Work ethic is industry agnostic
This is an excellent Founder Stories video of Chris Dixon interviewing Mike Bloomberg. I’m a big fan of Bloomberg-the-product, and hearing him talk about how getting fired from Salomon led him to take the plunge and start a company is pretty inspiring.
He makes two points in this video that I thought were pretty timely in light of the recent kerfuffle surrounding Michael Arrington’s ‘No Crying in Startups' article.
Get to work first, and be the last to leave.
Besides paying dividends in the way Mayor Bloomberg describes in the video, it’s also a good barometer of how invested you are in your current career. Whether you’re an entrepreneur working on a startup or a junior trader building out a model after-hours, it requires motivation to put in that kind of time. Your motivation level is a pretty good indicator of how interested you are in what you’re doing. When I started at Jane Street (as a clerk), I wanted a non-strenuous job so I could focus on grad school applications. Within a month, I was working 12-hour days, reading statistics textbooks at night, and volunteering to work on holidays (foreign markets were open, see). I loved it. When I lost that excitement and just wanted to leave at 5pm, I knew it was time to do something else.
Your payoff should be in satisfaction.
Bloomberg mentions this in reference to taking a public sector job, but it’s a good mantra for most fields. Satisfaction can be measured in may ways, financial or otherwise. If you simply want to have enough money to pay the bills while having lots of free time to spend with family, take a job that allows you to do that. Working on a startup is time-consuming, stressful, and difficult. So is being a teacher. Not everyone is suited to every career. If you’re pursuing a payoff rather than a passion, you’ll spend a lot of time feeling that the stress isn’t worth it.