How Rooted Is The Valley?

March 10, 2008

I’m back home, and I’m still seeing people defending the work till you drop and bugger your family and those you love argument put forward by Calacanis + friends.

So how rooted is the Valley? I found this on Amazon via Google

DOWN AND OUT IN SILICON VALLEY presents a side of high-tech, dot-com culture never explored by the media. The authors reveal the haunting truths that Silicon Valley and its techno-cloned communities throughout the country have one of the highest divorce rates in the world, more children who are psychologically disturbed than in less-affluent areas, no affordable housing even for those earning $50,000 a year, eighty-hour work weeks, and widespread alcohol and drug use.

See, normal people would be talking about ways of fixing this in stead of defending it…least where I’m from. Here’s the magic word again: balance. You can be passionate and work hard, but without balance you’re causing all of the above to happen. My question to those parents who never see their kids and are condemning them future issues in pursuit of startup wealth (ie the Calacanis defenders), is it really worth it?

Remember, no amount of money in the world can buy back the time with your kids as they grow up. Justify it how ever much you want, but you’ll regret it later.

7 responses to How Rooted Is The Valley?

  1. Exactly. Tim Ferriss says it all (almost) in his book the 4-hour Work Week. I now get through my income-bearing work in a 3-hour morning. The rest of my day is free, unless there’s a major project about to be launched.

    It comes down to eliminating meetings, travel, email and IM conversations, and concentrating only on jobs which deliver income. The rest comes under “fun” — or work/life balance, if you prefer. Working from a home office also helps a lot.

    But with a startup, you do need a rush of blood to the head — for the first year anyway.

  2. you’re right…the million-dollar word here is: Balance.

    each person, or case, is diff.
    so it’s just a matter of seeing your own situation, and deciding where on the spectrum you will lie at

  3. it’s like selling your soul to the devil, so to speak…for those who work hard at something, or success – at the expense of other things

    and at the end, when you die – you don’t think about successes primarily…you think of relationships, people

  4. It’s hard for me, you’re are one of my favorite bloggers … yet, I defended Jason’s opinions. You do present (this time around) a more “balanced” argument, so to speak. 😉

    I have 3 kids and I’m working with a startup in Silicon Alley (i telecommute from Wisconsin). I have to work really hard because we are a 2 person team. We cannot afford all the luxuries explained by Jason in his original post (yes, luxuries… indeed).

    I think you, Duncan, might be the very example of the type of person Jason was talking about “workaholics”. You work hard as hell (as Mike even pointed that out) yet you still balance your work load and your family. It’s impressive, it’s hard-core, and it’s simply not for everyone… there are those that are “unable” to balance.. these are the ones with the drinking/drugs/family problems… (same in stock trading, same in real estate, same in mortgage banking, etc)…. some people have it, some people don’t. You have it. Jason has it. I have it (i think, hehe)… but the people who went to attack on Jason over laws and human rights… guess what, they don’t have it. It’s gotta be time to stop feeding the trolls on this one. Some people are not cut out to have a career in the Web. And that’s 100% fair… because there is a big payoff there is a big sacrifice… this is the lifestyle, and most importantly the lifestyle is optional. (it is not optional, however, if you want to be very successful.) People who say it’s “unfair” are just looking for a free ride… they are scum and they are part of the reason everyone else has to work twice as hard, so fuck them.

    I know the lesson I want to teach my kids, “Work hard. Don’t underestimate your ability to achieve. Never, ever quit.”

  5. Hi Duncan,

    This is my first time posting here. And seeing this post- it’s a real IN-YOUR-FACE statement about how I’m wrecking my own life and the people I love without that key element in my life- BALANCE. I’m working hard on my dream right now, having produced a book in 24 hours with some of my closest life buddies- but have neglected my mother and my relationships at the same time.

    This, is like a real reminder that yes, balance is key. I wish the kids in Silicon Valley grow up well and nurtured. It’s not fair for children to suffer at the hands of their parents because of a thing— called WORK. That’s what wrecking homes in the first place! Esp, in Singapore where I’m at.

