Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do

Author: Studs Terkel
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by NaOH   2017-08-19
I was a good handful of years past 35 when I launched my own business (in a non-tech industry). Certainly, working every day is less burdensome for me than for others who may have significant commitments, like a spouse or children. In my four years, during which I’ve had about 30 days off from going to work, I haven’t for a moment regretted my decision. And I should add that I don’t know if pre-35 I had enough experience to be as successful as I’ve been.

But I don’t believe my experience as described here necessarily says much for anyone else. The viability of a business is often easy to determine. I think the important considerations depend on the person making the choice. In simple terms, the key questions are about what someone values and what someone is willing to give up.

I enjoy working on my feet, making things with my hands, having relationships with my customers and coming through for them reliably and in ways they don’t expect. I take pleasure in the challenges that confront me (and the ensuing education from those challenges), I appreciate trying to teach and get more out of the (as of yet) one employee I have.

For all those positives and others, I’m comfortable going to work every day, I’m not bothered by the physical toll, and I am decent at brushing off the customer behaviors which can be infuriating. No, I can’t have the same social schedule as all of my friends, but I do see my local friends regularly and remain in good contact with those who aren’t nearby. My work definitely makes intimate relationships more difficult, but the ones I’ve had during this business didn’t fail because of my schedule but for other reasons.

At least in US culture, I think our careers are typically a form of self-discovery.* That’s not to suggest anything negative about anyone who doesn’t launch a business. But our work gives us good feedback on ourselves and our place in our world. In that framework, some of us are comfortable starting a business and some of us are not.

*I would have said any of the above a while back, but I also recently started reading the Studs Terkel book Working. It’s a collection of interviews with people about their jobs and how they feel about their jobs. From people in well-respected positions to those in positions often looked down upon, the themes shared about the value people derive from their work are illuminating and inspiring.


Some Audio Interviews: