how much $ is enough to take a dead-end job

Would you guys ever take a dead-end job?

What if the salary was good, and there was little work to do?

And how much $ is enough to take this dead-end job?

It's not a hypothetical question. I'm at a family office where the patriarch is an old guy who is super conservative.
We still get inbound deals, evaluate them, present them.

But he's never going to pull the trigger.
He tells us all the time "I don't have to write a cheque."

No deals have been done here in living memory.
And there's no upward mobility.

It's not like I'm going to be promoted upward to family member either.

But broadly speaking, is there a scenario for you monkeys where you might be tempted to - for lifestyle reasons - take a well-paying job at some place where you'd have no upward potential, limited career development opportunity, and no chance to actually do a deal?

Comments (41)

Aug 16, 2019

It depends. If money is the name of the game, then think about what you're making now and what you could make in the future in the job you wanted. Fore example, you make 40k with these guy, have 0 stress and work great hours that allow for a social life, then how much more $$ would you need to leave the position. Would 42k be enough for you to leave it all behind?

Take the above scenario, but this time you know that if you can move into a field where you make 100k; Is it worth it to YOU in your current situation?

It sound like you are thinking about career mobility and future earning potential. It also sounds like you really want to get a deal. Think about what you are making now, what the max you honestly believe you can make is, and think about what's the **marginal utility* of X additional dollars.

You make 40k, and you think you'll probably not find a job that makes you more than 70k in your life time, but you can still achieve close to those 70k in your current position, would you stay?

I won't speak to any concrete finance options as I am unqualified to do so. Also, the number are just an example. I didn't mean for you to take a 40k job, but if it fulfills you and you have decent savings, why not?

Stay strong!

Aug 16, 2019

40k and 70k is too little to consider that fact. I'd need at least 150k-200k stress free to remotely consider it.

Aug 16, 2019

My number is very similar

Aug 16, 2019

We get well above >$250k, and office hours are 10am to 6.30pm, no weekends.
But no deals closed, means no professional progression.
While the family has $, it's not like I'm going to make it into the inner circle.
I can't marry in (I'm already married) and I'm not learning anything.
So once I leave, people will ask about recent deals and I'd not be in a position to address that.
Just "here's all the deals we DIDN'T do."
Looks bad, and haven't honed any skills.
That's my concern.

Aug 16, 2019
earthwalker7:

We get well above >$250k, and office hours are 10am to 6.30pm, no weekends.

That's hardly a bad life. I would be bored out of my mind, but it's hard to sneeze at $250k+ with basically a 9-5 schedule.

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Aug 16, 2019

Depends how long he sees this job lasting...

250k+ for the next 5 years, assuming he's maybe 40 right now would mean he's jobless at 45, with a decent amount saved (maybe) but no marketability as a professional since no deals have closed.

If he can see 250k+ for the next 20-30 years until he's 60-70 with SOME salary growth YoY, good financial competence / savings / etc, then you could cruise without worrying about professional development.

I don't think this is a numbers game based on salary, it's a numbers game based on how long you think this job / lifestyle would hold out and if it won't hold out, what then?

Aug 16, 2019
earthwalker7:

We get well above >$250k, and office hours are 10am to 6.30pm, no weekends.
But no deals closed, means no professional progression.
While the family has $, it's not like I'm going to make it into the inner circle.
I can't marry in (I'm already married) and I'm not learning anything.
So once I leave, people will ask about recent deals and I'd not be in a position to address that.
Just "here's all the deals we DIDN'T do."
Looks bad, and haven't honed any skills.
That's my concern.

Weren't you going to join a VC firm as a partner? Thought that was a good step for you given your frustrations in the current role?

Aug 16, 2019

well, the VC gig is for a venture partner role.

That's part-time work, at $3k/mo.

But it is a way to get my foot in the door at a pretty cool firm, so I have started doing that at night/weekends.
So this option is still something I'm trying to have happen.

Separately, another friend in China wants me to raise a USD fund for him, as he is running only RMB funds right now.
That fund would co-invest in his deals in USD.
I'd get a partner role and a big chunk of carry if I do raise that.
But instinct tells me that the chances of closing such a fund is low - so not likely a possibility.

