Sunday, March 05, 2006

Live to Work or Work to Live

Rich Karlgaard is the Publisher of Forbes magazine. He wrote a book entitled Life 2.0 – How People Across America Are Transforming Their Lives by Finding the Where of Their Happiness. I’ve only read excerpts from the book but it seems to capture the decision that an increasing number of people have made including me. That is, choosing where to live and then figuring out what profession best fits with your talents. As I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolutions for Googlers, I’ve been brutally reminded of the old adage “life is short”. Part of choosing to live a life without regret is going for it whether it comes to fulfilling a dream of living in the mountains or leaving the stability of a big corporate environment.

I met Lance Trebesch recently and I think we both realized we’re kindred spirits. One of my take-aways from our chat was we were in agreement that we Work to Live, not Live to Work. Don’t get me wrong, we’re both passionate about our work but it comes down to what defines you. Is it your family, your friendships, your recreational interests or what you do at work? For me, I’d like to think it’s a combination of those things rather than what I have observed with many – i.e., work defines their identity. I’ve met many people over the last few years who made a similar decision to me where they’ve chosen where they wanted to live first and then figured out how they’d make it work professionally. Most of us are working as much as we did when we lived in the Bay Area/Seattle/New York but we have 1-2 hours per day back in our lives that get spent with our families and recreation since we don’t have gnarly commutes.

Successful companies like RightNow Technologies have turned their location (Bozeman, MT) into a competitive advantage. I find it amusing how many of my tech industry colleagues will state in one breath how technology has collapsed distances yet in the next have skepticism about people such as myself who’ve chosen to work “remote” (whatever that means these days). People have implied or explicitly stated they can’t imagine how you could be serious about your career while working outside one of the traditional tech hubs. Are they luddites or just jealous J?

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