about the subtleties of what he really meant.

    It’s easier to just skip the effort and make a mental note to not touch any of Calacanis’ projects. It’s not as though he’s Microsoft, where it’s impossible to not feed the beast. He’s just got some small scale stuff that might not pan out at all. I can afford to ignore that.

    Summary: Calacanis made himself sound like precisely the kind of boss that we all hate. It is as though he trolled himself on his own blog. Ouch!

  41. I am surprised by all the debate this has caused. I have worked for and led start-up companies and it is clear that these environments require passionate people who are able to wear a variety of hats. I do not think this is measured in hours, necessarily, but by a certain creative fortitude. I suspect that many of these commenters simply do not fit this profile, which is why they rail so hard against it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to hire and retain individuals who bring boundless energy to their work. But that is very different from expecting employees to forgo family and fun (which few successful companies do).

  42. I am surprised by all the debate this has caused. I have worked for and led start-up companies and it is clear that these environments require passionate people who are able to wear a variety of hats. I do not think this is measured in hours, necessarily, but by a certain creative fortitude. I suspect that many of these commenters simply do not fit this profile, which is why they rail so hard against it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to hire and retain individuals who bring boundless energy to their work. But that is very different from expecting employees to forgo family and fun (which few successful companies do).

  43. Mahalo has raised $16 million. I’d hazard a guess that employees hired after that funding probably get stock options comparable to what EA employees get (i.e. next to nothing).

  44. Mahalo has raised $16 million. I’d hazard a guess that employees hired after that funding probably get stock options comparable to what EA employees get (i.e. next to nothing).

  45. You are right that startups need great people. But the mistake being made here is that slackers can be a part of a big company.

    I work for a big company and can see that it is the great people who are driving the company. The slackers do get caught and are pushed hard.

  46. You are right that startups need great people. But the mistake being made here is that slackers can be a part of a big company.

    I work for a big company and can see that it is the great people who are driving the company. The slackers do get caught and are pushed hard.

  47. I read some of the employee posts that are meant to defend Mahalo, and now I just feel worse about the company.

    A lot of Jason’s workers aren’t coders but are people who write up pages. They get paid $30-$35k a year and work from 45 hours a week to 60 hours a week “unless there’s an emergency,” in which case we can assume it goes way up.

    To figure out a wage per hour, you normally use 2080 hours for the year. If that’s the case, these workers get paid $16.83 an hour for the $35,000.

    But let’s say the average work week is 52.5 hours (half of the spread above). Then they are making the equivalent of $12.82 an hour.

    I consider that a pretty low wage for the area where they live, but that aside, here’s the main problem I have with all this. The argument is that “of course, we work hard, this is a startup.” Okay, fair enough. But with most start-ups, it’s coders who are putting in these kind of hours. The coders are building permanent value. And their work will ultimately slow down from the startup frenzied pace.

    But these page building people are going to be an ongoing necessity. There is no end to their hamster wheel run. Is that not correct?

    This one guy said he’s willing to do this work because he thinks he’ll become a millionaire someday. What about the people who are going to have to keep doing this work day in and day out forevermore? What’s their motivation going to be?

    Unless I’m seriously misunderstanding something (and I’m open to the possibility), I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.

    They’ll have to hire a lot more people at a lot higher wages to keep this going. I just don’t see how that’s workable in the long run.

    So as for employee surprise and confusion over the debate, yes, I think people are sincerely concerned for you employees who are working your hearts out for the team and the vision, because this company doesn’t scale and your stock options are likely going to be worthless.

  48. I read some of the employee posts that are meant to defend Mahalo, and now I just feel worse about the company.

    A lot of Jason’s workers aren’t coders but are people who write up pages. They get paid $30-$35k a year and work from 45 hours a week to 60 hours a week “unless there’s an emergency,” in which case we can assume it goes way up.

    To figure out a wage per hour, you normally use 2080 hours for the year. If that’s the case, these workers get paid $16.83 an hour for the $35,000.

    But let’s say the average work week is 52.5 hours (half of the spread above). Then they are making the equivalent of $12.82 an hour.

