Suck It Up Already! Suffering Is A Rite Of Passage

Homeless Philippino boy studying under a McDonald's light
Homeless boy studying under a McDonald's light

One of the side effects of reading a personal finance site is that you might end up getting a lot of anxiety, or FOMO, as the younger generation likes to call it. You read how much some folks are saving, how much they are making, and how early they've retired and fear you're not doing enough!

It's kind of like the advice from the sunscreen song, “Don't read beauty magazines, they'll only make you feel ugly.

Well, I'd love for you to keep reading Financial Samurai, and I'd hate for you to feel bad for not doing enough with your finances. It's part of the reason why I've got a specific category on Motivation to help encourage people to keep going. Just spending time reading a personal finance site is more than 98.5% of the population out there!

I was going to write a more empathetic article about how I understand it's tough to get ahead. To not worry if you can't max out your 401k because you're unwilling to live more frugally. Or to just relax if you're unwilling to work more than 40 hours a week to supercharge your wealth because life is meant to be enjoyed. Working on side hustles is hard!

But after going through a first draft of this article, I've changed my mind. Because we live in a first world country, I don't understand why we complain so much.

Suffering Is A Rite Of Passage

The picture at the top of this post hits home for me because I could have easily been this nine year old Filipino boy named Daniel Cabrera. It takes discipline to sit under a street light at night to do your homework. I'd probably just want to play.

I was born in Manila, not to homeless parents, but to American foreign service officers who were housed in comfortable digs. Daniel's father died in prison and Daniel now lives with his mother and brother. If he is given the right opportunities, opportunities many of us take for granted, I'll happily bet that Daniel will make a damn good doctor or policeman one day.

Practically everybody I know worked a minimum wage job while growing up. So my experience working at McDonald's, moving furniture, or licking envelopes for eight hours a day isn't special. In fact, I question whether anybody can truly appreciate the value of hard work and money if they haven't gone through the pain of working a minimum wage service job.

The New York Times article highlighting how Amazon is a tough place to work reminded me of two things.

The first thing is that journalists have an agenda, so be careful when speaking to the media. You might think you're telling them about how you love fluffy Siberian cats. But when the article gets printed, it might be a completely different story about how you are a heartless bastard! Jodi and David's agenda was to portray Amazon as an evil empire by telling only the worst stories shared to them by the workforce. Surely, there are some happy people who love working at Amazon as well?

The second thing I was reminded of is that at any competitive organization, killing yourself at work is not unique.

Seriously, who hasn't cried at work? Who hasn't pulled an all-nighter? Who hasn't worked so many hours one week that their eyeballs felt like they'd fall out? Who hasn't faced a critical boss or a backstabbing colleague? Who hasn't gotten passed over for a raise or a promotion?

If seeing nearly everybody cry at work is one of the biggest atrocities at Amazon, no wonder Bo Olson, a 26 year old UC Boulder graduate, couldn't last more more than two years.

When Did We Get So Soft?

When I worked at Goldman Sachs in the Equities department, getting in by 5:30am and leaving after 7pm was the norm. Getting chewed out by my seniors was a rite of passage that happened every single day. It would have felt odd if I didn't get a daily reprimand because I didn't know shit and needed to learn.

Every junior employee knew how the game was played because this is what happens at every organization. If you choose to join a fraternity, sorority, military, dance troop, sports team, or company, you are also choosing to subject yourself to the customs of that organization. If you accept the job offer that pays you more than 95% of the world's population and teaches you skills to become a better person, there's nothing to complain about.

If you don't like the organization you've joined, QUIT. That's what I did when I took up an offer to join a competitor in San Francisco. There are no steel bars locking you in at night. I know because I've been there. To complain to your colleagues or rat out your company to the media is shameful. A day job is a walk in the park compared to entrepreneurship! The sooner every complaining person out there who's never had to manage anybody or never had to build a profitable business from the ground up knows this, the better.

Military Personnel and Athletes

The reason why many companies love hiring ex-military personnel and athletes is because they understand how to get through difficult situations. Everybody has the image of a drill Sergeant yelling in a private's face during basic training. Get through training, and you become a stronger person. Outside of work, the private and the Sergeant are just two respectful fellas who might grab a beer and talk story. One isn't better than the other.

Athletes develop the same desirable traits of teamwork, perseverance, and adaptation as military personnel develop. Competition is fierce at the top. The skills learned in competitive sports are completely relevant when you're working 80 hours a week to land that next deal. Playing through injuries is a rite of passage. Assisting a teammate in a score is all part of the process while humbly diffusing any credit.

With the latest movement liberating junior employees from formerly required working weekends, Wall Street is going soft in an attempt to retain talent against the lure of Silicon Valley. Don't these young people realize these lavish perks are simply designed to keep them happy while working long hours literally for peanuts? At least the banks now realize they shouldn't work their employees to death.

