It is a question I pondered a lot. I wonder why I took my current Company (2004 – leaving Merrill Lynch for Morgan Stanley) why I took my current Role (Head of Corporate Tax Technology) and why I work at all. I ask my question is the reward (compensation and non-compensation) the work I do. Simple answer if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be there, probably would have left long ago. But notice I put both types of rewards. But do you question why you work?

For me it has to go back to how I was brought up. I have mentioned time and time again, I am the definition of white privilege. I had two working parents, middle class in a town that was a bubble. And watching my parents work, I learned different things from both of them as they both looked at work differently and somewhat the same. I saw the notion of wanting to change the world, wanting to make a difference balanced with the need to provide for your family. And that often the cost of wanting to provide some advantages/or necessity seemed to be a stretch.

After my upbringing, then it came to the society I was brought up in. I was born in 1967 – so my teen years were mostly the 80s (The last great decade, the decade of me… how ever you want to put it) This was a time of prosperity. But in the town I was brought up in, and the era we lived the way I saw Darwinism was that it was money that drove the world around. That with money not only defined success, but also was the change agent, it is what made a difference. It was having the nice car, or donating to causes that needed it.

It is strange that Humans are the only animals that put faith in an abstract concept (money) and tie it to physical manifestation (dollars etc.) We also put arbitrary values on items, and change the cost depending on who is buying, where they are buying etc. If you can feed someone in Africa for $9 a month are we being overcharged for groceries in NJ? It is a humorous thought, but it is a part of the reality we live in.

But back to why I work.. When I first started working, it was because money seemed to be the driver of the world. And although I have written a blog about what do you want to be remembered for, and the charities I spend time/money on, I am talking about the teenage me. My parents instilled the notion of the value of a dollar, and would not buy me everything I wanted, and after I ran up some bills, I had to pay them. But I wanted certain things (nicer car stereo, new synth, computer stuff etc.) and went to work for them. This created my personal value, but I didn’t see it that way.

I never stopped working, but some of my thoughts why I did work started to change. I enjoyed going to concerts, working out at a gym etc. And all these things cost. But then came I wanted to be like my parents and support my family. I took some bigger risks in jobs, switching a few times eventually landing up at Merrill Lynch. I never knew what my true Value was, I just getting increase in Salary as I changed jobs and accepted the offer as is. I was slowly making enough in my head to afford the house/kids and the American dream.

While at Merill Lynch I discovered a few things. Though we work for a paycheck and it was allowing me to buy a condo, pay bills have extra etc. I didn’t find going to work wonderful for those reasons. I found it slowly was the people that I worked with that made the difference. And building a good team to work with was worth more than the compensation. Wanting to go to work, not for the paycheck, and not for whatever we were building, but with a team that could build anything. One day some genius manager decided our team was so good we should be split up and maybe other teams we join would be just as good.

I left soon after, to join a friend who was at another company. Again to go work with people that I wanted to be around. I have managed and run several teams at my current company. And each time I feel frustrated with the job, I focus on this lesson, build the right team and what can’t be done, is doable. I learned to surround myself with people who don’t say “It can’t be done” but people who say I will try. I lay out expectations for my team, and getting your code completed is not even in the top 5. The first one, enjoy your job and come in with a positive attitude. The second one ask for help, and give help when asked.

The best feedback I get is from people who used to work for me telling me how they take the ideas they learned from me and apply it to their current role. Which goes back to why I work. I work because I think I can help change people one person at. a time, to enjoy what they do, not cause what they do is great, but they work with a great set of people. A team they would spend time outside their job with, a team that would be there when anything goes wrong and help. I work where I work because the place gives me the ability to build the team. And when I switch roles, it is about making that new team enjoy working together. The side benefit is that I can support my family (and it is a great side.).

I keep thinking I should write a book on how I manage. Because the funny thing about jobs is they take the best people and make them managers. Just ask how many Stanley Cups Wayne Gretsky (the greatest player) won as a coach (zero.). But I’ll leave that for another time. Right now the take away is not about managing, but whatever role or job you are doing, is working with the best people you can find. The rest will fall into place. “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” … Jim Rohn

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.