10 career quotes, my take, and TGIF

In honor of everyone getting ready for Miller Time on Friday afternoon after a hard week punching out widgets for The Man, I collected a few career quotes and made a few comments. Working at home is no picnic. I’m woozy staying up until 10:30 thanks to a particularly demanding boss (Little Buddy) and my computer time is being heavily interrupted by Star Wars figure playtime (“Hi, Han, my name is Boba Fett. Hi, Boba Fett, my name is Han. Are we friends?”) But hey, it’s all part of the journey, so it’s all good. That’s my hippie-ism for the week. TGIF in spirit if not, in my case, in actuality.

The quotes (10, plus a bonus):

“Each of the professions means a prejudice. The necessity for a career forces every one to take sides. We live in the age of the overworked, and the under-educated; the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid.” -Oscar Wilde

I’ve found this to be quite true; people are so overworked that they make stupid decisions about their careers. It’s not that people are stupid, but the pressure and the stress make them ACT stupid. Big difference, same result.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” -Marilyn Monroe

Amen, Marilyn. I spent a lot of years working like a maniac at my career and amazingly, those TPS reports don’t curl up with me on a cold night. On the other hand, they don’t steal my covers.

“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life” -Hillary Clinton

Yes, that Hillary Clinton. I’m sure she enjoys a lot of free time outside of her political career (there is no sarcastic font), but hey, politicians are free to dispense all sorts of advice that they themselves don’t take. She makes a great point, though. Don’t assume that being the hotshot assistant manager for the Northeast III region is “a life.” It’s a great accomplishment… but it’s not “a life” if it doesn’t fulfill your goals.

“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.” -Bobby Unser, 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner

Wish I had thought about this a little before completing 7 years of school for two degrees. Eh, actually I’m happy with my education but Bubelah and I have this conversation all the time, with the same result (I will be annoying and put it in all caps for emphasis’ sake): AMERICANS CONFUSE EDUCATION WITH ACHIEVEMENT. Just because you have degrees out the wazoo doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. My suspicion is that successful people would be successful regardless of where they went to school or whether they went at all. Some of the least successful people I know are very educated.

“No man can succeed in a line of endeavor which he does not like.” -Napoleon Hill

If you read brip blap, you know I really (really, really) admire Napoleon Hill and his work. This is a straightforward statement that sums it up. I have never been successful in my line of work – accounting and finance – to the level I could’ve been because, quite frankly, I am bored by it. I don’t hate it. I’m actually pretty good at what I do, and I can hammer away at exceptionally complex accounting and finance problems with the best of them. But I get very, very bored with it very quickly. Because of that I’ve been moderately successful instead of extremely successful.

“I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it. ” – Lou Holtz

I remember when I experienced defeat. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t in my career, but when I was attending mathematics PhD school I woke up one morning and said “this is NOT for me.” I had never seriously considered a career path other than “college professor in some type of math/computer science/linguistics/other technical type of study.” I sat down with a piece of paper and started writing down what I wanted, how I could do it, and how quickly I could do it. I came up with going back to school, getting a BA in accounting and an MBA in accounting… in two years. Doing that, though, achieved one of my dearest dreams: years of traveling the world at somebody else’s expense. My “defeat” in not completing PhD school led to some great things in my life.  So Lou, the absolutely awful analyst and overrated coach, got this one right.

” I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career. I just feel that I don’t have anything else to prove.” – Michael Jordan

I have little to say to this except this: can you even begin to imagine what it feels like to say that? I can’t.

“Everything I have, my career, my success, my family, I owe to America.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

I’m not exactly an America-firster; I have some big problems with what my country has demonstrated about itself by making some poor electoral choices in 2000 and 2004.   At the same time, I’ve traveled around the world enough to know that it’s a humbling thing to realize that people all over the world dream of achieving something that we got through the dumb accident of birth: being an American (and this applies to Canada, too). I also doubly appreciate the privilege considering my wife and her family, who lost everything in the collapse of the Soviet Union but have rebuilt a middle class lifestyle in a little more than a decade despite coming to this country with nothing more – literally – than the clothes on their backs. America still has a lot going for it.