But I bet every single startup CEO who is working 100 hours a week wishes all his or her employees worked just as many hours to make the company a success.

If you have doubts about what I'm saying, please candidly ask the following people these questions:

Athlete: Have you ever trained so hard that you threw up, passed out, or cramped up? 

Military officer: Have you ever been chewed out by a commanding officer?

Law firm associate: Have you ever pulled multiple all nighters on a big case or new deal?

Management consultant: Have you ever had to take a red-eye to a client's office across the country and do back-to-back meetings all day?

Banker: Have you ever slept in the office, got a new assignment at midnight, or worked 80 hour weeks?

Startup founders and employees: Have you ever worked a 12 hour day at home, and then worked another four hours after dinner, every day for months?

I'm sure they'll share with you plenty of stories about times when they just wanted to quit, but kept on going. I don't know anybody who hasn't had a very difficult stretch of work before.

Suck It Up Already

child drinking dirty water
While you were complaining how much work you have…

The upside to what the ex-Amazonians have done is make Jeff Bezos and his management team take notice there are areas for improvement at their workplace. Hopefully those existing employees who were too afraid to speak up now don't have to .

I'm empathetic to those who've been dealt a bad hand. The parental leave policies at Amazon sound horrendous and need to be changed. But for goodness sake, we're playing in Disney World, where the baseline standard is a pretty good life. Even if your hole cards are the dreaded seven deuce, you can still drink clean water, get a free education, and work towards a brighter future.

If you're a complainer, the solutions to gain more perspective are simple:

  1. Travel to a developing country to see what real poverty looks like.
  2. Find another job, instead of spreading a virus within your firm.
  3. Create your own company to experience how difficult it is to create something from nothing.
  4. Take up a minimum wage side job to remind yourself how millions of your fellow Americans are trying to get by.

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Updated for 2019 and beyond.

78 thoughts on “Suck It Up Already! Suffering Is A Rite Of Passage”

  1. I re-read this post to help me come to my senses. I’ve become too soft compared to my work ethic when I was younger and had less. I don’t want to go back to the extreme days when I was a workaholic and was stressed 24/7, but I need to step up my sense of urgency. Perhaps part of my problem is I’m not competitive enough so I haven’t been constantly pushing myself forward. I hope I’m not too old to change! You bring up a lot of great points in this article and I’m determined to get more done. Thanks for your encouraging motivation!

  2. The Alchemist

    I have thought for some time that the reason that China and India are effectively having our economic lunch is because American kids have indeed become “soft”, while the kids in those countries are still HUNGRY. America is a victim of its own success. The generation that suffered through the Great Depression still knew what it meant to work hard without any guarantee of success and an easy life. Subsequent generations have had it so good and so (relatively) easy that they have no clue what real hardship is. There is a starry-eyed assumption that we as Americans can take our relatively high standard of living for granted.

    I completely agree, Sam, that more people need to visit the Third World to get a sense of perspective. I haven’t had the opportunity to do so myself, but my substitute for the Third World experience is being a keen student of human history. We in 21st century America are really not all that far removed from a much more primitive and tenuous existence…. but very few young people today are truly aware of that fact.

  3. Yes!! There is always perspective to be had… When the ac doesn’t work, when you have to take the stairs instead of the elevator and when you get a smaller bonus than you thought. It’s easy for some to see and really difficult for others. I started working at a failing company in 2008 and bought the failing company in 2011, now it is far from a failing company. I could have easily gone elsewhere and complained about how hard life is, but instead I read 20+ business books and poured my heart into the comapny. People are entitled and they don’t even realize it.

  4. 14 years in defense. Also – I’d like to say I regretted my comment as soon as I hit confirm because I think it came across as mean. Sorry.

  5. I kind of feel like you “ratted” out your company because you are constantly saying how awful it was working on wallstreet.

    1. You are right in a way. I am an industry rat who is seeking financial freedom. I’ve warned people in my writing that working in finance can be lucrative, and requires a lot of hard work and a thick skin.

      But do you not agree there is a difference between specifying a specific firm, vs an industry? I’ve written working in finance is hard, but I didn’t complain. I just left and did my own business.

      Do you mind if I use your comment and your background in a new post highlight why working on WS is awesome?

      How about you? What industry are you in and how long have you been working?

      1. No worries. I’m used to tough / mean/upsetting etc comments. It’s part of being a blogger. You open yourself up to lots of criticism, and you’ve just got to suck it up if you want to make it. Not being able to deal with criticism is why so many blogs shut down within a year.

        What is Defense? What exactly do you do to earn income and how much longer do you plan to do it?

