IS QUIET QUITTING THE SOLUTION?

IS QUIET QUITTING THE SOLUTION?

My answer:

So I heard there is a new trend called quiet quitting: Doing the bare minimum tasks of your job description well enough that you don’t get fired. Quiet quitters keep it so real that their asses are out the door the moment once the clock strikes 5pm. Let’s talk about why that is a problem FOR YOU.

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I get it - No matter how hard you work, the value of your contribution accrues to the owner. Why work so hard huh? Here is the problem: To become an owner, you need to work hard too. So either way, you have to work hard.

I argue becoming an owner is way harder and that’s why there are more salaried workers than owners on this planet. Why do you think that is? Very simplistically, a business needs capital, products, sales channel, legal, human resources and so on.

When you are an employee - you work for someone else’s company and collect salaries and benefits, all the things I talked about before are already built: established product-market fit and sales channel, the business is financed, the office is furnished. You don’t need to worry about any of that: you just show up on day one and work.

For that reason, you don’t typically share in the value creation of the company except receiving stock options prevalent in tech industry. If company’s stock price goes up, you get a salary and you still get the same salary if the stock price goes down. If the company needs to cut cost, you are laid off because you are the cost.

Conversely. When you are the owner, you deserve to reap the value created by your business because you dealt with things your employees did not need to. When you first started the business, you had no product, might need to convince others to provide capital, needed to convince customers that your company’s product solves their problem, needed to correct bad employee hires. The owner assumes all the risk of whether your invested time and capital will turn into a Google / Amazon or a zero.

That’s the trade-off. As employee, you are only risking your own human capital. If it doesn’t work out, you find another job. As an owner, you take many more risks: If it doesn’t work out, you wasted time, but more importantly, you lose your capital and the trust of your investors. As you can see, employees don’t get to participate in the upside because they are not in as of a high risk-reward situation like the owners.

For most of the time, the world is quite efficient. You can complain about why you are not the owner of anything, but unless you play lacrosse or equestrian at your $50,000 per year tuition boarding school, you and I were dealt the same hand in life and we got to play with what we have. And quiet quitting is the only way to guarantee mediocrity or, worse, failure in life. 

To create value you need skills to solve problems. If you decide to half ass on your job, you are going to develop zero skills, the skills that could help you build something that’s your own in the future – whether it’s a business, a social media presence, a brand, and so on. I don’t care as much about the societal implication of quiet quitting, but I care about how it impacts your professional prospect.

The other issue is no one likes to have a quiet quitter at work: the CEO, your manager, and even your colleagues don’t. You probably will say: I don’t care about what they think. Forget about losing your job for a second, part of being in a corporate environment is meeting mentors and sponsors who can guide you in the right career direction.

If you are just unhappy about your current job environment, that’s a more fair reason than you being unmotivated. However, if you have a good attitude about wanting to be better, people at your work place can introduce you to better opportunities.

I have studied three languages in my life. I can attest: if you have a shaky foundation, you can pass the elementary level language course but you will struggle mightily at the next level because everything builds on the foundation. Career is the same. I began my career as a consulting actuary after graduating from college with very bad grades. I was grateful for being given my first job and had great mentors on my first job. I came away with strong Excel shortcuts and general resourcefulness that I still benefit from today.

As an entrepreneur today, the skills I have learned from corporate jobs help me immensely: I have to learn many new skills because everything costs money if I outsource. For being a long-time consultant, I can learn anything pretty quickly because a big part of any high-pressure job is to learn how to figure things out.

Today I do graphic designing, making website, marketing, selling, and managing the finance – some of the skills are from my finance days but many other skills are from my consultant days. So, I urge you to being open minded about your current job because you never know how you will benefit from your prior skills in your own endeavor.

Don’t quiet quit, you should put in the work. No one can really blame you if you do not care about the company you work for, but you should care about increasing your own intrinsic value.

I am a value investor – a believer of finding dislocation between price and value of an asset. If you think about the labor market, labor market sets a price for you as a labor. You don’t really control what the market is willing to pay for the value you can add. The market price for a profession is decided by supply and demand and it is usually a very narrow band. Too many people focus on price – quibbling over $20,000 to $30,000 of pre-tax base salary spread over 26 paychecks without playing the long game.

Instead, you should focus on your intrinsic value. Invest in yourself by reading voraciously and learning new skills. If you want to be paid more, become more valuable as a labor. The higher upside the job is, the higher intrinsic skill it requires and more risk taking it involves, the labor market is efficient that way.

Once you have reached a new realm of personal intrinsic value, if you believe you are undervalued, I can guarantee you the market will ultimately value you correctly. 

Now I will leave you with one of my favorite motivational speeches by Denzel Washington: Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. KEEP MOVING, KEEP GROWING AND KEEP LEARNING. I will see you at work.

Happy holidays to you and your family. 

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