“My whole career can be summed up with ‘Ignorance is bliss.’ When you do not know better, you do not really worry about failing.” – Jeff Foxworthy

I don’t remember all of it, but I read an interesting interview with Foxworthy a while back. He was some cubicle dweller for IBM, I think, and was prodded by friends to give comedy a shot. A few redneck jokes later and he’s done alright. He said he had no idea of the odds against succeeding in comedy, and if he had he would have clung to his crap job for dear life.

“I don’t want to get into the habit of thinking about my career because when it comes down to it, it’s not that important. I could die tomorrow and the world would go on. I don’t want to separate myself from the rest of the world. If the world is not going too good, I’m part of that. I’ll be happy to take the blame. I’m along for the ride.” -River Phoenix

Er, I’m including this in the “how’s that working out for you” category. Don’t be along for the ride – the river can get bumpy and there are a few hard turns there. You need to keep a hand on the rudder (or whatever the boat-thingy that steers is called).

“I often thought that if there had been a good rap group around in those days, I might have chosen a career in music instead of politics.” -Richard M. Nixon

I am including this quote because, well, read it! Really? What I would give to see Tricky Dick representin’! Gas face! “I am not a criminal – I am the O.G.!” His new moniker? Janky Forty Sippa. Please visit this site to put a smile on your face on the way out of the workplace!

According to that site, brip blap should be redubbed “Rotten Tree Hugga.” Good idea?

7 comments

  • From one of the more highly educated people you are likely to encounter, let me relay something that happened to me yesterday. I was on a plane, returning from a conference (and upgraded to first class), when someone sat down beside me. I can only describe this person as a loud redneck, because that’s exactly what he looked and sounded like. But let me abbreviate what he said to me in conversation:

    “I never went to college, but thirteen years ago I looked at Europe and saw where gas prices were going to go for us. I was trained as an engine mechanic in the Marines, and I worked on the NASCAR circuit for a while. I had two auto body shops, and I sold them and invested every penny into an idea I had for making a sugar-based ethanol fuel from beets and sorghum. I worked for thirteen years on my own property, hundreds of thousands in debt, and a week away from bankruptcy, when it turned around. Today I can make a higher proof ethanol for much less than the corn-based producers, and I’m worth $81 million.”

    The story was longer and much better than that, but this is the gist. It was the best thing I had heard in a long time.

  • BB,

    Once again, a great piece. I enjoy reading your posts and then opening the links in your post for later reading. 2 hours later, I have 10 windows open and I am only halfway through.. I especially enjoy your career articles. Keep on posting!

  • @Curmudgeon: Whoa. That’s a great anecdote – thanks for sharing it. Amazing. I have often worried that being “overeducated” – and I am probably overeducated by any reasonable measure of education – makes people tentative and overly analytical and therefore less prone to take risks. One story, of course, doesn’t prove that out, but it does tell me that the life story of that guy could never have been my story – my analytical educated brain would’ve come up with a million reasons “not to do it.”

    @DGI: Thanks! Glad you enjoy the links – particularly since a bunch more are coming tomorrow!

  • HOW DO YOU DO.. A CAREER
    A career is not like a ladder, it’s like a really arduous battle of will and self-belief and having that ability to suppress those for many years until you realise you’ve wasted many years befriending coked-up power enthused, twats.

    But in the end, after all that work, the sex you missed, the bum sweat sex you wished you missed, the all nighters, the smiles and suppression. To come out with the bequeathed title of
    Ms Fanny Stainbridge U.K. manager of Tampax, must be so very worth it.

    …more at lifestyleguides.blogspot.com

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  • I pretty much agree with everything, apart from the America thing of course 😉 .

    I’m so glad that the geometry of groups defeated me before I started on my plan to do a PhD at Northwestern. It would have been that much harder to admit that a research/college career wasn’t for me when I was several thousands of miles from home, and without marmite.

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