Perspective

Turn Off Your iPod and Listen to Steve Jobs

My oh my, it’s been a strange week in the world. Going Concern blackout aside, Irene is hoping to rain on parades and summer cook-outs from the Carolinas to Boston; Libya is out of control; the Washington Monument has seen the US economy – errr Apple – lost its leader in Steve Jobs. His resignation sparked conversations across the globe, from Wall Street trading desks to Main Street to our little corner of the blogosphere here. At some point this week even my geeky-self thought things reached extreme Steve-Jobs-Oversaturation levels.

While perusing Lifehacker.com (see? geek) for Do-It-Yourself advice last night I was not able to avoid their mildly-inappropriate-titled-article about a commencement speech Jobs delivered to Stanford graduates. I would recommend the YouTube clip to anyone, both those of you who are green in your careers and those who are balancing work with family responsibilities. One of the more-HR friendly quotes to come from Jobs’ speech was the following:

Don’t settle. You’ve got to find what you love…your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is do to great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

How many of us can say that what we do at work – sometimes 40 hours a week, sometimes 80 – do what we love? Not “like,” not “well, it’s okay.” I’m talking about jump-out-of-bed-in-the-morning-with-excitement kind of love. I can’t say it. I like what I do, and there are moments in my job that I love. But love this shit every day? No.

But I’m working on it. And so should you.

Assess your current situation. Can you leave your job tomorrow? Would you? Note – job responsibilities (i.e. deadlines) are not valid excuses. Every job has deadlines – if you hold on to just “Oh, but my manager will be upset if I leave now” you are looking out for your boss more than yourself. Suck it up and be selfish. It’s okay to be selfish.

For me, I can’t leave my job tomorrow. For where I want to be in five years, I need to stay where I am for a bit longer. So in my case (and probably in many of your cases), a change of employer is off the table. So what do we do? We change what we can control.

We can all improve our lives, and I’m not talking about the “eat more vegetables” kind of improvements. I’m talking about transitions in lifestyle that affect the mental and emotional capacity of your day-to-day. Become an active member in an interest group at work. Volunteer more. Research inter-office rotation opportunities. Bust your ass four days a week so you can leave at 5:00p every Wednesday to catch your child’s soccer game. I don’t know what you need – that is for you to figure it out. So sit down and figure it out.

If you pump more life into your days, just think of the possibilities. You’ll sleep better. You’ll be a better coworker/partner/friend/parent/friend. You’ll find satisfaction in your day-to-day that makes the rest of the craziness in the world seem more bearable.

This is not easy. No one said it was. Not me, not Jobs, not your mother. But summer is wrapping up and before we know it (or as the partnership tax group is currently experiencing), busy season will be down your throats and all sweet, fond memories of 12% salary bumps will be swiftly diminished. But it’s not about the bumps in salary or the iPad giveways. It’s about (re)igniting the inner swagger and passion we all hold within ourselves. Think I’m spewing HR bull$@%^? Then you’re not ready for this post, and that’s okay. Come back in November, January, March. We’ll be here.

Share your thoughts below. Cheers.

Big 4 Manager Would Like Staff to Get Some Perspective Re: Raises

Now that compensation season has passed for the major firms and most of the belly aching has died down, we’ll present some thoughts from a friend of GC and a Big 4 senior manager who shared the following with us earlier in the summer.

Hey Caleb,

A few of us were talking today at lunch about compensation and how we like reading how much everyone bitches about what % raise they got and what they feel they should have been entitled too. An A1 thinks they deserve a $10,000 raise, and that would make them happy, c’mon give us a break?

It is easy to understand this is a prime area to feel you have been cheated in, however, we thought it might be interesting for some net dollar coeffect, for those complainers who feel they were cheated with their raise %.


Interesting idea, we thought. Our muse suggested the following assumptions: 1) 40% tax rate – federal and state combined 2) 24 annual paychecks.

Our friend/source continues:

Would be interesting to see and shed a different light on a cash pay basis what the real difference is in pay for those who think they got cheated from a 8% raise and only got 6% or something, does the $35 per paycheck really require a personal vendetta or hours of frustrated Facebook status updates? Probably not.

My guess is that on an after-tax, per paycheck basis, some of these raises are equivalent to cutting out the morning Starbucks run, or latest iTunes download.

So we decided to dust off the Excel skills and crunch a few numbers to see if our Senior Manager friend was onto something.

We took a humdrum salary of $70k and applied the 8%, 6% comparison and tabled it:

Salary$70,000$70,000
% Raise8%6%
$ Raise (Annual)$5,600$4,200
Taxes withheld40%40%
Net Raise$3,360$2,520
Bi-monthly # of paychecks2424
Net $/paycheck$140$105

BFD you say? You got a 6% raise while some clown who couldn’t audit their way out of a paper bag got 14%? Fine, we’ll take a look at that too:

Salary$70,000$70,000
% Raise14%6%
$ Raise (Annual)$9,800$4,200
Taxes withheld40%40%
Net Raise$5,880$2,520
Bi-monthly # of paychecks2424
Net $/paycheck$245$105

So let’s say you’re the average shmo with the 6% raise and your friend/sworn enemy is getting the 14%. Are you really spitfire pissed that you’re missing out on $280 a month? We’re not talking life-changing sums here. If you’re consistently average over your career, maybe this will add up but hopefully your better sense will grab ahold and you’ll either A) step up your game B) move on with your life C) eliminate the competition (not condoning violence here, just pointing out that it’s a variable in the equation and maybe that it’s an option).

Rebuttal? Agree? Let it rip.