t’s my very first year in marketing as a product manager of Unilver’s ice-cream brand in Belgium. By this time my boss, the marketing manager, is ‘out of commission’ due to a very difficult pregnancy. One Tuesday morning the marketing director calls me to his office telling me he needs a complete presentation, from strategy to tactical ideas, for the rebranding of a bunch of products. An idea he had mentioned for the first time just recently.
At that time, I already have the feeling I’m working very hard. With only about 6 months of experience the entire responsibility and workload of our department rests on my shoulders. And as the saying goes ‘the show must go on’. Young and naive me reacts towards this request for a presentations by saying “but I don’t have the time for this right now“.
This is the conversation conversation that followed between the marketing director (DAB – his initials) and myself (MW), as I remember it.
DAB: How many hours are there between now and Friday 2 PM?
MW: About 76 hours.
DAB: How many hours of sleep do you need per night?
MW: 7 or 8.
DAB: And how many hours do you need for grooming, 3 meals per day and traveling back and forth from home to work?
MW: Approximately 4 hours per day.
DAB: So we’ve established that over the coming 3 days you’ll need about 35 hours for yourself. That leaves us with 41 available hours. How many hours per day are you here at the office?
MW: Usually I arrive at 8 AM and leave at 6 PM or 7 PM, depending on my workload.
DAB: Let’s say you’re here 11 hours per day. That’s 33 hours for the coming 3 days, right?
DAB: That still leaves you with 8 hours in order to work on this presentation and I cannot imagine you’ll need more than 4 to 6 hours for it. Are we OK now?
MW: Yes, sir.
End of story: of course the presentation was ready on time by Friday 2 PM. No sweat 🙂 And it was a success when we presented it to the board of directors the following Monday morning (the rule of the company was that anything to be discussed at board level on Monday had to be submitted to all members of the board on Friday early afternoon at the latest).
Is this story still relevant today?
I’m gonna quote Gary Vaynerchuk on this, as he says it well.
“How do you work 100% for clients and another 100% for your own brand? The answer is simple: you need to work harder. And faster. There’s really nothing else to it. I’m exhausted every day, but I’m making all sorts of things happen in my eighteen hours. Not only am I working eighteen hours, I’m working fast as hell in this eighteen hours. And, I’m prioritizing what’s important and what’s not. […] So that’s the answer. More hours. Faster. Better. Stronger.”
Some say that the work ethic of most millennials is very different to that of most baby boomers. I’ll let you judge that for yourself.
Looking up information on this online this is what I find:
Baby Boomers work ethic
Workaholic-60 hr work weeks
Work long hours to establish selfworth
and identity and fulfillment
Work ethic = worth ethic
Baby Boomers View on Time at Work
Invented 50 hr work week
Visibility is the key
Millennials work ethic
Millennials View on Time at Work
Effective workers but gone @5PM on dot.
View work as a “gig” or something that fills
the time between weekends.