Preface: I wrote this letter to Chris Rehkamp, of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship on a day I felt I had to voice my thoughts to him.
I was just thinking of you and dingman center today on my way home. Dingman has been influential along with some programs at umd to help think to the future and question conventional wisdom.
I think it's ridiculous that I made the mistake again by going to a large company but after all of it I think the world and everything is absurdly funny. I’m writing in Hemingway style to you to let my thoughts flow freely, so apologies for typos.
At breakfast the other week, Zeki said I am kind of like his brother in that I have to make the mistake and fully feel it to realize the mistake and never make it again... except in a sense I had done it twice - once in a financial/accounting company and the second time in a technology company.
It seems to be a trend in most large companies irrespective of industry: I have a friend working at Microsoft who wants to quit because she's paid very well but doesn’t do anything meaningful. And she’s a technical account manager. (Her job is to help companies use up their "support hours" and offer them other services to purchase)
How these jobs where high compensation and little work/meaningful work exist really baffles me. Tomorrow I am getting coffee with Alex Triantis and hope to get his thoughts. Perhaps I was too optimistic that my time at pwc was just a one off bad situation of crossing off numbers on pieces of paper — these seemingly “bullshit jobs” exist all too often. Jobs that have little meaning or purpose but are created because of managerial feudalism, the idea that once you’re a “manager” you must hire people to push paper around and do menial work.
We’ve even got 2 college graduates who just joined the security team. They are paid $80k+ a year to print ID’s, walk around the office, and are called “security engineers”. In a sense, I feel this is borderline criminal where smart, talented people and their skills are wasted by a corporation that simply wants to make money. The problem may be that the corporation simply has too much money or power to make money. The hunger for a startup to succeed is quite real in the eyes of the founders — it’s not purely about making money like many think it is. In fact, I believe it’s about reducing the amount of bullshit in the world and saving souls mentally and creating additional freedoms not previously existent.
My automation project here seems to have come to a halt here because it means less billable hours to the client. Ridiculous eh? Let’s say you’ve got 5 janitors with buckets and mops or a cleaning machine that can be operated autonomously and in less time with less effort and human input. Wouldn’t it be logical to use the machine? Here, it seems like they’d choose the former because it makes more money as it takes more time. Time based billing should go away— I still enter my timesheet each day and that’s such nonsense. My friends at Facebook and tech companies over there don’t enter time at all. If Silicon Valley is indeed ahead, it’s clear that they realized it made no sense and studies demonstrate productivity at 8 hours is no different than a 4-5 hour workday.
Whatever happened to building a real, meaningful product to deliver to the world making the quality of life of humans better? My thoughts from time to time may appear Kafka-esque, but the absurdity of things in my life certainly mirror the theme found in his book, The Metamorphosis.