    I consider that a pretty low wage for the area where they live, but that aside, here’s the main problem I have with all this. The argument is that “of course, we work hard, this is a startup.” Okay, fair enough. But with most start-ups, it’s coders who are putting in these kind of hours. The coders are building permanent value. And their work will ultimately slow down from the startup frenzied pace.

    But these page building people are going to be an ongoing necessity. There is no end to their hamster wheel run. Is that not correct?

    This one guy said he’s willing to do this work because he thinks he’ll become a millionaire someday. What about the people who are going to have to keep doing this work day in and day out forevermore? What’s their motivation going to be?

    Unless I’m seriously misunderstanding something (and I’m open to the possibility), I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.

    They’ll have to hire a lot more people at a lot higher wages to keep this going. I just don’t see how that’s workable in the long run.

    So as for employee surprise and confusion over the debate, yes, I think people are sincerely concerned for you employees who are working your hearts out for the team and the vision, because this company doesn’t scale and your stock options are likely going to be worthless.

  49. Robert, lost in the debate about working hours is actually some great ideas for penny pinching both from Jason and his readers. I mostly work with large companies and see their 10K airfares, their indifference to paying $ 5000 for a gallon of printer ink, $ 4 per gb a month in storage, $ 3 a minute for a mobile call from Europe…the Valley and start ups everywhere are showing a new way to do business…they can actually afford to be a little more relaxed about the intensity of their labor because of their overwhelming efficiencies in so many other areas…

  50. Robert, lost in the debate about working hours is actually some great ideas for penny pinching both from Jason and his readers. I mostly work with large companies and see their 10K airfares, their indifference to paying $ 5000 for a gallon of printer ink, $ 4 per gb a month in storage, $ 3 a minute for a mobile call from Europe…the Valley and start ups everywhere are showing a new way to do business…they can actually afford to be a little more relaxed about the intensity of their labor because of their overwhelming efficiencies in so many other areas…

  51. If you expect your readers to make smart arguments, you need to be smart enough to differentiate “flaunt” and “flout.”

    Employees with a medical need to visit a restroom frequently are people with disabilities who need to be accommodated in the workplace. Smart enough answer?

    Your whole point here is a spirited defence of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

  52. If you expect your readers to make smart arguments, you need to be smart enough to differentiate “flaunt” and “flout.”

    Employees with a medical need to visit a restroom frequently are people with disabilities who need to be accommodated in the workplace. Smart enough answer?

    Your whole point here is a spirited defence of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

  53. Some of Jason’s “tips” are just pennywise and pound foolish. Some of them are just plain stupid. Some of them are just common f–king sense, in the “don’t spend more than you have to” sense. As if some billionaire would stand up 10 years from now and say, “Our startup was headed for utter ruin until Jason Calacanis told us to go buy cheap desks and ‘Areon’ chairs.” Please.

    Some of his tips have DOOMED STARTUP CLICHE written all over them. For example, “Who needs an IT department.” This is usually espoused by some “visionary” who pats himself on the back because NOBODY EVER THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE. Then Mr. Visionary realizes a few months later that yeah, having a file server would be nice. And yeah, maybe it would be nice if Alice could log onto Bob’s computer, only she can’t because there’s no directory service. And yeah, maybe a directory service would be nice because after you get done firing all the slackers on their smoke break it kind of sucked to have to go to each and every computer and delete their accounts and permissions. And yeah, having a central backup of stuff would be nice, because Bob dropped his laptop and lost a lot of Important Stuff and it’s kind of expensive to go out and buy an Apple Time Capsule for everyone in the whole company. So, um, yeah, maybe we could have a small IT department, or better yet, take this developer who is already coding stuff 14 hours a day and put him in charge of it.

    And Robert, weren’t you just saying that Google Calendar locked your group out because you made the mistake of using some third-party software with it? That has never happened in Exchange, but who needs Exchange! Getting locked out of Google Calendar FTW!

    If you have a good business plan, a good product or service, and a bunch of smart people with a half-decent work ethic, success just tends to happen naturally. You don’t have to shower them with so-called “tips” like “don’t spend $15k per month on PR” because, you know what? THEY’RE NOT COMPLETE MORONS.

    If you don’t have a good product, and if you don’t have the right people, Jason’s “tips” amount to so much arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

  54. Some of Jason’s “tips” are just pennywise and pound foolish. Some of them are just plain stupid. Some of them are just common f–king sense, in the “don’t spend more than you have to” sense. As if some billionaire would stand up 10 years from now and say, “Our startup was headed for utter ruin until Jason Calacanis told us to go buy cheap desks and ‘Areon’ chairs.” Please.

    Some of his tips have DOOMED STARTUP CLICHE written all over them. For example, “Who needs an IT department.” This is usually espoused by some “visionary” who pats himself on the back because NOBODY EVER THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE. Then Mr. Visionary realizes a few months later that yeah, having a file server would be nice. And yeah, maybe it would be nice if Alice could log onto Bob’s computer, only she can’t because there’s no directory service. And yeah, maybe a directory service would be nice because after you get done firing all the slackers on their smoke break it kind of sucked to have to go to each and every computer and delete their accounts and permissions. And yeah, having a central backup of stuff would be nice, because Bob dropped his laptop and lost a lot of Important Stuff and it’s kind of expensive to go out and buy an Apple Time Capsule for everyone in the whole company. So, um, yeah, maybe we could have a small IT department, or better yet, take this developer who is already coding stuff 14 hours a day and put him in charge of it.

    And Robert, weren’t you just saying that Google Calendar locked your group out because you made the mistake of using some third-party software with it? That has never happened in Exchange, but who needs Exchange! Getting locked out of Google Calendar FTW!

    If you have a good business plan, a good product or service, and a bunch of smart people with a half-decent work ethic, success just tends to happen naturally. You don’t have to shower them with so-called “tips” like “don’t spend $15k per month on PR” because, you know what? THEY’RE NOT COMPLETE MORONS.

    If you don’t have a good product, and if you don’t have the right people, Jason’s “tips” amount to so much arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

  55. Scoble, scoble.. sticking up for other fatasses with few skills other than gabbing. who’s really surprised about these people who have no other real skills. When did “talking” get defined as a skill, let alone a valuable skill? the system needs to start valuing doers over communicators more.

  56. Scoble, scoble.. sticking up for other fatasses with few skills other than gabbing. who’s really surprised about these people who have no other real skills. When did “talking” get defined as a skill, let alone a valuable skill? the system needs to start valuing doers over communicators more.

  57. Thanks for helping to lend some common sense to this topic. Once again the blogosphere has overlooked the core issue, and made a tremendously huge deal out of something that’s quite basic. If somebody really wants to see people who put in tremendously long, hard, back breaking hours, I welcome you to southwest North Dakota, take as much time as you need here, I know plenty of farmers who can show you what hard work is. Not only that, but the last few years prior to this one, they were doing it at 6 figure, or more, losses, never once sitting in a $700 chair.

  58. Thanks for helping to lend some common sense to this topic. Once again the blogosphere has overlooked the core issue, and made a tremendously huge deal out of something that’s quite basic. If somebody really wants to see people who put in tremendously long, hard, back breaking hours, I welcome you to southwest North Dakota, take as much time as you need here, I know plenty of farmers who can show you what hard work is. Not only that, but the last few years prior to this one, they were doing it at 6 figure, or more, losses, never once sitting in a $700 chair.

  59. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see.

    Mahalo’s employees won’t see a gold chest at that rainbow’s end either, start-ups cheat employees far more than big companies, forever loop-chasing big dreams that never happen, there are landfills of worthless “stock options”. A few break through, most don’t.

    But as a “start-up” they have the right to abuse, if the reward is big enough? But big companies get not that right? Your core logic is always trapped in some weird alternative universe, of which is your strategy, defend the indefensible, friends will brush it off (Scoble being Scoble), but the rogues gallery will become your best buddies. Win, win. Works to a certain extent, problem is, the great productive middle will see you as nothing more than a shrill tool.

    The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone. Everyone has huge monitors

    I am sure he loves his Mom, goes to church, brushes his teeth and saves the world from global warming too. But it’s that attitude that his employees are his own personal property that is the central issue. And any cult has tons of willing members, you don’t judge the value of an organization by the ones that “love working there”.

