John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Work Smarter, Not Harder

Posted on July 10, 2015
Governor of Florida Jeb Bush at VFW in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8th, 2015 by Michael Vadon a 16.jpg

"Governor of Florida Jeb Bush at VFW in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8th, 2015 by Michael Vadon a 16" by Michael Vadon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I assume Jeb Bush misspoke when he talked about Americans having to work harder to get to a 4% growth rate.

Most Americans work pretty hard.

Those at the bottom end of the income bracket often have to work the hardest, simply to make ends meet.

Some of them work two or three jobs.   And because many of them aren’t full time employees, they have to somehow figure out how to pay for health care insurance (which is getting more expensive), rent (which is getting higher), food (some of which is getting more expensive) and clothes (which thanks to free-trade policies and Walmart, has largely stayed flat).

At the other end of the income scale, executives also work very hard. If you are in a law firm, you routinely work 60 to 70 hours a week. CEO’s work all the time. Members of Congress work their butts off.

There aren’t that many jobs that are so stable that you can cruise.

Insurance salesmen have a nice life. They play some golf and take their clients out on occasion. But to make more money, they have to work hard too.

Americans work harder than Europeans.

We don’t drink at lunch like we used to.

Women work harder than men. That’s in my humble opinion.   Women also work harder at home than men do.

Work is a bit over-rated.

To be honest with you, I would rather watch my son play baseball or soccer than sit on a conference call or hang-out at a fundraising dinner.

The interesting thing about work is that computerization and mechanization has made America more productive, not necessarily people working more hours.

Unless, of course, you write code for a living. Those code-writers work their butts off.

It’s not necessarily clear that everybody has to work harder for the economy to grow more.

In fact, it might be the case that productivity and employment are not necessarily connected.

Productivity has all been about producing more product with fewer workers at a faster rate.

We used to have people whose jobs were to connect people on the telephone. We don’t need those people anymore.

We used to have secretaries take dictation.

It used to take hundreds of people to unload big tankers full of goods at Ports of Call on the East and West Coasts. It now takes two and some big cranes.

Productivity often means making people work less and machines work more.

San Francisco (the original sanctuary city) raised its minimum wage, as did Los Angeles and Chicago and a bunch of other cities, and guess what happened?

Food prices went up and the number of jobs went down.

You can probably do away with just about all employees at a McDonald’s.   In fact, they threatened to go full mechanized when the Democrats threatened to raise the minimum wage even further.

Big businesses can handle a minimum wage increase. Small businesses really can’t.

The problem with franchises, like McDonald’s, is that they are both big corporations and small businesses.

So, a minimum wage increase doesn’t necessarily hurt the corporate big shots, but it does hurt the franchise owners.

I used to work at the Chicago Board of Trade. You know, those guys who are in the pits asking for the order.

Well, at least there used to be guys in the pits asking for the orders.

Those jobs are long gone, thanks to the computer. Now, people sit at home and use E-Trade. They don’t need the brokers.

It was interesting what happened when the New York Stock Exchange got unplugged the other day.   Actually, not much happened. Traders largely continued to trade.

I hope those brokers don’t get too comfortable.

The nature of work is rapidly changing.

Working smart is much more important than working hard.

Tim Ferriss wrote a best-seller called “The Four Hour Work Week”.

His main point is that if you work smart, you don’t have to work 80 hours a week.

Four is all it takes.

At least, that’s what I think he said. I didn’t read his book. I have too much work to do.