Finding a balance is important.

Most of my friends and family will laugh when they realize what this article is about. For the past three years, for better or worse, I have lived my job. It was a requirement to get the job done, and my personality has to get the job done. In the past three years, I have accomplished more in my career than I have in the previous 9 combined. Giving you a little history; in 2008 I was the 13th employee at a financial startup. I was really excited about it because I have loved the idea of building my own business and here was a way for me to do it my own way while still getting some solid funding. I can have that grass roots experience while not having to eat as much Ramen. I signed on and hit the ground running. My job quickly expanded beyond the scope originally set with my title and salary but I didn’t care. I was building something that mattered and our work was an actual positive impact on the financial world. We were our own, entrepreneurial version of Occupy Wall St. We felt like pirates, or more accurately, we felt like Apple in the late 70s and early 80s.We were the upstart  battling the Xerox and IBMs of the financial world. The hours were the same as well, we joked that an 8 hour day was a half day, vacation was just working at a nicer place than the office or home. I would put in at least an extra 4 hours at the office every weekend if not working remotely from home. My company has become a lifestyle.

 

I am closing my planned travel window for the year at the end of this week and reflecting on this past year, I have been doing approximately 65% travel. In that time, I have flown more than 50k miles with United alone. I have reached Diamond status with Hilton and Gold with Starwood. The work result of that is doing 5 transitions on site, 2 remotely (Transitions are the process of moving a team’s book of business {money} from a competing wirehouse, think UBS, to our company), I have built out 10 new offices. Transitions are best described as controlled chaos over a weekend, 10-12 hours a day. A financial advisor decides to join our firm and when they do it is a race of phone calls and contacts that are equivalent to the first 15 minutes of Jerry McGuire… but last an entire weekend. Office builds are similar to that but it is a bit more drawn out over a few weeks. Not many people can say they have done something like that without a huge team supporting them. On top of that I still support the day to day technology operations of the company and make two visits a year to each location. I think it is safe to say I am very proud of the work I have accomplished. I know that it isn’t perfect and I will continue to improve on what I have implemented but given the timeline and the amount of work. I don’t know many who could have done it better.

While I am proud of the work I have done and that does satisfy my ego, I am lonely as hell. The irony doesn’t escape me when I get a call from my lovely roommate asking how to show a DVD on the TV while some friends are over and I am in NYC. Sure I get to travel to fun places, stay at nice hotels, eat fine dinners see some neat sites, it is tough though having anamazing steak and not sharing it with someone you really care about. A work wife helps, but not as much as a girlfriend or real wife would. I miss out on so much with my friends, potential girlfriends and family. What kills me worse is that I feel alienated and removed when I am home for a while. It goes into a deep spiral that is kind of depressing, I fall off the radar when I am gone for so long. There are some upsides to this; while I am alienated from my friends, family and potential loved ones at home, I do get to meet and connect with friends all over the place. Which is good. I also am saving up points like crazy, but without someone to share those points, what is the point? Ahh sweet SWEET irony.

Providing for people can come in many forms and too often we get wrapped up in the material provisions. Nice car, good clothing and a bitchin home, are usually the focus when we assess our value to ourselves and others. I would like to think that there are people who actually miss me when I am on the road. There are some who would rather my time and presence instead of a gift given to them from afar or a distant phone call finally remembered to be placed. Having a good work ethic is very important, the challenge that a good husband will have is to know when the work ethic should override the family ethic (or vice versa). It is easier for me as I don’t have a family yet to really choose between. I am though, paying a bit of a price for it as I lose opportunities to start a family with the right woman. Everyone tells me I should see “up in the air” I wonder why. Sure there is a small part of me that thinks I will find myself a cast member to Pan Am on my flight from SFO to ORD, but even if I can charm a date out of Margot Robbie, my second one will be put on hold till I get back from PBI. This might have been deeper than what people expect from the man who pushes to wear suits. If that is all I am to some readers, I have made a mistake in advertising. That said, I also am entertained by the idea that I am finishing this on my 44th hour awake working…

 

Top Photo by Interrobang Photography. The guy is talented enough to make me look good… imagine what he can do for you.

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About the Author: Tom is a director of IT for a financial start-up. He spends his days designing infrastructure and supporting high net worth advisers and their clients. Traveling much for work affords him a great perspective on life and what is important. The high travel has ensured that he goes on a lot of first and second dates.

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  1. Laurie says:

    I will take credit in that I took that glorious photo  🙂   And yes, Tom.  We do miss you when you are not at m(any) of our friend gatherings throughout the year 🙁

  2. SC says:

    I know how to work the TV now! But of course, I’d rather you did it for me. 🙂