    Luck doesn’t always to those who work hard, luck is luck, it can happen to anyone. You can go Poor Richardistic and say that hard work causes luck to happen, but that’s always in hindsight. You can work dead hard, only to see a competitor crush, or go hardly working, only to see a competitor fold. Not preaching the gospel of slackerdom, just saying it’s always more random than it seems. Raw talent isn’t always what the public buys, many factors at play, including marketing and raw emotional feelings. Hard work can become Soviet-style make-work, producing widgets with no market, just to keep “productive”.

    Your whole point here is a spirited defense of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

    MOST. ;)

  60. No one at Electronic Arts is going to see the potential rewards that Mahalo’s employees will see.

    Mahalo’s employees won’t see a gold chest at that rainbow’s end either, start-ups cheat employees far more than big companies, forever loop-chasing big dreams that never happen, there are landfills of worthless “stock options”. A few break through, most don’t.

    But as a “start-up” they have the right to abuse, if the reward is big enough? But big companies get not that right? Your core logic is always trapped in some weird alternative universe, of which is your strategy, defend the indefensible, friends will brush it off (Scoble being Scoble), but the rogues gallery will become your best buddies. Win, win. Works to a certain extent, problem is, the great productive middle will see you as nothing more than a shrill tool.

    The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone. Everyone has huge monitors

    I am sure he loves his Mom, goes to church, brushes his teeth and saves the world from global warming too. But it’s that attitude that his employees are his own personal property that is the central issue. And any cult has tons of willing members, you don’t judge the value of an organization by the ones that “love working there”.

    Luck doesn’t always to those who work hard, luck is luck, it can happen to anyone. You can go Poor Richardistic and say that hard work causes luck to happen, but that’s always in hindsight. You can work dead hard, only to see a competitor crush, or go hardly working, only to see a competitor fold. Not preaching the gospel of slackerdom, just saying it’s always more random than it seems. Raw talent isn’t always what the public buys, many factors at play, including marketing and raw emotional feelings. Hard work can become Soviet-style make-work, producing widgets with no market, just to keep “productive”.

    Your whole point here is a spirited defense of an asshole employer. Many of us aren’t buying it.

    MOST. ;)

  61. @17. That may very well be. However, the only evidence I have of Jason’s “working harder than everyone in his company” is Scoble’s saying he left at the ungodly hour of 7:00 pm “in the evening” (as opposed to the 7 pm in the morning, I guess). It may very well be that Jason works all hours of the night, puts the rest of us in danger by reading and responding to email while driving around in his Corvette, and spends every waking hour thinking big thoughts. But, we don’t know that. All we have is Scoble describing what he saw. So that’s what I commented on.

    I also have evidence from hearing Jason at conferences that he is a pompous gasbag. But that’s a different topic.

  62. @17. That may very well be. However, the only evidence I have of Jason’s “working harder than everyone in his company” is Scoble’s saying he left at the ungodly hour of 7:00 pm “in the evening” (as opposed to the 7 pm in the morning, I guess). It may very well be that Jason works all hours of the night, puts the rest of us in danger by reading and responding to email while driving around in his Corvette, and spends every waking hour thinking big thoughts. But, we don’t know that. All we have is Scoble describing what he saw. So that’s what I commented on.

    I also have evidence from hearing Jason at conferences that he is a pompous gasbag. But that’s a different topic.

  63. The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone.

    I’m still trying to reconcile this observation with the rest of Mr. Burns’ penny-pinching tips. Instead of letting your employees go home, relieve their bladders and microwave a $3 Lean Cuisine, you chain them to their cheap tables and throw $500 worth of sushi at them? Or did Jason leave off the tip that described how to make “sushi” using two cans of tuna fish and a bag of Minute Rice? News flash: putting a toothpick through a chunk of solid white albacore doesn’t really count as sushi.

    It’s a cute mental image, though: Massa Calacanis throwing pieces of raw fish at his employees. Like Sea World, but with code monkeys instead of trained seals!