  6. I would like to make two comments
    1) Working long hours does not equate with money and financial success. Finishing projects and excellent outcomes determine success. Just because a worker is willing to work 100 hours a week does not mean he is a good worker. Time management and an excellent outcome is the measure of a good worker. You just had a home improvement to your house. Which contractor do you want a) the contractor who works in your house from 7:30AM to 7:30 PM 6 days a week to complete a project interrupting your mornings and dinner for 4 weeks or b) the contractor who works in works 8AM to 5 PM for 5 days a week for 4 weeks who does disrupt your life. Working long hours can indicator of an inefficient worker.

    2)I think that you can work hard and receive little money as well for big money. The reality of life’s situation is that most people will not be rich. There are necessary jobs which are low pay which provides services that everyone enjoys. For example, maintenance workers, maids and janitors provide services that everyone enjoys. Someone has to be willing to do this work. It is honest hard work and the people who performs these jobs are not lazy.

      1. As I mentioned before, working long hours does not equate with financial success or good outcomes. I would like to mention another example. Doctors and medical residents years ago used to work 100 hours or more a week. It was possible to work a 24 hour call with 2-3 hours sleep and the next morning perform a major surgical procedure for hours on a patient. If the medical resident complained, he/she was told that they “didn’t have what it takes”. It was discovered that the medical error rate was very high and one of the causes was sleep deprivation. Now the most a medical resident can work is 80 hours/week. All of these hours can’t be patient contact hours. Hospital errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.

        If you are performing repetitious tasks then working long hours may not have a high error rate. Most financial highly compensated workers however are performing complex tasks. The error or efficiency rate will increase with exceedingly long work hours. The idea that working long hours should equal financial success is erroneous. Good or excellent outcomes on the job should be the measure of financial success. I think that outcomes are not used as a measurement because an employer can not measure an outcome but they came measure hours

        1. I agree. Everything is rational. Oft here’s no desire to work as hard as your colleagues, no sweat not getting paid or as promoted as fast. Everything is relative. Making excuses doesn’t help.

  7. This post definitely hits home. Thank you FS for the reminder that most of us have it really good despite all the complaints we can think of.

    That photo of the kid outside McDo has been circulating my FB news feed for quite a while now, while I am here thinking how much I hate my job. I am from the Philippines and now live in SF and really, there is a huge disparity between the things people complain about here in America and what people complain about in 3rd world countries. Your suggestion about traveling to a third world country would be very effective if people would open their eyes and lose themselves serving others every once in a while.

    Yes, there are employers who really do treat employees inhumanely but those employees still have food to eat, water to drink and beds to sleep on! We have so much than the majority of the people suffering in third world countries yet we (yes, I am including myself) are sulking on our desks and complaining how hurt our feelings are. In the first place, we did choose to apply to these companies so consequences do come with that choice, believe it or not. So yes, suck it up, stop complaining and just do something about it. DO.

  8. As a former Amazonian, I kind of understand where those employees were coming from. It’s a tough place to work and succeed but very rewarding at the same time. But with that said, talking about it with the media is going to an extreme. I’ve been in tough situations at work with overbearing bosses and toxic cultures. You just have to learn not take it personally. A job is a job. If you need the income, then you either have to suck it up or find another job. If not, just leave. Simply put, if you don’t like your job, stop complaining and figure out your exit strategy.

  9. My veteran colleagues are convinced that many younger employees have already forgotten about the recession due to the great bull market of these past few years. And it certainly seems that there is a downward trend in the quality of new hires. I’m no ex-military but I don’t understand when new hires are surprised and complain about the nature of the work.

    On a separate but related note, since you’re the master of negotiating a severance, do you have any posts or advice regarding negotiating a promotion? My manager has essentially told me that I’ll be promoted to associate in the next round and of course I want to negotiate as much as possible. Working in my favor is that I’ve basically been performing the associate role for most of this year due to some departures on our team, and still our 2015 numbers will be better than 2014. I know “deserve” is a dirty word but I want to be adequately compensated for the hard work I’ve done so far.

  10. Complaining is one of those fingernails on a chalkboard things for me to hear. I’m not going to debate the merits of anyone’s complaining. But, action will trump complaining anytime. You can talk to HR or a manager. You can leave. Doesn’t matter. But, yes, a lot of us do just need to “suck it up”.

  11. I think it’s turned into a vicious pattern at so many companies: The workforce is unhappy, so they create policies to make people feel better about their jobs. The policies make it harder to get rid of under-performing workers, or workers with bad attitudes. Those workers create resentment and/or toxic work atmospheres, which creates an unhappy workforce. Repeat. I’ve seen it time and time again at companies of all sizes, as both a manager and worker. It’s one of the #1 reasons I’m working to exit the traditional workforce. As my Dad has said time and time again about starting his own business: If I’m going to follow someone’s stupid rules, they’re going to be MY stupid rules!

