Did anyone else catch this story in the NY Times small business section about Wharton Business School prof Stewart Friedman? He teaches MBA students how to better integrate their personal life with their career. It’s an incredibly attractive philosophy in many ways, considering that the concept of having a career while maintaining a personal life is a paradox for most entrepreneurs and Wall Street-types. Given that, the idea that it’s actually possible is revolutionary.
But is it a possibility? As unfortunate as it is, launching or working at a start-up, or even at a bigger company translates into long hours—and little time outside that for anything else. To be clear—I’m talking about the entrepreneur, the CEO, or the high level executive actually running the show. I realize that there’s movement afoot to give employees more autonomy, which has been highly successful (but that’s for another blog post).
That said, ask yourself, would Google be where it is today if Larry Page and Sergey Brin had spent five nights a week beer-bonging at Stanford instead of whipping up algorithms? The same goes for multiple start-ups—while there’s probably some exceptions—there’s no way around the work-life conflict. Sure once you reach success there becomes more time for jetting off to St. Tropez, but I’d say that there are few successful entrepreneurs or business people who were doing much other than working at critical points in their career.
Friedman’s got a long list of devotees, according to The Times, so there must be something to his idea beyond collegiate dreaming and enthusiasm. What do you think? Am a being old-fashioned in thinking that entrepreneurial success is the result of hard work and long hours?