  64. The night I was there they bought sushi for everyone.

    I’m still trying to reconcile this observation with the rest of Mr. Burns’ penny-pinching tips. Instead of letting your employees go home, relieve their bladders and microwave a $3 Lean Cuisine, you chain them to their cheap tables and throw $500 worth of sushi at them? Or did Jason leave off the tip that described how to make “sushi” using two cans of tuna fish and a bag of Minute Rice? News flash: putting a toothpick through a chunk of solid white albacore doesn’t really count as sushi.

    It’s a cute mental image, though: Massa Calacanis throwing pieces of raw fish at his employees. Like Sea World, but with code monkeys instead of trained seals!

  65. I’m sorry, did I read this right? He fired guys for having the audacity to spend their lunch break away from their desk? Are you seriously defending this?

    Startup or not, this is wrong on so many levels and to insinuate that people who take a break (when they should) are slackers is absurd.

    I agree with the above comments about your whole point being s spirited defence of an asshole employer.

  66. I’m sorry, did I read this right? He fired guys for having the audacity to spend their lunch break away from their desk? Are you seriously defending this?

    Startup or not, this is wrong on so many levels and to insinuate that people who take a break (when they should) are slackers is absurd.

    I agree with the above comments about your whole point being s spirited defence of an asshole employer.

  67. “…I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.”

    This is my problem with this “start-up rules are different” idea as well – it’s not sustainable. Sure, a start-up might want to avoid niggling problems like sustainability and proper pay for long hours, but the Big Companies looking to acquire it are definitely going to look at those problems. I’m all for being frugal, but in any company, people (and their well-being) are the most important thing you can invest in.

  68. “…I have a hard time believing that anybody will ever want to purchase Mahalo, because the labor costs to keep it going are going to be astronomical once the page creators will no longer work startup hours at startup wages.”

    This is my problem with this “start-up rules are different” idea as well – it’s not sustainable. Sure, a start-up might want to avoid niggling problems like sustainability and proper pay for long hours, but the Big Companies looking to acquire it are definitely going to look at those problems. I’m all for being frugal, but in any company, people (and their well-being) are the most important thing you can invest in.

  69. When is the last time you put in 18 hr days for a $35k per year job, Robert?

    I have a sneaky suspicion that FastCompany is paying you a little more than that, and asking for a lot less of your time too…

  70. When is the last time you put in 18 hr days for a $35k per year job, Robert?

    I have a sneaky suspicion that FastCompany is paying you a little more than that, and asking for a lot less of your time too…

  71. I believe you mean FLOUT not flaunting teamwork.

    A lot of us have experience in both worlds, with degrees of success and/ or failure. Though your words are written as though you are an expert on the arena, I will take a more 37 signals route and say it has to be in the middle. Too many hours – you are not getting decent returns, diminishing returns or you have no life. No life equals less perspective which equals less quality when it comes to creating. If you want to stamp out something mindlessly, then no life is needed, if you want to create something like software well – then you need both a life and a passion for the craft – not hours.

    Certainly more than 8 hours a day is reasonable in stretches and there needs to be a minimum, but many people think away from the office and come in and blow through the work. Does that count in your world? If I leave the office to get a different view, then do I count the 3 hours I pondered? Those are hours that count.

  72. I believe you mean FLOUT not flaunting teamwork.

    A lot of us have experience in both worlds, with degrees of success and/ or failure. Though your words are written as though you are an expert on the arena, I will take a more 37 signals route and say it has to be in the middle. Too many hours – you are not getting decent returns, diminishing returns or you have no life. No life equals less perspective which equals less quality when it comes to creating. If you want to stamp out something mindlessly, then no life is needed, if you want to create something like software well – then you need both a life and a passion for the craft – not hours.

    Certainly more than 8 hours a day is reasonable in stretches and there needs to be a minimum, but many people think away from the office and come in and blow through the work. Does that count in your world? If I leave the office to get a different view, then do I count the 3 hours I pondered? Those are hours that count.

  73. I think what makes a startup successful a really great idea, rather than making people work as many hours as humanly possible without breaks.

  74. I think what makes a startup successful a really great idea, rather than making people work as many hours as humanly possible without breaks.

