While You Are Young

I’ve left the performance game to the young, the optimistic, and the hopeful.  As you boldly charge off into the acronym-littered future, I trust you will have as much fun solving problems, righting wrongs, and saving your company’s bacon as I did.Bob Wescott in his first machine room with the Xerox Sigma 6 computer

Here I am screwing around on the night shift in 1978. The machine I’m leaning on is my beloved Xerox Sigma 6… a million dollar, 1-MIP, 128k magnetic core memory beast. If I could go back in time and give this idiot some advice (other than well timed stock tips) this is what I’d tell him.

Have some cash in the bank. When opportunity comes knocking, sometimes it requires you to take some risk. I was lucky and foolish at the right times, but I had several pals that chickened-out because they had no cushion to fall back on. A buddy of mine avoided the financial risk of taking a job at a little start-up called Google. He would have been in the first 50 employees. Ouch. So I know that there are many shiny things to spend money on, but if you want to go on a few adventures, you’ve got to have 6 months of cash in the bank.

Take the extra day to see the city. If you travel a lot for work, once in a while take an extra day (yes, on your own nickel) to see the place you are visiting. I’ve flown over a million air miles. I’ve been everywhere and seen nothing. I know most major airports well, but I rarely stayed the extra day to explore on my own. It is the greatest regret of my career.

Once in a while, work a 40 hour week. It’s easy to work a lot of hours when you are young and just getting started in a career. What I’ve noticed over the years is that work expands to fill the time allotted to it. If you are regularly working 60 or 80 hours a week every once in a while take a “work-cation” and limit yourself to just 40 hours. When you have less time to work, you tend to focus and work in a more efficient way. This helps you when you go back to longer hours and the extra free time during that week can help you remember the sweetness of life.

2 thoughts on “While You Are Young

  1. Sound advice. As someone who is also 25+ years into a high tech career, I agree with your advice. I do have one question: “writing wrongs”? (second sentence) – is that a pun intended as a commentary on 21st century literacy?

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