What Do You Do All Day?
Today's Wall Street Journal had a good article on explaining to our kids what we do all day (subscription required). The main point of the article is that many of us spend all day talking on the phone, staring at a screen, and maybe in meetings. What the heck do we really do?
I remember trying to explain what a VC does to my kids. When they were very young, I told them that "I work with different companies to help them grow". As they got older, I introduced the shareholder dynamic, explaining that I "invested money (mostly not mine) into a company and worked with the company to help them build their business so that my investment would be worth more". What my kids saw was playing with my computer, talking on the phone, and lots of meetings.
I guess this reinforces that our daily tasks are sometimes pretty far from the big outputs of our job. I am sure we all could cut some of this out so that we spend more time on what really matters most.
I like some of these quotes from the WSJ article:
The way Ms. Kelly's 6-year-old daughter sees it, her mother travels to a big building, sits in her office and fools around at a computer.
Because kids' impressions aren't wrong, technically, it can cause a little introspection. George Reinhart is the director of associate service for New England at the Conference Board, a business-research and peer-networking organization. That means he sells information and, like any salesman, makes lots of phone calls, not all of which go as planned.
It also means, as his 14-year-old told him so succinctly two years ago, "You're always rejected and you always have to apologize," he recalls. "You could take away from that, God, what a loser you are. But I don't think she meant it that way -- at least I hope she didn't mean it that way."
Mr. Keith explained to his boys that his job is to "make money" for food and shelter. So, when they drove four hours last year to visit Washington's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, his son noted, "That's why you're so grumpy -- because you have to drive all this way to work."
Chelsea Clinton reportedly used to describe her father, the former Commander in Chief this way: "He gives speeches, drinks coffee, and talks on the telephone." Yo-Yo Ma's son thought his father worked at the airport because the world-renowned cellist was always rushing to one.
Gary Grote's six-year-old daughter has figured out the skills required for a bank vice president of corporate lending: typing, talking and going to lunch a lot.
Mr. Grote can't argue with that. "When you boil it down, that's pretty much the deal," he says. He, too, could understand his father's job, grain-elevator owner, easier than his kids can understand his. "You could see and touch the grain moving through the elevator," he says. "I've worked at the bank for 15 years. It's been 14 years since I touched a bit of currency other than getting it out of my own account."