When I was thirteen years old, my mother handed me a book and told me that I should read one of the stories in it. "Son," she said, "here's your life plan."
The book was Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love and the story was The Tale of the Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail. It was about a man who keeps consciously making lazy choices and yet somehow succeeds wildly at everything he does.
I quickly read the short story, shrugged, and handed her the book back. Then she told me not to be that lazy and to read the rest of the damn book.
At the time, I had no idea that my life would have strong parallels to this story. My mother was right. This was my master plan. I went to grad school because I didn't want to work for a living. I became a banker for the same reason.
Don't get me wrong. Being lazy doesn't mean giving up on work. Don't work harder. Don't work smarter. Work lazier!
- Fix somebody else's problem
- Blowing the horn
Lazy people let machines do the work. I'm really a computer scientist, not a banker, so this comes naturally given my lazy nature. I'm always shocked to see quants and analysts doing the same crappy handwork again and again. For god's sake... write a program to do it!
Oh, you say you don't know how to program? Well, you damn well better learn or I'll write a script that will replace you. Oh, and Python or Ruby.doesn't count. Go learn something real like
To be truly lazy is to let other people do the hard work. You don't need to have minions and be an MD to have other people work on your behalf. Build stuff that lets other people plug their own work into it. Or be super-meta and build stuff that builds stuff to do that.
I write a lot of Python scripts and accelerators that need to be "finished off" by the quants to do exactly what they want. I just tell them they're specializing it. It makes them feel super-special-awesome and talented, but they are really just meat puppets dancing on the ends of my strings.
Being lazy doesn't mean being greedy. Share your stuff! Ms. Zlavonia, my kindergarten teacher and the third love of my life taught me that. Don't bogart your stuff. Don't bogart your knowledge. Share it! Lazy people know that when you share credit, you actually enlist all the sharee's as hapless minions that will extend and fix your stuff for you - and you still get the credit!
Yes, you always have your own work to do, and, yes, our educational system teaches us to be individual contributors. But that's bullshit. Lazy people know that fixing someone else's problem is the way to go.
A quant I worked with at myjob was having some problems with some library interface work. I automated it so he could do it all himself. For years, he cited that work and told everyone that I was a genius (true, but it's nice when someone else blows that horn). I got more good press and made bank off of his connections come bonus time. A lazy man keeps his ears open and swoops in on opportunities.
Which brings me to number five...
Here's a life lesson for you. Your work does not speak for itself. It doesn't matter how great it is. It is making the tiny squeaks of a drowning mouse at the bottom of a well during a hurricane. Here's another lesson. If you go around tooting your own horn, people will think you're a suck ass sycophant. Don't do it more than necessary.
Besides that's too much work for a lazy person. Get other people to blow your horn for you. When someone complements me on some work, I say "thanks" and I say, "If your really like it, could you write a short note to THEIRMD and MYMD saying so?" Nine out of ten times, I end up getting cc'd on an email five minutes later to [email protected] and [email protected].
As a Lazy Man, I'm glad that I didn't have to write it. Also, I have an email copy that I can lazily forward to my boss when he's wondering what I've done to deserve my fat bonus check. I've watched these email chains get sent all the way up to [email protected] so those bozo MD's can get their cut of the credit for "bringing the organization together for maximal synergy and that kind of shit." Remember! They became MD's because they were super-efficient at being super lazy!
So go forth and be lazy. Be wildly successful whilst others do the hard work. Oh, and if you liked any of this advice, could you write a short note to [email protected] saying so?