I Have to Believe in the Work

I was once told that I’d be good in private equity.

It was half joke, half serious. Part insult and part compliment.

The compliment side was a comment on my pragmatism and calm nature.

The insult side suggested that my lack of outward emotion would mean I wouldn’t care about gutting businesses and firing people, hallmarks of the stereotype of private equity.

As with any great backhand compliment, there was an element of truth in each.

I do manage ups and downs well. Some combination of nature and nurture means that I can easily put things in perspective. Experience has shown me that there is little benefit to getting worked up about things.

I’ve never seen private equity from the inside. I’m sure there are plenty of good people in the industry. 

But the stereotype is of the cold, banker-types gutting a business and firing people for the sake of maximizing profits and shareholder value. For the sake of this example, I’ll assume that’s true.

I don’t think I would last long in that business, because I would have trouble seeing the value of what we were doing.

Money is great, but it’s a tool. A tool that I think is best used trying to create value. Cool software, or fun toys, or things that make our lives better.

Some of my fellow McGill grads have built a company around electric snowmobiles and jet skis. How cool is that? That sounds fun.

I work in tech because I believe in the value the industry creates. 

No other industry creates such value from nothing. 

And no, not all tech is good. But as a whole, it’s what pushes us forward.

And it’s fun! 

What’s the point of work, if not to have fun, build cool things, and provide value for other people?

It’s why I don’t work in private equity.

It’s why I have to believe in the work.