General Reinvent Recruiting

You Weren’t Meant To Have a Boss

He’s talking about programmers, but
why would it be different for
someone in marketing and sales?

Since I’m an avid foodie, I love Paul Graham’s analogy with food to explain
why you were not meant to have a boss…”Startup” refers to a new business.
That’s you, right?  Might be part-time, but it’s still a new little startup.

“Indeed, food is an excellent metaphor to explain what’s wrong with the usual sort of job.

“For example, working for a big company is the default thing to do, at least for programmers. How bad could it be? Well, food shows that pretty clearly. If you were dropped at a random point in America today, nearly all the food around you would be bad for you. Humans were not designed to eat white flour, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated vegetable oil. And yet if you analyzed the contents of the average grocery store you’d probably find these four ingredients accounted for most of the calories. “Normal” food is terribly bad for you. The only people who eat what humans were actually designed to eat are a few Birkenstock-wearing weirdos in Berkeley.

“If “normal” food is so bad for us, why is it so common? There are two main reasons. One is that it has more immediate appeal. You may feel lousy an hour after eating that pizza, but eating the first couple bites feels great. The other is economies of scale. Producing junk food scales; producing fresh vegetables doesn’t. Which means (a) junk food can be very cheap, and (b) it’s worth spending a lot to market it.

“If people have to choose between something that’s cheap, heavily marketed, and appealing in the short term, and something that’s expensive, obscure, and appealing in the long term, which do you think most will choose?

“It’s the same with work. The average MIT graduate wants to work at Google or Microsoft, because it’s a recognized brand, it’s safe, and they’ll get paid a good salary right away. It’s the job equivalent of the pizza they had for lunch. The drawbacks will only become apparent later, and then only in a vague sense of malaise.

“And founders and early employees of startups, meanwhile, are like the Birkenstock-wearing weirdos of Berkeley: though a tiny minority of the population, they’re the ones living as humans are meant to. In an artificial world, only extremists live naturally.” More here.

How’s it feel to be called “a Birkenstock-wearing weirdo of Berkeley”?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Love that we are moving into the age of much fewer “bosses!” Thankfully, Gen Y (and the economy) are solving that! I spoke with a network marketer yesterday who started her network marketing business when she got out of college, with lots of debt, and couldn’t find a job.

    She joined a network marketing company and decided to treat it like what it is – a commission only “job” and she went after it. And, she has never had a boss other than herself because of that! Bravo for her!

    And, as for this – How’s it feel to be called “a Birkenstock-wearing weirdo of Berkeley”?

    Well, I’ve been called worse, hee hee!

    EXPECT Success!

    Jackie Ulmer

  • Having a job isn’t a bad idea but keeping a job for life is where you run into problems. I know so many business owners who have worked under a great employer to learn their trade then after a few years went out on their own.

    A job can help support you while you are trying to move up in this world. The problem that I see is a lot of people treat a job like it is their life so they do everything they can to move up in that job and once you have been there for 10 years then they have you right where they want you.

    A job should be just a stepping stone into your future and if people would see it that way and act on it that way, their lives will be more fulfilled over the long haul when they finally find what they are suppose to do with their lives.

    Chris Benton

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