Messed Up Private Lives

7/8/2005 1:50:33 AM

Messed Up Private Lives

Via MicroISV, Harry Netwon gives some advice based on his years as an entreprenuer when compared to his former Harvard Business School classmates.

Messed up private lives: When I graduated from Harvard Business School in 1969, half the class went into investment banking. The other half went into management consulting. I didn’t. I became an entrepreneur, and for that, was universally derided. By our 20th reunion, I was gaining respect. By our 25th I was being consulted. My classmates’ “careers” had hit a wall. They’d been passed over for boss. the younger kids had fresher ideas and worked harder. My classmates had lived beyond their means. They were onto their second and third marriages. They had no savings. They were overweight and out of condition. And now there were no jobs for 50-year plus gray-hairs. What could I recommend? Sadly, little. Could I help their kids? Now, I increasingly do that. I give my standard talk:
+ Learn a new skill every six months. (Samples: negotiation; computers, investing, Excel.)
+ Get involved with business startups. Ultimately being an entrepreneur is what will give you peace of mind in your old age.
+ Save at least 10% of your income every month. Invest it in a wide variety of ventures.
+ Learn how to pick ventures.
+ Stay healthy. Lots of exercise and no over-eating.
+ Give back.

This will come in handy next time my family and friends wonder what I am really doing and whether I am making a mistake by leaving Microsoft and developing my own software. While I may be behind, its motivational to think that I may eventually become the turtle that beats the hare to win the race. At least, I am not burned out, and my health and sanity is better. I am also beginning to feel that I can die now or in the short future and not regret that I haven’t enjoyed or taken full advantage of my life as for the past five years I have been fully in control of my own path, pursing my own dream, and not under the dictates of another person.

I noticed that a few of my MBA friends, who went on to highly esteemed companies, the ones that are career “destinations” with highly lucrative compensation packages, decided to leave those same companies volunteerily. One woman left “Goldman Sach,” a top investment banking company, and another man left “McKinsey Consulting,” a top consulting firm. This also make remind me of another classmate, a vice-president at Merill Lynch (the financial industry suffers from title inflation) before attending business school, decided to take a drastic salary and lifestyle cut to work in the entertainment industry. Closer to home, my brother graduated from Columbia Business School and was offered two different high-paying jobs(I’m talking $300K ballpark) at Merrill Lynch after finishing a summer internship there and instead opted for a career at the Federal Reserve, which is not as lucrative. He chose it for reasons having to do with quality of life such as ethics, career satisfaction and intellectual atmosphere. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made less than what he pulled before attending business school, although I doubt that. Two of my relatives are doctors who intensely dislike their professions and are only in it for the income potential. Both openly question whether they made the right career choice.

Ultimately, I think people are more interested in maximizing the quality of life than in acquiring total wealth, but often they don’t realize that until after they have made their career choices and faced the consequences of their decision such as despression, low motivation and poor health. Often, acquiring wealth and maximizing quality of life go hand in hand for obvious reasons, but not always.

Average life expectancy is around 75 years based on a longitudinal analysis of death rates of various age groups today. Actual life expectancy is likely underestimated due to lower mortality in the future. A person will lose over five years in quality life due to poor health and suffering, which leaves 40 years of employment and 10 years of retirement to enjoy. A person in a high-paying profession will spend most of his waking hours at work prior to retirement (60 hours of work, 56 hours of sleep, and 52 hours of biological functions/errands/leisure). Based on these numbers, a person who engages in unenjoyable and stressful, but high paying, work, probably isn’t maximizing his overall level of happiness across his lifetime, especially if life is cut short in the middle.

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My name is Wesner Moise. I am a software entrepreneur developing revolutionary AI desktop applications. I worked as a software engineer in Microsoft Excel group for six years during the 1990s. I worked on PivotTables and wrote the most lines of code in Excel 97-- about 10 times the median developer. I have a Harvard BA in applied math/computer science and a UCLA MBA in technology entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society, a 99.9 percentile high-IQ society.

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