    1. In essence, America will turn into Europe one day where unemployment skyrockets b/c employers are too afraid to hire workers because they can’t get rid of them easily.

      But, given Europe has consistently the happiest people in the world, maybe things won’t be so bad! I’ve seen the future.

  12. BeSmartRich

    Life is tough, harsh and throws many curve balls along the way but it can be dealt with. We will just have to breathe, accept the facts and move forward. A crisis can be a great opportunity.


  13. Such a great article. It really makes you think how much we truly take for granted. We complain when our $500,000 stock portfolio takes a 10% hit because the stock market is down one month. What we’re forgetting is we still have $450,000 that we’re able to invest (and that will most likely grow back over time), which is far more than folks in less fortunate situations could ever imagine. We complain when we have to do the smallest things, but we’re not putting anything into perspective. You’re talking about Amazon here… think about what that company has done to us as consumers! We now EXPECT that we’ll have new products on our doorstep a day or two after we impulsively buy them. Some of those products go unused and end up getting thrown out or sold at a garage sale. Yet some of those very products could be a wish-list Christmas item for kids like Daniel Cabrera. At risk of rambling here, this is a very well written, thought provoking article. I really hope more than the PF community sees this – because we all need a little reality check.

  14. The problem is successful companies like Amazon and Microsoft are trend setters. When Microsoft used stacked ranking to evaluate its employees many other companies followed suit. There was enough bad press about it that Microsoft stopped and so did other companies.
    Unhealthy business practices should get media attention in the same way that healthy ones do. Google is applauded for making employees happy and many places of business emulate. The business community needs to be aware of the darker side of the policies that they embrace.

    1. Financial Samurai

      Good point.

      Yet, I would argue that a Google and Amazon are competitors for talent. Hence, how did Amazon “go so wrong” and still succeed?

      The price of success (largest retailer in the world) comes with certain sacrifices.

      1. I wouldnt necessarily say Amazon got it wrong. They employee younger, ambitious, over achievers that create a competitive workforce. You can create a business churning through these people until they get burned out then leave or get fired. Hence the 1 year or so average tenure rates at Amazon. Some people will thrive in this environment and get rewarded. Many wont. There are pros and cons with this model.

        Still the public is very interested in the corporate culture. As a job seeker I would appreciate review sites and articles so I can make an informed choice if this company’s culture is right for me before I waste my time and theirs. I enjoy hearing about others experiences.

        1. The problem w/ review sites like GlassDoor, is that the only people who bothers to sign up and leave a review are either very bitter, or have some heavy agenda that’s very biased. Hence, all of the reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt.

          to be the best company in your sector, I would expect nothing less than a hard driving workforce who works extra hours and does way more than the average person.

          1. True about glassdoor. People can be more motivated to leave reviews after bad experiences. However, I would expect this to be the case across all companies in which relative weightings matter esp. those with thousands of reviews.

            Ive seen bad organizations with hardworking people. Mostly because they worked inefficiently. In tech, you want creativity and knowledge. People get there through hard work, but once they master an area they can reduce their hours and still be more productive than most. These people are worth keeping. Dealing with 1-2 year average tenures is expensive as you have to constantly retrain.

  15. theofficialjohnandre

    Amen! A lot of people need a serious reality check in this country. Btw, I haven’t sleep in a week since you wrote that post about Uber ( going to take the plunge and work some weekends!

  16. Off Topic 2: I just read your 2013 blog when you were very down in the dumps affected by the haters and downers and contemplating turning to spinning out non controversial bland lander posts. You were about to take a cruise to collect yourself and re-assess. A very interesting read that I didn’t see coming from the ever confident Samurai (I guess not always so). I will have to re-read before commenting on that one (you are full of surprises… even in the past, including past lives I suspect). I comment here in case other newbies wish to take a trip down memory lane.

  17. Off topic: Time to make another deployment of capital Sam (> 2% drop).

    My son, by his words, is “freaking out”. His first experience with a serious “down” part of the ups and downs of the market. I am counseling patience, and explaining “now you understand why I advised to move 20% into cash before graduating since you may need the money while searching for steady income (job) and don’t want to be forced to sell in a down market”… head is nodding but still “freaking out”.

    1. For those who didn’t deploy capital in the 10% correction, it may be time indeed! And for those who followed a system similar to mine, they prevented deploying money after the rebound and not suffer this recent 3%+ correction.

      I’m waiting to deploy my two last tranches if the market corrects at 2% or greater after the recent low.