  75. […] Big or tiny company, those concepts are not heritage of productivity, business, leadership by the Ultra Cool Business Bible […]

  76. […] Big or tiny company, those concepts are not heritage of productivity, business, leadership by the Ultra Cool Business Bible […]

  77. I have never worked for a startup.

    I have, however, worked on many large software projects with demanding requirements and punishing (A.K.A “aggressive”) deadlines. It has been my experience that you never give development estimates, as much as you commit to delivering by a certain date.

    Where I’m baffled is why “startups are different”. Because they have limited resources? Most of corporate america is staffed by one person doing three people’s jobs. Because they have grandiose goals? Grandiose goals come with the territory – users don’t map concepts to source code, it’s not how they think. They tell you “I’d like a VERY simple app, REALLY easy – one screen with one big button. When you click the button it brings peace to the Middle East. You can have that in three months, right?”

    Show me the biggest, fattest corporation, and I’ll show you the person who’s job it is to keep the assembly line running. I’ll show you the guy who has to maintain 99.5% uptime, or contracts get cancelled. Do you think those folks work 9 to 5? Really?

    For nearly a year, at one particular company, I never took showers – only baths. When the shower was running I couldn’t tell if my cell had rung, and I couldn’t afford to miss the calls. This was a Fortune 500 company, not a startup. The example of Electronic Arts has been given, I won’t rehash it.

    No, I think startups are different solely in this – they can extract extraordinary effort by promising you the moon. Being an editor for Mahalo is, at best, moderately skilled labor (no offense). A big company would offer you 40k,and would expect reasonable effort in return. A startup can wave millions under your nose, bleed you dry, THEN hand you over to the company who will pay you 40k.

    The whole “employees as warriors” bit is just especially effective motivational speaking. Amway beat Jason to THAT punch long ago.

  78. I have never worked for a startup.

    I have, however, worked on many large software projects with demanding requirements and punishing (A.K.A “aggressive”) deadlines. It has been my experience that you never give development estimates, as much as you commit to delivering by a certain date.

    Where I’m baffled is why “startups are different”. Because they have limited resources? Most of corporate america is staffed by one person doing three people’s jobs. Because they have grandiose goals? Grandiose goals come with the territory – users don’t map concepts to source code, it’s not how they think. They tell you “I’d like a VERY simple app, REALLY easy – one screen with one big button. When you click the button it brings peace to the Middle East. You can have that in three months, right?”

    Show me the biggest, fattest corporation, and I’ll show you the person who’s job it is to keep the assembly line running. I’ll show you the guy who has to maintain 99.5% uptime, or contracts get cancelled. Do you think those folks work 9 to 5? Really?

    For nearly a year, at one particular company, I never took showers – only baths. When the shower was running I couldn’t tell if my cell had rung, and I couldn’t afford to miss the calls. This was a Fortune 500 company, not a startup. The example of Electronic Arts has been given, I won’t rehash it.

    No, I think startups are different solely in this – they can extract extraordinary effort by promising you the moon. Being an editor for Mahalo is, at best, moderately skilled labor (no offense). A big company would offer you 40k,and would expect reasonable effort in return. A startup can wave millions under your nose, bleed you dry, THEN hand you over to the company who will pay you 40k.

    The whole “employees as warriors” bit is just especially effective motivational speaking. Amway beat Jason to THAT punch long ago.

  79. [...] blog until today when Todd’s show notes referred me there. Scoble’s article is called “On Work & Family And Having A Real Life” and mixes his opinion on the subject in with snippets from commenters who have commented already. [...]

  80. My colleague and I are conducting a research study on how people manage work
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  81. My colleague and I are conducting a research study on how people manage work
    and family roles. If you or anyone you know is employed and faced with
    managing multiple roles, would you please consider taking or sharing this
    survey? We are especially interested in those individuals that spend some
    time telecommuting (i.e., working from home), but the survey is open to
    non-telecommuters as well. Basically if you are employed you are eligible to
    participate.

    If desired, participants will have an opportunity to be entered into a
    drawing for a $50.00 Amazon.com gift card. You can read more about the
    survey by accessing the following link (note: if clicking on the link does
    not work, copy and paste it into your browser.)

    http://tinyurl.com/workandfamily

    We really appreciate your time either participating in the survey or sharing
    the survey with others. Thanks so much.

    Happy New Year!