    I’m envious of countries like Australia where I see young men and women work 5-6 hours a day and then spend time home with family and friends. From where I’m at— we can study up to 12 hours a day. Work up to 14 hours. Just to meet ends meet!

    It’s ridiculous. But where we’re at. That’s LIFE!

    And, I’m going to work on balancing my life. Thanks Duncan.

  6. G’Day Duncan,

    From where I sit you and Calacanis are both right. We Yanks are completely lacking in balance much of the time – it is not our forte. Yet, we produce amazing results in terms of innovation and business value AND it often comes along with loads of work and a high price in terms of your family or personal life.

    I’m a Yank, but I grew up in Western Australia and I know first hand the virtues of long service leave and how Australians can relax in a way that most Americans only dream of. And there’s no doubt that the Valley is particularly bad – far worse in my experience than what many consider to be the biggest rat race in the world (New York City). I lived in the Bay Area and the Valley for 14 years and it was a common experience for me to meet New Yorkers like Calacanis that thought The Bay Area would be a laid back place but within months of moving theere they were yearning for their less stressful home. I also know that ordering a Bic Mac at McDonald’s in Perth sucks just as much now as it did in 1985 (moss has been known to form on your limbs while standing in line).

    I learned from my 10 years in Oz and repeated trips back and forth between Oz and the U.S. that both countries and cultures have tremendous strengths and weaknesses (as all countries and cultures do). As the web brings us closer together people everywhere are starting to realize that what passes for fact or social mores, are in fact a bunch of horseshit.

    There is a growing backlash in the States (and elsewhere) that is very connected with our lack of balance. I gave up a comfy 20 year corporate career and VP title 2 1/2 years ago to be a stay-at-home dad. But the problem hasn’t been solved – now my wife just does what I used to do as I try to get our own business going. I wonder every day if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It seems most people aren’t willing to give up the BMW just yet but those of us who are are growing in number.

    Some people may now say I’ve got my balance better but I’m also poor in dollar terms compared to my old life. I can’t claim success in either my current business (my company is doing OK but nothing to write home about) or home life and the Jason C’s of the world would argue that I’m never to going to make much of my business unless I work my ass off at it (and in so doing potentially throw my kids under the bus).

    I’m committed to figuring out how to be both a successful dad AND entrepreneur but the role models are few and far between. You can find lots of people that have been good at one thing or the other at a given time, but very few that are doing REALLY WELL at both at the same time.

    I’m from a family that four generations ago struck it rich in NYC in a typical rags to riches story that is closely associated with our American ethos and the ‘American Dream.’ While my great great Grandfather O.J. Gude did make millions at the turn of the century, he also made the typical mistake of raising his kids with all the privileges that he didn’t have. What he got was a big litter of kids that he didn’t pass along his work ethic too. They all became drunks, and to be blunt, never amounted to much either as parents/husbands/wives or business men and women, though it is obvious from family lore that all were very intelligent and gifted in various ways. Perhaps they were tortured by a lack of balance that they never overcame.

    I keep my great great Grandfather in mind now. I will not accept losing myself or my family for money, but I know that I still need to show my four kids that being a hard worker and being willing to go your own way have great rewards and are just as important as time spent at the park or at a dinner table. They’re both important and I don’t think you can unlink them.

    I’ll close with this tweet from my wife Shannon that she just posted. “packed morning already – day of back to back meetings and then I leave for the 9 days of business travel – trying not to brood about that”. At least I can say I’m going with her for the first few days while Grandma hangs with the kids. Thank god for Grandmas. 🙂

    Julian aka Jinfinite8 in Twitterland

  7. Hey Duncan…it’s very easy to say balance (I think). The Valley is a world I know little about but I think it’s safe to say that regardless of location, many feel the harder they work the better the quality of time spent will be.

    Giving consideration to the handful of us who go on to be really successful with the vast majority caught in a never-ending struggle, balance is something most only dream about.