    • 1
Sep 11, 2019
earthwalker7:

We get well above >$250k, and office hours are 10am to 6.30pm, no weekends.

H8 u so much.

Aug 16, 2019

I guess the question is do you like the actual work? Great income, great hours. If you like the work, why would you leave? People on this board are obsessed with exit ops. Eventually you get to a place where you want to stay. It sounds like this isn't that place for you but make sure it's because you really want to be doing something else, not just because you're wired to grab the next thing.

Aug 16, 2019

making 250k+ in this family situation...save everything you can...you never know when they will decide to just shut it down...and then you'll be in a scramble to find a new job

just google it...you're welcome

    • 1
Aug 16, 2019

that's exactly my fear actually

This is not sustainable, esp if we're not doing deals.

Every quarter we have to justify our existence, which if we're not doing deals, is a difficult justification.

Aug 16, 2019
earthwalker7:

that's exactly my fear actually

This is not sustainable, esp if we're not doing deals.

Every quarter we have to justify our existence, which if we're not doing deals, is a difficult justification.

Yeah, sounds like a chopping block

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Aug 16, 2019

Quick evaluation:

  1. Figure out what you need to save to generate income to live if you "retired".
  2. Figure out how much you can save out of your income there, hence, figure out how long it would take to hit the number in 1. Once that occurs, you can effectively "retire".
  3. Your options are way more open after that; not saying you need to go fishing everyday, but you can start a business, go be a teacher, go coach a team, do more with your family/kids.

Realistically, if you make 250K, but are only saving like 30K a year, I would say cut down on your expenses.

Also a point, sometimes money talks, but also, likely your job talks as well. If you've ever been stuck at a job you hate, its a long day. But also, if you work at job you really enjoy, but are paid nothing, how long can you really do that. So balance.

At the end of the day, everyone on this site talks about prestige, learning, progression, what shoes you wear, just so they can get a job that pays a lot. If you already have that, its most of the battle.

    • 2
Aug 16, 2019

Only on WSO can someone complain about making $250k+ to "work" 10-6:30. Dude, just take the money, save it, and/or use it to fund other ventures and leave when your other ventures become lucrative enough. I wish I were in your shoes.

    • 2
Aug 16, 2019

I get it. It's a pretty privileged position to be wanking about such a situation.

But to be frank, if we don't start doing deals, the old man is going to wonder why he has as large a team as he does.

Doesn't make sense to have so many of us here if we're not pulling triggers on things.

Lack of being busy makes me think problems are coming.

Most Helpful
Aug 16, 2019

All jobs without equity upside are dead end jobs and glorified slave work.

Aug 16, 2019
m_1:

All jobs without equity upside are dead end jobs and glorified slave work.

What would you recommend?

A % of the deals won't make sense if we don't close deals.

Have you seen any other creative ways of not being a slave?

Aug 16, 2019

Define equity upside.

Is that company level common equity only (tech and startups only)?

Can it include project / team level profit sharing (eg % of p&l, carry etc)?

Aug 16, 2019

I'm not him, but to any reasonable person profit sharing should count as equity upside

Aug 16, 2019
m_1:

All jobs without equity upside are dead end jobs and glorified slave work.

Tom Brady is really slaving away.... poor him.

Aug 16, 2019

You'd trade brain damage for money?

Aug 17, 2019

@m_1

Might you please elaborate?

You're one of the senior WSO dudes who usually has a lot of great insights.

Keen to hear what more you have to say on the subject, and how we can grow into a situation where we are NOT slaves.

Truth is tho, I've seen most people being slaves.

Even equity holders.

I've seen PE fund partners who bought in to the partnership get fired and kicked out (from previous employers obviously, not the current family office employer).

Not sure what happened to their partnership interests or carried interest.

So, how can we monkeys aspire to not be slaves?

"Some monkeys get paid peanuts, but some monkeys get paid bananas. You want to be the latter."

    • 2
Aug 16, 2019

Kind of an oxymoron because a dead end job that pays so much that it'd be attractive despite no upward mobility must be a quite solid job

    • 1
Aug 17, 2019

It really depends on the situation, would you rather be in a position that you know you will never progress upward in a better situation or have a job that is stable with a lower income.Since, you are married, my recommendation is always prepared for the worst and start saving early. In my situation, I would need minimum $100,000+ living in New York being single.