  18. I’m sort of in two places with this article. I both nod in agreement and shake my head while reading.

    On one hand, we have it great compared to 3rd world countries. I complain about my job all the time, but I would rather deal with it until the day I die than live in places where tribal warlords kill people on a daily basis. We do need to be thankful for that which we have, but it’s our nature to focus on what we don’t.

    That said, I don’t think that “suffering” (1st or 3rd world) for the sake of suffering is anything admiral. Not when it comes to work. Maybe a passion or a greater cause, but not for work. Not for those TPS Reports or sales quotas or anything like that. I don’t think that it should be a “rite of passage”. Just because those who work 5:30AM to 7PM have it better than those in Uganda doesn’t mean that it’s good or enviable or that we should strive for it.

    That’s like saying that police brutality is not a major issue because Nortg Korea throws people into gulags (not getting into a political debate or supporting/opposing any opinion on that issue; just pointing out a flawed argument).

    THAT said, sometimes it’s inevitable. I want to retire in five years. That means accepting a very stressful position where I would have to be up at 5:30AM (I don’t care; that IS an ungodly hour to be up for work) and take all sorts of responsibilities for a minimal increase in pay. It’s a war I’m in, and sometimes in battle, there is suffering. My plan is to do it long enough to put this new position on my resume, then take my new licenses and go elsewhere. When one has a job that is truly “suffering”, the best thing to do is to quit.

    THAT said (I know, a lot of things are being said), quitting and going somewhere else is not always possible. It took three months for me to get a teller position……long before the job market bottomed out. And going from teller to platform? A year. These miserable jobs, for many, are for all intents and purposes “involuntary”. And you look at the way society is set up to keep everyone indent and working and, well, the term “wage slavery” has some merit in our society.

    In the end, I am the most childish and lazy of all, and yet I’m not. For me, all work is suffering. Working for the next 37 years? Oh yeah, I’m gonna complain about that. That’s why I suffer by walking home in a suit in 80+ degree weather carrying a heavy bag instead of taking the bus (the bus ride itself is about 45 minutes. My walk? Don’t wanna talk about it). It’s why I take extra days at other branches whenever I can, even though I’m already working 40+ hours a week. This is why I go on weeklong spending fasts….…multiple weeks in a row. Because I don’t wanna go to work anymore and I want to retire. Now.

    Those are my thoughts, typed out on a cracked iPhone in a crowded lunchroom with people talking ion my ear with 6 hours of work under my belt without a moment’s rest (and that GODDAMNED PHONE). So they might be a little rambly.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    1. Love the honesty!

      “all work is suffering,” I can relate. And if people have this as a default assumption, then the days probably won’t feel as bad.

      The question I have though is: would you rat out your employer to the media?

      And just so folks know, if I don’t like something a company has done, like Chase wasting two months of my time on my refinance, I will say so on my site and explain why. The opposite is true for awesome products and customer service.

      1. Rat out my employer to the media? For what?

        “For what” is a very important part of the equation. How bad exactly are these working conditions? Is the employer just a crappy employer, or are they committing some serious workplace violations and breaking some major laws?

        My bank pays me nowhere near what I feel I deserve. I’ve ranted about this on my blog, but I have not and will not reveal my employer under any circumstances. That is partially to hide my own identity, I will admit, but also out of professional courtesy. I wouldn’t be too happy if I saw my name plastered all over someone’s rant site, so I make sure that I give the banks I’ve worked for the same respect.

        Having me wake up early in the morning or work a weekend is not something that warrants going to the media. There are many things that my employer does that I do not like, but none warrant media or legal action. If something can be resolved by speaking to a manager or HR representative, then that’s the course of action to take. If not, there’s always the resignation letter.

        Now if a company was TRULY mistreating its workers (withholding paychecks, constantly and egregiously breaking labor laws, forcing people to work in hostile or unsafe conditions that are not appropriate for their position, etc.), and I thought there was a moral obligation to do so as a whistleblower, THEN yeah I would do so. But we’re not talking about giving me tough sales quotas here. We’ve gone way past that.

        It’s not just labor laws. If my bank were, say, forcing us to open customer’s accounts without their permission and forge their signatures, you bet I’d whistleblow the crap out of that. But again, we’ve gone well beyond “They make us work long hours” or something like that, which instead simply merits quitting and working for a less sh***y employer.

        I’d like to point out that I am not at all familiar with the whole Amazon thing. Don’t ask me how I’ve been that oblivious. I know they’ve been treating their employees like dirt, but I don’t know details.

        Ask a simple question, get anything but a simple answer, right?

        ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    2. Agree with you Mr Angry. It’s relative, there is always someone that has more (money, material things) and someone suffering more (1rst or 3rd world), focusing on either is not very helpful. Have compassion and share a percentage of what you have with the less fortunate (both monetary and non monetary) and look at those with more as motivation (at most, envy and jealousy doesn’t help).

