RICHARD RUSSELL: Let Me Tell You About The Greatest Career Mistake My Father Ever Made

Quit rate
Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by employees. Quits are procyclical, rising with an improving economy and falling with a faltering economy. BLS

One of the surest signs of an improving economy and improving labour market is a rising quit rate.

In theory, if times are tough, you’re likely to hang on to the job you have. But when times are good, you’re more likely to take a risk and quit your job in exchange for the possibility of greener pastures.

Perhaps you think you’ll be able to make more money.

For whatever reason, the quit rate in the U.S. labour market has been on the rise, which brings us to some timely career wisdom from an investing greybeard.

In his latest newsletter, veteran stock market analyst Richard Russell shares the story of a time when his father left a good job for more money.

It later turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life.

Here’s Russell via King World News:

During the Great Depression, my father had a top job in a large and very high class real estate management company known as Bing & Bing, that built and managed many luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan. At one point the “Dishman Company” (name has been changed) offered my father a lot more money. My father took the job with Dishman, which he said was the biggest mistake of his life.

He said that the Dishmans lied to him, and he was miserable there. Meanwhile, when the president of Bing & Bing returned from a trip, he asked my father why he had left. My father told him about the money, and the president of Bing & Bing said, “I would have met that raise and more. Why didn’t you talk to me before you quit?” My father realised the great mistake he had made, and he cursed the day that he had ever left Bing & Bing to go to the Dishman Company.

He spent a few years at Dishman during the Depression, and he later had a nervous breakdown, brought on by his frustration at the Dishman Company. My father later told me, “If you’ve got a good job and you like it, never go someplace else for the money. Furthermore, always talk to your boss before you leave.” I never forgot my father’s wise words. No amount of money is worth a loss of peace of mind. Peace of mind is priceless, and no amount of material things can replace it.

The job market isn’t too unlike the stock market. Opportunities for more returns typically come with much more risk to the downside.

This is not to say we shouldn’t take risks. Rather, the lesson is that we should understand and appreciate the potential downside.