Also expenses need to be taken in consideration and what amount you think you need to start saving and investing early. Don't make a mistake of misjudgment of what might potentially happen if you look for an opportunity somewhere else. Make sure you have a back up plan and know what to do if things don't turn out well.

"It's okay, I'll see you on the other side"

Aug 17, 2019

100% agree. Having been thru 2 recessions, I know to save.
Even when I was at a BB ibank, I kept my rent below $700.
I'm a cheap mofo..

Aug 17, 2019

What's your next best option? I'm in a similar spot to you (great income, good hours, come and go as I please, etc.), and I struggle with this, because my senior management is hesitant to move forward on deals because the companies we get to look at have some warts on them. I'm in the software space, do a deal or two per year, but we don't have the deal volume or rep to get the looks that CRM or ADBE do. I also have the benefit of an unsophisticated treasury team, so I get to lead our capital raises as well, so that gives me a something to do while we're talking about doing an acquisition.

Aug 19, 2019

I guess I should have been more clear.

The job is a real estate investing job, hunting for properties for a family office.

We secretly question whether the group has money left anymore.

The pay and hours are phenomenal, but we're running a big team and he just fired the top guys in the team as they're too costly.

This underscores why a dead end job that doesn't do deals is really dangerous.

Where are those middle-aged 50-ish year olds that were just cut going to go, if they've just spent 10-15 years not doing deals?

I don't want the same to happen to me. Hours are phenomenal.
And pay is good, but it's not the only 250k+ per year job in the street.

Is the money + hours worth the risk to career? I'm starting to think not.

    • 1
Sep 9, 2019

I think you explained it quite clearly in your initial post/comments, but I feel like everyone has to see where you are coming from after this comment. You aren't frustrated based on the salary/hours/type of work, with a grass is greener mentality (which is what everyone appears to think is the case). You are frustrated because if you continue to stay at a firm that closes zero deals on average annually, you will have nothing to speak to when you inevitably find yourself out of a job. With a near zero close rate (or it may be actually zero, I am not quite sure), it will be very hard to recruit for similar jobs. And you also have no job security, as your group is not creating any tangible output. No one gets paid a handsome salary without producing for long (it also seems as though the lack of closing has nothing to do with you, but I am assuming here). Therefore, you are collecting a paycheck and while it is a substantial and awesome one, you know what is coming. When you eventually have to start interviewing again, you will have to justify staying at a company for X years without any completed acquisitions to speak to. So when asked about your role there, all you can say is, "I built out/analyzed/worked on xyz on x number of failed deals." I would say you should start looking as soon as possible. The longer you stay the harder it will be to rationalize your decision to do so to your next employer.

Aug 20, 2019

I'm at a family office. We've been doing a bunch of deals recently out of our new fund, but once this fund is fully committed we will not have any capital left. The existing fund has a 10 year term, and if we can return the money by year 5 we can double up and reinvest one more time.

I'm at about half of my target yearly comp to just settle in and stay comfy. Once I get to $300k or so I would be probably willing to sit and primarily asset manage and update pro formas, My typical work week is around 40 hours per week, I get to wear whatever I want, and my superiors have normal personalities and are family oriented. Based on my past experiences I assign a very high premium to this, and that $300k/yr mark or so would dissuade me from going elsewhere as long as culture doesn't change.

    • 1
Aug 20, 2019

Sounds like a stingy decision maker. Maybe the deal team sucks at pitching the RE deals to him? Maybe he's bored of RE and hasn't realized it?

I'd try to get to know the decision maker better. Become friends if possible. What makes him tick. What markets he's interested in outside of RE, what get's him excited (not aroused, just regular excitement).

Use what you've learned and put together a proposal that allows him to scratch his itch outside of RE. See if he bites. Set a meeting/golf outing. Let him know that you've noticed his lack of enthusiasm towards RE deals and that you have other profitable ideas in your back pocket.

He'll either think you're psycho, or he'll love you for bringing something new. Make sure you get upside in the deal and swing for da fences.

It sounds like you're ready to consider other options anyways so you don't have much to lose imo.

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge
It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you
Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"

Sep 10, 2019
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