  19. This post speaks loudly to the ‘trophy’ generation that expect to succeed by just showing up. It starts on the athletic playing fields and even in the classroom of America where we reward everyone for just participating. There is no incentive to do better, be better. HBO Sports had a fascinating segment on this. They reported on a study that asked college students what grades do they expect to get from their professors and a vast majority, over 80%, stated a grade of ‘B’ is fair enough for showing up and doing the required work.

    1. Well, in their defense, that IS a fair grade for showing up and doing the required work, provided that you do “B” grade level work. If you are in class every day, complete all assignments promptly and properly, and get a perfect score on every exam, can a professor give you a “D” because you didn’t do some extra stuff he never assigned? I mean, is a student supposed to be penalized for not showing up to his 9:30AM class at 6AM? If a person does “B” work, then he/she is right to expect a “B”.

      I never saw this special so I’m just going by what you said. But the students’ expectations isn’t that ridiculous. If anything, it’s sort of a vague question. The grade they receive should depend on how good the work is. I’m curious as to what the actual question was.

      ARB–Angry Retail Banker

      1. I guess the thing is that ‘B’ grade for showing up was probably more like a ‘C’ or ‘C+’ the previous generation.

        B = good in my book. Showing up and doing the minimum = not good. It’s average. And C = average.

        1. So how should the grading system work then?

          Let’s say I’m a student in your class. I show up everyday at the required time, take proper notes, and complete every assignment promptly (you collect them on the required due date, and I hand them in at that time as a result) and properly. You give three exams through the semester, all multiple choice, and not only do I pass, I literally get perfect scores on every exam. I complete every task outlined on the syllabus and given by you.

          Do you give me a “C” because all I did was show up and do the required minimum? Or an “A” for getting good grades on the assignments and perfect scores on the exams? If your answer is the former, how do you justify that to the student or to your superior? Because from where I’m sitting, the student might have valid grounds for a complaint.

          Again, I’m not necessarily disagreeing with the special, just that what Albert put down doesn’t quite indict the Millennials as the entitled generation. The comment above makes no mention of the quality of the work. If the student shows up and does the required minimum, and the work that is presented is high quality, then the grade should reflect that. The question put forth in the study is inconclusive. You really can’t properly answer it.

          If Albert can find that segment on YouTube and link it here so we can see if there’s some information that is being left out, then we can come to a better conclusion whether the students are right or wrong. I’m not saying they are necessarily right, but there isn’t enough in Albert’s post to say they are wrong and brand them as entitled.

          ARB–Angry Retail Banker

        2. When I was in college a decade ago, “B” was considered average. “C” was below average but better than barely passing. You passed with a grade you don’t have to be ashamed of, but it wasn’t quite average.

  20. You always have a choice of whether or not you want to try to make the best out of an uncomfortable job situation. However, I’d like to add that due to the unstable economic climate, someone like me who’s over 40 can’t just go out and make a lateral job move. Age discrimination is against the law but “experience discrimination” isn’t. If a company can pay a 20-something $20K less to do the same job for which you have years of experience, most will choose the 20-something every time. I’m enormously grateful for my job. I’m offering up that maybe knowing what their up against in making a change is why people complain – a coping mechanism.

    1. I agree. It’s hard to just “get another job” for many folks, which is why we need to cultivate some skills on the side and build those alternative income streams through investments and side hustles so we are never too beholden to anyone.

      What I’ve noticed is younger folks tend to be so enthusiastic about work and don’t bother to side hustle. Fast forward 10 years later, and they aren’t as rosy eyed anymore. In fact, they find work to be less meaningful. So, the goal is to work on new incomes early , so that by the time you are sick of work, you have more options.

      And if you’re truly getting abused at work, speak up directly with your manager. Don’t let it fester.

      1. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been side hustling my entire post-graduate career. I saw my parents do it and seeing how it got them ahead, I do it. I’m doing it to get out of the “rat race”. You struck a chord with me when you said above to do it so we are never too beholden to anyone.

        Thanks for creating such an informative newsletter so we can all start living our dreams and giving back to others.

      2. Nuclear Real Estate

        Agree completely on younger folks not wanting to side hustle. I am 29 and am looking to close on my 5th rental property in the next month. When my peers ask about my involvement in real estate it almost always returns to a sentiment about not wanting to deal with the “hassle” of it, which I find odd when we don’t bat an eye at working hours and hours of unpaid overtime at work week in and week out…

        The way I look at it, my marginal pay rate for the “hassle” of real estate investment is pretty high, and certainly a lot higher than the $0/hr of unpaid overtime which isn’t seen as a big deal.

