90,000 hours…. that you will not get back

The average person spends 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. That’s 5,400,000 minutes. 324,000,000 seconds. Work plays a large role in our lives. It is not only a source of income, but something we take part in and work towards a goal. That goal can either be internal meaning getting a promotion or raise, or external meaning providing for your family or working towards the day you can retire. In my opinion these goals have a lot to do with how happy you are at your job. After reading through the top employer companies I chose “The Boston Consulting Group”. The company deals with a lot of global relations, which I find very intriguing and interesting because it can create the opportunity to travel. There were many other perks such as fully paid sabbatical, completely paid health care, and the amount of hours of training. The training credential was a very important one to me. I know when I start a job I do not want to just be thrown into it and be overwhelmed. I found a video that had input from several different employees of BCG and the energy and positive attitude that they had about working for them was inspirational. One employee says, “Once you have the tool set the sky is the limit.” This quote automatically made me believe that they ethics and goals of BCG are genuine and they really have the best interest in mind for their employees and clients. By providing thorough training for their employees and giving them this tool set they are allowing them to strive in their careers and create a positive work attitude.

Working for BCG

At the conclusion of this video I felt that all the employees were thrilled to be apart of the BCG maybe even lucky, but there are always two sides to a story. As I researched the company some more, I came across an interesting article from April 2010. Keith Yost I was shocked when I found an article that a BCG employee had written about their complete dissatisfaction of working for them. Everything that the video had touched upon had been completely contradicted in the article. A big theme in the video was that they do not recycle framework and they work for conclusions that no one has done before, but the employee speaks about how they stole information from competitors and force fit analysis for a conclusion. After reading all the positive characteristics of this company and watching the video “working a BCG: a life changing experience” I felt that it would be impossible to find any negative feedback about the company. I am still shocked that they offered him $16,000 just to keep his mouth shut about certain things that went on in the company. I would never want to go to work with the mindset that Keith had- of just sitting at a laptop cranking out slides that was “only accomplishing the transfer of wealth from my client to my company.” I want to be proud of the work I take part in and know that I have the right to speak up.

“Early on, before I began case work, one manager I befriended gave me some advice. To survive, he told me, I needed to remember The Ratio. 50 percent of the job is nodding your head at whatever is being said. 20 percent is honest work and intelligent thinking. The remaining 30 percent is having the courage to speak up, but the wisdom to shut up when you are saying something that your manager does not want to hear.”

Keith Yost

“The Tech” Staff Columnist

 This article was eye opening and allowed me to try to put myself in the author’s shoes. He rationalized his thought process by not wanting to make a decision that his hypothetical children would be ashamed of. This is an example of a situation that many people are put in at their places of work and the decisions that they are faced with- when they have to choose between money and their moral ethics. Its scary how one source can make a company appear so flawless when in reality their employees are extremely dissatisfied and ashamed of what they work toward everyday. Be proud of what you do during your 90,000 hours. Let me leave you with this question- will you have the courage to speak up during that 30% of the time?

Disturbing facts about work 


5 thoughts on “90,000 hours…. that you will not get back”

  1. Morgan points out a superb idea that one must do work that they will be proud of at the end of the day. This is adds to intrinsic motivation and is what pushes employees to work harder. But I wonder how easy it is to change your values for the company or to rationalize questionable decisions when money is on the line. Do people simply adjust to having to “bend” their morals for their jobs?


  2. Kate, you bring up a great point that the article touched on briefly. The author speaks about how he was faced with a decision at one point to continue what he was doing or give up his paycheck and become unemployed. I find it very disturbing that people are faced with the decision of choosing to be unhappy in order to receive a paycheck or having to be unemployed. Although that sounds dramatic and isn’t always the case many times it is. Its almost as if when you become employed that company owns a part of you and that part can very well be your morals and ethics, resulting in decision making that you normally would not support. “Bending” of morals can have a long term affect on you and especially your happiness.


  3. Nice post! The ratio concept is really interesting. Do you think this ratio changes as we advance to different positions in our company? I do agree with you that there is no point doing work that you do not like simply for a paycheck. At the end of the day, do we look back and say we made a lot of money, or do we look back and say that we made a difference?


  4. After watching the video on BCG, I was struck by the amount of emphasis they put on the diverse backgrounds of their employees. They stress this because they use their employees diverse backgrounds in order to approach and solve complex problems with different perspectives. It seems as though this diversity of employee backgrounds is something that is emphasized more so in the consulting field where the problems they face are complex and require a sort of “out of the box” approach. Yet, can you apply such diversity of thought to other industries rather than just consulting? Or could even a more technical job, such as engineering, benefit from such diversity of thought?


  5. Joe, you bring up a very good point. As a MIDE major I always support some “out of the box” thinking. I believe through unique approaches to situations there is more opportunity for solutions that may result in successful outcomes. Sometimes applying the same solution to a recurring problem is not the most beneficial approach for a company or employee.By exploring a diversity of thought a company may be able to expand their views on issues and be more aware of flaws that are going on internally. For example in the article by Keith Yost I think that it was crucial that he had an open mind about his job because he was able to recognize that he did not want to support what BCG stood for. I think with more technical jobs it gets tricky to think too diversely because of all the science that is involved, but I think that thinking diversely about what is going on internally where you work is always important. By being aware and open to what you are doing and what your company represents you will be able to identify moral and ethical flaws more easily.


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