Greetings fellow monkeys:
By way of introduction, I have been a shadow-user for quite some time, please excuse my lurking, and I want to thank everybody for all of the thought and effort that is put into your posts. I have learned a great amount from the WSO community and the content is often just as entertaining as it is educational.
Topic I Wish to Discuss: After working in the investment management industry for a couple of years, I have seen a dichotomy when it comes to employee types: the workaholics vs. the successaholics. There is a profound difference between these two categories and I want to voice my opinion on why monkeys should aim to fall in the latter category; that is where the true ROI is in terms of life and career development.
Definitions and Descriptions: The first group, workaholics, is myopic by nature and focuses on short-term workload, whether that be answering (often unimportant) emails as rapidly as possible, handling projects in expeditious manners to impress managers with their ability to produce results quickly, working additional hours in order to finish short-term projects, etc. These individuals often stay late and have a very rudimentary life outside of work.
The latter group, which I term as successaholics, largely have a different view on work and goals they wish to accomplish. This group places more value on long-term goals and the strategic steps to get there. Similar to workaholics, these individuals work quite hard and often enjoy the work they are doing, but they have the ability to see the bigger picture (e.g. a project from a higher level) and are able to prioritize steps to reach ultimate goals more effectively. They are not afraid to push their pending tasks to the side and to conquer a more meaningful challenge.
Examples: The above is written rather vaguely, as I am by no means a writer, so let me provide some examples. As mentioned, workaholics are caught up in details and the short-term noise of their jobs' responsibilities. At lunch, they will be eager to get back to their desk to continue editing a PowerPoint; to essentially grind away at their never-ending to-do lists. A successaholic, however, might be less concerned with the short-term work that is on their desk and more concerned with developing their future. For example, the successaholic might take an hour lunch to network with colleagues and outsiders, to reach out to an old college professor to check-up on things, to study for the CFA, to analyze an investment idea unrelated to a current project, etc. In other words, although the successaholic is putting their workload to the side momentarily, they are using their time in a more effective manner by expanding their network, credentials or knowledge. The expansion of these three subjects will often prove to be more fruitful than hammering away all day at that PowerPoint or that veritable deluge of emails that sits in your inbox.
I have seen this first hand on many occasions within the finance industry. Quick personal anecdote: I am fortunate enough to have 60-90 minutes allocated to lunch each day (don't work in the US). I use the full time networking and studying for the CFA and have thus passed the first two levels on my first attempts with my prior financial knowledge being quite limited (never studied finance before my career). This has led to a larger network of employers to which I can reach out, people on which I can rely, advancement within my firm (promotions, salary bumps) due to CFA feats, etc. My colleagues who eat lunch at their desk and cram away at emails the whole afternoon have not seen the same career advancement as I have. Lunch is just the example/metaphor here, as numerous similar examples can be applied to these two personality types.
I do understand the need to work grueling hours in order to reach deadlines (especially for you IB folk), impress senior management, etc. Especially when a current project/task will have a long-term/lasting effect; I am not addressing this type of work. My takeaway is that the prioritization of work and what tasks/projects/undertakings will provide the largest return on time/investment (after all, time is money) will inevitably make the difference in your peers
calling you 'a worker' vs. a 'super successful guy/gal' ... aka 'the f**king man/woman'.
(Pardon the length of this entry)
Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 8/31/13.