I like to say that there are certain life events so special that when you add them all up, you can count them on one hand. I was thrilled to have one of those moments last week at a very special family event. And despite my aphorism, I’m happy to say that my list of these events has moved to that other hand.
Life throws you stuff for sure. Tough, challenging, even overwhelmingly difficult times. For some people, that list gets counted on fingers, toes, and borrowed third party digits. Others enjoy more limited exposure to the negative aspects of simply continuing to exist.
I think, in the end, it’s about two things. Not what life throws you but how you deal with what life throws you that matters. And second, it’s about reveling in the one hand moments, beaming, shining and glowing through them. Appreciating the good while facing up to the bad. I believe the positive attitude people give more meaning to their lives and those around them. Said Kipling, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
Don’t forget to let the one hand moments swim over you like a glorious sunny day (that is pretending we didn’t have to worry about UV!).
In some circles people view workaholism as a positive. You get a lot done. You are very committed and determined. Team members can rely on you to perform and be accessible. But being a hard worker is not the same as being a workaholic. Hard workers put in time because they believe that’s what’s necessary but would much rather have more down time. Workaholics get satisfaction out of living, breathing, eating and (not) sleeping work. They simply can’t stop themselves from continuing to work – hence the word being tied to addiction.
What’s the downside? As I laid out in my book, The Entrepreneur’s Growth Startup Handbook (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), aside from the many marriages and personal lives lost to workaholism, it can lead to less focus, less efficiency, less productivity and even health problems. In the book I talk about tips for reducing your workaholic tendencies such as time shifting, delegating and the like with the goal of actually increasing your likelihood of success in business or entrepreneurship. Here we focus on the five key signs you might be a workaholic:
1. Clock? What clock? You would actually rather be working at 1:00 am than in your bed asleep. Even when work is not that busy you find low-priority projects or take your existing work to even more depth.
2. Delegate? Ha. You must check and recheck everything your employees do because you simply cannot trust they will do things right, even if that takes all night. You take on many projects that could be delegated because you think no one can do them better than you can.
3. What are my kids names again? If you take an hour off to play with your kids, your mind immediately wanders back to the various work obligations you have and you find your interaction with your children stressful and difficult. Your spouse offers to treat for a night at a local hotel and you laugh out loud unable to even imagine that much time away from work.
4. Crackberry-itis. You would not be able to take the challenge of only answering emails and texts once per hour during the business day, even for just one week.
5. Calendar? What calendar? You always work Saturdays because you don’t even realize that Saturday is part of the weekend.
Even if you have these tendencies, there are strategies to battle this challenging addiction, which we will cover in more detail in a future post.
Andrew Madoff (above), whose father Bernie admitted stealing billions in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, died of cancer last month. According to NYC court documents, he has left an estate worth $15 million. He left a third to his mom and his estranged wife, a lot to his two college-age kids and the rest to his fiancee (including a $50,000 a month allowance for her while the case is pending). Nothing went to his Dad who is serving a 150 year sentence. Andrew was still fighting lawsuits from Madoff investors demanding money back from him to the tune of around $73 million, but he was never criminally charged in connection with his father’s crimes. Maybe Dad cut a deal to save his wife and sons from jail, but that has never been disclosed. The sons said over and over that they knew nothing about their father’s activities and in fact were the ones to report it to the FBI.
Andrew’s brother Mark killed himself in 2010 on the second anniversary of the day their father was arrested. Now mom Ruth faces the loss of her only other child. Ruth apparently was able to leave the scene with about $5 million. A lot to almost all of us but probably a pittance to the high-living wife of the former head of the Nasdaq. What did Ruth know? We will probably never know.
Receiver Irving Picard has recovered nearly $10 billion to cover losses from Madoff investors that most estimated at around $16 billion, but those estimates have ranged from $6 billion to $70 billion so it is not entirely clear. Some of his victims were his high school buddies from my parents’ alma mater, Far Rockaway High School in Queens, NY (my folks didn’t know him). Advice to investors #1: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Advice #2: do not allow any one advisor to control all your assets.
Not a great day for now former Arkansas judge Mike Maggio. Apparently, on a sports blog he discussed the 2012 confidential adoption of a baby by superstar Charlize Theron (above). He used the pseudonym “geauxjudge” but was found out. Now the Arkansas Supreme Court confirms he is out of a job. Maggio has accepted responsibility and the permanent termination from judgeship. He didn’t work on the adoption case, but obviously knew about it since it was done in the division of the court where he worked.
The Associated Press says there was no other comment from Maggio or his lawyer. He issued a statement expressing his pride in his service in over 45,000 cases and apologized for the statements he made.
Social media, chat rooms, YouTube, blogging, are all things that might be better avoided if your first name starts with Judge. Or at least be real careful. A fishing blog might be ok. Or that might upset the vegetarian prosecutors, so then again maybe not.
It was a big day for NY Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey (above) recently: the first text he ever sent. Why did he feel the need? According to the ABA Journal, the fact that an alternate juror in a manslaughter case got a text from a co-worker giving information about the defendant. Of course this was inappropriate, as jurors are not allowed to communicate with third parties about the case. According to www.syracuse.com, the case involves defendant Romeo Williams, charged in a death at a 7-Eleven in Syracuse, NY.
The juror notified the judge about the text. Fahey suggested the juror write back, and the juror said, “Why don’t you do it?” So the judge took the phone and wrote, “This is Judge Fahey. Do not send any more text messages about this case or there will be consequences.” The prosecutor in the case believes it is the first text of its kind at least in their county. It was not reported whether there was any response to the text.
Did the co-worker believe it was really the judge? Or maybe the juror playing a joke back? Hopefully the former. But in today’s all-connected social media world, keeping jurors pure gets harder and harder for sure.
So many people dream of starting their own business. Slaving away in a miserable job with miserable bosses and miserable hours and being mistreated, underpaid and unappreciated fuels those thoughts. But entrepreneurship is not for everyone who is just sick of being employed. Here are five signs the excitement of building a business just may not be for you:
1. You lack the big dream. If you say well, I can start a business in my industry and see what happens, then doing so may be a bad idea. The most successful entrepreneurs are always dreaming big, coming up with either innovations or innovative ways to sell things, and reaching for the stars. And they have a detailed short and long term plan.
2. You have a fear of risk. You turned down a job at a smaller company since you were worried it might not succeed. If that’s true, then starting your own business is probably not a good idea. The greatest success comes to those who risk the most, throw off the safety net, mortgage their entire lives (ideally within reason) and go for it.
3. You have a highly skeptical spouse/partner. One of the biggest reasons entrepreneurs burn out too soon is the lack of spousal and family support. If you will come home to that serious worried look every day and there will be tremendous pressure to perform and succeed, think seriously about whether you should proceed.
4. You are not particularly driven or obsessive. For good or bad, the greatest successes tend to come to those who commit everything to it. I caution about the importance of finding balance, which is doable during the marathon of building a business, but without unyielding passion, you are much less likely to grab that brass ring. But be careful: true workaholism also can be problematic.
5. You micromanage people. If you cannot develop skills to delegate and focus your energies on strategy, key hires and problems that arise, it will be much more difficult to build your business. A healthy skepticism of your team’s capabilities is fine, but if you cannot mostly leave them to do their thing then the long-term health of the business and its direction will likely suffer.