The New York Times’s Matt Richtel likens blogging to a white-collar sweat shop business in which workers are forced to slave 24/7 until they drop. In support of this, Matt cites the deaths of Russell Shaw and Marc Orchant and Om Malik’s heart attack.
No denying this is a tough business. But so are a lot of businesses. We suspect if the New York Times broadened its view to “start-ups” or other intensely competitive, high-pressure white-collar work environments like finance, law, or consulting, it would find a similar stress rate. (And not to play down what happened to Russell, Marc, and Om, but is it at least possible that “blogging” wasn’t the problem?).
As a lot of big companies have discovered in recent years, one of the challenges of competing with start-ups is that the successful ones are often obsessively competitive–working insane hours , forgoing work/life balance, and/or doing whatever else it takes to give themselves the best chance of survival in the tenuous early years. Unlike the big companies, the start-ups’ very existence is on the line, and this tends to act as a powerful motivator (as does inspiration, excitement, exploration, making a difference, etc.)
Start-ups, Wall Street, etc., aren’t for everyone, and they certainly aren’t worth dying for. But unlike actual sweat shops, start-ups often give employees the chance to build something from nothing, change the world, and, occasionally, if all goes well, hit a nice compensation home run.
And, like it or not, when you compare the handful of successful start-ups versus the vast majority that fail, you’ll often find that the successful ones work as if there were no tomorrow.
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