        1. In 5-6 years when your peers really start hating their jobs and wanting to do something else, you’ll just have to secretly smile about how your RE portfolio you started 10 years ago provides you the freedom to do more things!

          Great viewpoint on the marginal pay rate!

  21. I’m glad you included the part about military and athletes. I was super lucky to never have to work at a minimum wage job, but I did wake up every morning at 4:10 am to practice my sport, and that did help me get thru several years at a law firm. In fact, I could draw some very interesting comparisons between my coaches and the partners that I worked for. And getting in early to work was nothing in comparison. But now I love and appreciate my relatively calm life and almost feel like I am finally “living” again for the first time since undergrad.

  22. Most definately visit a 3rd world country if you find yourself being ungreatful for what you have. Try not to associate your life’s joy with the acquisition of material things/titles/401ks. They are good to have but cannot be your life’s purpose a human being on this planet for limited amount of time. There will always be someone making more money than you, having a bigger house than you, having a better title than you. No one has ever made enough money. Richness is in being content with what u have and.becoming a person u can be proud of.

  23. I agree completely with the sentiment that suffering (or more appropriately called “hard work”) is a necessary part of success. However, I agree with a lot of commenters that there’s more to the story than just “sucking it up” and dealing with terrible bosses or leaving. While it’s true that there are a lot of hard-working start up founders and executives, it’s equally true there are a lot of very incapable executives that get hired by their friends and do nothing more than put a drain on company resources. I think people are willing to work very hard if there is a sense that they are working TOGETHER with a talented group that are interested in achieving the same goal.
    There are a lot of very damaged organizations that do not have that frame of mind, and it’s possible that undermining those organizations to improve them would be better than just leaving them for greener pastures. The problem is that the damaged organizations far outnumber the hard-working good organizations, and the talent pool seeps from the bad ones to the good ones.
    Anyway, I appreciate looking at this from the positive angle of what we individually can do to improve our own situations, but systemically, I think we’re in bigger trouble if we don’t all look around and try to fix the bad organizations too. (not saying Amazon is a “bad” organization, but it looks like at least some things need to be fixed there too)

    1. Good point. This is why some firms spend a ridiculous amount of time interviewing a candidate before being hired. Company fit is huge if we are going to work long, stressful hours together!

      6 hours stranded at the airport test wth a colleague!

  24. I agree there’s a lot of whining. However, isn’t there research that working more than 40 hours or so a week for knowledge workers isn’t actually more useful?

    1. I’m sure there’s research out there that supports everything.

      However, if you have to work more than 40 hours to get something done, what’s the problem? Just work longer to get it done!

      1. Yes, occassionally working more is fine, but I feel like if it’s done all the time then I would end up at the same level of productivity. I might try staying longer at work so I can take the shuttle instead of driving.

        I’m trying to apply this post to another part of my life – I don’t like where I live, but it’s enabling our to save an additional 16% of our base salaries, kind of like getting another bonus for each of us. Objectively, it’s a perfectly fine place to live. Must not complain…

  25. The path of least resistance…that’s what most of us take. I’ve done it more often than not throughout my life. To be able to have the self-discipline and motivation to keep on keeping on in an undesirable situation is a highly valuable and rare. It’s even more difficult to keep that trait over the long run (how many times to you see former athletes five or ten years after retiring with rotund bellies and love handles?).

  26. Great article, it shamed me into maxing out my Roth IRA this morning (already max out the 401K at work.) Having spent 20 years in the military (now working in Sunnyvale for a tech company) and living in a few 3rd world countries I agree with your comments. Suck it up people, you don’t know how well you have it!

  27. I cried many times on the job throughout my career and never considered going to the media to complain. I did have many long conversations with my boss and HR to get extra support. Even if I saw a lot of my colleagues crying I don’t think I would go to the news. I’d try to work things out with our employer directly first. We do have things a lot easier in the US than a lot of people.

  28. Great article!

    I wish i could print this and pass it out to every one of my colleagues. I work technology in the public sector, and every single one of my colleagues has this millennial entitlement mentality. They all want to be given a particular title so their pay matches their private sector counterparts despite not having the skill-set.

    A few months back, one of my colleagues posted an article regarding private vs public sector pay on our workplace white board. There were a lot of additional complaints in response to this article posted by my colleague, so I posted one that basically echoed what your article said, “if you don’t like it, leave”. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very popular comment. I was deemed “unkind”.

  29. Sam, I’d like to suggest that you add another field to your poll questions. When you ask questions in the poll, and none of the answers line up with the respondent’s thinking, then you’re not getting accurate results. If you added an “Other” field, or something to that effect, you could have a measure of sorts as to how well the answer choices represented people’s actual thoughts. If the “Other” field is selected by too many people, then your response fields might need to be refined. Just a thought.

    1. Could be a good idea. Although, expressing yourself when the answers don’t fit your thinking is one of the ways the comments section can help.

      So, feel free to express yourself as it might take all day to come up with an answer in the poll that reflects your thinking!

  30. I’ve noticed that many ex-military seem to be the hardest workers. You have to wonder if the answer on how to get Americans to work harder is to get more people to serve in the military at some point in their life.

  31. Ali @ Anything You Want

    I graduated from college during the Great Recession, so I think that I have a bit more respect for having a job than many people. I have always been appreciative of having a regular salary and a place to go each day. I also generally think that complaining is useless, and if you’re unhappy about something you either need to do something about it (complaining isn’t doing anything) or suck it up and deal.

    1. That’s definitely a good contrast, graduating during a recession vs. graduating in a bull market. I have to imagine 2008-2011 graduates are much more appreciative.

      I graduated in 1999, just after the Asian Crisis, but during the Russian Ruble issue. Things were pretty volatile, but the markets were going bananas during the dotcom heyday. But, things crashed soon thereafter in 2000. Maybe my outlook would be different if I graduated just a year earlier. I just felt like i had won the lottery, getting a job, any job.

  32. I just want to go find Daniel, give him a fun experience, and then afford him a light and desk.

    You make good points. And, in an attempt to draw an analogy, after having gone to military school in high school, I wasn’t phased by fraternity life. It dawned on me very early that our freshman class dues were more critical to the organization than any BS they might have thrown at us. Thus, we had walking power if we ever chose to utilize.

    1. Lol military school. Nah, Marine boot and OCS is where it’s at.

      “Hey *recruit*, where’d you get that black eye and limp?”

      “I, uh, “fell” Sir.”

  33. It’s easy to tell by looking at Amazon’s business model that they “mean business”. So, if you’re expecting a laid back environment like Dropbox or Snapchat, then you’re fooling yourself from the get go. The thing about America is that there are both laid back startups and dollar-hungry mega corps. So yeah, what’s the reason to complain?

  34. I think it goes both ways; there are horrible employees and horrible employers, and those who are great in the respective categories as well. Employers can be awful managers, exploit their employees, lie and cheat, etc. They can also be great and see talent and encourage growth and be exceptional leaders to great companies. Similarly, employees can be awful, with poor work ethic, lie, cheat, take advantage of the system and basically screw over their employers, also. It goes both ways. I’ve seen both so I can’t side with one or the other (although I tend to side with the employer a bit more because it does seem to be difficult to find some good talent that wants to stick around and it’s difficult to be in tune with and strike that balance between giving your employees what they want, coddling them and not letting them take advantage of certain situations while keeping your business up and running. I’m from a developing country, btw, and I know from experience that kids like Daniel end up either running their own business/ practice or having a side business. After you instill yourself with a work ethic like that from a young age, it’s usually not enough to just work one job.

    1. You’re right about some horrible managers making employee lives miserable.

      Employees need to know they have power too, and to speak up when they feel mistreated. Employees have more power than they know!

  35. I think the poll is too simplistic, Sam. We are spoiled, but we can’t help it. Working conditions are relative. Being treated badly at Amazon or wherever is unnecessary when the employer doesn’t have to do it that way. An employer is able to take advantage of the climate it is in, so their is no need to exploit its employees.

    That said, ratting out an employer is also counter-productive. For the same reasons above, leave and get another job if you don’t like it. We live in very favourable conditions – take advantage of them!

    1. “We’re spoiled, but we can’t help it”?

      I think that is precisely the point. You can help it.

      It is all about your attitude. Americans wish to wield their offense like a weapon – putting the onus is on “the other” to change behavior, language, attitude, content, whatever to avoid offending “the me”. WHY?

      If you’re offended the burden is on you. If you are in a “toxic work environment”, leave.

      Sam, I 100% agree with traveling to a non-developed nation to change perspective. When I was 18 I spent a summer in Davao City and a village on the island of Mindanao. We worked construction, trying to built houses for these people whose toilets, food source and drinking water was one and the same. We chased the village kids and held them down while we gave them pink eye medicine – which they just thought it was a game similar to tag with a bizarre consequence! At the end of the summer we bought a package of Oreos and gave each kid one or two. THEY WERE BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS. These kids, from real young to early teenagers, had never eaten something like that. They had never had a cookie. Because they had never eaten sugar so they were on such a sugar rush I will never forget it.

      Yeah, but those Amazon employees have it rough.

        1. It absolutely is one of the most defining moments of my life. When I went to college I had already spent a summer outside of the umbrella of my parents so I was prepared to take care of myself. I will always be grateful for what I have and have “wants” and “needs” in proper perspective. And, having eaten balut and durian I know I can do anything at least once.

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